Tuesday, June 6, 2017

New projects for this summer


This year we are opening the eClub Summer Camp new CIIRC building. We have prepared exciting projects from the field of AI, IoT, and Internet. We will focus on conversational IA, how to program assistants to control your household, Natural Language Processing, and other topics, see the projects page.

Two years ago we started to work on the question answering engine YodaQA. Last year during the eClub Summer Camp we have designed the first bot. Our primary goal for this summer is to create a great Echo application. Echo is a voice controlled smart speaker made by Amazon. You can only ask to play music, ask factoid question, carry a simple dialog or control your household. There is an amazing technology behind the set of new Amazon devices. First of all the speech recognition, directional microphone, conversational AI, knowledge database, etc. The eClub team is among the first in the world working directly with the Amazon research group on making the Alexa even smarter. We want to make her sexy, catchy and entertaining and it requires a lot of different skills. Starting with the linguistics up to Neural Networks design. We have many well-separated problems for any level of expertise. Come to see us, we are preparing an introductory course to teach you how they do it. We will help you to create your first app with initial skills. You can meet a lot of students who work in the Conversational AI who will help you to get over the underlying problems.

We want to make the Conversational apps not only entertaining but also knowledgeable. Alexa must also be very informative. It must know for example the latest news in politics, the Stanley Cup results, what are the best movies and I am sure we can continue with many other topics. The knowledge is endless, and it is steadily growing. To handle to alway increasing data requires processing many news feeds, different sources, accessing different databases, accessing the web, etc. The news streams must be understood, and the essential information must be extracted. There are many steps before we retrieve the information. Especially today we need to be careful, and every piece of information must be verified. We try to create a canonical information using many sources of the same news. As soon as the information is clear, we need to store it in a knowledge database. The facts need to be linked to information already in the database. And how about the fake news, how to recognize them?

Building the Conversational AI does not include only the voice controlled devices. We may want to create a system automatically replying to the user email or social media requests. Imagine for example a helpdesk where users are asking many different questions from IT to HR topics. For example very frequently how to reset a password, or how to operate a printer or a projector, why not to answer them automatically? And we can be much more ambitious. Many devices are quite complex, and it is not easy to read a manual. It is much faster to ask a question such as “How do I reset my iPad,” or “How do I share my calendar.” These apps are put together from two major parts. The understanding of the question and a preparation of the answers. Both use the NLP pipeline. If you expand on this idea, you may find a million of applications with a similar scenario. An automated assistant can at least partly handle every company-customer interaction. To make a qualified decision, the executives need fast access to business intelligence. Why not ask questions such as “What was the company performance last week,” “What is the revenue of my competitors” etc.

Let me mention another aspect of our effort. The latest manufacturing lines are extensively using robots, manipulators, etc. (INDUSTRY 4.0) The whole process is controlled by a large number of computers. What if something stops working, it is a very complicated task to fix a line like this? Every robot or manipulator might be from a different manufacturer, programmable in a slightly different dialect. Is there anybody in the company who can absorb the complete knowledge to be useful in localizing the problem? Yes, it is a robot, which has all the knowledge in a structured form. The robot can apply optimization to find the best set of measurements or tests to help the maintenance technician. To make this happen, we need in addition to a productive dialog and knowledge database also an optimization to suggest the shortest path for fixing a problem. The robot can guide humans to repair the problem most efficiently.

Yes, I have almost forgotten. It is recently very popular to use the robots to control the household. Alexa, turn off all the lights. Alexa, what is the temperature in the wine seller? We want to invent and build some of these goodies to our new eClub space during the summer. Our colleagues have developed a Robot Barista application shaking drinks on demand. A voice user interface will make it even more entertaining. We have other exciting devices and small gizmos deserving voice control. You also may come with your ideas. Join us we will assist you to be successful.

These are just few use cases we will try to tackle during this season. If you want to learn the know-how behind join us, we will help you, and we also will award a scholarship.

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