More and more companies say that AI will be an important tool in the future. AI could also be useful for administration and management – but this journey has only just begun.
A chatbot is now available to answer ETH members’ questions about the IT services offered by the university. The IT Services team recently introduced the bot to help people help themselves. But IT Director Rui Brandao admits they still have some way to go. “In about half the cases, the answers are useful, but the rest of the time the chatbot misses the point of the question,” he says.
Infrastructure for research
The chatbot is one of the first AI projects in the field of ETH administration. “We use a number of rule-based systems, but they are not yet what I would call AI,” says Brandao. The chatbot, on the other hand, gets better over time by learning from user input and responses. Its primary purpose is to answer the questions on IT services that students typically have when they start their course. Chatbots are also used by customer service departments at Ikea and other companies, says Brandao, though he adds that most of these systems are at a fairly embryonic stage. IT Services has to provide reliable technology to thousands of people on a daily basis, he notes, so AI can only be deployed in isolated cases. “The systems we use on a daily basis need to be robust,” he explains.
One application in which Brandao and the IT Services team have opted for AI is a key piece of research infrastructure known as the Leonhard cluster, which is specially designed for big data analytics and machine learning. “It offers features unmatched by any other cluster in the world and is very popular in biomedical research and other areas,” says Brandao.
Source: “Managing with machines”, Martina Marki, Zurich ETH News