What is NLP and How Does it Work?
March 16, 2020
If you’ve tried to learn a new language, you know it’s difficult to grasp finer nuances. Talking with native speakers can be intimidating, and a single typo can leave you baffled – especially when you’re looking for help. Enter natural language processing, or NLP, the thing that puts the “intelligence” in “AI” and makes realistic conversation a reality.
NLP extracts information from human language. According to Ontology Engineering by Data Scientist Dr. Deborah McGuinness, the amount of data generated has exploded. Without it, AI’s ability to understand human language, and subsequently speak it, would be drastically reduced. NLP has been around since the 1950s, but it’s truly started to come into its own in recent years as our applications for such tech have exploded. Everything from email assistants auto-correcting your typos to the quality of results returned from your search for retail products are rooted in NLP.
With the staggering amount of data produced around the world each and every day, a number that is increasing exponentially (the World Economic Forum predicts 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally by 2025, equivalent to 212,765,957 DVDs per day) NLP has the unenviable task of making it possible for computers to read, hear, interpret and act on everything we generate. Thankfully, NLP is capable of sifting through this data without fatigue and in an unbiased way. Plus, the more information we feed AI, the better it becomes at understanding the nuances of human speech. From reading a search query to listening to the request you shout across the room to Alexa, everything we ask AI to interpret makes it smarter, swifter and better at predicting our needs.
So how does this technological marvel work exactly? Primarily by relying on the knowledge of multiple traditional linguistic fields. Ionos identifies five studies as being critical to NLP:
- Morphology: how words are formed and their relationship with other words
- Syntax: how words and sentences are assembled together
- Semantics: what words and groups of words mean
- Pragmatics: explaining spoken expressions
- Phonology: the acoustic structure of spoken language
To help computers understand these linguistic rules, the AI is given lots and lots of text to read. Picture your high school summer reading list on steroids. By seeing, in practice, how human language works, the AI begins to teach itself how to interpret how we speak. Primarily, this means defining words using those that come before and after them. For example, if you say you want to pass a class versus asking someone to pass the potatoes, the AI will learn to understand the various meanings of the word “pass.” Still, even with all this frontloading of information, AI can struggle in its formative studies. According to IONOS, irony, sarcasm and humor are some of the greatest challenges for NLP. Luckily, AI has all the time in the world to improve.
At Botco.ai, our conversational AI is what you’d call a “lifelong learner.” As users continue to ask questions, it learns and makes its own improvements. It’s trained to continue to learn how to respond to questions as they are asked. It starts with authoring. Our innovative capabilities allow you to incorporate conversation templates to give your bot a crash course in the things that matter most to your customers. Whether this means answering common product questions, booking appointments or learning more about your services, our AI will have your bot conversing like your best employee in no time! Even better, bots are accessible 24/7, 365 days a year – making sure your customers receive immediate and accurate information without having to sift through a website.
The best part? The more your bot interacts with your customers, the better it will become at recognizing – and anticipating – their needs. We aren’t just talking simple Q & A, either. As your bot self-improves, it becomes more and more capable of tackling complex and diverse questions and issues. The more you empower your bot to meet the needs of your consumers, the more it will rise to the challenge. It can streamline your consumer journey, improve the quantity and quality of your leads, facilitate any combination of customer service actions, handle complex financial transactions… you get the idea.
Sound too good to be true? That’s probably what you thought when you first learned Google can search the entire internet for The Thing You Need to Know Right Now – and yet here we are. But don’t just take our word for it. See NLP and Botco.ai in action when you schedule a demo today.