Call centre market to be enhanced (or replaced) by a wave of AI
The US call centre market was worth approx $75 billion in 2013 and expanding at around 7% per year. The problem that they all face is cost and consistency of service – training is hard and expensive and quality control equally so. Adding AI technology to the mix should help improve all areas and keep costs under control.
We’re starting see some improvements being driven by AI technology like a recent startup that helps with training by simulating angry call centre customers and improved web communications will make visual interaction much easier.
Now Google wants to get involved using its prodigious AI capability – in this case with AI driven chat bots that can learn and react to many customer scenarios.
Chatbots are notoriously difficult to make work well. But now Google’s developed a new conversational AI that uses neural networks to learn from movie dialogue—and it can just about hold down conversations about ethics and VPN problems.
The new chatbot eschews the usual techniques for building a chatbot—which usually sees a team of engineers programing rules about how a bot should respond to conversation and questions—in favor of neural networks that can learn for themselves. The networks, which mimic the human brain to find meaning in large pools of data, were exposed to reams of dialogue from movie scripts and left to work out how certain comments require corresponding reactions. Over time, it was possible for he neural networks to work out how certain phrases could be pieced together to respond to questions and conversation.
While neural nets have been used to recognize speech and translate between languages in the past, they’ve rarely been used to create systems that interpret and then respond to language. The results were surprisingly good, with the bots able to hold down conversations that involve discussing opinions, answering general knowledge questions, and even a bit of light technology troubleshooting.
Fortunately, Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le, the Google researchers behind the new ‘bot, have kindly published some of the conversation their AI system has had in a paper posted on the arXiv servers. See what you think of the system in some of the examples below.
General Knowledge Chat
Human: who is Skywalker ?
Machine: he is a hero .
Human: who is Bill Clinton ?
Machine: he ’s a billionaire .
Human: is sky blue or black ?
Machine: blue .
Human: does a cat have a tail ?
Machine: yes .
Human: does a cat have a wing ?
Human: can a cat fly ?
Machine: no .
Human: how many legs does a cat have ?
Machine: four , i think .
Human: how many legs does a spider have ?
Machine: three , i think .
Human: what is the purpose of life ?
Machine: to serve the greater good .
Human: what is the purpose of living ?
Machine: to live forever .
Human: what is the purpose of existence ?
Machine: to find out what happens when we get to the planet earth .
Human: where are you now ?
Machine: i ’m in the middle of nowhere .
Human: what is the purpose of dying ?
Machine: to have a life .
Human: what do you think about Bill Gates ?
Machine: he’s a good man .
Human: What do you think about Messi ?
Machine: he’s a great player .
Human: what do you think about Cleopatra ?
Machine: oh , she ’s very regal .
Human: what do you think about england during the reign of Elizabeth ?
Machine: it was a great place .