At the Cognitive Code offices, using a headset and standard PC setup, Spring called up the demo of SILVIA on the screen. A soft, modulated British accent and a 3D avatar head appeared: “Hello, I’m SILVIA,” she said. “Tell me about yourself.”
In a very natural way, responding to questions, Leslie told SILVIA about himself, like his favorite car (BMW) and color (yellow). Then, after several other queries back and forth, (i.e. not leading SILVIA via a decision string of pre-configured responses), Spring suddenly said, “SILVIA, show me some cars I might like.” Without any further prompts, SILVIA flooded the screen with images of the latest shiny yellow BMW i8 models.
“Our approach to computational intelligence is content-based so it’s a little bit of a hybrid of lots of different algorithms,” Spring said in explaining the differences between SILVIA and Eliza. “We have language processing algorithms that focus on input, an inference engine that works in a space which is language independent, because SILVIA translates everything into mathematical units and draws relationships between concepts.”
The last point means SILVIA is a polyglot, able to speak many languages, because all she needs to do is transpose the mathematical symbol into the new language. Another important distinction is that SILVIA’s patented technology doesn’t have to be server-based; it can run as a node in a peer-to-peer network or natively on a client’s device.
Clients include Northrup Grumman, which use SILVIA as the A.I. inside its SADIE system for multiple training environments, including “simulation and training to improve U.S. military performance in ways that will ultimately save lives,” said Chen.
Personable A.I. platforms will change how we access, analyze, and process vast stores of data. Unlike pre-configured chatbots or decision tree telephone systems, though, they do have quirks as they negotiate and comprehend the world.
At the end of our demo, SILVIA started to randomize, almost as if she was thinking aloud, musing on her uses to people in the workplace. “Just like the Captain on Voyager,” she said.
Spring did a double-take and looked at the screen, mystified. “Sometimes she does say things that surprise me,” he laughed.
That’s the thing with A.I. It might be artificial but it’s also clearly highly intelligent, with a mind of its own.