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AI technology: a lawyer's guide

Natural language processing

Natural language processing broadly covers the ability of computers to understand human speech and interact in response. It’s often considered a core component of AI.

The ability of a computer to successfully process natural language is the foundation of the Turing test, which was an early test for whether a computer exhibited intelligent behaviour.

Advances in this area have produced impressive results: there are a number of chatbots that can hold a conversation with a human, and artificial assistants like Siri understand human speech and act in response. However, these results don’t necessarily indicate intelligent behaviour. The original attempts at natural language processing involved humans exhaustively writing specific rules for recognising the meaning of language in each sentence.

The more recent attempts have instead used supervised machine learning, where computers analyse vast amounts of pre-labelled text to make their own rules. And the use of machine learning in conjunction with deep learning has produced better results, with the training concept of machine learning enhanced by the weighting of rules that deep learning allows.