In conjunction with the upcoming MWC Shanghai 2019, Tara Neal, the Executive Editor of The Fast Mode spoke to Rana Gujral, CEO of Behavioral Signals, the company that develops emotion recognition and behavioral analytics technology. The following is the interview.
The term AI is taking the world by storm. This is taking place at a time when complementing technologies such as machine learning and big data analytics and real-time rich data communications are all making major strides of their own. Together these technologies are set to redefine existing production processes, and at a larger scale, the way humans organize their economies and lives.
TARA NEAL: Can you share with us some of the latest trends surrounding AI deployments? Where are most of these deployments taking place – sectors and application wise?
RANA GUJRAL: Great question. AI is happening everywhere! In all industries and aspects of life. Wherever you have data and a willingness to improve performance... AI is there. Only problem is it’s not that evident. AI is very difficult to showcase, since it is intelligence displayed by machines in comparison to the intelligence displayed by humans. The same way we don’t ask if humans use their brain to make products or provide services, the same way we don’t go into AI details. Humans are still more intelligent than machines but the big difference is we would need several lifetimes to compute the same amount of data a machine would do. It’s simply faster and we are able to train machines to do very complex analysis and capture patterns that we might not have been able to see.
So, yes AI is everywhere. Anywhere that our lives could be made easier. Whether that is doing simple calculations faster and more effectively, than humans can do them, or helping doctors diagnose diseases via imagery, AI is there. If I was to pick one or two impressive use cases they would be IBM’s Watson AI breakthroughs in disease diagnosis, and self-driving cars.
TARA NEAL: We are hearing a lot about Emotional AI. Can you elaborate more on this?
RANA GUJRAL: Emotion AI is the ability of machines to recognize human emotions and then respond appropriately. The recognition and understanding of human emotions is crucial for AI systems to behave in appropriate ways according to the situation and smoothly integrate with all the different aspects of human life. It’s being used to develop machines that are capable of reading, interpreting, responding to, and imitating human affect—the way we, as humans, experience and express emotions.
What does this mean for consumers? It means that our devices, such as our smartphone or smart speakers, will be able to offer us interaction that feels more natural than ever before, all by simply reading the emotional cues in our voice.
So here at Behavioral Signals we’re leveraging enormous amounts of data and machine learning to develop behavior- and emotion-savvy engines to build connected, emotionally intelligent AI products upon. Whether creating an interactive smart toy for children, developing truly revolutionary virtual assistant applications for businesses, or programming robots to make caring for loved ones a little easier, our work in emotion AI is intended to supercharge user experience.
TARA NEAL: Telecom Operators are also showing great interest in AI related technologies. How does AI actually help them in driving their present and future businesses?
RANA GUJRAL: Telcos share one key factor when it comes to AI. Huge amounts of data so it makes them well placed to take advantage of AI’s capabilities. There’s a lot of areas that AI can play a role and already are being utilized:
Using AI to analyse data and offer competitive packages to their customers - before they abandon them for another telco- according to real usage/needs and personal details, like age, interests etc.; or
Use AI to improve performance in their infrastructure; or
As one of our clients is doing, improve agent performance in their call centers, optimize first call resolution and maximise customer satisfaction.
TARA NEAL: AI is said to impact employment, making a lot of workers redundant as intelligent machines take over our jobs. What is your comment on this? With AI and related technologies, do you foresee any new opportunities for ‘humans’ in the place of the jobs lost?
RANA GUJRAL: The jobs that will be taken away from humans are the repetitive ones. Those that can actually be done by a programmed machine. Jobs that can be done faster, with less effort, less mistakes, by a machine. Same way industrialisation took away jobs from the small manufacturers and people learnt to work in a new environment... the same will happen in this new AI era.
People will need to re-train themselves, to do all those jobs that machines still won’t be able to do. There are many jobs that AI will not replace, at least not imminently. Watson will not replace Doctors but it will give them a powerful tool to help them with their diagnosis. That means they will have free time to focus where it matters, not on tests and diagnosis but on treatment and empathizing with the patient.
AI still needs humans to program it and I definitely see it as an opportunity for professionals with specific domain expertise to get involved. Professionals from agriculture, aviation, construction and so on can be an integral part of this new AI era.
TARA NEAL: What do you think will be some of the major topics discussed at the upcoming MWC Shanghai 2019, and what will be some of Behavioral Signal’s highlights at the event?
RANA GUJRAL: Obviously, I expect the conversation around 5G networks to be the primary topic. It’s been in the center of MWC for the past 2 years from Barcelona to Shanghai. I’m interested to see how Asia reacts to Huawei’s ban and what this could mean for the 5G development across the world.
Hopefully I will get to see some new concept phones, but I’m definitely eager to see AI applications in robotics, virtual assistants and maybe discuss what emotion recognition could actually do for them. One of the things we’re deeply involved in right now is behavioral and intent prediction, which can prove to be useful a KPI when trying to predict different factors like propensity to buy, for example, so I really will be on the lookout for applications targeted directly to consumers.