Taking Your Banal Jobs: Creator of Google's Self-Driving Car Program Wants to Automate Office Drudgery

Monday, 17 September 2018 - 10:19AM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Monday, 17 September 2018 - 10:19AM
Taking Your Banal Jobs: Creator of Google's Self-Driving Car Program Wants to Automate Office Drudgery
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Image Credit: Pixabay Composite
You can be forgiven for mistaking the name "Cresta" for a kind of toothpaste or pharmaceutical—though the company's focus is artificial intelligence, its name has that weird ring to it. Cresta is the new company founded by Sebastian Thrun, one of the must successful entrepreneurs floating at the top of Silicon Valley's elite. In a departure from his previous projects, which included pioneering autonomous cars for Google's X research lab and creating the online education program Udacity, Cresta is meant to apply artificial intelligence to office settings, especially ones that involve salespeople communicating with potential customers.

We've already covered how AI has begun moving into travel agent and personal assistant roles, where some are being trained by humans to replace humans (some of the AI chat interactions are so realistic and charming that customers have asked chatbots on dates). Cresta takes a slightly different approach: it wants AI to supplement the work done by human workers by automating some of the more boring stuff, like following a script. According to Thrun: "If we train AI to take over boring repetitive tasks, we can free humanity and reach new heights."

via GIPHY

Zayd Enam, the CEO of Cresta, claims that one of the most striking proofs of Cresta's ability to take the strain off of human workers came from a saleswoman who had an unexpected bloody nose during an online text chat with a customer. Because she was using one hand pressed to her face to staunch the bleeding, she was unable to type with both hands, so she started clicking the suggested responses provided by Cresta instead. In the end, she was able to carry on the conversation without interruption.

In addition to simply automating tasks, Cresta wants to help human workers learn from each other more efficiently. With the rise of big data, businesses now need tools to sort through all that information and identify ways to make themselves more effective. According to Enam, Cresta's use of artificial intelligence is the answer: "We're trying to empower teams to operate like autonomous car fleets. When one person does something effectively, everyone else learns from their success, and when someone makes a mistake, everyone can learn from that too."

Likening human workforces to fleets on autonomous cars is a little concerning, but at least Cresta doesn't sound like it's designed to make humans obsolete quite yet.

via GIPHY

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