Power of Words

Oct 21, 2020

I grew up in a small town.  Anyone’s grandmother was everyone’s grandmother.  The grandmothers were always willing to dole out advice, lessons, and wisdom that only came with age.  One friend in particular lived with his grandmother.  He was a notorious gossip.  And every time “Gramma C” overheard any of us discussing others she’d repeat a little rhyme.

“Be careful of the words you say,

Keep them short and sweet.

You never know, from day to day,

Which ones you’ll have to eat.”

Gramma C knew the power of words.  And she did her best to teach us the power of words.  How true her words ring now!   If I say anything that sounds like “siri”, my watch and phone try to determine what I’m saying.  I feel sorry for parents who named their daughters Alexa and now can’t yell that through their own home without “waking” their electronic roommate.  Our words are becoming more important as natural language processing becomes more prevalent in our everyday lives.

Artificial Intelligence has made great strides in the last few years.  One subset of AI advances is natural language processing.  Machines are learning how to interpret words, sentences, paragraphs and more.  The text is then quantified, producing data that can be analyzed.  This data can be used to simplify, improve, and even entertain us.

What’s Being Said About You?

Natural Language Processing can be used to determine the mood associated with your business or product.  Social media is definitely an influential part of our current society.  What is said about your business on social media is important, but who has time to monitor that?  NLP has progressed to the point that syntax is understood by machines and can be turned into information.  Positive words are recognized as such.  Signal words such as “but” are recognized as a shift.  Artificial intelligence can understand a sentence that contains both positive emotions and switch to a negative emotion.  While this may seem simple, when applied to thousands and thousands of comments on a company social media account, loads of data can be compiled without a human spending days sorting.  Data can be extracted in moments and continuously.

Other programs can monitor where and when your brand is mentioned.  This data results in an accurate understanding of your reputation and helps identify which social media outlets your customers are using.

Can Anyone Hear Me?

For those of us older than Google, we remember using Boolean search terms when using the internet to seek information.  A modern high school student would be shocked to know there was a time you couldn’t type “how do I apply to college” into Google.   Due to NLP advances, you could type “How do I apply” and suggestions would appear to autocomplete the question.  If you did finish your question, the search engine would use variances of your query to filter the returns.  If for some reason you misspelled college and typed collage, the search engine would recognize that applying to collage makes no sense and would offer you the returns using college.

So What You’re Saying Is…?

As artificial intelligence progresses so will the abilities of based on natural language processing.  We are not yet to the point that machines interpret language as well as humans.  There’s so much more than the words we say.  We must consider the facial expressions and body language.  NLP, when paired with visual AI, can lead to Natural Language Understanding.  This would move AI into a new realm.  Every query typed into a search engine and every command given to Alexa aids developers in furthering the abilities of NLP.  Alexa can tell you a joke, give you the weather, and even understand regional dialects.  And perhaps someday, like Gramma C, Alexa will remind you that you might have to eat your words.