Adaptive A.I. Inc. (a2i2) of Playa del Rey, CA plans to announced Monday, Jan 12, 2009 the “world’s first commercial AGI (artificial general intelligence) system” — a virtual IVR (interactive voice response) call center operator that can hold “smart, productive conversations,” CEO Peter Voss, a computer scientist and entrepreneur, told KurzweilAI.net in an exclusive interview.
Peter Voss said the company’s SmartAction IVR System, running on a2i2’s data center, “constantly monitors and manages conversation flow and meta-cognitive state (such as mood, degree of certainty and surprise), and determines when clarification via live interaction, email, or live-agent assistance is needed.”
Its speech engine then responds, based on the current conversation context (with natural-language programming), and a cognitive engine analyzes multiple speech hypotheses for the most likely meaning, resolving ambiguities.
In essence, the system replaces a (hypothetical) intelligent live operator who happens to have an amazing memory. The system remembers each caller’s preferences, previous calls and other details, so callers don’t have to answer the same questions every time they call. If a call is interrupted, the system can call the customer back and pick up the conversation where it left off. Try getting all that on your next 800 number call!
“Its built-in intelligence also allows the system to be taught new skills and knowledge, instead of these having to be custom programmed,” Voss said. Based on seven years of AGI research, the program could “revolutionize the 10 billion dollars annual IVR market,” he believes.
The ultimate purpose for their LiveAGI Brain is to “enable a major transformation of human-computer interfaces for a broad range of applications, such as websites, search engines, console and online games, virtual worlds, enterprise software, and consumer products.”
Current automated call center systems either provide extremely crude functionality, or else require extensive domain customization prior to each deployment; and they still show serious shortcomings even after such customization, due largely to their ability to interpret the user’s statements in terms of an appropriate contextual understanding.
“The promise AGI technology offers for this domain is the possibility of responding to user statements with the contextual understanding that only general intelligence can bring,” said Ben Goertzel, CEO and Chief Scientist of AI firm Novamente LLC, which is also developing AGI-based virtual-agent products.
“However, the extent to which a2i2 has really solved this very difficult call-center problem is impossible to assess without actually trying the product. What they have might be an incremental improvement over existing technologies, or it might be a quantum leap forward; based on the information provided, there is no way to tell. For example, Tuvox is a quite sophisticated competitor and it would be interesting to see a head to head competition between their system and a2i2’s.
Separate Effort for AI: Evolving Neural Nets on Cheap, Fast Hardware
Professor Hugo de Garis was been given a grant by Xiamen University in Fujian Province, China to build an artificial brain consisting of 10,000 – 15,000 neural net circuit modules evolved in an accelerator board 50 times faster than in a PC. He is scheduled to head a conference session on the subject of artificial brains in May at AGI-09, the second conference on artificial general intelligence, after which he will be teaching at the first AGI Summer School in Xiamen, China in June.