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When Uncle Sam claimed that the rise of generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT is going to replace customer service jobs, he wasn’t wrong. A US-based AI startup, Air AI, has introduced the world’s first-ever AI-based customer support that can have a proper 10-40 minute-long phone calls and sound just like a real human. Easily replacing real customer service executives, the company has also bought the domain name ‘air.ai’, making customer support synonymous with AI.
With unlimited storage capacity and the ability to remember the context, it is capable of performing tasks across more than 5,000 applications autonomously, without any training, supervision, or motivation. It is akin to having instant access to 100,000 sales and customer service representatives. More than 50,000 companies have already signed up on the waiting list.
Is Human Customer Support Dead?
The news has garnered widespread attention with mixed reactions. However, conversations around the potential impact of AI and automation on jobs and the need for governments to consider implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is needed more than ever now.
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Last week, several industry experts from the BPO sector told AIM that generative AI will not result in job losses but rather improve productivity and empower employees. They highlighted how generative AI can streamline repetitive tasks, enhance decision-making, and improve customer service, allowing employees to focus on more complex and value-added tasks. Companies embracing these technologies are expected to outperform those that do not.
Indian startup Dukaan laid off 90% of its customer support staff and introduced an AI chatbot called Lina to replace them. This move was aimed at allowing the company to benefit from artificial intelligence, as stated by its founder, Suumit Shah. By leveraging AI, Dukaan claimed to have decreased its expenses for customer support by 85%. Additionally, the response time for initial queries has been reduced from 1 minute and 44 seconds to ‘immediate’.
Meanwhile, as per several Reddit users, while AI has shown potential in addressing common issues, striking the right balance between AI automation and human assistance is crucial. Despite the immense potential of AI, human assistants are still necessary for specialised situations.
Generative AI can enhance productivity and empower employees, but human empathy and specialised assistance remain essential. Transparent disclosure of AI usage and ensuring a seamless transition between AI and human interaction are necessary for optimising the customer experience. Moreover, the ethical implications and potential consequences of widespread AI implementation should be carefully considered.
What’s Under the Hood?
Founded in August 2022 by Caleb Maddix, Ethan Wainer and Thomas Lancer, Air AI is the software platform that helps businesses get to market faster, cheaper, and more effectively than ever before. Not much information about the company’s background, including investors, is publicly available.
Even though the company has not revealed how it created the automated customer support, there are several ways to do it. Earlier this week, Indian-origin researcher Prady Modukuru created a remarkable tool that effortlessly translates any video into the user’s preferred language. By leveraging GPT-4 and prompt engineering techniques, Modukuru translated a recent conversation snippet between Meta CEO Zuckerberg and Lex Fridman into Hindi, ensuring accurate voice representation using ElevenLabs’ voice training and text-to-speech capabilities. He achieved precise lip-syncing through wav2lip-2, an AI-based solution generating lifelike lip movements.
There are other models as well that can be used to make it possible. Synthesia, for instance, excels at creating videos with AI avatars, supporting multiple languages and templates. Gen-2 combines text, images, and video clips for diverse content. Murf converts text to customisable voice-overs. Wav2Lip syncs speech with facial expressions. Retrieval-based Voice Conversion changes voices using neural networks. So-vits-svc trains AI models for desired voices and languages. Pictory and DeepBrainAI convert scripts into videos effortlessly.