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Discussing Stupid: Talking Digital Customer Experience
Episode 1: The hype and sensibility of Artificial Intelligence in Search | Ben Tilley, Funnelback
April 11, 2018 Ben Tilley, Funnelback

On our very first podcast (episode 1 YEAH!!!), Virgil is joined by Ben Tilley from Funnelback, an Australian-based search company, to break through all the hype around the use of artificial intelligence in search and talk about real world implementations and pitfalls.

Listening to this discussion, you will discover that implementing AI in search is not all that easy (shocker!!) and still requires you to follow good content and search practices. Where AI has many practical applications in search, effort is still needed and fundamentals need to be followed. In the end, AI cannot fix your search if your content still sucks.

There is reason to hope, good AI can be very helpful. According to Ben, "Being able to use some form of natural language processing to extract information out of your written text and turn that back into structure is a great way you can start to improve search."

Throughout this episode, Virgil and Ben will share the challenges you will face while giving you thoughts on how you can get your content and search ready to be able to use AI to its full potential.

Resources discussed:

Helpful articles from Funnelback:

Episode Transcript

Intro:0:00Note, this podcast does not discuss nor endorse the idea of discussing stupid ideas, because we all know there are no stupid ideas.

Intro:0:14Hello and welcome to discussing stupid, the podcast where we will tackle everything digitally stupid from stupid users and the crazy things they do, just stupid practices and the people who use them for the stupid things we all do and maybe even come up with a few ideas on how to do things better. And now that I got your attention, let's start discussing stupid.

Virgil Carroll:0:38Hello and welcome to the first broadcast of the podcast. I'm Virgil Carroll, your host and principal human solutions architect at High Monkey living in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Welcome to my first show. I'm really excited to finally get this off the ground and really excited about a lot of the topics that we have coming up. For our first topic I really wanted to talk about something a little bit next generation, something a little newer that kind of hits it. One of the things that came up in a very big way is the world of artificial intelligence, bringing artificial intelligence into the digital customer experience and I thought one of the ways that we could really look at this was to look at it from a search perspective because obviously when you look at services such as Alexa, Siri or Hey Google, and that's fundamentally what they are...is search engines. You ask them a question, they try to give you back an answer. So today we're gonna talk about artificial intelligence in search and to help me out with that, I have joining me is Ben Tilley, who is vice president of sales and marketing at Funnelback. Funnelback is an enterprise search engine company based out of Australia and Ben's going to bring some of his experience in this area as well.

Virgil Carroll:1:46Well Ben, welcome to episode one. If you can actually believe it, you're going to be the first person anybody's ever gonna hear on discussing stupid, which I'm sure since this is going to be like one of the most popular podcasts of all time. You're going to be quite famous after this. Why don't we start out by maybe giving a little bit more background about yourself and kind of what makes you an expert in the world of search.

Ben Tilley:2:08Hi everybody. Thanks Virgil. Well I guess for a podcast about stupid people probably helps to have one of the most stupid of ones leading it all. So I'm glad to be here. A little bit of a background about me. I worked for a company called Funnelback. We are an enterprise search company. I head up a US operation and then I also look after sales and marketing across the organization in our various global offices. So we're working with search technologies and customers using search for almost eight years now, I think. A fair bit of time in the, in the world of search.

Virgil Carroll:2:36All right, great. Let's go ahead and just kind of get into it and you know, we, you and I kind of talked before this about what we thought would be kind of an interesting first episode and we definitely thought about artificial intelligence and kind of how that's starting to affect our lives and all the different pieces that are out there and kind of the digital marketing world. Especially. One of the things I think you and I both thought really resonate today as artificial intelligence and searching and what it really does when we start talking about that in the world of search. What can artificial intelligence really help? What is this stupid it could really fix

Ben Tilley:3:11I think it could help almost every aspect of search. I think when we look at search and we look at the challenges that we faced with search, quite often the challenges can be either related to the content that's being searched over, so the information that's actually in place, it's just not written in a way or structured in a way that actually supports being able to easily find it. And the other side of that is the people who are actually running the searches. They don't know what to search for. They might be searching for terms that have nothing to do with what they actually want. So being able to aid them in the way in which they search is also very, very helpful when it comes to improving the search experience.

