Recently, the subject Artificial Intelligence has been discussed more frequently and more extensively, yet the terminology related to this field has been used rather carelessly. Nevertheless, what really counts is that information on AI is now being shuttled more and more from the realm of sci-fi and scholars to the public by journalists and bloggers. This is really important as AI starts to gradually penetrate our everyday lives.
As the recent examples show, modern technologies are so advanced we may not realise that we aren’t dealing with people, but with very advanced software. For instance, this is true for chatbots. Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence, used to simulate conversation with man. Of course, the results vary, yet anyone who has a chance to have a closer look at the Google Duplex demo will realise that we’re on the verge of developing virtual machines that are able to pass the Turing test, determining, among other things, the machine’s capability of natural language processing.
Currently, however, the examples of AI we meet in our everyday lives are slightly less spectacular. They usually include automation of processes such as the recognition and elimination of spam, personalisation of advertising content, and automated support for standard queries from customers. These tasks can be performed thanks to the use of machine learning. In its simplest form, machine learning means a laborious process of equipping a machine with a certain amount of knowledge, data and algorithms. Systems of this type are perfectly suited, for example, to analysing huge amounts of information, yet they rely solely on pre-programmed patterns.
A chatbot equipped with vast databases and a set of rules for data processing, despite its unquestionable usefulness, remains solely a highly complex machine. The aforementioned Google Duplex is a tool of a completely different kind. In this case, we’re dealing with the application of deep learning, meaning a machine learning method that relies on a multilayer neural network. In fact, data processing depends here on the simulation of operations and architectures of human brain structures. Developing a machine that is able to independently collect and analyse information and then use it to develop new action patterns is of crucial importance to the development of such domains as natural language processing or speech synthesis, and thus to the development of AI. Everyone who watched the demo of Google Duplex certainly noted that the chatbot naturally responded to unexpected situations and patiently corrected the person when they misunderstood it.
The idea behind creation and implementation of such virtual assistants seems obvious. Being able to support employees who perform simple, repetitive, or even mechanical activities is of great value. Human intelligence, creativity, experience and involvement are too precious to be left unused. In a company, a human being can be invested with much more important tasks than those for which a chatbot can successfully be used. Such machines provide great opportunities for companies. They don’t need holidays, they’re never in a bad mood, they’re patient, calm (the list of advantages goes on and on), and they can be adjusted by programmers to the current needs.
On the other hand, they provide customers with immediate access to information and personalised messages, and that’s what modern customers value the most. I have no doubt that with the development of artificial intelligence, the list of potential chatbot applications will get longer and longer. Even today, such solutions are available on the market. Chatbots support sales, promotional activities, advertising and recruitment processes. Given that AI is being developed at a rapid pace, it’s highly probable that in the coming years we will witness the continuous expansion of chatbots. Sooner or later, they’ll become simply ubiquitous.
It’s true that not every chatbot we’ll encounter on our way will display a level of advancement similar to Google’s project. Yet, I believe that’s just a matter of time. The example of Google’s Duplex shows how far we have come in natural language processing and speech synthesis research and application. Whether we’re dealing with visual or auditory communication, chatbots have become slowly indistinguishable from human beings, regardless of the topic and thematic structure of the conversation. This presents a huge opportunity for business. Even today, it can greatly benefit from chatbot application and it will develop along with progress in artificial intelligence research in the future.
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