A lot of movies and TV series have portrayed AI in various forms, but the real-world development stands parallel to the sci-fi stints. Startups are eying AI as an open field with unlimited opportunities and the future of the technology is steadily growing to be one of the most promising techs by the day.
In the extensive field of AI, CogniCor started its journey in 2012 and has since come a long way. The startup, co-founded by Dr Sindhu Joseph, is already profitable – thanks to its virtual assistant service that is sold as a SaaS service.
CogniCor is backed by Wyra, Telefonica accelerator among other select few angels in Europe and largely self-funded. Not all startup ideas meet the successful end, but CogniCor's journey so far has proven to be triumphant.
International Business Times, India, sat down with one of the brains behind CogniCor – Dr Sindhu Joseph – who holds the position of a CEO and co-founder at the firm, to discuss more about artificial intelligence and the company's role in best utilising the tech to help businesses.
Below are the excerpts from our interaction with Dr Joseph:
IBTimes, India: How important is AI's role in the ever-evolving tech industry?
Sindhu Joseph: The tech industry, more specifically IT, has evolved significantly in the last century. This development can easily be related to Moore's Law, a phenomenon that continues to amaze us even after half a century of its proposal. It is not a well-known fact, but the present-day AI is largely a maturing technology which is in its initial phase of development. And yet, it is doing wonders for businesses and industries. We're finding its application in almost all walks of life, from highly-efficient self-driving cars to IoT-based personal assistants. With increased computational power and efficiency, which is in agreement with Moore's Law, more effective AI-systems could be built which will solve an array of problems that we face today. AI will also ensure that the technological advancements continue to happen with a similar agility even after Moore's law becomes obsolete at a later stage.
IBT: CogniCor's patented algorithms in natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning and cognitive methods simplify daily human lives. What are the data risks that AIs have access to?
Joseph: However, as we talk about it, one of the greatest apprehensions with regards to AI is that it will take advantage of human beings and seize control over us. I believe it is a misleading notion that prevails and simply lacks vision. We often correlate a lot of human functions with evolved AI systems, something that also includes wrongdoings that we see in our day-to-day lives. But what we fail to notice is that we've been largely unable to decode the human brain and what generates these undesirable signals in it, let alone eliminating them. On the other hand, we're coding Artificial Intelligence systems ourselves, and like any machine, these systems follow a set of instructions. We know precisely how a command is generated and how any system is likely to react, and can even modify it to eliminate any negative outcome. This enables us to create foolproof systems which despite replicating certain cognitive functions do not imitate the undesirable ones. So, our safety and security, and that of our data are not a concern – certainly not in the way that it is perceived.
IBT: What is the future of AI beyond smartphones and smart homes?
Joseph: Today, AI is assisting us in better handling our customers, is our personal assistant and manager that's happy to help round-the-clock, and even drives our cars as we enjoy our coffee along with a good read on the front seat. AI will find increased use cases in the future and to an extent that's impossible for us to imagine at present. Such systems will assist us in scientific researches, spearheading them, and solve an array of technological, financial, and social challenges with greater effectiveness. I believe that at some point in time, when the technology becomes infallible, we will also leverage AI with a host of other technologies to stimulate our biological evolution as well as cognitive functions.
IBT: How can AI improve our way of life?
Joseph: AI-led systems can be used to take stock of a lot of things in our day-to-day lives. Consider this: you have to visit a doctor after an ailment. The doctor examines you and gives you medical advice, which again could be subject to human observational errors. Instead, if AI is used for this purpose – through an automated device installed at home or even a smart wearable – your medical condition can be detected with greater precision and protective measures can be suggested, even before you fall sick. Moreover, the use of Big Data in AI can aid us in detecting and preparing against natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, and drought. It can also pave the way for more optimal usage of the available resources.
IBT: The tech industry is still not at the peak of utilising AI. How does CogniCor's AI assistance pan out in the current market condition?
Joseph: We're enabling businesses to experience AI technology through highly cost-effective virtual agents. These virtual agents feature greater consistency in terms of performance and react exactly like a real-life representative. The only difference that customers experience is a more seamless user experience, which is a result of information and data-driven query resolution. They leverage state-of-the-art technologies such as NLP and machine learning, which enable them to better understand the customer intent and gradually improve their targeting strategy. The product improvises without constant programming and adopts the most optimal approach that increases brand affinity and also supports buyer decision. Hence, customer attrition decreases significantly and sales are gradually increased.
It also meets the desired goals irrespective of the scenario where the virtual assistant is deployed, whether it is a B2C operation such as sales, or inhouse function such as HR management.
The biggest advantage that CogniCor has as a brand is that it has complete ownership of end-to-end processes, from research and development to product deployment, which enables us to adapt our core AI model as per the requirement of each and every enterprise.
IBT: Finally, what is CogniCor's vision and target to help advance technological growth in India and around the world?
Joseph: It is exciting that CogniCor in itself came into existence as a result of academic research and we've maintained our research-driven approach since its inception. We are increasing the scope of our tech solutions by applying our acquired knowledge in real-life scenarios. We are, moreover, increasing deployment globally through direct sales as well as channel partnerships.
CogniCor has tied up with multiple channel partners including Atos and Wipro and created third party automation solutions through joint collaborations. Such collaborations ensure that the acquired knowledge as well as resources of individual stakeholders are utilised optimally, thus creating a true customer and industry-centric technological solution. This, augmented with our direct sales, gives us the desired traction and thrust to capture the market in India and abroad.