AI for Empathy?

Mark Blunden of the Evening Standard yesterday, London, wrote about Amelia, an AI now replacing human council workers in Enfield, England. Two quotes are especially telling; from James Rolfe of council government there:

The customer shouldn’t see that they are interacting with a digital agent, it should be a seamless experience.

And from the president of the company selling the robot, IPSoft:

[not about AI] replacing labour with cheaper labour, but replacing labour with cognitive systems – to be able to answerr a question as a human would understand it.

So we are saving money (not counting externalities of course), replacing human-facing high-touch verbal service with AI, and we are doing it whilst trying to ensure customers will not even realize they are speaking with a non-human entity. What is the formula here? AI – Humanity = Cost Savings – Empathy?

Here is the original article as printed:



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