Thursday, May 11, 2017

Microsoft AI Services are Getting Real

Brussels Atomium

An excellent article posted on on May 10, 2107  titled: “Microsoft’s bid to bring AI to every developer is starting to make sense”.  The subtitle is: “The API’s are getting good enough to be built into production systems”.  This is getting interesting.  More on the article below.

The article begins:
“For the third year in a row, Microsoft is heavily promoting machine-learning services at its Build developer conference. Over the three years, some of the language used around the services has changed—the "machine learning" term seems to have fallen out of favor, being replaced by the better-known "artificial intelligence," and Microsoft has added many more services. But the bigger change is that ubiquitous intelligence now seems a whole lot more feasible than it did three years ago."
It continues…
"This year, the machine-learning story is improving once again. More services have been added, to make the platform able to do more things. Some of these are similar to the old services; for example, there's an image recognition service, "Custom Vision." The difference between this and the old vision service is that the new one is trainable. The old service has a corpus of objects that it understands, and if it sees them in a picture, it'll tell you. But if that corpus doesn't match the needs of your application, there's no way to add to it. The new service lets you upload small amounts of training data—about 20 representations of each object, typically—to generate a new image recognition model. The model generation itself, however, is entirely handled by the service; developers don't need to understand how it works."
"Hand-in-hand with these intelligent services, Microsoft has promoted its bot framework. Many people have misgivings about the industry-wide focus on bots, finding it hard to envisage a world in which we routinely type or talk to computer programs. However, Microsoft says that the bots have been instrumental in letting people learn how to use the cognitive services, and the company has seen substantial growth in developer interest for bots, especially in business-to-consumer roles. Using text chat on the Web to talk to a low-level sales rep or tech support person is a pretty common activity, for example, and some of this workload is a good match for bots with a suitable understanding of the problem domain."
There seem to be several possibilities for courts with this technology.  The facial recognition system could potentially provide an automated “check-in” as people arrive for court hearings.  This could literally be setup as part of the security scanning process.

Chat bots have already been used to building interactive Q&A services for self-represented.  Moreover, the speech to text possibilities seems to certainly be worth studying.

And last, the full post on the Microsoft AI presentation at the Build 2017 conference by
Harry Shum - Executive Vice President, Microsoft AI and Research Group is available here.

It looks like we are at a new technology inflection point such as when the Internet was being widely adopted.  It is an exciting time.

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