The Inside Story to How Sociology Improves Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service

The idea of communicating with a robot is both scary and frustrating for many of us.

Think about the dread you feel when you have to call a Toll free number. I don’t think there is one person on the planet that LIKES to wait on the phone to talk to a snarky customer service representative…

Or worse a machine.

Either you get horrible customer service or you’re forced to shout out each letter of your complicated surname to a robot. Oh joy.

But what if this experience were to change? What if we could train robots by thoughtful humans who actually took the time to understand the person on the other side of the telephone?

That’s where social technology comes in.

Why is our relationship with technology is so robotic?

Have you’ve ever eves dropped on a group of software engineers chatting about diffs, sevs and bugs and had no clue what they’re talking about?

Software engineers are technical folks by default. Since software engineers spend most of their day communicating with a computer their perspectives can be too narrow to make the final product effective for everyone. That’s why cross-collaboration is key to creating technology that works for the masses.

The tech industry is dominated by the US and China. This means globally, artificial intelligence (AI) is being trained by a specific group of people; predominately well-educated males. Even though software engineers are well-trained analytically, they can often miss out on the big picture.

Based on Robert w Sperry’s theory, we are characterized as being either left-brained or right-brained. Left-brained people are thought to be more analytical, linear thinking and facts oriented. Whereas, right-brained people are more imaginative, holistic thinking and visual.

Given this theory, we can understand why our interactions with technology can be so impersonal and robotic. If we only have software engineers training our robots to interact with humans, we’ll only create left-brained robots. To break this robotic trend in AI we need both left-brained perspectives and right-brained perspectives to create a balanced and humanized robot.

We need diverse perspectives to take artificial intelligence to the next level

At JAYA we want to ensure AI benefits each of our client’s needs specifically. To do that we wanted to develop a team with diverse backgrounds. So we could better understand our client’s needs, we chose to hire sociologists and linguists to help accurately build algorithms to train AI.

What makes JAYA stand out is that we build technology based on cultural understandings. We focus on understanding how people’s communication differs in each language. Since we use artificial intelligence for Spanish, Portuguese and English speakers we rely on linguist and sociological analysis to treat each person accordingly.

Knowing the nuances of the language is vital to understand how people communicate. In order for us to train our robots to better serve our clients, we must know how to interact with them personally. Since even words in the same language can change in meaning depending on where people are from, it’s extremely difficult for robots to understand the subtleties behind what a person is saying without knowing their cultural background.

For example, to train robots to understand the differences between British English and American English we need to understand how people from each region uses language to express themselves. When an American says they’re pissed you’d assume they’re angry, but when a Brit says they’re pissed what they’re actually saying is that they’re drunk.

Imagine the poor customer service robot’s confusion.

Our robots can’t pick up on these cultural differences without knowing the cultural context behind the language.

Don’t get me started on the nuances in Spanish and Portuguese. Not only do the two languages change immensely from country to country but they vary from regions within the country.

In Medellin, Colombia, the colloquial way to say “I’m angry” would be “ando puto”.This would confuse many Spanish speakers even within Colombia because it would roughly translate to“I’m whore”.

Yes, I’m just as confused as you are.

If we want to continue to make our lives more efficient we need to diversify how we train AI. It’s unrealistic to depend solely on software engineers to train AI to work for everyone in our highly diverse world. For AI to be as accurate as possible we need to diversify the crew behind the scenes.

The growth of artificial intelligence in Colombia

Even though Colombia isn’t on the world’s radar as being a technologically advanced country. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal declared Medellin to be the “Innovative Center of the Year”.

The USA, Germany, Japan and China are the leading nations in artificial intelligence. Colombia, on the other hand, has been slowing starting to implement the use of AI. On March 22, 2018, the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI) launched an “AI center of Excellence” in Medellin. This was a huge step towards making Meddlin the AI hub in Latin America.

At JAYA we aspire to be a tech company that uses its cultural diversity to break barriers. Our employees come from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds. Our left-brained engineers work alongside our right-brained sociologists to ensure we create technology that truly works for our clients. Because of this, our team has been able to reach a 70% accuracy in our algorithms in comparison with the 40 % accuracy rate in companies like Watson, Google and Amazon.

The success stories speak for themselves

In an interview with JAYA’s three sociologists: Carolina Ruiz, Daniela Mesa and Karen Gaviria they revealed their experiences working with artificial intelligence.

“We feel good because we’re actually helping people. Our clients are happy because our service is better and more personalized than before”

The three sociologists work together with our software engineers to train algorithms so our robots can improve their service. “We’re able to take away the monotonous part of their job so they can get back to enjoying their work”.

Combining social sciences with technology is the future

The next time you call a Toll free number and you hear:

This call may be recorded for quality or training purposes…

Don’t freak out.

Think about how this service could improve the experience of both the customer and the worker. Social sciences are helping us put an end to the monotonous and robotic experiences we face with technology.

Diversifying the tech industry is about making our world a fairer place. If AI is taking over, we need AI to understand all humans. When social sciences and exact sciences work together we can truly make technology for quality of life.


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