Virgil Carroll:3:48So wait, I just want to understand what you're saying. So you're actually saying that most people don't know how to search.

Ben Tilley:3:57I would say there are better ways to search than what most people do. You know, we'll often get reports back and people going, I on this piece of information and it's because they entered into a generic one, one keyword entity in one keyword to try and find it and really actually the keyword had nothing to do with what they were looking for. So I would say that quite often people don't know how to search, but we in the world of search and people who use such technologies, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier for them. But I don't have to know how to search so we can aid them in their search.

Virgil Carroll:4:35You know, obviously there was a lot of sarcasm in that question. (Ben laughs) Oh, I tell you what, I can think of how many times I've done usability tests around search and just the crazy, crazy things that I see from that. You know, it's not that people are stupid, they just don't understand it. You know, I mean, they don't necessarily have the concept of everything that goes behind a search engine. How many times have I seen somebody go to Google and make the most basic search as well? The problem is there, when you go to something like Google, you get a result and you don't tend to have a lot of expectations around that, but from a corporate standpoint or if you have it on your public website or if it's part of your digital workplace or whatever it is, people do the same type of bad searches, but then they also have these expectations that go along with it and how many times have I seen somebody look for a particular type of form on an intranet and go into the search box and type in the word form, hit enter and not really understand what they're doing. Basically what we're talking about is then all you really need to do is you need. You just have artificial intelligence in your search and you'll never have to worry about that again. Right?

Ben Tilley:5:33Yeah, absolutely. You just tick the artificial intelligence box in the setup of your search and that it works.

Virgil Carroll:5:40Wouldn't that be nice? Yeah. Yeah. Well, the reality is that's what every business owner thinks is that, you know, I mean, they have no concept of technology. It must be 'Well, don't you just turn that on and all of a sudden everything's working well?'

Ben Tilley:5:52And that's a real challenge to try and overcome. There is a lot of marketing by a lot of organizations out there at the moment that puts the message forth that is actually all you need to do and maybe that might be true for their platforms and the way in which they're using various artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, but certainly from search it requires a little bit more effort than that. You know, there's, there's certainly some time that needs to be spent in terms of tuning and training the various machine learning and artificial technologies out there.

Virgil Carroll:6:23Yeah, well we all know that's not really real in their worlds either. I mean there's a lot of work that goes behind artificial intelligence and let's be honest, I mean, sorry to have you on here and to pick on this, but sales and marketing folks will make it seem like, yeah, you just flip a switch and that's all it takes. But overall there are some benefits of it from that standpoint, and so when you talk to organizations and you're talking to them, uh, you know, let's, let's Kinda tackle public website search and that we're, can AI really helped. We kind of talked about that. It might be able to better understand what two people are trying to find when they're bad searchers, but how can it help an organization better understand and do something about the way it services searches on its website?

Ben Tilley:7:06Yeah. Well, I think one of the first places to look is to look at the content that's actually being indexed instead of documents as a part of search and that's often the first point where search can start to fail. If your content is not structured in a way that works with the search engine that you've got in place, then it's going to be very, very challenging for people to find things. I was also quite a challenging conversation to have with an organization. Organizations might go out there and put a search engine in place and they have fairly realistic expectations that that search engine is going to improve the ability of their users to find things, which I think is completely fair. You're purchasing a search engine. You're going to to use the search, but then they go out and they get a search engine and they put it in place and they set it all up and then it stops working or it's not finding relevant information and then they get told, oh well actually the problem is not the fact that the search engine is not working. If the fact that your content is terrible and so you're going to have to go and fix all of that content. Search engine works and I think that's where ai machine learning can start to help. Because you can sit down with an organization and go, okay, look. Your content is terrible and your content is really having a negative impact on the effectiveness of your search. But actually there are all these different automated ways that we are able to improve your content for you or help you understand what you need to do to improve your content. So I think that's a great way in which machine learning can help people right away. I hope people today,

