NLG – The Cinderella of AI

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matthew_gould_2In this special guest feature, Matthew Gould, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Arria NLG, discusses how NLG doesn’t quite fire the imagination like AI, but it is the means to IA (Intelligence Amplification) and puts humans in control by harnessing computing power to amplify our capabilities. Matthew Gould is Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Arria NLG, a leader in the development and deployment of Natural Language Generation (NLG) software technologies. Gould has worked in the IT and communications industry for the last 20 years, holding senior positions with the Daily Mail Group in the UK, NEC in Japan, and Hewlett Packard in Sydney and the USA. He has degrees in Literary Theory and Theology from Canterbury University, New Zealand and an MBA from the Advanced Business Programme at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Now that we have the ability to create vast quantities of data, what do we do with it? The obvious answer is analyze it and extract useful information to sell things, to cure, to monitor, to fix, to advise. The options increase daily.

The obstacle? Something similar to that valuable ‘last mile’: how the package is delivered to your door, how the broadband actually gets into your home or business. Analyzing data using humans is costly, slow and prone to error. And, often times, the data being analysed is not being utilized to its fullest extent. The reason: data is being generated at a faster pace than jobs are being filled to analyze it. Using AI and Machine Learning gets you to a dashboard or a graph, admittedly in real time. But NLG (or Natural Language Generation) gets you all the way using words, a medium everyone understands.

So, while poor old NLG doesn’t quite fire the imagination like AI, it is the means to IA (Intelligence Amplification). It puts humans in control by harnessing computing power to amplify our capabilities. The best and brightest will be free to do what they are trained to do – engineers to build, doctors to heal, scientists to discover.

Take one scenario:

A premature baby is in intensive care. She’s wired up to all kinds of monitors. Her doctors are time poor, but data rich. Using Natural Language Generation, the data can be turned into concise reports, giving the doctors all the information they need to take action.

The parents are worried. They don’t like to bother the staff with too many questions. But they are desperate for news about their baby. All they want to know is in the data. Using NLG, the data can produce a report, in real time,using terms the parents understand and can take home and share.

The nurses are run off their feet. Shift change is always fraught. Sometimes information doesn’t get passed on. Using NLG, the handover reports are comprehensive and concise, leaving the nurses time to check their patients and giving them peace of mind as they leave their shift.

The magic? One set of data. Three audiences. Three targeted reports.

This is just one scenario. There are many, many more. Just look about you. Most activities use their own specific language:

  • Marketing with its leads, prospects, customer journey, and golden records.
  • Mining with its drills, bits, reams, shale shakers, and bottoms up.
  • Investing with its payout ratio, income stream, reweighting, and SRN.

NLG captures this knowledge from your experts and SMEs so that when it comes to reading the reports you won’t be able to tell if it’s come straight from the data or the expert.

Once you’ve grasped that concept, you’ll appreciate the power of NLG. Your data will be working every day of the year, for as long as you need and for as many audiences and platforms as you require.

Forget the robots, give your data a voice and let the humans take action.


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