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Teaching computers how to really talk to humans

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Last year, the buzz was that chatbots would achieve the unthinkable: using artificial intelligence, they would handle customer service in a way that did not drive customers totally nuts. That hype has died down, but the advances in natural language processing that led to it were real, and entrepreneurs continue to test new applications.

Amir Konigsberg, CEO of Tel Aviv-based Twiggle, is one such entrepreneur. His firm uses AI to teach retail search engines to better understand what potential customers want when they type into an online engine.

Why Twiggle matters: Backed by Alibaba, Twiggle says it is partnering with three of the world's top 20 retailers to improve their search capabilities. (Konigsberg says he can't divulge names because the product is still being tested by these companies). It wants the interaction between a customer and a search engine to resemble that between a customer and a sales person, solving difficult natural language processing problems along the way. Axios asked Konigsberg where this science is headed.