Open Voice Network September 2023 Newsletter – Notes from the Executive Director
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THIS MONTH FROM THE OPEN VOICE NETWORK
- Reflections from Voice & AI.
- Yes, we’re defining a universal API for interoperability between chat/voice assistants. We’re discussing it (and demoing it) in an open webinar next week.
- In the new world of Conversational AI, the third hurdle is the highest. Crash. Ouch.
Three Thought-Provoking Days in Washington
It was less a surprise than an emphatic statement: last week’s Voice & AI Conference confirmed that the line between voice/chat assistance and generative AI will soon disappear.
Hello conversational AI. Hello new value for voice/chat bots. Hello to a world defined not by the voice platforms, but by the breadth-depth-accuracy-value of a fulfilled intent.
Hello to an open world.
Goodbye to those who aren’t willing (or corporately allowed) to pursue this market transition. Or provide open customer access. Your image in the rearview mirror is getting smaller by the moment.
Lots of presentations on language models and prompt engineering. Several excellent sessions on enterprise use cases across industries. Several keynotes on how important and big this will be – applause, especially to Ryan Steelberg of Veritone and Bret Kinsella of voicebot.ai.
Three Open Voice Network highlights to share:
- A superb pre-conference workshop on legal and ethical Risk Mitigation led by OVON Senior Advisor Oita Coleman, accompanied by Ethical Use Task Force Moderators Valeria Barbero of Mother Tongue and Emily Banzhaf of Willowtree.
Also speaking: Brenda Leong, partner at Washington’s Luminos.Law, the boutique firm working at the intersection of data science, AI, and regulation, speaking on the realities of generative AI and the emerging legal/regulatory landscape; Hans van Dam, Founder and CEO of the Conversation Design Institute; James Poulter, Co-Founder and CEO of London’s Vixen Labs; and Christian Wuttke, Director of Conversational and Generative AI at Schwarz Gruppe, Europe’s largest retail business.
Key takeaways: 1) legal and ethical risk is an issue of paramount importance to senior decision makers – developers ignore this at their peril (see commentary on three hurdles below); 2) all AI implementations – and especially those at the intersection of voice/chat and
generative AI – will receive increased scrutiny, not less, as conversations continue in Washington and the EU AI Act comes into play; 3) the Open Voice Network TrustMark Initiative is turning time-honored ethical principles into action – see notes below on the Ethical AI educational course now offered through The Linux Foundation.
- Christian Wuttke’s participation, along with Dominique Essig of Walmart, in a panel on retail industry value propositions and use cases, moderated by the insightful Shilp Agarwal of Blutag.
- Great private conversations with new friends and old, on topics ranging from universal APIs to ethical use to the OVON TrustMark Initiative to where it’s all going – and how soon we’ll get there. To all of you (and you know who you are) – thank you!
A Universal API for Conversational AI Interoperability
Yes, that’s what we’re defining – and through our work with the Information Systems Authority of Estonia, that’s what we’re now testing and revising.
Next Wednesday, 20 September, you’re invited to join us for a 45-minute open session on this industry-changing work. We’ll share where we are on our roadmap (roughly halfway through), what we’ve defined (and are testing) to date, and what’s in front of us.
45 Minutes. Open to All. 18:00 CET / 12:00 Eastern (US) / 09:00 Pacific
Yes, we’ll get nerdy; if you want to talk code, you won’t be disappointed. But this is not just for developers.
Interoperability – and with it, a built-in protection of data – is a business issue. For consumers, it’s about open access to all potential destinations in the digital world. For brands, it’s about open access to every customer and stakeholder – without your data (and your customers) being claimed by a hosting platform. For developers, it’s about industry-wide standards that you can build upon, standards that allow and encourage innovation.
For everyone in the conversational AI business, it’s about growth of the total available market, a market measured not in millions, but billions.
And Yes, the Third Hurdle is the Highest. Ooof! Crash.
If you’re selling conversational AI solutions to any organization – and especially to top-tier enterprises – you know you’ll need to address multiple topics on the way to a purchase order.
In fact, you’ll need to leap over at least three hurdles.
You’ll need to leap over the technical hurdle. You’ll lift up the hood and let client-side developers reach a positive conclusion. You’ll answer questions about compute requirements, about data requirements, about integration.
You’ll need to leap over the business hurdle. A different audience here, and a different vocabulary. Time to value. KPI impact, and potential gross-net margin value. ROI. Forecast NPV, most likely realized over three to five years.
And, in this world of artificial intelligence fear and concern, you’ll need to leap over the ethical and legal hurdle. Guaranteed to be placed in your path by senior-level executives responsible for managing risk and protecting the brand. Easily the highest of the three.
Can you answer their questions and concerns? Show up prepared or caught unaware?
Right now you have the opportunity – at no charge – to take the Open Voice Network’s Educational Course on the ethical and legal issues of conversational AI.
So that you’re informed. Conversant of the issues and critical ethical principles that undergird good AI.
Join the hundreds of industry leaders who have done so thus far.