My Logic is Undeniable


My Logic is Undeniable

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  January 10, 2014

My husband loves the move I, Robot with Will Smith. And, I must admit, it’s a pretty good movie. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know how it turns out.

The robots go rogue and start knocking off humans. That is, all the robots except for a special one named Sonny, who actually helps the humans survive amid the machine-on-mammal turmoil.

The message here, I guess, is that technology (and artificial intelligence in particular), while exciting and creating a world of new opportunities, also creates risk – so we need to carefully consider its many implications.

There’s a lot of excitement and recent new activity in both the areas of artificial intelligence and in robotics.

One new development on this front includes leverage software to help gauge the emotion of customers in settings such as call centers. A recent New York Times article mentioned that Israeli startup Beyond Verbal offers software that can detect 400 variations of different moods by looking at speech patterns.

The article, and Donna Fluss of market research firm DMG Consulting who is quoted in it, note that raises privacy issues, so companies using these kind of solutions should consider disclosing their use of such tools.

But I didn’t have to read the comments from Carnegie Mellon University’s George Loewenstein, who talked about how the use of such solutions could lead to arbitrary conclusions, to wonder whether this kind of thing offers any true value. It kind of reminds me of the laughable body language bits that some of the “news” shows run about figures in popular culture. A lot of flash – but not much in the way of substance.

It also brought to mind a piece I wrote for AVOKE Analytics that ran in the November issue of CUSTOMER magazine. It describes what I consider a much more affective way to truly understand the feelings of customers. And that is by simply listening to what customers are actually saying throughout the life of their experience with your company –­ whether an agent is listening on the other end, or not.

As the piece explains, following a call through transfers and until the customer hangs-up can also reveal a wealth of information. For example, a recording from one AVOKE Analytics customer revealed that a conversation between a caller and agent was suddenly interrupted by an automated message saying the call couldn’t be completed, and the caller was abruptly disconnected. Traditional call center tracking systems would log this as a completed call, but the reality – as captured by an end-to-end feedback solution – reveals it is quite the opposite. The same article talks about how people frequently voice frustration while being transferred or waiting on hold – no surprise there.

Why not just listen to what people are actually saying rather than trying to do some psychological analysis on what people might be thinking?

Speaking of thinking, what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the Amazon drone. (How’s that for a smooth segue?)

You probably saw the drone prototype on the evening news reports recently. It’s an unmanned mini flying machine that Amazon is working on to deliver goods in a more efficient manner.

Supercool, agreed. But this kind of thing could also potentially do a lot of damage to power lines, trees, homes, my car, your head, and other neighborhood wildlife. That’s not to mention the security implications of a commercial flying drone, which could potentially be hacked to take rather than deliver goods, or create other mayhem.

But I’m sure Amazon and plenty of other companies and research organizations are working on these challenges.

Hey, if we can use a robotic vacuum cleaner that can coexist with home dwellers, dogs and cats, maybe a flying delivery bot can work too.

Edited by Blaise McNamee
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