Virgil Carroll:8:27well I got a first step back and say that your statement there about loading up search and turning it on and it doesn't work out. I actually think that'd be a great episode in and of itself. We might have to think about doing an episode around that at some point because that isn't that so true. I mean, you know, people have no concept of search and then you start layering something like artificial intelligence and some of the things that it does on top of that. And you're not necessarily. Well maybe eventually if you put the work in, you're making things easier, but overall you're making a more complex situation more complex on top of that and you're kind of adding these layers after layers after layers of different things. And it's like you said, if you don't understand your content and you don't really understand what you're trying to search, probably one of the biggest scenarios I see around this when it comes from a search perspective, is people on their websites. When people search on things, they want their users to land on kind of their landing pages. You know, the kind of these pages that are a conglomeration of all these different topics in that that maybe have more like one to two sentences or maybe a paragraph about a particular topic. Just to kind of do an introduction. From a marketer's perspective that makes a lot of sense because they want you to kind of get to the high end fluff of stuff and kind of learn that and then potentially work your way. And as a matter of fact, from an information architecture standpoint, that can make sense as well because sometimes we can overload people with information upfront when you're navigating through a website and we want to make sure that they really kind of have an opportunity to learn kind of the basics and then dig deeper. But when we actually look at search and the way search works, it doesn't really work the same way because from a search perspective, the first and foremost a search works about words, it works about words and locations of words and the words that you use and if you have a great detail about a topic versus a brief detail about a topic overall, fundamentally search should always show that great detail about that topic more because there's more instances of the word. If you typed in a phrase in the search engine is probably seeing those words more in close proximity and numerous times and all that kind of stuff. One of the things I think about Ai, and you can tell me if you feel like this is the direction that it's going, is that ai can help learn that, yeah, okay. You were searching on this, but actually we found that most people want to actually go here and get the basics first.

Ben Tilley:10:54Yeah, for sure. And certainly that's something that actually already being used at the moment, but I think it's important to point out, but I always such a broad term and such a broad category and in fact there are elements of ai and elements with machine learning that have already been in search engines for years, you know, and in our search engine for years as well as the ability to do that is certainly one thing that does exist at the moment and could easily be categorized as AI or machine learning, but yeah, being able to understand more about what the user should be searching for. So not what they're searching for, what they should be searching for based on how people who exhibited similar behavior to them. I have searched in the past.

Virgil Carroll:11:34Yeah, I mean I think one of the things that, let's be honest, the way we use the phrase ai or artificial intelligence isn't probably really the way that when anybody first heard the phrase, it actually is being used. You don't have robots that are full consciousness going through and looking through search results. All be it, that would actually be really cool. You know, if, if you could have that, that would be kind of fun if they were doing it, I think about the superbowl ad that we just saw where they had the people actually answering in place of Alexa because Alexa had a cold. How much fun would that be if you actually had. Yeah, robot on the other end answering, but that goes on to a complete different topic over there. But from that side, I mean, you know, for me the cynical side of me just says, well, isn't this just another way of saying behavioral analytics? Because behavioral analytics has been around for a really long time. You know, obviously companies like Amazon have almost perfected that where they understand from what you purchased, what you might else want to purchase or what you're looking at and you know, constantly dilute you with all this information that you need a frankly information you don't need. That goes along the sides. And isn't that really what this ai stuff is doing is, is just a better way of saying behavioral analytics and that's really all it is.

Ben Tilley:12:50I think it's broader than that. I certainly agree with you, that AI is a term that is used for lots of different things that had completely useful terms beforehand, so they had terms that actually made sense beforehand that are now being grouped under AI and definitely what you've described is a really big part of it, but there are other elements of it as well. Certainly some of the more complex things like image recognition. I think Google vision, the Google Vision Api still considered part of AI and definitely different for that. So I'd say it's part of it, but it becomes so broad these days it covering so many different areas.

