Microsoft announced the release of its Cognitive Services suite just a bit over two years ago. Yes did you notice?
It may surprise you that Microsoft has been offering a suite of artificial intelligence (AI) services for more than two years – I was a little surprised myself! For context, they released it in September 2016 – before Trump was elected. Two years is a very long time in technology, which is a bit of good news, bad news kind of thing. On the bad side, it may feel like we’re behind the times and have a lot of catch-ups to do, but on the good side, however, it’s two years old and had it’s had a fair amount of time to mature.
We’re in a Goldilocks age of AI and It’s not too early to ramp up our AI efforts nor is it too early. Now is a very good time to turn your attention to this topic. It’s hot – but not too hot. A year from now, though, you’ll find yourself left out in the cold and no one wants that.
This introduction kicks off a series of articles on Microsoft’s Cognitive Services platform. I’ll post a new article every two to three weeks through the end of this year and into early 2019. Each article will focus on one of Microsoft’s offerings. Each article will be paired with a working code that you can review and download from GitHub. This does all depend on my weekend schedule, so the sequence may change a little, but the overall plan is as follows:
- ChatBots: Instant messaging between a human (customer or employee) and program designed to help the user quickly get the information they need via a well-known instant messenger interface. Note – this is not the annoying “press 1 for accounting, press 2 for sales” kind of interface that we all hate so much. Microsoft chat bots provide a number of great UI affordances and back-end language processing capabilities that when used correctly, can provide a joyful experience to your customers and employees.
- Vision Services: Write server code that can “see” an image – or video – and extract key information from it. For example, imagine you have a team of buyers who travel the world, attending fashion shows and taking lots and lots (and lots!) of pictures. When the buyers get home, they upload these photos into your vision-enabled application and it automatically categorizes these pictures for them, letting them quickly find The Next Big Thing in fashion with a computerized assist.