The rise of AI

There’s no denying that technology and artificial intelligence (AI) has progressed significantly over the last hundred years. From the Turing Test in Alan Turing’s 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, to IBM’s super computer, Watson winning Jeopardy in 2011 and not to mention countless references in popular culture with AI as the centre of their plots.

IPsoft have unveiled the “first cognitive agent who understands like a human”. Their virtual agent, Amelia, who assists customers contacting a call centre is currently being trialled by several companies, with the ultimate intention to see if she can replace call centre operators.

Amelia is said to be able to understand how customers feel, learning as she completes tasks. IPsoft are using ‘cutting edge technology that emulates the human brain’, becoming more intelligent the more she has to deal with and respond to.

AI is a controversial subject, particularly when it can threaten your job; only recently did articles emerge giving you the option to see how safe your job was from being taken over by robots! We are all aware that this kind of technology exists and is used in technical roles and top secret places that only James Bond is familiar with, but it seems that recently the thought of introducing such advanced systems is going to affect normal, everyday roles in business.

Amelia can read and understand text, process new information and queries, effectively learning from her experiences, but is this going to make humans redundant in customer service roles when a robot can supposedly provide customer service to rival that delivered by your employees?

Counteracting the argument that a computer can’t interact in the same way you and I can, IPsoft describe Amelia as intelligent enough to adopt human behaviour, equipped with an EQ to sense emotions and react to these accordingly. She’s also able to search for an answer in several ways, by answering if she already knows, searching on the internet or internal databases, and if she doesn’t know the answer she will ask a colleague for help. She’s able to observe how the human colleague responds, helping her to learn about this process for future enquiries.

We’re not too convinced, there’s a good reason that we like to record our IVR with warm and friendly voices, you can’t beat good old fashioned human interaction and the ultimate goal when you have a customer on hold is for them to receive brilliant customer service from your agents, it’s meant to be a relief when they speak to a person. We’re not denying that Amelia is a brilliant invention but we’re not sure how necessary it is to replace human employment with a robot that can be deployed from the cloud…