“More Human Than Human” may have been the slogan of the fictional Tyrell Corporation in the sci-fi film classic Blade Runner, but it could equally apply to Australian company MyCyberTwin, a provider of artificial-intelligence powered virtual staff.
MyCyberTwin technology is designed to allow almost anyone to build a virtual, artificial human -- called a CyberTwin -- which can handle such tasks as personalised customer support, client sales or even entertainment and companionship. CyberTwins can take the form of a clone of yourself, or a representative of your company, and they can live in almost any digital environment, including Web sites, virtual worlds, blogs, social network pages and mobile phones.
Touted as “always accurate, always in a good mood, able to speak many languages, and work day and night”, CyberTwins are currently available for free to personal and to small businesses users (for the first 100 chats only).
At the enterprise level, however, many large organisations are paying for more sophisticated versions of CyberTwins to serve as advanced customer support robots that live on the Web and interact directly with clients.
Fusing human psychology with an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) engine, MyCyberTwin’s virtual humans allow organisations such as NASA, AMP and National Australia Bank (NAB), to improve their customer support levels. Communicating through instant messaging, or voice recognition with third party plug-ins, the Web-based AI constructs are capable of interacting with thousands of clients a second, 24/7, with higher accuracy, up-sell rates and customer satisfaction levels than real people, according to MyCyberTwin CEO, Liesl Capper.
CyberTwins can not only co-browse Web sites with a client to look through the attributes of various credit card offers or hold a user’s hand through an Internet banking transaction, but they can also be deployed in games, mobile devices such as the iPhone, and in virtual worlds such as Second Life.
Much of the CyberTwins' capabilities come down to a proprietary artificial intelligence system which allows users to create CyberTwins using a relatively simple construction application. Using its in-house Instant IQ system, MyCyberTwin takes template robot personalities with pre-trained knowledge models, uploads client-specific data, such as product information, and then lets the CyberTwin train itself on the new data. Some human editorial work is then required to tweak the CyberTwin to meet individual business objectives of the organisation, such as reducing product application drop out rates or encouraging greater customer self-help, says John Zakos CIO at MyCyberTwin. “It’s not just a matter of uploading all the questions and answers, and information associated with a client; it’s about building the CyberTwin to achieve business objectives, and having performance indicators to show that they’re being met,” he says.
“Using analytics, organisations often end up modifying content on their sites based on what they’re learning through the CyberTwin about what the customer is talking about.”
Having the CyberTwin be able to teach itself and learn from experience and feedback are essential for creating a feasible, working AI engine, Capper says.
“On average, a large enterprise will have 85,000-120,000 potential inputs that a customer can give them, so if you sat down and scripted every one of those you would end up with an AI that is flat and which would take for ever to code,” she says.