insight

Artificial intelligence will save us, not enslave us!

By Glenn Drawbridge, - Insight

In 1996 AskJeeves.com was born and a few years later its television adverts were everywhere.

The original idea behind Ask Jeeves was to provide answers to questions posed in everyday language. “Jeeves” was the name of your very own personal assistant, or butler, fetching answers to any question you asked.

In a time where the internet was still very much in its infancy, the prospect really sparked my imagination. Excited like many others after seeing the advert, I turned on my PC to ask Jeeves a question.

Although I don’t remember the first question I asked, I do remember the disappointment I had when the answer was just a list of websites related to keywords in my search criteria.

In 2006 ‘Jeeves’ was phased out completely and the website changed its name to ‘Ask.com’. Google has since become synonymous with the search for knowledge on the internet, allowing for some basic question and answer functionality such as currency conversions, maths, dictionary definitions and the recent ‘fact checker’ functionality.

But the real leap forward lies in artificial intelligence (AI).

A user-inspired revolution

We have experienced something of a ‘user interface evolution’ in terms of how we communicate and use technology.

We’ve gone from command line interfaces, making humans learn ‘computer speak’, to graphical user interfaces where we’ve had a mouse and icons to point at what we want but still had to learn to use our machines.

The next evolution was the introduction of touchscreen and intuitive, human centric applications giving us the ability to use our finger (‘the best pointing device in the world’, according to Steve Jobs) as the navigation tool.

Now we’re in the middle of another evolution, where machines have to learn our language and work out how they can best serve us.

AI is about enabling computers to do things like humans – to think, learn and react like we do.

Its core goals include reasoning, knowledge, planning, communication, perception, the ability to manipulate objects, and, perhaps most importantly, learning.

People often say AI has the potential to enslave the human race but I believe this is the time when they (the machines) will truly start working for us!

Take, for example, the introduction of virtual agents within Fujitsu’s Next Generation Service Desk. We’re calling it the Social Command Centre.

Our intelligent virtual agent understands you, the user, and works the way you do. It’s designed to be seamlessly integrated with our other contact channels, providing you with a consistent end-to-end experience.

You can simply converse with the virtual agent in natural language and receive an instant answer, regardless of how your question was phrased.

It guides you smoothly to self-remediation and self-fulfilment by providing contextually relevant information to your questions.

Where do we go from here?

From a service desk perspective, vast chunks of previously manual work can now be automated. This reduces cost, increases efficiency and frees the service desk agent to concentrate on more rewarding and proactive support work.

AI is set to lead the way in terms of how we interact with our devices online, as well as acting as our proxies and accomplishing tasks for us by working with other third-party bots.

In fact, Gartner recently predicted that “by 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through ‘conversations’ with smart machines.”

What’s next in the user interface evolution? Perhaps a brain-computer interface, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves…

Read the Next-Generation Service Desk whitebook to learn more about how AI can help build a service desk fit for 2017 and beyond or find out more about the Fujitsu Social Command Centre.

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