Virgil Carroll:13:25Yeah, I suppose I can see that in, you know, one of the areas that I know that is really up and coming these days is voice-based activities and I know that's actually getting to be a huge thing in the search environment where now not only can you search from the standpoint of just looking at typing words in a search box, but now you could actually, you know, ask Alexa a question and have Alexa get you the answer. Which fundamentally is search in that and so are you seeing that in your world you're starting to need to recognize that potentially one of the futures and that is going to be voice recognition and I got to imagine that's where one of the areas where AI would become very important because everybody speaks differently.

Ben Tilley:14:12Absolutely, and certainly voice is now starting a requirement that our customers are having of us and it's something that we're seeing organizations use on their site, so we actually worked with a bank in Australia, one of the largest banks in Australia, and they have voice search that hooked into their Funnelback on their website. So if you go to their website and you want to find information on how to open an account, or how to apply for a credit card, you can actually just talk to it and it will return you a set of search results. I don't know when you're planning on publishing this podcast, Virgil, but potentially when this podcast is published the Funnelback website will also have voice search on it we're actually looking at putting it on the our site just to demonstrate how it can operate. So I think it's something at the moment it's, it's a cool nice to have. I yet had a customer say to me, we absolutely must have voice search. It is a mandatory requirement, but I think soon as more and more people start putting it on their site and then more and more people get used to the convenience of searching with your voice. It is going to become a mandatory requirement and everyone's going to be expected to have.

Virgil Carroll:15:09I just kinda think of that and I think of standing in line at the grocery store and listen to the people talk on their phones. So is that what we have next is people are going to be searching through their corporate websites on their phone. I mean it's as if we need another reason to listen to other people talk about their stuff. But I hate to say it. You're right. And you know, I mean obviously there's other aspects as well, I've seen some things out there about organizations that are looking at bringing, you know, kind of a, also these practices with, with virtual reality and some of the virtual reality technology and it is kind of crazy where it's all going and, and what's it doing in there. So, but I, I have one question before I kind of switch gears here a little bit. You kind of said it right there. Other people are doing it, therefore we're going to need to do it too. And I think that's one of the big things that kind of push a lot of these trends forward. But one of the questions I have for you that I think is really interesting is, okay, so I'm an organization and I've invested heavily in artificial intelligence. That's great. Well the reality is there's a cost associated with that and there's time and effort associated with it. And for a lot of organizations that's not maybe the most realistic thing. So do you in your kind of world of search, see any negative effects of this? Otherwise now you've got the big organizations doing this and people are starting to use this and expecting basically search to kind of fix itself instead of you having to be a good searcher. To me that kinda is going to propagate across the Internet and basically mean if you don't participate in fixing people's stupid practices and you just don't have the time, money or effort to be able to do that, then basically you're going to be left behind because people are going to go to your website and never find anything.

Ben Tilley:16:53Yup. Absolutely. I think that'll, that'll definitely happen. It will become an expectation and if people are not providing it then they will, uh, will just get left behind. You know, there will be overtaken taken by their competition. It's, it's interesting. So when I, when I moved to America about two years ago now, I had to pretty much restart my life so I had to get a bank account, get health insurance, all that sort of stuff. And when I was looking to open bank accounts, there were a whole bunch of banks that I shortlisted as being ones that I was potentially interested in. I then started getting into each of their websites to start looking at them and finding a little bit more information out about them and I can tell you the ones that had a bad user experience once it had bad websites, had bad search and just didn't even get considered by, but I opened it up and I typed in how do I open an account with different types of accounts available. If it was a terrible experience, I just discounted it to the side and that was because there were so many other banks that were based up here in Seattle that were easier for me to and more convenient for me to find the information that I needed in order to make a decision about which bank to become a member of and I think we'll see the same thing happening with technologies like voice search and it will literally be. Someone will be looking at and evaluating organizations and it might be again looking to open up a bank account and I go, okay, well this website, I can't search on search on their site with my voice, so why would I bother? I'll go to the next bank because at least I can search with my voice there and that's going to make it easier for me to complete the task that I came to this site to do, which is to become a customer of that bank.

