Cognitive Employees: Meet Amelia. Some jobs better; some jobs lost

October 20th, 2016

Topics: AI & Machine Learning Customer Future of Work Robotics

Apple’s Siri is pretty famous and helpful, and IBM’s Watson is famous and impressive.   IPsoft’s Amelia is another cognitive computing persona, and she is tuned to be a help desk employee.   Amelia is far beyond the voice response unit that we have all encountered on the phone: “For account balance press 1, for .   .   . “

Rather, Amelia is:

  1. Fluent in natural conversation
  2. Emotionally engaged
  3. Understands context

With all that, she can react to emotion, data, and facts, in order to answer a question as a human being would understand it through learning and natural language.

When she comes across a question she cannot answer, she dials in a human expert to help the caller.   But, Amelia stays on the line, and learns what the answer is.   After that new answer is approved by a company committee, from that time on she will be able to answer that new question and never need the human expert on that topic again.

It’s fascinating.  She’s intriguing.

North London borough of Enfield is one of the fastest growing municipalities in England.  To handle the ever-growing requests for customer service from residents, they have trained Amelia to answer the most basic questions that make up most of their calls.

This will relieve the staff of answering again and again the most basic questions, so they can move onto more important things.   But it makes me wonder if over time the Enfield municipal customer service office will be down to a skeleton crew.

I think I’m seeing the beginning of the loss of many white-collar jobs.   We need to plan for the future of work.

More on the future of work to come.


About the Author

Don Castle, Executive Fellow at the Center for Digital Strategies, is a partner in the consulting firm New Madison Ave, where he specializes in advising CEO’s and boards of directors on opportunities and risks presented by Digital Technologies, and in helping chief marketing officers to use data to enhance brand strength and revenue.
Previously, Don held CIO positions at Johnson & Johnson, first for Ethicon, Inc. a manufacturer of surgical devices, then as Group CIO for J&J’s six global medical device companies.  He also was CIO, then President of the Life Science Services at SGS North America, and CIO for Nabisco International.

Don has run one business-to-business startup, and served as advisor to another startup in Healthcare IT. He serves on the board of the nonprofit Inroads NY/NJ.  Don has a bachelor degree from Dartmouth, and an MBA from The Tuck School.

Follow Don on Twitter @dwcastle

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