Remember the first time you tried Apple’s Siri and went absolutely gaga over the human-like qualities of the application? Well, then came Amazon’s Alexa, a virtual assistant AI that was first available in the Amazon Dot and Amazon Echo Dot speakers but none of these were conversational as such. Although they can answer general questions about the weather and news, it will never feel really conversational.
Google, however, has in store something more conversational than the existing Siri, Alexa and Cortana in the form of its new chat companion, Meena. The company claims that it is going to be the best chatbot in the market that can talk with the user about anything on earth.
As per Google, Meena is a neutral network has about 2.6 billion parameters. We present Meena, a multi-turn open-domain chatbot trained end-to-end on data mined and filtered from public domain social media conversations. This 2.6B parameter neural network is trained to minimize perplexity, an automatic metric that we compare against the human judgement of multi-turn conversation quality, Google said in a blog post.
The post also stated that Meena is trained on 40 billion words and uses a seq2seq model along with a variation of the popular Transformer architecture. Google has claimed that it is better than any voice assistants right now.
Google also talked about the Sensibleness and Specificity Average, which helps in measuring the ability of a conversational agent, that talks sense. Interestingly, the humans scored around 86 per cent in SSA tests while Meena in the initial tests scored an impressive 76 per cent. The metric was created by a team of researchers in Google but the other companies, on the other hand, have their own methods of judging the conversational abilities of the AI-based assistants.
Google in its blog post also stated that the other AI-based assistants lack sense and basic knowledge about the world. Although they give sensible answers like I don’t know to questions but they are not specific to the context. Whereas Meena can conduct conversations that apparently make more sense and are generic, unlike the other assistants.
Although AI assistants are not used extensively, there have been reports of humans forming closer bonds with them. There have been stories of people curing their loneliness by interacting with the AI-assistants and have at times sought emotional support. For instance, there was a story about a young boy in the United States, who suffered from autism and hence didn’t interact much with people around him. He only indulged in deep conversations with Apple’s Siri.
With Google’s Meena, that claims to possess human-like abilities, a lot of people who find it hard to communicate with people around them, this will indeed be a blessing in disguise.