What is Natural Language Processing?
One of the most publicized emerging developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence is Natural Language Processing (NLP), or Computational Linguistics, as it’s otherwise referred to. Originating at the intersection of artificial intelligence, linguistics, and machine learning, NLP is the evolutionary advancement in computer science that allows humans to engage in syntactically-intuitive dialog with computers.
Truly, the ability to talk with computers has become the talk of the blogosphere, and for good reason: Prior to the advent of NLP, people were forced to speak in computational logic gates. Search terms had to be precise, expressed using Boolean search terms, and there was little room for error.
Essentially, computers operated like, well, machines. They demanded specificity and literalism, and lacked the ability to intuit either the spirit of a question or what additional search results might complement the requested information.
However, quantum leaps in computational linguistics have made it so that interfacing with our binary brethren feels more natural than ever before. Ever since the introduction of Google’s semantic search, users have been progressively more able to speak on their own terms with the algorithmic curators of the online canons of information entombed in the vast expanses of the world wide web.
In the same way that printing religious literature in German democratized its accessibility to the mass-attending masses, so, too, has humanizing the nature of information-procurement broadened the public’s ability to arrive upon more obscure, niche, or esoteric materials.
Thanks to Natural Language Processing, an inquiry to Siri about whether or not, “It will rain today,” gets interpreted through a network of intuitive inferences that ascribe natural meanings to non-specific terms. The artificial intelligence algorithms parse through which date, exactly, “today” is, and which area is being implied based upon the location of the user. Similarly, Natural Language Processing is the engine behind what allows users to type in a vague description of something on Google, and receive a relevant response.
What Does NLP Mean to the World of Business?
Primarily, NLP means increased online prominence for businesses. Whereas once, businesses could only be showcased if they were searched for directly featured on ads, the linguistically-astute nature of semantic searches now allows for companies once might not have been listed in the results of a query to get spotlighted if they bear some pertinence to the nature of the topic being explored.
However, driving internet traffic to companies’ doorsteps is far from the most exciting development that NLP will usher in for modern businesses. Instead, the biggest paradigm-shift will occur as NLP becomes integrated into the interpretation of big data. Up until now, big data has been a nebulous trove of information, housing secrets and insights necessary for more effective business strategies, but it’s been an opaque oracle because of the lack of the average user’s familiarity with interpreting it.
Efforts at extrapolating information have been hampered by the fact that gleaning concrete information from swarms of numbers frequently requires knowing how to construct specific targeting algorithms. With NLP, however, big data will be forced to divulge its secrets as artificial intelligence transforms the ordinary words of users into data-deciphering formulas that return cogent answers for usage as the bedrock of competitive business solutions.
Another way that NLP will make businesses more intelligent will be by making them more emotional. Though artificial intelligence is known for giving businesses brains, it can also give them a heart through a process known as sentiment analysis. This breakthrough in computational linguistics allows software to scour the internet for mentions of a company and infer the sentiment of the context in which it’s mentioned, allowing companies to maintain a gauge of the emotional climate in which their brand resides.
Artificial Intelligence Continues to Make Conversations with Computers All the More Real
As strides forward in the world of NLP continue, companies will find themselves better equipped to instantly translate the chaos of big data into digestible, actionable sound bites. As with any relationship, communication is key, and businesses that are able to communicate with their data will fare better than those that continue to allow a language barrier to remain.
Companies that want a competitive edge should keep apprised of the most sophisticated solutions proffered by companies like WorkFusion that integrate the latest advances in Natural Language Processing to provide paradigm-shifting quantum leaps to forward-thinking businesses.