SOVOC AI: Pioneering the future of expert research

With Philonas Demetriou of Positive Group on uses of Artificial Intelligence to accelerate expert research.

Let’s begin by discussing the concept of Artificial Intelligence. What is AI and why is it useful?
Artificial Intelligence is the capacity of machines (primarily computers) to replicate the sort of intelligence that we typically associate with humans. In the same way that the Industrial Revolution led to machines replacing much of physical labour, AI can be used to replace human intellectual labour. Therein lies the promise of AI: a world where a significant proportion of daily repetitive work is automated.

“Artificial Intelligence” is not a new term, and it’s not uncommon to see grandiose claims that often don’t translate to practical value. Why has AI not revolutionized our lives?
Firstly, many tasks easy for humans are incredibly difficult for computers, and vice versa. Resolving these challenges requires advances in both computing power (hardware) and understanding of how to build algorithms that improve through experience and the use of data (software). Only recently have these converged to perform comparably to humans. Often, such technology takes long to become accessible widely.
Secondly, “AI” has become a buzzword. There is a plethora of “Artificial Intelligence” solutions, performing significantly worse that the average person. At Positive, when we say that a solution is powered by Artificial Intelligence, we use a strict benchmark: that it’s a reasonable and effective substitute for human work.

We understand that you have launched such an AI system. What is this technology, how does it work and what are its applications?
What we have built is an Artificial Intelligence model capable of understanding concepts and meaning in the same way a human would and across over 50 different natural languages. We call this model “SOVOC AI”.

To build SOVOC AI, we developed proprietary deep learning models that go beyond the state-of-the-art in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. These models are trained on massive amounts of text data and, over time, learn concepts and ideas from human language. For example, SOVOC AI has a very real understanding of a pandemic is and how it is caused by coronavirus (or other infectious agents).

We are initially deploying SOVOC AI to enhance search in our tax research platform, Positive Veritas, which is the all-in-one database for Cyprus tax documentation. Tax practitioners use Veritas to cut the time taken to answer a tax question from hours to minutes.

How will SOVOC AI change how your users interact with Veritas? What value does it add to the platform?
With the addition of SOVOC AI, our users can now search like they naturally think, in the language the find most comfortable, and locate the most appropriate results even if they contain none of the exact words they use in their query, as long as they are on point conceptually.

We use similar language models to enable automatic document translation to a variety of languages.

Finally, what does SOVOC AI mean for Positive more broadly and what does its future hold?
Within Veritas, SOVOC AI will power our impending expansion beyond tax and beyond Cyprus. We will also integrate neural search powered by SOVOC AI across several of our upcoming products and services. We invite those interested in this area to subscribe to our AI mailing list where we share how we develop and use state-of-the-art AI: https://bit.ly/3ll9hlW.

More broadly, this launch is the product of significant effort and engineering sophistication which redefines and reaffirms our commitment to accelerating expert research in tax matters and beyond. We will continue pioneering across the entire spectrum of our offerings in terms of both state-of-the-art technology and commitment to quality and excellence. We thank all our customers and partners for joining us on this journey.

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