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Adobe, the creator of PDFs and readers like Acrobat, is showcasing new voice AI tech to help more people ask natural language questions about contracts and other documents. Called intelligent agents, the prototype works in combination with natural language processing from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and is trained to understand agreement and contract queries.

Speech-to-text translation and other forms of conversational AI could enable users of Document Cloud software to query such documents for answers to bottom line questions like “How much does this cost?” or “How does the price compare to the price from the previous vendor?”

Intelligent agents for Document Cloud software will officially debut later today at Sneaks, an event hosted by comedian Mindy Kaling that highlights what’s possible with Adobe software.

Other Sneaks announcements expected today include augmented reality for maps and the use of Adobe’s Sensei AI to predict future actions based on knowledge of historical data.


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No release date has been set for the prototype feature produced by engineers and designers from Adobe’s R&D lab, but the intelligent agents capability could someday be incorporated into Adobe’s Document Cloud software suite so you could, for example, use your voice to query business cards stored in the Scan app.

Similar capabilities for other long documents, like white papers that appear in PDFs viewed in Acrobat, could also be in the works, an Adobe spokesperson told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

The incorporation of Acrobat for reading PDFs and Sign to approve and send documents in Microsoft 365 means the intelligent agents feature could also become available for customers using software like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Microsoft and Adobe established a partnership to support more efficient business processes in 2016.

Intelligent agents would also be able to produce visuals of cited text in response to natural language questions from users.

The feature builds on the ability to compare contracts through understanding strings of similar language between docs — a Compare feature is already available in Acrobat for document text.

The classification of document types — like white paper or contract — is part of Adobe’s initiative to help people understand the contents of a document, a company spokesperson said.

Adobe has championed the value of voice for some time now, with plans to introduce voice for control or assistance into each of its products.

For years, company leaders like Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis have talked about a vision of AI assistants that don’t just help people get things done, but let creatives with little understanding of how to use complex software complete tasks like an expert.

Autodesk has expressed similar ambitions for its assistant Ava, as have other companies with intelligent assistants.

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