For many years, the development of Artificial intelligence (AI) has been conducted by a limited number of industries, mainly gaming and finance. At the 2017 Web Summit, IBM Global Business Services Vice President and CTO, Chitra Dorai, asserted that AI will be integrated by a vast majority of companies and corporations in a bid to drastically enhance work efficiency, communication and large-scale operations.
Restructuring Customer Care by Deploying Virtual Assistants
Since late 2016, some of the finance industry’s largest conglomerates, such as JPMorgan and PayPal, have incorporated AI to restructure customer care, reduce labor costs and assess customer care employees with sophisticated chatbots.
“Deep learning is yet another tool in the arsenal of Data Scientists working to improve customer experience.”
PayPal has been focused on the development of machine learning: they have begun implementing deep learning algorithms with AI bots to help deal with customers concerns. Vadim Kutsyy, PayPal’s architect of data science, explained that the PayPal network leverages AI to create a more secure and efficient ecosystem for customers. It does this by assisting employees, not replacing them. PayPal uses chatbots during calls to enhance the customer support provided by its employees. “Deep learning is yet another tool in the arsenal of Data Scientists working to improve customer experience”, said Kutsyy. “PayPal customers expect a seamless experience with security as a main consideration and in order to meet and exceed customer expectations, PayPal continues to leverage AI”.
At Web Summit, Chitra Dorai emphasized that approximately 270 billion calls are made to call centers costing around $600 billion. She added that, “that is a huge space where we can truly infuse cognitive and AI solutions to make a big difference.” According to Dorai, the use of chatbots is key for companies and enterprises looking to integrate AI in customer care. Through the use of AI chatbots, customer care services will be empowered and optimized and a substantial part of the $600 billion spent annually on customer care calls will be reduced. As suggested by Dorai, an increasing number of companies and large-scale enterprises will shift their focus from using AI and chatbots to deal with issues before they reach call centers to integrating them in order to improve the quality and efficiency of customer care calls.
“[With virtual assistants], customer experiences improved. We have developed these agent assistant chatbots in many different domains. We have found that we are able to save a minute off calls on average, improve customer satisfaction, as well as [drop] issue reopen rate. We are really finding that the use of agent assistant solutions makes a real difference”, concluded Dorai.
Commercial and investment bank JPMorgan has also integrated AI technology in hopes of improving customer care. Since August of this year, beyond using AI to facilitate trade executions or recommend stocks to acquire, they have been utilizing AI to analyze, and ultimately take into consideration, the behaviours and reactions of clients when executing trades.
Misconceptions About Artificial Intelligence
The fears and misconceptions about AI were some of the main points of discussion surrounding the technology throughout 2017. Through their development of interactive robots controlled by AI systems and algorithms, startups like Google’s DeepMind Technologies and Boston Dynamics have demonstrated further practical use cases for machine learning and AI. Specifically, Boston Dynamics introduced a redesigned version of its humanoid robot, Atlas, which is able to detect obstacles and make its way across roads, paths and various spaces without tripping over.
The rapid advancement and development of AI solutions has triggered heated debates among some of the technology sector’s most respected entrepreneurs, namely Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg previously criticized Musk for his comments on AI, in which he suggested that AI could potentially be damaging to humans. In response, Musk tweeted: “I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”
At Web Summit, XPRIZE's Marcus Shingles, Kespry's George Mathew, European Parliament's Kaja Kallas, European Economic & Social Committee's Catelijne Muller and The Slate Group's Jacob Weisberg expressly discussed the benefits and damages AI could bring to humans and the economy in the long-term.
“If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
In February, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates argued that robots which take the jobs of human employees should be taxed, on the grounds that human employees will inevitably lose their jobs as robots and AI systems continue to automate most industries.
“Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” Gates said during an interview with Quartz.
XPRIZE’s Marcus Shingles also asserted at the Web Summit that regardless of whether AI systems and algorithms create or eliminate jobs, they improve job quality.
“It is not just about jobs that are lost or gained. It is also about jobs that are improved by the use of AI. In industrial work, we have scenarios where there are dangerous activities going on at construction sites where people are literally falling off roofs, falling off mine sites and, in most of these cases, a drone could really [improve safety measures in getting work] accomplished in a more seamless manner”, said Shingles.
Shingles emphasized that with the help of AI-integrated hardware, such as robots and drones, dangerous jobs will be made considerably safer and productivity will drastically increase. He explained that this is what should be focused on, rather than the potential dangers of AI — especially at such an early stage in development.
In the second part of her talk at Web Summit, Dorai provided an extensive overview of how AI systems can be integrated into the existing infrastructure of companies to form a smart communications platform and promote efficiency.
“Think of a call center agent handling 25 plus calls every day talking about complex subjects. They cannot have all the facts in their heads. Often, they put callers on hold in order to get the help. Think about a chatbot or a voice assistant whispering responses to the caller’s questions into their ears. They don’t have to put the caller on hold but, rather, appear competent because they have the answers,” said Dorai.
At this current phase of AI development, wherein systems are being integrated into enterprise-grade infrastructures and companies are beginning to test machine learning applications at a commercial level, it is more important to focus on the benefits of AI. As Dorai and Shingles explained, the benefits of embedding AI systems are far more significant than the purported dangers of AI and deep learning algorithms.
Illustrations by Ksusha Itwazcool
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Margarita Khartanovich at [email protected]