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Artificial Solutions Helps Shell Bridge Language Gaps

By Steve Anderson January 20, 2016

When running a worldwide firm, one of the biggest problems that organizations face is the lack of a common language. Interpreters have helped on this front for decades, but thanks to technology, the role of the interpreter may be coming to an end. Artificial Solutions recently announced that Shell brought on some new support for multiple languages specifically for its two digital employees.


Shell has two digital entities involved in its operation, a pair going by the names of Emma and Ethan. Built around the Teneo platform, Emma and Ethan can offer advice about the technical side of Shell's array of lubricants. With Teneo's Master-Local system, Shell can get Emma and Ethan quickly up to speed on both technology and language matters. That easy interoperability allowed Emma and Ethan to hook up rapidly with Artificial Solutions, and now the duo can converse in Chinese, German and Russian, along with having new support for several geographic locations. Plus, Emma and Ethan now know the major details of over 3,000 Shell products and can understand as much as 16,500 lesser characteristics, understanding things like density or even flash points, the kind of thing most want to know about lest a lubricant catch fire.

Teneo's Language Resources line helps provide natural language applications—applications that respond not to specific commands, but rather speech as commonly spoken—quickly and effectively. Teneo has been developing these tools over the last 15 years, and has thus expanded development even to cover non-Romance languages, those without the common connection in Latin. Those interested in finding out how the system works can actually chat with Ethan in the United States right now.

Ethan and Emma represent a development that's as compelling as it is unnerving. The personification of a search engine, the duo can represent a great way to connect to Shell at any time of the day or night; Ethan and Emma scarcely need sleep, won't get sick, and won't take so much as a bathroom break in the middle of the day. Only software updates, power outages or network issues will prevent Emma and Ethan from being on the job, and that's where the disturbing part kicks in. If more places take on virtual assistants like Emma and Ethan, then what's the point in having real people on hand? How many otherwise paid jobs will Emma and Ethan cost society, and what happens to the broader economy when these people no longer have incomes?

Could Emma and Ethan be harbingers of economic calamity to come? Or a good way to field questions at odd hours or on holidays? Potentially both answers are correct here, and that's what makes Emma and Ethan—and the new Artificial Solutions material driving the duo—both compelling and unnerving.




Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

Contributing Writer

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