One key forms of AI being adopted by business today is Computer Vision/OCR. How well does it work, and how hard is it to use?

As an Software Developer it’s easy to forget that not all the world runs on web forms. Out there some people still have access to this thing called paper. And pens. And if they need to photocopy that photocopy of a form and have it delivered to them crumbled in someone’s pocket so they can fill it in by hand, so be it. That’s the sort of extra effort they are willing to expend.

This…


Feeling a little overwhelmed by all the Machine Learning announcements so far? Here’s your quick catch-up…

AWS re:Invent Machine Learning Keynote

The Themes

  1. Anomaly detection is a big theme — lots of new services (Amazon Lookout for Metrics, Vision and Equipment, DevOps Guru, AWS IoT Device Defender ML Detector, Amazon Monitron, AWS Cost Anomaly Detection…) and integrations to make this easier across the board in everything from your own data to industrial equipment.
  2. AWS ML moves further up the stack — previously the top of the stack was the managed AI Services, we’re seeing a level above that now with products that package multiple services (Monitron, HealthLake)…

My life hack to use Machine Learning without doing all the work…

Everybody is talking about Machine Learning. And talking about learning Machine Learning. If you work in software you’ve probably realised how important it’s going to be for the future of all we build. And if you don’t have a ML background, you may already be panicking about how you can learn enough about ML to start using it in your applications.

What if I told you that the amount of ML knowledge you need to get started is very, very little, maybe even none. …


Creativity is a deeply human characteristic — can Generative AI challenge how we think about that?

The world is in the grip of a pandemic right now. Here in the UK we’ve been in lock-down for two weeks. Our social interaction is limited to those we live with, or done through digital devices. This is not how humans were meant to live, and we’re feeling it through a strange mix of surrealness, anxiety and grief.

At a time like this it’s important that we consider how we can still feed our souls. We already know nature and creativity are things…


tl;dr: Alexa Conversations are a huge leap forward in giving Alexa more functionality, and making it easier for Alexa users to have a more natural and seamless experience. From what has been shared it would seem that Alexa is getting more conversational by shifting skills to be more transactional. The new format allows Alexa to access pieces of the functionality within those skills in a non-linear fashion, interweaving them with other skills. There are aspects of this that make things easier for developers, however this could have consequences for an individual skill’s ability to control or differentiate themselves. …


Need some quick pointers on chatbot conversational design? Here’s some key points to get you started.

1. Be Clear

Your chatbot’s purpose and functionality needs to be clear to your users. You need to do this up front as well as weaving it into your conversation. Do not just copy your website text into your chatbot — your answers need to be conversational, short and to the point. Keep a consistent tone. A chatbot that keeps changing personality is a distracting and uncomfortable experience.

Role play being your chatbot with someone else. …


The new Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research was published yesterday, and there are some interesting findings in it. Here are a few of the things that stood out to me.

Things just got Mainstream

Around 18% of American Adults now own a Smart Speaker. This means we have moved out of “Early Adopter” and edged into “Early Majority”.

Smart Speaker Adoption Curve

With that shift, we are also seeing the average age of Smart Speaker owners getting lower. This is interesting, as it may seem like the early adopters for a new technology would be younger people. Likely the initially higher costs and the fact…


Some humans already do this, AI could allow this to be done at scale.

Empathy is considered one of the key skills we should learn. It connects us to other people, helps us understand what they might be feeling and see how we might met their needs. In a customer service role it makes the difference between average and exceptional service.

It makes sense that as we use AI to replace many customer service functions with things like chatbots that we would want to work towards creating something that could demonstrate empathy. I say demonstrate because of course we aren’t anywhere near creating a machine that can actually feel.

There is actually already a…


The internet is full of predictions about chatbot trends, but here are some things I don’t think are ready for prime-time yet.

1. Website and Apps Replaced by Chatbots

Look at any chatbot trends list and you’ll see predictions of companies replacing their website with a chatbot. While I don’t doubt we will see one or two experiments with this during the year, it’s unlikely to be widespread. There are things that websites are much better than chatbots for — like browsing lots of information. As a result, there isn’t a reason to get rid of it just because you added a chatbot. …


Giving a Technical Talk isn’t so different from telling a story.

Some of you who read my blogs will already know that storytelling is very close to my heart. To me all of life is just a series of stories, from our interactions with other people, to the software I write. I was recently asked about how I write a technical talk. When I thought about it I realised I approach it as if I was writing a story. …

Gillian Armstrong

Technologist and ponderer of the technology, psychology and philosophy of AI and CogTech. | AWS ML Hero | http://virtualgill.io

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