Service crew

AI customer service chatbots are here to stay • The Register

In short Conversations with chatbots are still pretty clunky today, but they’re improving — especially in customer service — and could be worth a lot of money.

The machine learning software that powers these services allows businesses to tailor general customer service chatbots to their own data. These agents can provide more helpful suggestions instead of generic responses.

For example, General Motors’ finance unit that deals with things like offering car loans, has a chatbot powered by IBM Watson Assistant to help customers repay their loans. The automated software has been programmed to understand certain queries, such as “How much is my payment?” or “Did you get my March payment?” according to New York Times.

The text-based digital assistant saved the company about $935,000; he doesn’t have to pay for human workers or long phone calls. Gartner estimates that the customer service chatbot industry will grow 15% to over $7 billion this year.

Business is booming. Technology is improving rapidly; there are more startups providing this kind of software and lots of companies looking to buy.

“No magic bullet for responsible deployment”

OpenAI will release new datasets that test the security of language models like GPT-3.

These systems can generate text classified as offensive, NSFW and false. Companies like OpenAI are trying to figure out how to make language models safer to use so they can be adopted more widely. At the moment, they rely on content filters.

The San Francisco-based company admitted that there is currently no silver bullet for responsible deployment and that it should have been more careful about the types of data GPT-3 ingested during the process of training.

Some developers using the GPT-3 API have attempted to abuse it, tricking it into generating text to promote questionable medical products or racist fantasy role-playing games. OpenAI has developed datasets to test the security of its models and will publish them.

“Specifically, we have developed new evaluation metrics to measure toxicity in model outputs and have also developed internal classifiers to detect content that violates our content policy, such as erotic content, hate speech, violence, harassment and self-harm,” it said.

Bring your deceased loved ones to life with deepfakes

Deceased relatives appear to speak and move in AI deepfakes created by a startup in partnership with MyHeritage, a genealogy company that helps customers flesh out their family trees.

Illustration of a woman's face blending into glitter

A developer built an AI chatbot using GPT-3 that helped a man talk to his late fiancée again. OpenAI shut it down

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You can see some examples here. All you need to create your own so-called LiveStory clip is to upload a photo of your loved one and write a short passage of text describing their life. You can also change the voices to match their sound. The results aren’t quite perfect, sometimes the mouth movements don’t quite match the speech; the facial expressions and blinks are also a bit unnatural.

“Our use of AI to breathe new life into historic photos is unique and helps millions of people cultivate a renewed emotional connection with their ancestors and deceased loved ones,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage, in a statement. “Genealogy is about telling and preserving our family stories. We continue to show the world how fun and fascinating genealogy can be.”

The software behind the LiveStory feature was developed by D-ID, a startup that creates a range of AI-based creativity tools, and licensed under MyHeritage.

Waymo’s self-driving cars to make grocery deliveries

Waymo has obtained permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to begin charging customers for ordering rides taken by its self-driving cars in San Francisco.

The permit does not cover taxi services, only deliveries, according to TechCrunch. Waymo has partnered with Albertsons, an online grocery store, to deliver goods to San Francisco residents. A human driver must also be present at all times.

Riders cannot yet sit in one of Waymo’s flashy AI robo-vehicles with or without human supervision. “We are taking a step-by-step approach on the road to rolling out our fully self-driving experience to the public,” said Nick Smith, a Waymo spokesperson.

“We start with a self-driving specialist operating in autonomous mode, and open the rides to a select group of trusted testers for free, before starting to load. Eventually, we transition to launch in driver-only mode (without anyone else in the car).”

Waymo did not reveal how much it will charge for deliveries. Meanwhile, Cruise launched a public waitlist for people to sign up and become his first users. ®