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Ashley Wilson:  Infusing Neuroscience Into Conversational AI

Ashley Wilson: Infusing Neuroscience Into Conversational AI

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the women of Aktify. Their contributions are creating the world’s most advanced conversational AI.

Why do people do what they do? What are the underlying biological mechanisms that produce different behaviors?

These questions fascinate Ashley Wilson, PhD and Aktify AI product manager. In fact, this interest launched a 10-year journey through academic neuroscience research.

Wilson earned her BS in neuroscience at the University of Rochester. Her studies included examining sensory processing in people with autism. Wilson’s research continued at Johns Hopkins. Here, she investigated genetic and cellular links of psychiatric diseases.

In 2019, Duke University awarded Wilson a PhD in neuroscience. As a student and postdoctoral researcher, she studied biological mechanisms of decision making. She explored how the brain processes visual information. It changes depending on what a person is attending to, she notes.

“I like to use the example of a stoplight,” Wilson says. “You react differently to a red light, depending on whether you are a passenger or a driver. You are attending to different things in your environment, even though the red light hits your eyeballs in the same way.”

For her research, Wilson’s team monitored neuronal responses in mice as they performed visual tasks. The experiments created complex decision-making datasets, which she rigorously analyzed.

Wilson brings her meticulous research approach and decision-making expertise to Aktify. She is now working on conversational AI products to improve the customer sales experience.

“I chose to leave academic research for an exciting opportunity at Aktify to contribute research around how people communicate with AI, and to help build something truly amazing,” says Wilson.

Her research is making AI conversations as empathetic and productive as possible.

“I believe the depth of what we can learn from our conversational data will have a big impact on the future of conversational AI.”

So why do people do what they do?

Wilson’s quest to find definitive answers may never end. But her scientific approach to user research is making a mark on Aktify’s AI history. It is our privilege to work with her.

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