Virgil Carroll:18:20And actually I remember actually I probably should look to see if it's still around, but there was a website a number of years ago, an organization called Wolfram Alpha and they were kind of the first ones that were supposed to be doing intelligence search in that side. And so you could, you know, they had those kitschy things like you could go on and search what is the meaning of life and it gives you 42 and different things like that. But I think you're right. I think that it's going to be, you're either going to be left behind or you're not going to care. I think that's really your, your two options that are, which is, you know, maybe good but also bad and you know, but I think the digital world is starting to move at such a fast pace. We're just having to constantly kind of readjust and adapt and that kind of stuff. So I kind of want to switch gears here and I kind of would like to talk a little bit about what we've talked about ai and obviously maybe this is important. The question is if you have bad search right now, how do you get started in that area? I mean, what? What do you even start looking at? I mean it's not like we said you just, you just purchased a product, flip on the AI switch and you go, but where would you recommend that an organization starts looking first or starts doing first before they actually even start looking at how they could bring some of this additional resources into their search systems?

Ben Tilley:19:35I said the first thing you need to do is try and work out what is bad about the church because they can. It can be a number of things that can present themselves as bad search it could be that you'll use as just a not a tech savvy group. They just do not know how to really use a search engine and to really search well, it could be that you have a very technically proficient group of users who are using your search and can maybe they're too technically savvy who are using a search engine searching really well and your content just not up to scratch. It's just not coming back like it should be. Your relevance is all over the place because you've got varying levels of quality amongst your content, so I took first place I would recommend starting is just getting into some analytics or actually just sitting there and spending some time with the people that have identified your search as being bad and trying to identify a little bit more about why is it bad. If it's the users well then there's a one path where you need to take to start trying to either educate them on how to search better or trying to put in place tools and AI and machine learning to improve the way they search. If it's your content, well then you need to start looking at, okay, how can we either improve our content ourselves? How can we put in place tools to improve our content, but I think the first step is you got to work out why such bad because there can be a number of different reasons why your search is bad.

Virgil Carroll:20:54Yeah. I've got to add on there that when when you search, when you test your search in that, which is usually the way people do this as they test it. Again, you want to just talk about crazy scenarios and of course the people are most notorious about this are IT people, but I've also seen marketers do this. They go up and or search by test to, you know, typing in the specific name of a page or the specific name of a document or something. And you know, in my experience, even some of the worst search engines out there in the world. If you type in the exact wording of the exact title of a document, you probably have a decent chance of getting it at least within the first five results. And what they don't do is they don't look at those other avenues, which is where I think AI can really help from that side is when that group of searches that we know we need to get something, we're not really sure what it is or maybe where it is, but we have a general idea. We may not know the word we need to use, but we need to kind of get there, but we're not really sure how to get there. And I think first and foremost, if you aren't testing your search that way, then you don't know really well whether it works or not. And like you said, kind of looking into analytics, a lot of times we'll give you that. I think one of the more entertaining things I ever see when I look at our Google analytics is why people get to us. We have a huge amount of traffic to our blog site because of a One Note and Kanban board blog post. One of our project managers did like seven or eight years ago. I mean, we literally have thousands and thousands of visits a month to our site because of that one post. Does that really have anything to do with our business? No, it. But it was something that that person decided as the moment to do, but when you look at that and you look at the reason people get to it, it's amazing how many people actually visit highmonkey.com because they search on one note and project management and that kind of stuff. So I think that's a very important side of that. So let's say that I go through there and I kind of have some understanding of what maybe the issues are and then what kind of technologies out there, you know, when we start talking about bringing in an artificial intelligence, what does that really mean? What kind of technologies can we bring into play really to help us get to that next step of being able to help guide the user to the correct information.

