Many business leaders believe that AI may take over jobs and replace humans — but new research shows the exact opposite. Executives maintain that AI can lead to business insights that can contribute to less employee stress and a more efficient workplace.
The focus of the report, “Being Human: How and Why Machines are Learning the Art of Human Conversation” is on “conversational AI,” and is researched by voice software specialist Red Box.
Why does AI need to “listen” like a human? Essentially to be able to be more efficient at helping us to our work. AIs will ideally learn to use nuances like irony, sarcasm, inflection, and metaphors. Nobody has yet tried to deploy a solution at scale which models the customer’s cognitive state. Whilst there are some start-ups researching and developing advanced AI in this area, as yet, there is no entire solution available for businesses at scale.
“The business case for AI ‘listening’ like a human is clear; the more detailed the data and understanding, the clearer and more effective the insights gleaned from it,” says Richard Stevenson, CEO of Red Box. “There is, however, a disconnect right now between business leaders’ awareness of how AI can improve their business and its actual implementation.”
The report states that across the UK and the US, between 40-50% of business leaders are aware of the use cases for conversational AI but are not currently using them in their organization.
Organizations that are already using AI in areas like customer service, for example, “will pull ahead of their competition.” AI-based products can enhance the customer experience, fuel sales performance, and identify churn signals, it suggests.
In the UK, the highest incidence of AI usage is in improving customer experience (35%), followed by providing real-time agent assistance (34%). In the US, organizations are mostly using AI to improve their employee experience (30%) and to help compliance teams to prevent fraud (29%). According to a sample of Red Box customers, 77% want to use conversational AI data to help with skills and training gaps.
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“In spite of the depth of human insight AI can deliver, algorithms can only do so much with the data they’re given,” says Stevenson. “When they’re not fed enough detail, important information is missed — and this is frequently the case when it comes to the nuances of human conversations.”
As an example, Apple’s Siri can appear intelligent to an observer, but Siri is not intelligent by human standards in the sense that Siri does not understand what the observer means, but instead is good at associating what the observer wants with a library of “knowledge” that it has mapped to the observers’ requests. Today’s Siri, Alexa and other Natural Language Programs’ “knowledge” comes from learning and observing millions of requests and mapping these requests with the most statistically relevant associations by the observers.
Across the board, UK and US business leaders report a lack of relevant AI and data skills in the market. Interestingly, there is also much speculation on what a growing usage of AI within organizations will do to the wider workforce. The report found that 41% of managers believe AI will cause a reduction in the workforce while also being utilized as a tool to support hybrid working practices (41%).
So, when will AI be able to “listen” like — or better than — a human? According to 47% of respondents, this is an inevitability. 41% of UK and US business leaders believe it already can. Certainly, in a select few small, agile start-ups, AI has been trained to do just this. But what Red Box are talking here is a scalable solution which will become available to businesses.
It points to an inflection point, where humans are able to program AI to overcome difficulties such as understanding human sentiment and emotion, as soon as in the next two to five years.
“Looking at developments in neural technology and data analytics, as well as increased computing power, it is clear now that AI will progressively augment and streamline many human activities in the next five years.”