Making A Conversation with AI

Last month, I had a research project with one of Japanese top universities. As an NDM researcher, I tested communication skills of a new type of conversational AI. The university and company X have a plan to introduce AI to tourism industry. This AI is expected to work as a guide for tourists. My duties were to make a conversation with AI and evaluate its performance.

Making a conversation with AI was really an amazing experience. The machine recognized my voice and automatically replied to me. However, I noticed some weaknesses of this conversational AI.

The first point is that the conversational AI does not really understand the intention of human partner. For instance, I asked AI about a local Japanese restaurant: 'Which Japanese restaurant do you recommend?' Then, the machine introduced one Japanese restaurant to me and elaborately explained about direction and location, popular dishes, price, etc. Personally, I expected to learn about the name of the shop rather than verbose answer.

The second point is that while AI have strong memory and detailed knowledge of answer, it cannot answer a very simple question. For example, when I talked with AI I did not have enough money. Therefore, I had to find out ATM and asked the machine where ATM was. However, AI did not know ATM and then asked me what it is.

The third point is about human communication is much more complicated than we just think. When a person talks with someone, each of them consciously and unconsciously pays attention to the other's appearance, facial expression, demeanor, personal background (sex, age, race, occupation, ...), etc. We usually choose the best words and expressions when we make a conversation with other person to build a good human relationship.

However, present AI does not consider such personal backgrounds. This is the reason why we feel having a conversation with AI and other sort of machine is impersonal and even pointless.

It's no doubt most AI researchers are very intelligent and smart, but we still need more time to develop human-like AI.