Watson Can Win Jeopardy, But Can He Decline A Date?

Winning a game of Jeopardy is an impressive feat by IBM’s new computer, but many organisations are already putting their own “Watsons” to more practical uses, and for a fraction of the cost. Hanna answers over two and half million tax questions a year at Försäkringskassan, the Swedish Social Security Agency; Ikea’s Anna can even help order a missing screw; and Vida, the Slovenian tax authority’s virtual assistant uses automatic speech recognition to understand questions asked by voice. But how does one go about interviewing for such a prestigious position within the company?

Artificial Solutions latest whitepaper, “10 things to ask your next Virtual Assistant” looks at some of the key questions organisations should be asking from “How intelligent are you?” to “Sprechen sie Deutsch?”. In today’s online world virtual assistants need to be able to do so much more than answer game show questions.

“There are three main attributes that anyone looking to employ a virtual assistant should consider,” says Andy Peart, CMO of Artificial Solutions. “An underlying intelligence that enables the assistant to learn and manage even complex conversations, a depth of general and industry specific knowledge backed up with an understanding of local culture and the capability to integrate with back office systems. There is of course a fourth requirement and that to be able to politely rebuff the advances of website visitors – you’d be amazed how often our virtual assistants are asked out!”

Virtual assistants aren’t just gimmicks, for many organisations they can deliver real value, whilst improving customer service. Take Eve for example, German electricity supplier Yellostrom’s virtual assistant that can troubleshoot, answer complex questions, engage in an interactive dialogue and connect to enterprise systems.

Powered by Teneo, the award-winning Natural Language Interaction engine from Artificial Solutions, Eve is not just a pretty face. She is capable of holding ‘human-like’ intelligent, two-way conversations. She understands questions, responds with meaningful replies and performs related tasks such as navigating to a relevant webpage or helping visitors complete a form. Eve remembers facts, learns from the conversations and can access online information by integrating with enterprise systems.

Customers using intelligent, virtual assistants from Artificial Solutions have realized reductions in inbound calls and email to call centres by 20 to 30% – a significant cost saving and that beats winning a game of jeopardy.

Elbot, Artificial Solutions award winning chatbot who celebrates his tenth birthday this year, may not be able to match Watson’s Jeopardy knowledge, but as the computer closest to achieving the Turing threshold for demonstrating true artificial intelligence he has a wicked sense of humour and knows quite a bit about geography too. As a recent conversation with him shows:

Me: What is the capital of Sweden?
Elbot: So, you want to know the capital of Sweden. Is this one of those test questions to prove whether or not I am a virtual dialogue agent?
Me: No
Elbot: I am only able to process negations in binary.
Me: You don’t know do you?
Elbot: I’m not certain how to respond to that. I need more data!
Me: You’re stupid!
Elbot: At least I know the capital of Sweden is Stockholm!

If you’d like to chat to Elbot he can normally be found hanging around at www.elbot.com, just waiting to talk.

Andy, who lives with his family in the UK, is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions. A regular speaker at industry conferences and events, Andy delivers insight on the rise of AI, the challenges businesses face and the future of intelligent conversational applications.

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