Action Scripts, Multi-turn Dialogs, and the evolution of language

PeopleReign ConversationAt PeopleReign, we believe voice is the new app and AI is the new UI. We’re developing technologies that make it easy to interact naturally with machines by making it easy for machines to understand and assist us in powerful new ways.

Language is an innate part of the human experience. We navigate the world by communicating with others. In fact, our evolution as a species closely tracks our cultivation of language. What started with grunts and primitive sounds 150,000 years ago eventually became sophisticated words and concepts. More recently, about 6,000 years ago, we developed writing to codify language. As a species, we’d still be dragging our knuckles along, foraging for food in the wilderness if language hadn’t evolved.

You and I take for granted how we communicate with words. In the PeopleReign Lab, we think a lot about the history and future of language. As humans increasingly interact with machines the boundaries of language are being stretched. The recent Google LaMDA “sentient AI” debate is a case in point. It forced us to ask questions like “what does it mean to be human” and “how will humans collaborate with machines.” These and questions like them require us to rethink language in ways we haven’t since the time of the pharaohs.

I’m proud to announce two innovative virtual agent features our team developed based on customer feedback that we think will become foundations of the new human-machine language. Believe it or not, our ability to communicate with machines today using natural language is about as mature as our ability to communicate with humans was ten thousand years ago. What we’re releasing today is, in fact, just a glimpse into what we have planned. In twenty-five years of helping employees use automation to make work life better I’ve never been more enthusiastic about what’s ahead.

Introducing Action Scripts

The first of the new features is Action Scripts, a framework built into the PeopleReign System of Intelligence that allows machine replies to include content extracted in real time from external systems of record. For example, Action Scripts can fetch an answer from Workday about 401(k) matching and combine it with snippets extracted from about matching limits for 2022 and proposed changes for 2023. Action Scripts can create interactive dialogs between humans and machines based on sophisticated information exchanges with employees about topics like broken laptops, security settings, phishing attempts, or software upgrades. With Action Scripts, every employee is treated like a first-class citizen because every interaction with virtual agents can now be enriched with answers and insights that go beyond links or one-shot answers to FAQs.

Multi-turn Dialogs: moving beyond “one-shot” FAQs

The second feature supports Action Scripts and is called Multi-turn Dialogs. They make traditional, simple voice or text-driven conversations interactive. Rarely do one-shot answers satisfy users. In a world where users are second and technology is first, answers consist of links to PDFs. Users are forced to guess what the bot was thinking. That’s OK when ordering a pizza from an app… but it’s comically insufficient when troubleshooting network connectivity. In a world where users are first, technology adapts to human behavior and virtual agents respond with follow-up questions when clarification is needed. For example, employees asking “when will my paystub arrive” may be having technical issues accessing Workday, they may not yet be enrolled for auto-deposit, or they may have received a paystub at the wrong address. Simple utterances often require a nuanced understanding of context which is why rich, multimedia, interactive dialogs are now supported by the PeopleReign virtual agent through Multi-turn Dialogs. Every request is an opportunity to deliver an exceptional experience.

Every exceptional experience is an opportunity to help employees feel valued, trusted, and respected. Every employee not forced to speak “bot” is an employee motivated to do her best work and inspire others. That’s why we’re committed to building a system of intelligence that finally delivers on the promise of real NLP combined with contextual awareness and optimized for employee service.

This isn’t just the future of IT and HR. It’s the future of language. It embraces machines as participants and partners. It’s the next logical evolution in a process that will lead to smarter, more efficient humans. We believe anything that can be predicted or modeled with data is better left to machines… but anything that requires intuition or rational thinking is better left to humans. That future is closer than ever thanks to Action Scripts and Multi-turn Dialogs.

Developing these features has been a passion project for me and the team for five years. We’ve invested over two-hundred person-years bringing them to market. Congratulations to all members of The Reign Train whose life’s work is finally being shared publicly. Thanks to great customers, partners, and advisors for always encouraging us to dream big. Today is day one.

Join us September 13th at 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern for a lightning-round 15 minute demo of these features and all more.

Read the press release here.