Global IT services and consulting company Accenture announced on Tuesday the launch of new services for testing artificial intelligence systems. The company said that the system was powered by a “teach and test” method designed to help “build, monitor and measure” reliable AI systems within their own infrastructure or in the cloud.
Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive of Accenture Technology Services said in a statement, “The adoption of AI is accelerating as businesses see its transformational value to power new innovations and growth. As organisations embrace AI, it is critical to find better ways to train and sustain these systems — securely and with quality — to avoid adverse effects on business performance, brand reputation, compliance and humans.”
Accenture’s ‘teach and test’ method ensures that AI systems are producing the right decisions in two phases. The ‘teach’ phase focuses on the choice of data, models and algorithms that are used to train machine learning. This phase experiments and statistically evaluates different models to select the best performing model to be deployed into production, while avoiding gender, ethnic and other biases, as well as ethical and compliance risks.
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During the ‘test’ phase, AI system outputs are compared to key performance indicators, and assessed for whether the system can explain how a decision or outcome was determined. It uses innovative techniques and cloud-based tools to monitor the system on an ongoing basis for sustained performance. For instance, a patent-pending normalisation technique uses a unique algorithm to test object recognition more quickly.
According the Accenture Technology Vision 2018, AI systems require addressing many of the same challenges faced in human education and growth: fostering an understanding of right and wrong, and what it means to behave responsibly; imparting knowledge without bias; and building self-reliance while emphasising the importance of collaborating and communicating with others.
Kishore Durg, senior managing director, Growth and Strategy and Global Testing Services Lead for Accenture, said, “Testing AI systems presents a completely new set of challenges. While traditional application testing is deterministic, with a finite number of scenarios that can be defined in advance, AI systems require a limitless approach to testing… There is also a need for new capabilities for evaluating data and learning models, choosing algorithms, and monitoring for bias and ethical and regulatory compliance. Accenture’s ‘teach and test’ method takes all of this into consideration to help companies develop and validate AI systems with confidence.”
Accenture used the ‘teach and test’ method to train a conversational virtual agent for a financial services company’s website, so that it could engage in accurate, unbiased conversations and know when to refer conversations to a human. The agent was trained 80 percent faster than previously possible and achieved an 85 percent accuracy rate on customer recommendations.
This method was also used to teach a sentiment analysis solution to evaluate a brand’s service performance by analysing social media, news and other sources in real time. Having the right training data enabled the solution to correctly interpret sentiments in different contexts and domains. The training time for models was cut in half, enabling faster analysis and business results.
Accenture AI Testing is part of a complete range of testing services that helps quality engineering professionals be a catalyst for speed, agility and business performance while achieving radical productivity. Accenture serves over 1,000 testing clients across more than 40 industries and is recognised as an industry leader in testing innovation.