By Liam Ryan, Head of Sales
Back in 2001 I had the privilege of meeting Professor Noel Sharkey when he was a judge and I was a contestant on Robot Wars. Fifteen years later, I again had the pleasure of speaking with him when Creative Virtual sponsored the Social Robotics & AI conference. Noel and Creative Virtual’s Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, were just two of the industry experts that presented as part of the event held at Oxford Brookes University in September.
This was the first year for this conference which aimed to unite the scientific community, business leaders and builders of human capital to discuss the role of AI in our commercial future. It was a well-attended event, with a large number of customer service professionals wanting to gain insight into how their companies should be looking to use cutting-edge AI technologies. As part of the ‘AI in Action’ showcase, we shared live demonstrations of our intelligent virtual agents. This sparked some interesting conversations about natural language chatbots, how self-service is perceived by customers and the potential for AI in the future of customer service.
Chris drew on his many years of experience during the ‘Customer relationships’ track, and his presentation, ‘Building customer relationships with intelligent virtual agents: A framework for humans and machines to work in harmony’ touched on many of the themes that came up during those conversations. A key takeaway for the audience was that customer support is not the place for pure AI. Intelligent virtual agents are an ideal solution for engaging customers and providing self-service, but they need to combine AI with a human element. This means they will learn and adapt based on how customers are using them while still enabling organisations to maintain control over the reliability of responses.
Also presenting at the conference was keynote speaker Garry Kasparov, world chess champion and AI advocate. His presentation delved into the relationship of intelligent machines and human creativity. He encouraged attendees to focus on how AI enables and empowers us to use technology in creative ways we never before imagined. Chris and I were both excited to have the opportunity to meet Garry and hear his thoughts on the potential of AI.
Noel Sharkey closed the conference with a look at ‘Human Responsibility in a World of Robots’. He shared some sensational newspaper headlines that were published as a result of his comments about AI being misinterpreted. These served as a first-hand example of the misunderstanding that often surrounds AI. Noel stressed that the industry needs to approach innovation in AI and robotics in a responsible manner that will help clear up this confusion and earn public trust.
In my opinion, the first Social Robotics & AI conference was a success from the impressive line-up of speakers and thought-provoking conversations right down to the delicious shrimp on the lunchtime spread! Our thanks to the organisers for inviting Creative Virtual to be a part of this event.
Please take a look at our Products page to learn more about Creative Virtual’s suite of Smart Help solutions and then request a personalised demo to see how AI technology can help you build relationships with your customers.
And for all of you curious about my Robot Wars appearance, check out the video below starting just before the 19-minute mark.