Ben Tilley:23:08So on the content side, I'd say one of the easiest things to do is to start looking at how you can bring into natural language processing to extract entities from unstructured content, so a very common issue with content is that it's structured poorly and what I mean by being structured poorly is that metadata is either useless or nonexistent or on or part of your content might have great metadata and the rest of the content might have okay metadata, so being able to use some form of natural language processing to extract information out of your out of your written text and then turn that back into structure is a really great way that you can start to improve search and that also goes to helping improve the actual output of search to so there's the relevance side of things, so improving the result ranking, but when you've got structured like that in place, most modern search engines will take that structure and use that to improve how search is displayed. So making it easier for people who were looking at your search results to identify that, yes, actually result number three is the result that I'm after. So that's one thing that can be done and it can be done. We'd been with relative ease these days. I would also recommend looking at tuning the ranking algorithm that's in place. This is where various forms of machine learning really do come into play, so thinking from the Funnelback side of things we have at tuning interface within our product where the organization would sit down and they would actually start to put in place a training set of data. That training set of data would consist of search queries and then the results that should be coming back with number one and in fact that's actually a great opportunity for an organization to really sit down and have a think about the different use cases for this search and to look at their analytics as to how people searching right now and then once you've put the training set in, there were various algorithms that takeover and start to look at all the different ranking parameters that exist within the search engine and they start to alter them until it finds the combination that best suits the training set that you've put in place. I know within Funnelback we have 72 individual parameters that can be used to determine relevance. Each one of them can be set to any number of settings so you can start to imagine all the different combinations that are possible and really it's only with a machine learning algorithm that you can actually have something like this performed and performed well. If you go there and try to do it manually yourself, it would take you on, I don't know how much time it would take you to take a very long time to be able to actually tune an algorithm yourself to the best possible setting. So those are two easy ways you can get started on the content side of things right away.

Virgil Carroll:25:37It's not just turn it on. Well, that's just crazy in that, but I think. I think on the other side, one of the important pieces there is the flip side. You can do all this stuff and you could actually make your search worse. I mean, I've seen a lot of organizations that, you know, they take to actually tune in their results, but they don't really have an understanding what they're doing and they're like, oh, well, you know, I really want this to show up first in this, to show up second and this to show up in the search results. But the reality is, like you said, the content isn't very good. Therefore you can almost screw up the search engine by saying that something that has really bad content you want to show up first. So I think it's a lot like anything when we start talking about automation, which is really what artificial intelligence is, automation and bringing in automation to things. There has to be that human element that's brought into there in that human element has to be smart. They can't just do things. You can't just walk in, click a few buttons and hope for the best. And, and that's kind of one of the things that concerns me when you start bringing together these type of technologies into our ecosystem is typical marketer or the typical business owner or even the typical IT person, they don't necessarily have the understandings around this stuff to really understand it and I and I think we need to continue to strive to make our interfaces better so that when somebody is doing an activity like tuning or better understanding how natural language processing works in that is giving us the type of feedback that people really can use. Not the type of feedback that says this is what's affecting the search engine type of feedback that like when you change this, this is going to change it like this and here could be the consequence one way or the other. Now I know from a product perspective that it's like, well that's crazy maybe to do it, but overall isn't that kind of what we're asking people to do in the first place is make all these assumptions and leaps of faith and giant decisions around kind of how things are going to do and yet at the same time, from a product standpoint, we're providing them the resources to do this, but we're not necessarily giving them the understanding to be able to do it successfully.

Ben Tilley:27:46Yeah. That's a really good point and I do agree with you. I think it is an ongoing process and certainly ensuring that people do have the resources to do it successfully is a big part of ensuring that the actual outcome is what you want.

Virgil Carroll:28:00Yeah, and I think one of the things I always see is that you know that search in lot of organizations, I'm sure you've seen this as well, tends to be an afterthought. It tends to be something that we think of after we've done everything else and it's like, oh yeah, we should probably have a search engine for our website, or oh yeah, we should probably have some type of enterprise search for our document management solution. Whatever it might be. It tends to be that afterthought and going along with an afterthought, it tends to be a highly underfunded afterthought so they don't put the resources in it and the reality is to do this stuff, to implement what we've been talking about today, you have to put a lot of time, a lot of effort and you can't just rely on the software to do it for you, but the good news is that with artificial intelligence, getting more integrated into search and having a better understanding about these things, we're getting to that point where AI is going to help start and do more of the heavy lifting for us, but not necessarily replace us. Would you agree?

Ben Tilley:28:58I would agree. Yeah.

