The recently held Wrangle event at the ADAX office in Bangsar South, saw a host of reknowned international speakers gracing the event. Being its 2nd instalment with the first held last year, the turnout showed much promise as the crowd filled the room to the brim at the ADAX HQ.
Big Community was privileged to have a quick chat with David Low, the Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist at Pand.ai., a leading organisation that is geared towards the building of A.I powered chatbots used to disrupt and shape the booming conversational commerce space with Deep Natural Language Processing. Before co-founding Pand.ai, he was a Data Scientist with Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore.
We felt it apt to ask what his thoughts were on the concerns that analysts would be replaced by AI in the near future.
“My stance towards the technology is always that the technology is about empowerment. So instead of replacing (humans) it sort of augments the human workforce. The AI will work on repetitive or boring tasks, where it releases the human to work on more high level tasks that will require maybe higher intelligence (and) creativity,” he said adding that the current state of AI technology is not able to assume the human workforce.
“Especially in the application of AI in weaponisation, the government or the leaders need to step in to look into this very carefully,” he warned to a questions on the debate of regulating AI, but he believed it shouldn’t be a hurdle for researchers to continue their work to come up with new advancements.
We asked of the importance of data wrangling for quality data sourcing, he quipped “As the saying goes, rubbish in, rubbish out. So the most important part of training either machine learning or deep learning model is to have good quality data,” he said adding that it ensures the performance of the model to be of the highest quality.
To a question on whether top management are IT savvy enough to understand and adopt new technology, he says “From what I see with MNC’s, their leaders are quite aware of AI (and) digitalisation. In fact, many MNC’s are moving towards setting up a dedicated data science team or AI lab,” adding that this is what he sees happening across the region.
However, for SME’s, he feels that their need to be more education to assist the leaders there. He suggests having conferences that target SME’s, to raise the awareness about AI and data science, while he encourages the leaders in those sectors to read up on the technology so that they are not left too far behind that they become irrelevant to the times.
“To go into AI and data science you need resources, either manpower or hardware. Something most SME’s couldn’t afford,” he added saying that its possible due to the high costs that although the leaders are aware of the technology, they are unable to take further action until the price of adopting are made more affordable.
“Another way is to leverage on open source software that is developed by researchers that contribute the software freely. You don’t need to spend so much on licensing and stuff but you still need to have expertise in data science and data analysts to work on the data you have.”
Curious as to how their company was established, we asked him to share how it all began for Pand.ai.
“It means smart,” he quipped. “Actually my co-founder (Chuang) Shin Wee, used to lead the digital banking team at Standard Chartered in China. (From) first hand experience, he noticed the communication with the customer or even within the company, they are not as effective as he would like it to be in term of the cost and efficiency.” That’s where he felt that having a chatbot would help automate and reduce the inefficiency he shared.
By introducing the chatbots, they were able to reduce the amount of people needed to answer the calls. They attribute the change to having an automated software to handle the system and regular calls.
“The idea of a chatbot came from me while the pain point was his observation. We worked together and brainstormed and came up with the idea to build a chatbot for the finance industry.
The chatbots can being easily integrated into any backend system the same way that web or mobile applications are integrated into company systems now. The chatbot acts as an interface to users. The knowledge is then exchanged through the API channel.
“With the current state of AI technology, AI is not as smart as the general public perceives. While the science and AI helps us to understand the natural language, to generate a proper response, still needs human intervention to generate the response to the inquiry. Where the art comes in is where the human, or conversational designer, handcrafts the response to improve the conversational user experience,” he shared when asked how do they combine the art element to the science of chatbots and AI.
An interesting twist to how they ‘train’ the chatbots to respond to the users is, the chatbots will use language pre-programmed to specific age group, gender and ethnicity. In other words, how the chatbot replies is determined by the background and who the person on the other side is. The responses are catered to a certain degree to be able to create a rapport with the client.
David still maintains however that the human behind the chatbot is the real magic of the technology.
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