A decade ago, speaking computers and advanced artificial intelligence seemed like topics for science fiction novels, but now we live in a world where these advancements are normal parts of our day-to-day lives. Have you ever wondered how devices like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri understand what you’re saying? Ever wondered how text-to-speech bots work? Ever thought about how Google Translate knows so many languages? The answer to all of these questions and more is natural language processing, the field of study that focuses on the interactions between human language and computers.
Natural language processing, or NLP for short, is a field of artificial intelligence in which computers analyze, understand, and derive meaning from human language in a smart and useful way. NLP is used to analyze text, allowing machines to understand how humans speak. This understanding of language opens many doors to incredible technological advancements, including summarization algorithms, text-to-speech programs, sentiment analysis, machine translation, and even verbal communication. However, no matter how intuitive understanding language may be to the human brain, it is no easy task for a computer, making NLP a difficult problem for computers and computer scientists to overcome.
In the business world, NLP has already been used to solve many problems in ingenious ways. For example, many brands use sentiment analysis algorithms to track how people feel about their products. In social media sentiment analysis, brands track conversations online to understand what customers are saying and glean insight into user behavior, allowing them to improve their products and marketing approach. Similarly, Facebook uses NLP to track trending topics and popular hashtags. Many implementations are entirely unrelated to social media, including customer service chatbots. All of these applications greatly aid the development and success of the businesses that use them.
After learning more about this fascinating topic, I had to try it out for myself. Using a summarizing algorithm created by Algorithmia, I wrote a program that summarizes articles and essays, and I had a ton of fun in the process. The results were incredible: multiple-page articles summarized in a few sentences at the click of a button. If you’re interested, I highly recommend you give NLP a try on your own; it’s the future of AI and business development, and it can be a lot of fun to work with!
What Is Natural Language Processing? Introduction to NLP, Algorithmia, 11 Aug.
Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.