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Hello Hal...Sales Help With Artificial Intelligence

Techstination feature for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Buying on the Web? Get help from an expert. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bloomberg Bootcamp. While some e-commerce sites are trying to connect shoppers with real human beings, others are turning to artificial intelligence. A company called Soliloquy has been selling its technology to companies like Acer and HP to help you find, for instance, just the right notebook computer. Soliloquy CEO Catherine Winchester...

"Essentially a shopper goes onto a site and chats with our automated system and says, for example to our Notebook Expert which has been on Acer's Web site for the last five months, the shopper says I'm looking for a fast, cheap laptop with long battery life and our system understands what fast and cheap and long mean and goes through the database, comes back with recommended systems. The shopper can ask for additional things. A shopper can ask for a laptop that's under three thousand dollars or has sixty four megs of RAM."

The scary part is, you may not even realize there isn't a human on the other end of your online conversation. And the text chat is just the start...

"We found that the market isn't quite ready yet for speaking on the Web. We expect in will be in the next year or two."

The site for more info is Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin, Bloomberg News.