One of the main goals and fields of artificial intelligence is to equip computer systems, including hardware and software, with the ability to understand and produce written texts and spoken words in a manner that is similar to the capabilities of humans to process and produce words and languages. This is called natural language processing or NLP.
The advantages of natural language processing have resulted in the introduction of its practical applications in the real world. However, because high-level NLP applications are based on complicated AI modeling and complex technical implementation, natural language processing has its fair share of disadvantages or issues and limitations.
Advantages of Natural Language Processing
NLP is a growing subset of AI that leverages computational techniques to analyze and understand human language. Machine learning and its more specific subset called deep learning are at the core of natural language processing.
The purpose of NLP is human-computer interaction using natural language instead of computer language and hardware inputs. The general advantage of natural language processing is in enabling humans and computers to communicate in a human-like fashion
Further advances in language modeling such as the development and deployment of large language models have resulted in high-level NLP applications that include sophisticated data generation and content generation through generative artificial intelligence.
Below are the pros of NLP:
• Improved Human-Computer Interaction: A specific advantage of NLP is that it enables computers to understand and process human language. This makes it easier for people to interact with their computers and vice versa. NLP results in more efficient and effective human-computer interaction and communication.
• Time-Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: Language-based task automation is one of the applications of NLP. Examples of these tasks include text and speech processing, morphological and syntactic analyses, and lexical and relational semantics. This can result in time and cost savings for individuals and organizations.
• Data Generation and Content Creation: Another advantage of natural language processing is that it aids in the generation of data and even in the creation of new and original content such as texts and images based on text-based training datasets and using natural language as command input.
• Professional and Business Applications: NLP can also benefit individuals. It can improve and optimize sales and after-sales services through chatbots. It can aid professionals with their tasks as demonstrated through generative AI products such as ChatGPT from OpenAI or writing tools such as Grammarly.
• Advances Artificial Intelligence: Remember that NLP is one of the main goals and fields of artificial intelligence. Developments in natural language processing mark further developments in AI. It is also important to note that advancing large language models are critical to advancing artificial intelligence applications.
Disadvantages of Natural Language Processing
The practical applications of NLP are present in modern consumer electronic devices such as personal computers and smartphones.
Natural language processing powers search engines, the native auto-correct functionalities of smartphones and word processing applications, and the translation features of websites and social networking sites.
However, despite its advantages and applications, NLP is without issues and limitations. The use of NLP can raise concerns over privacy, accuracy, and fairness.
Some models are often trained in imperfect datasets. These produce problematic outcomes. Models can also struggle with context and meaning which leads to misinterpretation and miscommunication.
Below are the cons of NLP:
• Possible Issues with Context and Meanings: One of the more specific limitations of NLP is its limited understanding of context and meanings. A particular model may not always understand the nuances of human language. It may not be able to identify sarcasm and idioms. This can lead to errors, inaccuracies, or irrelevance.
• Biased Results from Biased Training Data: It is important to note that the quality of an NLP model depends on its training data. A dataset containing biases or inaccuracies would result in this particular model producing biased or inaccurate results. This can further result in controversial outcomes such as prejudicial claims.
• Issues with Rare or Out-of-Vocabulary Words: NLP models and their applications may struggle to process certain words such as jargons and slangs that are not included in its training data. This can lead to unreliable outcomes of specific NLP tasks such as text classification and named entity recognition.
• Technical and Computational Requirements: Another disadvantage of natural language processing is that its high-level applications depend on large language models which require high computational power. It is impossible for an individual or small organization with limited resources to deploy n-house NLP capabilities.
• Possible Ethical Concerns and Legal Issues: Developing an NLP model requires using data. Some of these data are obtained from the personal or private data of individuals and organizations. The deployment of NLP applications raises concerns over data ownership, privacy rights, and intellectual property infringement, among others.