Bots lend a helping hand


  • AI
  • Monday, 02 Apr 2018

Sithasanan showing the company’s CAI technology which powers its bots, and how they ‘think’ before responding to questions posed to them. — Art Chen/The Star

Startup Hyperlabs is making chat bots that help lower the workload of their human counterparts.

Ever used a helpline and felt you were talking to a robot? You might not be wrong, as more and more services are starting to rely on them.

However, with the use of Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI), chat bots are now almost as helpful as humans.

A bot is an application that ­performs an automated task, while chat bots are automated to reply using machine learning to make the conversation more human-like.

For Hyperlab, a startup that designs CAI assistants for businesses and enterprises, the aim is not to replace humans but rather to aid them by reducing their workload.

It does this by letting bots handle common questions so human ­operators are not overwhelmed, leaving them to handle complex issues.

And the company claims the bots would be able to handle nearly 80% of the queries and also settle issues faster.

Importance of identifying

Hyperlab co-founder and chief executive officer Vic Sithasanan believes it is best to be transparent when companies start employing bots.

“Hoodwinking users into ­thinking the bots are humans will not work in the long run,” he says.

In fact, letting users know that they are speaking to a bot helps set expectations, says Hyperlab chief marketing officer Chris Greenough.

“Despite knowing it’s artificial, most people are still respectful and even grateful. In fact, small talk – like hi, bye and thank you – accounts for about 10% of the ­conversations,” he says.

Also, intelligent design goes a long way in achieving that. The company’s AI assistant for ­enterprises called Happy is ­customised into a brand-specific avatar that users could empathise with. It also uses machine learning to develop emotional responses based on different inputs.

“We call it Happy because it adds personalisation to the self-service experience that’s usually not a source of joy,” says Greenough.

The machine learning is aided in part by Hyperlab’s other core ­product – Dialex. Dialex focuses on cleaning and processing language inputs, turning slang like “Dis is 4 u, k thnx” to “this is for you, okay thanks”.

By automating data cleaning, it made the process more efficient for data scientists to develop machine learning programmes.

This was also key to ensuring its AI succeeds in South-East Asia, home to a mind boggling number of dialects and slangs. .

Hyperlab has built a chat app for children and parents on the topic of sexual and reproductive health, as part of R.AGE’s Predator In My Phone campaign to help end child sexual crimes. The beta version of the bot is on predator.my.

Founded in Kuala Lumpur back in 2016, Hyperlab has raised RM1.7mil in seed funding through angel investors.

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Science & Technology , AI , Hyperlab

   

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