IPsoft's 'Amelia' virtual assistant just got a whole lot more human

She's another step closer to passing the Turing test, the company says

AI enthusiasts are surely familiar with virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana, but they may not remember Amelia, who made "her" debut just about a year ago.

Designed to help companies automate customer support, Amelia on Wednesday graduated to version 2.0, bringing the technology another step closer to passing the Turing test, maker IPsoft said.

The Turing test requires that a human user must be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being.

Amelia’s physical appearance and expressiveness have been transformed to create a more human-like avatar for deeper customer engagement, IPsoft said.

The artificial intelligence platform has also gained maturity and core understanding capabilities, thereby broadening the range of roles it can assume. Included in version 2.0 are new advances in comprehension and emotional engagement through improvements to memory, contextual comprehension and emotional responsiveness.

Amelia’s memory now more closely mirrors the way human memory is organized, for example, allowing the technology to hold more natural conversations, IPsoft said.

With contextual comprehension, meanwhile, Amelia can quickly and reliably retrieve information across a wider and more complex set of knowledge, IPsoft said.

Finally, Amelia now has richer mood and personality vectors, enabling her to personalize the customer service she provides.

Numerous architectural changes are included in Amelia 2.0 as well. For example, the entire backbone has been rewritten so that the technology can scale seamlessly and remain resilient throughout extreme peaks in volume.

Amelia 2.0 is scheduled to be demonstrated for the first time this week at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando.

Amelia 2.0 signals "the next step in the evolution of what's now being called the cognitive category of tech and services," said Frances Karamouzis, a vice president with Gartner. "It's becoming harder and harder to discern when we're communicating with a machine -- when insights are coming from an algorithm in something like Amelia."

Amelia is currently set apart by the fact that she speaks 20 languages and has an emotional quotient, Karamouzis said. Also new is that the technology can interpret the user's facial expressions as conveyed by a camera and generate appropriate ones in return, she said.

The biggest improvement in version 2.0, though, is what's called semantic understanding, Karamouzis said.

"It's starting to not just follow a process but understand from a semantic level what is your goal -- for example, if you're trying to open a new account or close one," she explained. "It's creating a cognitive system that's more goal-oriented than process-specific."

Tools like Amelia are becoming cognitive-like, Karamouzis said, but they still can't pass a Turing test.

"A lot of these tools are very close," she said. "They don't incorporate all the elements of emotion yet, but they're the closest you'll get out of the market."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?