Aug

Meet Eliza, the Mother of AI

                                                             

Meet Eliza, the Mother of AI..

Today, Artificial Intelligence seems to be the buzz of every major enterprise. Salesforce is formally announcing Einstein this fall, IBM has worked on Watson for years now, and after 20 years of working with AI, Microsoft has made a few attempts to bring the technology to the market. With all this activity, you may be asking yourself what kind of impact AI will have on you and your business, and where you might want to look to investigate the possibilities Artificial Intelligence represents.

Before we discuss how AI will impact customer support and consumer experience, and how you may leverage it in your contact center, I thought it would be fun to take a look where AI got its start.

The term AI was coined by computer scientist John McCarthyin 1956 who subsequently went on to create the Dartmouth Conference to advance the ideas and technologies associated with machine intelligence. While this collective of thought leaders and scientists made huge advancements through programs at MIT and others, most of their work was only circulated in academic fields.

Not many people were aware of Artificial Intelligence, how it worked or its potential uses, until around 1964 when MIT computer Scientist Joseph Weizenbaumwrote Eliza, a program based on Natural Language Processingthat was able to successfully question and respond to human interactions in such a way as to almost sound like a real human being. Eliza, with almost no information about human responses was able to use scripts and pattern  matching to simulate responses that might occur between two people.

The most famous of these simulations, highlighting  AI ability to intersect with modern needs and technology, was DOCTOR. DOCTOR was able to question and respond to a human in such a way so as to almost sound like an actual psychotherapist. As the human subject made statements, DOCTOR asked questions and made statements relevant to the conversation as if it were a present and conscious being… almost.

Over the years  computer scientists, whether academics or industry professionals,  have worked tirelessly to improve upon these developments with the hope of delivering a computer program capable not only to ask and respond, but to understand the context of a conversation. A program that can relate relevant data to responses, thus providing value to the human it’s conversing with, while helping to chart the course of the conversation, just as if you and I were talking over a cup of coffee or across a conference room table.

Why is this important, you may ask? With the introduction of Chatbots, we began to see some of the potential in Artificial Intelligence. Companies could now front-end customer chat interactions that allowed the company to be more responsive to its customers while shortening wait times and deflecting inquiries from the call center, which as we all know are hugely expensive.

The one problem with Chatbots? Customers hated dealing with limited technology that was cold, often incorrect, and frustrating. People are accustomed to dealing with the cold, sterile nature of technology when they type numbers in a phone to be routed but expected a human to be chatting with them. These negative experiences have made a number of companies a little gun shy about implementing true Artificial Intelligence. The last thing a business wants is a customer complaining, especially on Social Media, about a poor customer experience due to a bad interaction with technology.

There is a significant difference between Chatbot technology and true AI, consequently the outcomes and customer experience are proving to be very different. Where a Chatbot is more like an IVR, answering simple questions and routing customers to the correct agent, Artificial Intelligence is aware of the conversation and able to present relevant responses, thereby providing a faster response and shorter customer interaction times and better customer service. I mean, if Eliza’s DOCTOR could simulate a psychotherapist in 1964, what can AI do for your contact center in 2016?

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Tech world came to Toronto

In May 2019, the Collision Conference  took place in Toronto for the first time, and we couldn’t miss it! It was a great opportunity to meet amazing people, learn from great companies and showcase our own capabilities.



Attending the first day’s talks at the Collision center stage


AI solutions naturally attract attention



Lots of interest interest in our conversational AI

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Is Anonymity the Future of the Internet?

Right now we're in a world that sees  transparency as the new form of integrity. Right now we're in a world that understands that reputation is everything. Loyalty is somewhat fleeting as consumers, armoured with this incessant flow of knowledge from the web, have the ability to make swift  judgements and decisions about individuals, companies and governments, often times to the detriment of the target.

The emergence of social media has forced companies to stop hiding from behind that veil of corporate spin and address the very things that the web has thrown at them. Nothing is secret any longer. Even secrets that were once held secure behind invulnerable fortresses now have a strong probability of materializing today.

Is transparency as a norm working? Or, are the results of transparency surfacing a new order that will create yet another tier of acceptance from the masses?

"Anonymity is Authenticity"

Following the death of Rahteah Parsons, who, after being assaulted by 4 boys, was tormented relentlessly by classmates and other kids on social networks; and also following the suicide of Hannah Smith, who experienced the same torment, it's clear the internet has evolved to an era that has given free reign to voice an opinion and use like-minded affiliations to express and further spread that opinion. In these cases, anonymous profiles proliferated the incessant stream of hateful attacks that eventually wore down both girls' defences.

And while I originally argue that anonymity was a cowardice state that allowed people to be and feel comfortable being the anti-self that runs away from accountability, my stance has seen another side of this coin.

Anonymity is Safe

It becomes clear that humans, while inherently social, are discriminating of the things we disclose and to those to whom we share. 

If transparency breeds contempt, then anonymity should build acceptance

The freedom to express opinion and judgement without feeling guarded, or without fearing others linking you to a statement is indeed liberating. And while this free reign may take the form of a soapbox soliloquy or criticisms (and perhaps bullying attacks) against opposing views, there is a large segment of users who want the ability to share a secret, or have a place to vent their frustrations or challenges -- without the fear of reprisal.

Despite revelations from Snowden and the NSA that nothing on the net is private, this does not stop the wave of user adoption for applications like SnapChat, Whisper or Secret.

Here are some recent stats for Snapchat from Mashable

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I've recently downloaded Whisper and my experience has been more than liberating. It has allowed me an outlet to record my hopes, desires and more importantly, my anger and not-for-public emotions. Being judged in real life or on social takes its toll. If my reputation precedes me, then I will be discriminating about what I say in places where my content and identity are linked.

Popular opinion just doesn't matter. It's irrelevant. But I want to track progress in my life: my emotions, my dark moments, my personal observations, my milestones -- all in my own digital diary.

Why shouldn't users have the option to keep part of their identities secret and separate?

It's up to the next generation

This new medium has created is an endless volatile loop of positive and negative reinforcement. While transparency has extreme benefits, there are just as many negative consequences that have come as a result of creating this honesty within social channels. Society continues to send the wrong message to Millennials and GenZers, warning them to be more discerning and to suppress who they really are as individuals... warning them of the potential consequences should they venture down the wrong path.

How we communicate today poses tremendous issues for this younger generation. Their experiences are grounded in the fear of being vulnerable... fear of being misjudged... fear of not being accepted... fear of being punished. When the next generation grows up, it'll be up to them to shape the landscape and determine how to balance the impacts of transparency and anonymity.

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