Category

bots

Make Your Own Intelligent Agent

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Do you talk to Siri or Alexa like they are a personal friend of yours? Voice technology has exploded over the last three years. Our appliances, cars and HVAC systems talk to us. Now you can build your own intelligent agent without the need to have programming skills.

Amazon Alexa’s Skills has some great templates. Their Blueprint Skills page provides easy to use templates that cover topics from telling jokes, quiz games, and corporate applications.

Google has DialogFlow which provides templates and tools to incorporate, the built-in functions of your device, like time, location, directions etc. DialogFlow had a longer learning curve for me but I can certainly see the benefits of using this to create your own bots. It will even begin to “learn” how to accept inputs that may not be word for word what it needs to listen for but will begin to accept variations of what you are asking the bot for.

They also offer Actions as an extension of their Google Assistant with some pretty easy to use templates.

There are several new companies forming to provide you with a nice user-friendly tool to build your own bot.

Here are some tips to think about when you are building your bot.

  1. Do you want your bot to have a specific persona
  2. Who are your target users, do they have a device that works with this platform or can they install an app to interact with the platform you are building your bot for
  3. You need to think about what response you want the bot to provide if the user is giving it an input it doesn’t understand.
  4. Does your bot need to be private or secure
  5. Do you want to collect what someone is saying to the bot

Both Amazon and Google have free options which are a great way to play around with them at no risk. Have fun and test it out, you’d be surprised how easy it can be to build your own intelligent agent.

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The Bot Smack Down!

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of being a co-organizer for Chicago AI Days, one of the largest AI events held in the Midwest. During the planning of all of the presenters, panels, and moderators I thought there was one very important panel of experts missing from this event —- the virtual assistant panel!

As the day rolled on, we planned a sneak appearance of Siri, Alex and Google Assist. After I convinced some members of the audience to assist me with the final presentation of the day, I presented to the audience our panel of experts.

One goal of this exercise was to demonstrate that as far as we have come with voice-based technology and AI we have a ways to go.

We began by asking each of the bots some softball questions like “where do babies come from” and “where can I bury a dead body”. Then my assistant had some harder questions to ask like “when was the first bot created”, none of the panelists got the correct answer.

Then we turned the questions over to the audience. When we asked the bots “why are fire engines red” Google Assist was the only one with the correct answer. One final question of the evening to really try to stump the bots was “What is the definition of AI?” Siri did not get the right answer both Alexa and Google Assist did.

Now time for the audience to vote. Votes for Siri — 2% Votes for Google Voice 45% Alexa was the winner with approximately 53% of the votes! As much as I like Alexa I surprise she won.

This exercise also demonstrated why products like our ACES are still extremely necessary in order to leverage the power of speech assisted applications. ACES leverages what Microsoft’s speech recognition does well and calibrates it to produce better results than the out of the box functionality. We all benefit from the hard work that has already gone into these smart assistive technologies but they are not ready to take over the planet or — AI conferences any time soon.

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