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Teaching A.I. About Anger Could Improve Your Customer Service Calls

By simulating anger, companies hope they—and their customers—can avoid the real thing.

image via (cc) flickr user jonpayne

The concept of a malevolent artificial intelligence has long been a staple in science and speculative fiction. From Harlan Ellison’s short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, to big-budget cinematic popcorn-munchers like The Matrix and The Terminator franchises, audiences delight at the notion that we might one day build a computer so smart, it decides humanity has become obsolete and leaves its creators in its wake. Even real world notables like cosmologist Stephen Hawking, computer pioneer Bill Gates, and battery-power baron Elon Musk have lined up to voice concerns about artificial intelligence. But for one company, angry A.I. isn’t something to be feared—it’s the key component to a good customer service experience.


Touchpoint Group, a New Zealand-based technology firm, is hard at work developing an artificial intelligence dedicated to being as angry as humanly (well, “robotically”) possible. Their goal: Create a sophisticated program to help companies learn how to best handle irate customers. As Touchpoint Group executive Frank van der Velden explained to The Australian:

“The end goal is to build an engine that can recommend solutions to companies — and we’re talking about the people at the frontline here — how they can improve particular issues that customers are facing. This will be possible by enabling our AI engine to learn right across a whole range of interactions of what has and has not worked in past examples”

To build their angry A.I., Touchpoint Group is partnering with one of Australia’s major banks, which has provided several years worth of its actual customer interactions to be incorporated into the software’s programming. Upon completion, the program will be able to generate millions of “angry customer” scenarios, and algorithmically plot an optimal resolution based on its existing data. Named “Radiant” after the similarly titled computing devices in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, the program reportedly costs $500,000 AU (just over $400,000 US) to develop, and will be offered to companies in search of efficient ways to field common—and perhaps not-so-common—customer complaints.

So, if in the coming years you find yourself pleasantly surprised by how easy a conversation with a bank representative or cable service provider is going over the phone? Well, you might have an angry A.I. to thank.

[via The Telegraph]

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