How NLP Is Redefining The Future Of Tech

Judith Kniepeiss our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 1/23/2020 11:22 AM
During the last half of the past decade the importance of Data reached a level at which it was coined “the new oil”. This was indicative of a shift in the practices of individuals and businesses, highlighting how they now rely on something which isn’t measurable in gallons but in bytes. However,  because we can’t physically see the Data we generate, gather and store, its easy to lose our connection to it. 

This is where NLP is comes into play. With the purpose of helping computers understand our languages, NLP (Natural Language Processing) gained an increased importance over the last couple of years. But, more than teaching a computer how to speak, NLP can make sense of patterns within a text, from finding the stylistic devices of a piece of literature, to understanding the sentiment behind it. 

So, with NLP set to become even more prevalent over the next decade, here are some of the ways in which it’s already being put to use: 

EXTRACTION


Like an advanced version of using Ctrl + F to search a document, NLP can instantly skim through texts and extract the most important information. Not only that, but NLP algorithms are able to find connections between text passages and can generate statistics related to them.

Which leads me to my next example:

TEXT CLASSIFICATION 


This is fairly self-explanatory: NLP algorithms can parameters to categorise texts into certain categories.

You’ll find this used frequently in the insurance industry, where businesses use NLP to organise their contracts and categorise them the same way newspapers categorise their articles into different subcategories. And, closer to home, it’s similar algorithms that keep your inbox free from spam, automatically detecting patterns which are heavily used by spammers.

But NLP does more than just look for key words, it can understand the meaning behind them: 

SENTIMENT ANALYSIS


Sentiment Analysis takes the above understanding and classification and applies a knowledge of subtext, particularly when it comes to getting an indication of customer satisfaction. 

For example, Deutsche Bahn are using Sentiment Analysis to find out why people are unhappy with their experience whilst Amazon are using it to keep tabs on the customer service levels of their sellers. Indeed, Facebook have taken this one step further and, rather than just tracking satisfaction levels, they are examining how users are organising hate groups and using the data collected to try and prevent them mobilising. 

With the advancement of Machine Learning and technological developments like quantum computing, this decade could see NLP’s understanding  reach a whole level, becoming omnipresent and even more immersed in our daily lives:

PERSONAL AI ASSISTANTS


The popularity of using personal AI-based assistants is growing thanks to Alexa and Google Assistant (Siri & Cortana not so much, sorry). People are getting used to talking to their phones and smart devices in order to set alarms, create reminders or even book haircuts

And, as we continue to use these personal assistants more and more, we’ll need them to understand us better and more accurately. After decades of using generic text- or click inputs to make a computer execute our commands, this decade our interactions with computers need to involve into a more “natural” way of communicating.

But these advances are not just limited to voice technologies. Talking and texting with machines, the way we would with friends, is increasingly realistic thanks to advances in NLP:

CHATBOTS


Since companies have realised that they can answer most generic inquiries using an algorithm, the use of chatbots has increased tenfold.  Not only do these save on the need to employee customer service staff, but many are now so realistic and conversational that many customers do not realise that they are engaging with an algorithm. 

Plus, the ability to understand what is meant, even when it is not said in as many words, means that NLP can offer a service that is akin to what any individual can. 

If you’re interested in using NLP to fuel the next generation of technical advancements, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of expert consultants to find out more. 

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