Chetan Dube’s Fireside Chat with Stanford University Students

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4 minute read

Amelia’s CEO and several Stanford students explored the many applications of Conversational AI.

Chetan Dube, Founder and CEO of Amelia, recently spoke with nearly a dozen Stanford students on the topic of Conversational AI. As future leaders in the field of AI, each student brought their own unique perspective and interest to the discussion – from AI’s impact on healthcare, to how AI can drive sales, to media and entertainment, to AI-controlled aviation and more. The conversation provided an insightful forum for the students to hear Chetan’s insights about the current and future state of Conversational AI.

To view the full discussion, click here.

For starters, in response to one student’s interest in AI-controlled aviation, Chetan noted that while the aviation industry is growing increasingly reliant on AI for non-critical circumstances, such as commercial flights and flight-path creation, many people remain concerned about AI’s reliability. However, he also highlighted how AI technology is achieving levels of determinism and outcomes that exceed human levels, which suggests it is more reliable than humans in some circumstances.

Unlike humans – known for our complexity and potential for error – Conversational AI and automation are built to be incapable of randomness. With this in mind, Chetan challenged students to determine how to leverage digital agents to auto-correct human errors and digital miscues in aviation, which is applicable in other industries.

Organizations can also rely on Conversational AI for mundane, repetitive and administrative tasks, which frees human employees to focus on more creative and complex job functions. While some worry that AI takes jobs away from humans, Chetan argued that people should not waste their time doing what AI can do, as doing so limits human’s ability to do what AI cannot do: invent. Creative thinking is where “humans reign supreme,” Chetan said, which is why one of the invaluable benefits of deploying digital employees is that they free humans from the work that has hindered productivity and creativity for years.

By 2025, cloud-based digital employees are expected to be a $2.9 trillion market, and countries and organizations around the world will likely move fast to take advantage of the market. However, some sectors, such as the public sector, are slower to move on digital transformation initiatives. During the discussion, a student shared their interest in smart cities that leverage AI to decrease reaction times of emergency services. Chetan implored the student to determine how to accelerate cities through the inertia of government bureaucracy and take advantage of life-saving applications of AI.

Conversational AI: Approaching Human-Levels of Intelligence

Many technology vendors have created chatbots over the years, yet the IQ of even the best chatbot is still worse than that of a 6-year-old, explained Chetan. The gap between computer- and human-levels of intelligence has been large because most vendors go after “happy case scenarios,” which computers can easily classify, while humans are capable of much more than classification. That is why when a student asked Chetan about what proves technology has crossed the line and become most human, he explained that technology approaches human-levels of intelligence when it moves beyond classification to comprehension.

Another indicator of AI’s nearness to human-levels of intelligence is when AI tracks the state of interactions with users. Chetan challenged one student to determine how to make AI “stateful,” so that it remembers previous interactions with users and uses this information to influence its current interactions. Remembering information from previous interactions with users is part of what separates human-like Conversational AI from basic chatbots.

As AI approaches human-levels of intelligence, we will begin to see AI in more diverse roles than ever before. In fact, one Stanford student is beginning to explore how AI can be used in media and entertainment, and Chetan encouraged thinking about how a digital or hybrid character could play on screen or in a concert.

Human-Like AI Drives True Business Value

AI with human-levels of intelligence can be deployed in numerous roles to drive value for companies across all industries. For example, one student shared their interest in leveraging Conversational AI to improve customer experience and sales within the restaurant industry. Since the process of taking and delivering orders needs to be fast, yet accurate, Chetan argued that “human levels of accurate comprehension and quick turnaround will decide market share for future-fast restaurants.”

When Conversational AI solutions reach human-levels of intelligence, they can also be used to increase sales in the corporate world, including B2B providers. Chetan shared some examples of how companies have deployed Amelia to successfully garner new clients, and he encouraged students to explore how digital agents can better leverage business intelligence, and be trained to use Challenger and MEDDIC sales methodologies, during interactions with prospects.

AI in Healthcare and Wellbeing

Several of the students expressed their interest in exploring the intersection of healthcare and AI, including one student who wanted to deploy a Conversational AI-powered receptionist at an optometric office. For this use case, Chetan encouraged the student to consider how Conversational AI’s ability to “know your customer” better than a chatbot enhances their effectiveness in a healthcare setting. Similarly, another student was interested in leveraging AI’s ability to understand and remember people to develop a social companion for older adults. Since the pandemic exacerbated social isolation, this use case is more critical than ever before.

On a macro-level, AI can help release the provision of care from the confines of the centralized model that exists today, to a more federated and accessible model. For example, Chetan’s challenge for one of the students was to think of how AI could be used to reduce “traffic jam[s]” at hospitals by bringing care closer to patients.

Chetan’s feedback for another student was to “make a digital doctor possible” by utilizing existing knowledge ontology for medical cases to solve incoming patients’ queries. Within a federated healthcare model, organizations could deploy digital doctors to help patients when human doctors are unavailable to provide care, or as whisper agents for healthcare providers.

Business leaders of the future recognize the value of using AI to strengthen business operations, care for individuals’ health and wellbeing, develop smart cities and more. We look forward to following the careers of these Stanford students as they leverage AI to improve the future for all.

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