Natural Language Processing: The Next Frontier of AI

AI is here, and it brings with it a number of powerful tools and resources that we didn’t have before. The power and convenience of AI cuts across every industry, from the exploration of space to the future of education. 

But, for business owners who have chosen to implement artificial intelligence into their online customer service model, decisions often need to be made in terms of how much they want to use tools such as AI chatbots to handle customer inquiries.

While it is convenient and productive to turn things over to a chatbot, it may not always be the best solution. This is because computers have a true “language barrier” between their language and the human language. If you’ve ever called an automated customer service line to obtain help with a product or to get your account information, you will notice that it does not pronounce names correctly many times, misspell simple words, or misunderstands what you are asking for. 

These frustrations are common because computers have not acquired language in the way that we humans do as we are growing up. They “learn” it from the database they are provided with and they utilize what they know when they deem it appropriate in certain circumstances. This gets in the way of ordinary conversation and chat and can impede the completion of a sale, rather than help it along.

How Do Computers Improve Their Language Acquisition?

Through something known as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing, (NLP), artificial intelligence may be able to improve its level of communication with humans. 

NLP enables computers to better comprehend, write, and speak much in the same way humans do. And while it is not perfect, its principles and programming methods can be applied to a number of different situations and environments, such as search engine operations, chat services, and voice bots. 

While true language acquisition is possible with AI, the results will never be as smooth or as efficient as human voice and text. Still, it is expected that the technology will continue to improve over the next decade or so.

The Future of AI

Many ask why it is so important that AI sounds like the human voice. One reason is that many companies plan to replace some humans with AI machines in the near future. This scenario is both exciting and worrisome. Many people think that they will lose their job once AI is completely rolled out. AI developers and programmers maintain that, while many current “lower end jobs” will be replaced with AI, the more specialized jobs such as software development, design specialties, and abstract thinking type jobs will still need humans to apply their human reasoning, experience, and emotive aspects to the project.

The Customer Experience

Entrepreneurs and business owners know that the customer experience is the single most important aspect of a business. It is also why more customers develop a sense of loyalty to certain business brands. Therefore, customer service needs to be the best that it can be. AI helps this because it allows an entity online to be available 24/7 when customers have a question that may result in a sale. 

But if language acquisition is poor, the communications will be greatly compromised and may not result in a sale. If productivity is the goal, it is important that all factors are considered so that the end-user has the best possible online website experience without having to pay more people to fill the need.

What do People Prefer?

In a study put out by Weply.chat, it was discovered that over half of the respondents preferred a real human to talk to them, rather than a chatbot (non-human entity), even if it meant waiting awhile longer than they normally would. Many stated that they had had “less than favorable” interactions with chatbots, leaving a sour taste in their mouths regarding AI in general.

If AI is going to fill the need for online customer service, it will have to make great leaps in the future in terms of NLP (natural language processing) in order to meet the needs of the customer to provide the best experience. 

Best of Both Worlds

High-profile companies such as Amazon have decided to use a hybrid type of setup where customers are first asked a series of short questions by a chatbot that is standing ready 24/7 to help them with their initial inquiry. Then, after the question has been narrowed down to a specific product or issue they are asking about, it opens the text box for the customer to write to a real person (the seller) about their inquiry.

This system attempts to combine the best of both worlds by having an AI bot address the issue first, then pitch it to a human if they are unable to solve the problem. This is an example of AI and humans working together toward a common end, which is the ideal scenario.

Deep Learning Models

IBM, the company that missed the boat on the personal computer during the early days, stated that AI needs deep learning models in order to correctly process text analysis, which must be achieved to improve language processing.

NLP combines the best rule-based models of human language with ML (machine learning) and deep learning. This is supposed to result in the ability of computers to process language written or spoken by human beings in the same way they do, as well as to converse with humans in natural ways to complete an inquiry.

While this does not always happen as it should, we are getting closer to human-like interaction as ML and NLP models continue to improve and become more natural. 

The Road Ahead

Bill Gates once wrote a book entitled, “The Road Ahead” in which he envisioned a world where jobs and tasks would be created that are not even thought of in our time. The time is here, now, but it is up to us, as humans, to lead the way with artificial intelligence so that it is handled in a responsible and ethical manner.

It is important to remember that machines will always be machines and humans will always be humans. There’s beauty in both, but it would be a mistake to turn over all control to a machine without any accountability and responsibility for its actions.

To learn more about how you might be involved in the future of AI, start with the basics by enrolling in some of the best C++ courses.

The future begins with one small step.

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