The Immediate Future of Artificial Intelligence

Computing is undergoing the most remarkable transformation since the advent of the internet – the forefront of which is currently Artificial Intelligence. Moore’s law has been proven true for the last 50 years and the technology is getting closer and closer to reaching human-level cognition or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – a term coined by Nick Bostrom, an Oxford futurist known for his ground-breaking research on the implications of artificial intelligence.

Although experts do not have a consensus on the timetable of a super-intelligent AI, many of the technological precursors needed for an AGI are already at superhuman levels. A simple calculator is faster than the best mathematician and a human will never again be the best chess player. Nick Bostrom calls this Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI).

In business environments, ANI is opening the door to address some of the most challenging problems that persist because of the human limitations.

What does this mean for the SMBs?
Consider the Insurance industry. We know from survey after survey, that the average customer’s impression of its support services leaves a lot to be desired. Over 90% of customers say they prefer self-help processes over human interaction. This is where AI Chatbots are making a huge difference.

As a proof of concept, about 4% of North American P&C life insurance companies have live AI implementations for their customer support and another 6% have pilot tested some form of chatbots. Some 2% of CIOs are investing in conversational virtual assistants as they believe that the technology can improve customer experience. By 2019, 40% of enterprises will actively use AI chatbots through ‘natural language understanding (NLU), and by 2022, 30% of customer services will be handled by AI chatbots.

Their use cases are primarily focused to improve interaction, sales and service completion, and personalized content. At the backend, AI software effectively helps businesses decode customer preference patterns, lowering the cost of operations, and will soon move to handle claims and detecting frauds with zero human involvement.

What this all means is, if you, as a customer, want to purchase an insurance policy, you would never have to spend the emotional labor of dealing with a human agent for something as boring as insurance. You will also get better policy suggestions as the bots learn from your preference and most significantly, you’ll get your questions answered by a competent virtual assistant in one phone call.

AI-driven bots have the potential to disrupt almost all customer interfaces:

Entertainment
Users can book a movie ticket just through a conversation. The bot can learn and save preferences for various options like category, language, genre and based on the location provides options in a list, the user can either select or type the optional text to complete the booking.

Flight booking
If you are booking flight tickets, you can use Bots to answer any and all queries like date, class, time of the day etc. Upon receiving the necessary info, the bot provides a set of available options for the user to select and then books based on the preference.

Hotel
User asks for a hotel reservation in any location and the Bots can search and provide the options within the set budget. Further details like exact location preference, room type, and other options are obtained from the refined search results and saved for future use.

Travel
The user provides an utterance to book a bus/train ticket with source and destination and bot responds back with options and asks missing info such as date, class, time of the day etc. Upon receiving the necessary info, bots provide a set of available options for the user to select and then books based on the preference.

Chatbots are the first entry points into AI for SMBs – which is more practical than other emerging techs, say, Blockchain. The capabilities, use cases are increasing by the hour, and your customers are already using it. So Chatbots must be an investment priority for all small and medium-sized business.

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