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The Rise of ​AI and Chatbots

January 17, 2017 • By Emily Mackay


By now, you will have heard of Artificial Intelligence because AI is everywhere, from chicken-nannying robots to Robo Advisors. In December last year, Crowdsurfer released our own AI application, Daisy, designed to apply the latest in machine learning to the mass of data generated by crowd finance. In this decision to adopt the new technology we aren't alone in the financial services world, and in a sign of rising interest, there is now a full conference dedicated to the topic of AI in finance.

By now, you will have heard of Artificial Intelligence because AI is everywhere, from chicken-nannying robots to Robo Advisors.

In December last year, Crowdsurfer released our own AI application, Daisy, designed to apply the latest in machine learning to the mass of data generated by crowd finance. In this decision to adopt the new technology we aren't alone in the financial services world, and in a sign of rising interest, there is now a full conference dedicated to the topic of AI in finance.

Artificial intelligence has received a staggering $974 million of funding as of June 2016, and this figure is only set to increase, with a record number of patent applications being submitted and a wall of capital looking to enter a sector that has serious appeal and huge potential returns. In fact, according to Narrative Science, a whopping 62% of organisations will be using AI by 2018.

It seems inevitable that the day is coming when AI will underpin business infrastructure everywhere.

Virtual assistants, customer service chatbots, conversational e-commerce, self-driving cars, med-tech; the list of applications is endless. Gartner estimates that by 2020, consumers will manage 85% of their relationships with enterprises without ever interacting with a human, with all of their interactions being dealt with by some form of AI. And yet, many key regulatory and business decision makers haven’t considered the implications of this innovative technology for their own businesses and industries and also the effect that it will have on the wider marketplace and economy.

There are deep social implications, too.

For example, chatbots have the potential to revolutionise the way that companies service their customers, accelerating the automation process and enabling en masse downscaling of the workforce. Lower employment will have profound political, social and economic implications on a macro level. When you talk about disruptive...you talk about AI!

Of course, the tech behemoths have seen the future, and, as a result of what they've seen, they’re investing heavily in AI.

Facebook's artificial intelligence research team has spent the past two years working out how to make computer vision as good as human vision. The implications are huge. Computer vision could change the way we interact with photos and video, tapping into the physical reality behind the screen to provide us with deeper, richer information about the real world in which we work, play and live our lives.

After being stuck on the sidelines in the mobile revolution, Microsoft has been hard at work on its "conversation as a platform" offering, which they unveiled in spring 2016. The company is betting big that chat-based interfaces will surpass apps as the only way we interact with the web. Like Facebook, the race is on to understand faces, emotional responses, and other information in photos and video.

Not wanting to be left out of the party, Google have launched a new “intelligent assistant” that runs inside Allo, its new messenger app, and Home, its competitor to Echo, Amazon’s voice assistant that is now present in three million homes.

So, it's clear that AI is on the verge of a real-world explosion and potential, if not probable, ubiquity... but what does this mean for crowd finance?

Here at Crowdsurfer, we believe that the future, especially in the short term, lies in assistive expertise in specific areas, where the conversation can become narrow, but, most importantly, deep. The technological challenge lies in developing intelligence or mastery of various aspects of conversation, such as questions, statements, interjections, answers, comments, asides, context awareness, keeping track of multiple threads and argumentation.

Despite the huge investment and innovation steps being taken by the most powerful and wealthy company on earth, it's still fairly early in the development of AI technologies and it will take time for software to achieve the sophistication that consumers expect from human interactions.

Right now, bots are still quite rule-based, but in the long run, the technology will transition to become more human; something intelligent and intuitive that learns its own rules of conversation. Understanding how people think through associating one thing with another is key. One way we hope to capture this is through our AI app and the use of dialogic search.

One thing is for sure... it's an exciting time for all involved in some way with AI. So watch this space.