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What on earth is NLP, and what does it mean for food and beverage?

March 3, 20232 min
Lauren Daniels photo
Lauren Daniels Tastewise
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A quick primer on how AI and NLP understand human interactions with computers.

Natural Language Processing – Understanding Human Interactions with Computers

Natural Language Processing (NLP) has emerged as an exciting development in the field of artificial intelligence over the last few decades, and it’s a tool we use here at Tastewise. This interdisciplinary field combines computer science and linguistics to enable computers to understand and interact with humans using natural language. By developing algorithms and models that can interpret and generate human language, NLP helps create a more natural interaction between the user and the computer.

NLP has numerous applications, ranging from voice assistants such as Alexa or Siri to customer service chatbots that provide assistance on websites. It is also used in language-based search engines that can better understand what users are searching for — like Tastewise. Additionally, NLP can be used for tasks like language translation, text summarization (more on this soon!), and even speech recognition.

The primary goal of NLP is to improve the ability of computers to interpret subtle nuances in human language, allowing them to better understand what people say or mean when they communicate via spoken words or written texts. At Tastewise, we use NLP to understand how consumers actually talk about food and beverage, and our algorithms are trained on data specific to observed food and beverage behavior.

In order for computers to understand human language, NLP relies on techniques such as machine learning and deep learning models. These tools allow us to teach machines how to interpret data, including social media, recipes, on-premise menus, delivery menus, retail data, and more, using large datasets of annotated examples that provide context for each sentence or phrase. This enables machines to recognize patterns in human communication, so they can respond appropriately within a designated task environment.

A great example? We use NLP to understand when people are eating and drinking, and when they are doing something else that is irrelevant to the food and beverage industry — it’s all about context. When someone writes a post on social media that they are eating “vegan fruit leather” or “vegan cacio e pepe”, we know that they are talking about a moment of consumption. Compare that to a post discussing “vegan leather handbags”; to a person, these two posts may sound easily identifiable as distinct, but NLP is what allows computers to adopt that level of human understanding and surface the most relevant insights. Add that to AI’s ability to scale analysis on super-human levels, and you’ve got an incredible tool for understanding human behavior.

NLP has revolutionized the way we interact with computers, enabling us to develop more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that allow us to communicate with machines using natural language. As this technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more advanced applications that will further enhance our daily lives — and, of course, food and beverage innovation.

Want to learn how NLP can revolutionize your innovation? Let’s talk.

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