Virgil Carroll:28:59Yeah. Well, Ben, I really appreciate you joining me today, especially during my very first episode. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day. Before we go, can you tell us if people want to kind of learn more about artificial intelligence? Is Search and in particular how funnel back kind of does this and some of the things there, how could they learn more about funnel back and kind of what you guys are doing in that area?

Ben Tilley:29:21Yeah, absolutely. So we've got a fair bit of information up on our website. We will call it out now. We have deliberately been very careful about promising AI and machine learning aspects of that product and and by that I mean we're not using messaging a language which talks about having Ili available as soon as you click the button out of the box, but we certainly have a lot of blog posts and a lot of content about at where we see AI influencing search and and the ways in which we're using it with our product at the moment. So funnelback.com is our website. I would definitely recommend going to the blog section thats probably where we put the bulk of the information right now because it's fair to say that while we do use aspects of machine learning and ai within our product, there's still a long way to go and so most of the information that I think is going to be useful and interesting to people is actually an blog section where members of our staff were just talking about what they see as being the direction that it's going to take or areas in which they're experimenting with it rather than a full product section on our site that talks about our AI product that you can just turn on with the click of a button.

Virgil Carroll:30:24Well, great. Well again, Ben, thank you for joining me today and hopefully our discussion gave people some new insight into artificial intelligence in search.

Ben Tilley:30:34Absolutely. Fantastic. Thank you for having me here.

Virgil Carroll:30:40In my final segment of the podcast, I want to talk about stupid buzzwords and I call this segment the stupid buzz. So what do I mean by stupid buzzwords? I basically mean words that used to have meaning that we've kind of in the digital world, taken and made meaningless. Now this one arguably may not have had a lot of meaning prior, but overall it is something that is completely misunderstood and that is chatbot. What is a chatbot? Do you know what a Chatbot is? Does anybody really know what a Chatbot is? In very simple, plain human language? A chatbot means an automated system that I asked a question and it responds back. How does that relate to artificial intelligence? Well, they try and take it a little bit further and say that it has an understanding. Maybe it's using search, natural language processing, all those kinds of things and it's actually providing some type of meaningful response back to you.

Virgil Carroll:31:37The problem is that nobody seems to really understand what these things are for yet it's really a fad that everybody seems to think they need. So now instead of having some type of chat module on top of your ecommerce platform or having some type of discussion forum for your employees to get something, you want to have an automated system that basically doesn't make you work and takes care of this for you, but there's a few things you should know about chatbots really that are very important. Number one, chabots are really only as sophisticated as you make them. They don't start out. There is no chatbot here that is already smart. There is something that you have to build yourself and actually do it. Now, there are some commercial products out there, but again, you still have to teach them what they need to learn.

Virgil Carroll:32:23They don't learn phrases on their own. You have to give them their phrases. Those that do learn phrases on their own, you're probably not going to want to use in your instance. Number two, does your business actually need a chatbot? You know, this again is kind of a fad that people have been talking about, but do you really need one? Do you have a business purpose for this? And what is that business purpose if you have maybe a business where you're communicating with your clients on a regular basis or customers need to constantly communicate. Maybe there's some benefit to have an automated processes versus having an actual human at the other end. But overall what tends to happen is we tend to deploy these without really much need or understanding of why we need these things and that. And so when you kind of look at that and you kind of look at what this is, chatbots to me is very much a fad.

Virgil Carroll:33:12It was a huge thing in 2017 and you're actually already starting to hear a lot less of it in 2018 because the reality is it's kind of cool and new and thinking everybody could get an automated answer that they could actually understand. But in reality there's just not a lot behind it and a lot of people can't do it. And the one thing I'll leave you with before I sign off here is why do we keep trying to replace people and the meaning of words when they're so much more meaningful when they come out of somebody's mouth. And with that, we officially end our first episode. Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the topic. We have a lot more interesting discussions coming up around a whole wide variety of topics and I'm really excited for where this podcast might go. You can subscribe to us through many of the most popular podcast directories such as Itunes, stitcher, and soundcloud, or you can visit us on the web at discussingstupid.com. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at me@discussingstupid.com or visit us on twitter with the handle @discussingstupid. So thank you again for joining. And then tell the next time we do, you can just discuss stupid on your own.

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