When we were building ICUC Central, our in-house software for social media management, artificial intelligence had yet to gain serious traction with companies like Facebook and Google. Fast-forward to 2017, and AI’s “Deep Learning” abilities have now exploded. The growth over the last five years has been tremendous; in 2016, a Google spokesperson stated that they had only two projects using “Deep Learning” in 2011, but now have over 1,000. And we’re using it too, as it’s the driving force behind ourICUC Central.

Today’s AI and Deep Learning are positioned to revolutionize how we live and how technology helps us.

So, what is “Deep Learning” and why is it suddenly an omnipresent buzzword?

When machines take datasets, parse them, and classify that information or act upon it by themselves, that’s Deep Learning in action. It’s basically when computers know what to do with information. Example of this include Facebook’s image recognition abilities and voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. It’s constantly learning and adapting behaviour.

And, of course, our ICUC Central is another example of this new “Deep Learning” era in artificial intelligence.

What is ICUC Central?

And why is ICUC Central a big deal? How does it make ICUC so good at what we do? More importantly, how can it keep us improving what we do?

Think of ICUC Central as eyes that never blink. If something’s said about our customers on any site we monitor for said clients, it’s seen by the all-seeing ICUC Central. That’s when ICUC Central’s algorithm thinks, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” and analyzes that content, comment, or feedback, studies the context, then decides whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral.

Once ICUC Central has classified the nature of that content, that’s where humans come in.

With pre-sorting done on comments, content, and peer-reviews for our clients around the world, our ICUC team is all over that content. They then scrutinize ICUC Central’s sorting and decide what further action needs to be taken. Maybe that means escalating a concern, replying to feedback, or alerting the right people in our clients’ organizations. These actions can happen blazingly fast, often in as little as 20 minutes from when the public’s content pops up in, say, Boswell, Indiana, or in Dorset, U.K. Twenty minutes!

But here’s the really cool part…

Every single time that process happens – comment, sorted, actioned –ICUC Central’s Deep Learning algorithm takes note of what the human operator did to close the case, and it helps to better inform the ICUC Central sorting process the next time. It learns – and it learns fast.

ICUC Central: Always Hungry for More

ICUC Central is always, always improving. That’s the nature of Deep Learning. It’s the most voracious student ever. That brainiac you knew in high school who was always a new book, who you never wanted to face in a trivia battle? That’s Deep Learning, and ICUC Central… but literally at least a million times faster.

ICUC Central is multilingual and adaptable. So, whether it’s being employed by the Google Store to analyze user photos being submitted for customizable Nexus Live phone cases in less than 30 seconds from when the photo is received, or it’s scouring Disney fan sites for concerning content, ICUC Central is a multi-level response system. We designed ICUC Central to work with various pieces of software to gather such information – Crimson Hexagon, Sprout Social, native feeds from Facebook. You name it, we can work with it.

How this works is that we gather the initial content, but then ICUC Central analyzes all of that for deeper meaning and relevance. So, instead of getting, say, 25,000 mentions of our client in a day from Crimson Hexagon, ICUC Central’s job is to sort through all of that and decide the nature of those 25,000 mentions. Who’s happy? Who’s dissatisfied? What are the concerns being raised by our client’s customers?

Once ICUC Central performs this analysis, it creates custom easy-to-read dashboards full of insights that will later allow for transparency and oversight at client level. But, first, the ICUC Central AI team of veteran community managers scour the data compiled and sorted, and they trainICUC Central’s AI to generate alerts based on client-specified guidelines. This is where the “Deep Learning” comes in.

Through their repeated input, our team of veteran moderators make ICUC Central understand those client guidelines and teach it to decipher content for what’s really being said.

If you think about it, the English language can get pretty complicated, so ICUC Central’s biggest hurdle is learning context.

Context in Artificial Intelligence: What’s In a Word

Context, that’s been the tricky learning curve in the early years of AI.

So, here’s an example we love to use. Disney sees over 130 million visitors to their parks annually, so you can imagine their concerns about safety on their properties. Naturally, one of the terms we get ICUC Central to search for is “fall.” ICUC Central is able to scan a 10,000-word forum comment by a Disney fan in a nanosecond and decide that 20% of the content has potentially concerning feedback.

