Shell to pilot AI virtual assistant named Amelia

The oil and gas giant will begin using IPsoft’s Amelia, a virtual assistant that can learn from natural language interactions, to solve customer problems.

More than a typical chat bot, cognitive computing software Amelia can learn from experiences with customers, which will mean less intervention from human agents – and software developers.

With assistance from Accenture, Shell will deploy Amelia in the firm’s internal training programme, answering queries from learning advisors, in February next year.

She will observe how advisors interact with staff until she is ready to automate the processes herself.

Another oil and gas firm, Baker Hughes is testing Amelia in its financial department on its Accounts Payable helpdesk to address queries from vendors around invoices and payments.  This pilot will begin in the next few weeks.

Cognitive computing

What sets Amelia apart is her sentence deconstruction, which is built into IPsoft’s algorithms, the technology firm’s solutions lead, Parit Patel told Computerworld.

The software works “like how you would teach a human.”

Amelia’s main areas of intelligence include neural ontology, which allows it to observe what people are doing through their interactions through her interface.

Further, Amelia collects and document information she gathers through its “listening mode”, where it is put into production and follows how human service agents respond to queries.

Amelia is also able to understand emotion, which means it can react differently to customers or employees it senses are becoming angry, in a similar way a human agent could.

Compliance wise, an automated system like Amelia has security benefits, Patel added.

Unlike a human agent, “you can set boundaries and rules and she won’t step outside of them.”

Accenture and IPSoft

Accenture announced yesterday that it will integrate Amelia into its cognitive services delivery for its customers.

Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s CTO said: “We’re at the forefront of a major wave of cognitive automation that is disruptive and transformational.

Why is she called Amelia?

A female avatar was chosen due to the stamp women have made on technology through history, like Ada Lovelace, the earliest natural language programmer, Patel explained. IPsoft's latest creation takes it's namesake from the American aviation trailblazer, Amelia Earhart.

“Her pioneering spirit was a very good fit”, Patel said.

This story, "Shell to pilot AI virtual assistant named Amelia" was originally published by

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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