Artificial Intelligence For The Self-Build Enthusiast

It didn’t take long.  With Alexa and Google devices now becoming an integral part of our lives, it was obvious that the means to create our own Artificial Intelligence (AI) buddies wouldn’t be too far away, and with a host of new websites available to hold your hand through the process, this is going to be the next big thing!

AIY (Artificial Intelligence Yourself) appeals to people because it sounds so technical and complex but  it doesn’t have to be.  It’s like the computing version of minor building jobs; you should really get someone qualified in to lay the decking, but it’s just so thrilling and rewarding to actually do it yourself.  And so it is with coding.  With only a little knowledge, you can produce excellent end results and that becomes a self-generating interest.  The more you learn, the better you get and the more that you want to learn.

Coding For The Masses

While coding for AI – or at least the speech interfaces for them – sounds like a task worthy of Alan Turing, learning the basics and growing from there is now pretty easy, especially with plenty of helpful websites around to walk you through it.   Among the best websites out there are:

Wit.AI: Already used by over 10,000 developers, this free-to-use platform believes in being truly open source, and that means you will probably be able to find something already coded that you can use as a basis for your own scripts.  The Wit.AI format has two elements to it, known as intents and entities.  The intent part described the action an instruction should take, such as turn on a light, or set the thermostat.  The entity is the object or information that the AI needs to identify to operate the intent.  In the case it might be a particular identified light or section of your house in which the thermostat works.  With those two pieces of information available, the AI can carry out your command.  Simple.

Clarifai.  Operating in a completely different way to Wit.AI, and uses a programmed deep learning engine that can recognise images and video and is the AI of choice if you want to build an intelligent app to search for images.  Clarifai is compatible with several different languages, including Python and Java, so integrates easily into other applications, but probably needs a better fundamental understanding of the basics than other AI building software to get the most out of it.  Still, everyone loves a challenge.

API.AI.  Similar to WIT.AI in terms of being constructed from intents and entities, this chatbot API (Application Program Interface) has been bought out by Google and is now the main interface that can be used to construct conversational interfaces with the Google Home device.  While API.AI isn’t as intuitive as some it is a powerful tool that that has the potential to create professional Apps to run your home automation and entertainment systems.

Coding for AI is still in its infancy and will only become more usable as the interfaces become easier and the stock of available ‘standard parts’ grows. Whether you want to construct Chatbots for your website or you want to truly personalise your personal assistant, the ability to do so is now in your hands, and it’s pretty easy too.

Taken from the June 2017 issue of Geek Parenting, out now!

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