But then think about the words “fall” and “fell.” Context can drastically change their potential meaning. For instance, a fan can write, “It took me five seconds to fall in love with the park,” and it’s a wildly positive comment. To uninformed AI, the mere mention of “fall” could generate an alert and waste a Disney staffer’s time. That’s when our trusty team get on the case and educate the machine.

Now, through the human-aided sorting process, ICUC Central learns that “fall in love” and “fell in love” are positive phrases, so is “fell for it.” “Fell hard” is a trickier comment that may need more instances of human clarification before the machine can discern between “I fell hard for the foot-long hot dog and snarfed down four in two days” versus “I stepped out of Magic Mountain and fell hard, gashing my knee wide open on an uneven step.” Obviously, we don’t need to send the litigation and maintenance teams an alert about foot-long hotdogs, thank goodness, but a head’s up on that Magic Mountain step could avert a huge lawsuit down the road.

Every time human moderators intercede on context questions, ICUC Central remembers that action, and it informs future choices.

Humans: ICUC Central’s Secret Weapon

There’s a lot riding on these comments, though. One bad comment can turn away dozens of would-be clients, and that’s why we keep analysts watching over ICUC Central and screening everything highlighted for observation. If anything they spot is deemed a topic of concern to our client, then our staff create an alert. But ICUC Central’s still on the case and learning from those “alert” decisions.

And that’s why ICUC Central will always keep improving. When it comes to ICUC Central, I think an old line of a Robbie Robertson song comes to mind, “You like it now, but you’ll learn to love it later,” because ICUC Central keeps giving you more bang for your buck as it learns. As time goes on, our team can parse more and more information for you as ICUC Central’s scouring and sorting gets ever more efficient.

Think of what that efficiency means to our clients’ bottom line: In 20 minutes or so, they’ll get a head’s up about problems or raves on their services or products. From averting lawsuits to, say, learning that there’s been a pricing glitch on an intercontinental flight that people are tweeting about, this can mean problems get solved in hours, not days. And, thanks to humans being involved in the review process, these won’t be false alerts – it’ll all be valid information that’s had the watchful eye of a human who understands, at an intimate level, what concerns our client. That multi-level process can be a game-changer for corporate response time.

Real-time Reports & The More You Know…

All that sorting doesn’t mean a lot if you get overwhelmed at a glance. That’s why we think the ICUC Central dashboard’s pretty awesome from client perspectives. We’ve geared it to show what the latest trends are, what customer sentiments are, what the most common feedback is, what the latest alerts have been, where the feedback’s being said, and more. But we’re not confined to those presets; we can customize all of this info. Whatever our clients need to analyze, ICUC Central’s dashboard is tailorable to reflect those content needs.

Having a browser dashboard is great, but when feedback is flying from over 130 million visitors to parks a year, well, Disney Parks & Resorts need reports and information to be accessible on the fly, too. This is true for all our clients, large or small. As a result, ICUC Central reports are available on desktop computers, in downloadable PDFs, through our easy-to-navigate smartphone and apps, and even in CSV reports for folks who love deep-dive analysis in minutiae.

When it comes down to it, we understand that our clients’ businesses live and die by popular opinion. Whether it’s happy customers or the first of a coming wave of irate feedback that may require a PR-level response, our clients need to know what’s getting said. Separating feedback only into “good, bad, and ugly” isn’t enough in this era of public sentiment writ large. Our clients need total knowledge about their customers’ experiences, because that affects everything from budgeting and marketing to staffing and beyond.

At ICUC, we believe in always being better. From ICUC Central’s intelligence through to our clients’ performance, we’re committed to making “being better” a daily endeavor. ICUC Central will never stop getting smarter, faster, or better… and our clients will, too.

In the next article in this series, I’ll talk about the public and business perception revolving around artificial intelligence and what it means for industries of all kinds. It’ll be a look at where the AI train is going, and both how and why you’ve got to get on board, no matter what industry you’re in.