Natural language understanding (NLU) refers to the use of artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of machine learning (ML) to allow computers to understand the meaning of human language, commonly known in the context of computer science as natural language.
Albeit complex and ambiguous, natural language shows implicit rules and patterns that can be tackled through complex statistical models. By training machines on vast repositories of curated linguistic data, we can use machines to associate any given linguistic inputs or utterances with one of a set of predefined meaning categories, usually known as communicative intents. Understanding the meaning of an utterance, in this sense, is understanding its function in the context of communication, what the language does.
Conversational AI leverages accurate NLU capabilities with a dialog management component to build conversational digital interfaces, that is, digital interfaces that use natural language as the key form of human-machine interaction.
Why is this so remarkable?
Well, it is said among designers that the ideal interface is one that is not noticeable at all. An interface that blends with the task at hand, and, without any undue friction, allows you to achieve your goals. Language, if you think about it, is one of the best exemplars we have of such a concept. It allows us to connect with others and shape ideas, as well as our world, while remaining in the background.
Conversation as technology-empowered language
The exponential development of NLU and Conversational AI technologies has anything but challenged the key role of language in our daily interactions. Rather, it has empowered our words, opening a wide range of new ways and contexts for it to transform our human-to-human communications, and, most notably, the way we communicate with the machines that characterize our world today.
Conversation has been recognized as the key format of the digital world. As places made of language, digital systems have been designed to talk with users in a language that’s in tune with who they are. Some researchers have even gone as far as to affirm that the language of the digital age represents a sort of come back of the spoken word, a second orality, while others have described the steep increase of communication via instant messaging apps, texting, as an emerging kind of fingered conversation.
Conversational AI allows organizations to use language, the most universal human interface, as the building block of effective and efficient customer journeys. While statistics and ML are used to leverage the subtleties and complexities inherent to language understanding, empathy and creativity are crucial to better understand your users’ needs and guide them along carefully designed conversational paths, streamlining every conversation between your organization and your customers.
Want to learn more about Conversational AI?
Don’t miss Santiago Santa María’s Masterclass on Conversational AI, where you’ll learn how companies across different industries have transformed their operations thanks to automated and AI-powered conversations.