ProjectBlog: Meta Leadership Primer: Natural Language Processing

Blog: Meta Leadership Primer: Natural Language Processing

Around 70 years ago, humans communicated with computers using punch cards to input a large amount of data; this was time-consuming and stressful. Gone are those ugly old days and today, it has been made easier for humans to communicate with computers in certain ways that seem as natural as possible. We all use software like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa to interact with our computers by speaking to them; they, in turn, receive these messages, acknowledge them and give feedback to us in human voices and our languages. You can imagine how intelligent computers have become, all thanks to Natural Language Processing and other Artificial Intelligence programs with the assistance of Machine Learning and Deep Learning.

What is Natural Language Processing?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the branch of computer science (artificial intelligence, precisely) that helps computers to interact with humans and this time not in their own (computer) language but in human (natural) language. In recently, we have witnessed different programs created to help promote the relationship between humans and computers including the voice recognition technology amongst others. All these technological advancements are what have brought AI this far as we continue pushing to create a deeper bond between computers and humans.

NLP is not new to the world, there have been traces of it since the 1950s, and gradually it has developed into what we now have today.

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Why is Natural Language Processing Important to Us?

Computers have become human’s most trusted companion in the sense that they perform complex processes in a fast and reliable way but inputting the data necessary for the computer to work is becoming a near impossible task because of the explosive growth of data around the world. So, the computer’s ability to understand and process human language has made it a lot easier for us to have processes completed even faster. For example, using the Google Navigation service allows the computer to speak directly to you in your language, telling you which turns to make and at what times to make those turns. Also, the Alexa while playing music from a playlist or the web can immediately rate a song once you call on it too; like saying, “Alexa, I like that song.” and give you feedback in human voice and language by lowering the volume of the music and saying, “Rating saved.”

One other benefit of NLP to humans is found in programs like leverage voice to text, where you can speak and the text appears immediately on the screen thus allowing for processing and possibly give you feedback in simple human language as well.

Limitations of Natural Language Processing

Well, as much there are brilliant computers and programs today, humans will still be humans and communication as humans will always be the same natural means of communication comprising of direct and indirect communications. Humans are not always literal with their communication which requires the human’s semantic reasoning to understand. Computers, on the other hand, are logical devices that recognize only the literal meanings of sentences spoken in human language. Computers just read and understand what is on the line and do not read between the lines.

Humans break communication rules which seem natural, but computers still rationally process these natural human languages. For example, communicating with a fellow human requires an understanding of spoken words, tone, pitch, and even body language. Sometimes, humans can be even sarcastic and figurative, but the computer will interpret them the way it sees it –literally.

Major providers and NLP service vendors are working hard to make sure that the NLP algorithms in use grow to the stage of being able to communicate effectively with humans across a wide swath of language nuances. That day will get here sooner than you think and contrary to the popular dystopian future that most pundits like to believe will arise, I think it will help user in an entirely new wave of human collaboration and knowledge advancement.

Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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