AI and Robotics conference, with Stephen Metcalfe MP and Chris Ezekiel

chatbot how can I help you?

Here’s the second instalment of my notes from the AI and Robotics conference earlier this month. It summarises the talks from two excellent speakers:

  • Stephen Metcalfe, an MP heavily involved with the government’s activities relating to science and technology
  • Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO of Creative Virtual, a company that’s created chatbots for clients including HSBC, Verizon, Autodesk, E*TRADE, Lloyds Banking Group, Tesco and National Rail Enquiries

If you missed my first post from the conference you can find it here.

In conversation with Stephen Metcalfe, MP, Joint Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for AI.

Stephen began by explaining that the purpose of an All Party Parliamentary Group (‘APPG’) is to gather information and inform Parliament about the impact of a particular topic, so that it can help people to adapt.

The APPG for Artificial Intelligence is exploring:

  • What does AI mean for society and government? It’s everywhere… newspapers, social media, parliamentary discussions…
  • Is government doing enough to ensure people understand AI and its impact as science fiction turns into science fact
  • The impact of AI: will it be apocalyptic or positive (in that it’ll augment humanity), or is the reality somewhere in between?
  • Whether a ministerial position should be created with responsibility for AI and machine learning
  • If there’s a concentration of capital in technology companies, how does that affect the rest of us, the economy, and the tax take? The APPG for AI is discussing this with big accountancy companies
  • Whether the government recognises quite how many jobs could be lost in the technology, science and research industries. Is someone going to look after them, particularly during Brexit negotiations? What about the political impact?

In summary:

  • Whatever happens, AI will have a huge impact
  • The pace of change makes it difficult. We’ve got to find a way of informing people and giving them the transferable skills needed, as our economy evolves into something quite different
  • Stephen’s concern is that if we don’t bring people along – in terms of rewarding employment and making society a better place – the risk is that new political or pressure groups will emerge that use technology as a reason for unrest, comparable to Chartism in the Industrial Revolution
  • There will be a need for legislation, we don’t know what it should look like yet
  • We need to provide a way of challenging automated decision making
  • Get involved with the APPG for AI website and make a contribution / tell them what you think

Chatbots and your customers: a realistic look at using AI and machine learning

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder and CEO of Creative Virtual

Chris told us Gartner predicts by 2022, 70% of customer interactions will be done by emerging technology such as machine learning.

  • Customers want instant answers… email is not the answer!
  • 69% of consumers, according to a recent MORI poll, reported they’d be happy to interact with AI

Meet National Rail Enquiries’ chatbot: Ask Lisa

  • ‘Ask Lisa’ has been operating for 10 years. She has a personality and has always been female
  • She can do ‘small talk’ and responds to voice as well as typing
  • She often just signposts a page – this is a growing trend and means you don’t need a navigation on your site
  • Lisa can deal with non-linear decision trees. For example, if you tell her you want to travel to Leeds, she’ll ask where you’re travelling from
  • She can do cross-selling and upselling and can deal with multiple data points in a single sentence
  • Lisa sits in Facebook Messenger, as well as in National Rail’s contact centre, where she’s used by staff

Other good examples of chatbots

Other good examples of chatbots include Hotel Indigo on Facebook and HSBC’s commercial banking website (Hong Kong): Ask Amy – try asking Amy if she can speak English.

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