The Easy Path to AI

The explosion of interest in AI due to the recent success of ChatGPT, the state-of-the-art natural language generation model that can write anything from essays to poems to code, is no surprise. However, now we are starting to see the excitement wane as ChatGPT usage numbers drop. This could be due to competition, concerns about privacy and security, or the overall excitement factor slowing down as users struggle to find uses of the tool. Further, to use the API available from OpenAI, you need a lot of technical skills and resources to train, fine-tune, and deploy it. You also need to be careful about the quality and safety of the generated text, as it might contain errors, biases, or harmful content.

The good news? This is just one tool in a sea of many other AI tools that are refined and purpose-built for many organizational needs. At the top of that list of tools is Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services tools, a collection of cloud-based APIs that provide ready-made AI solutions for various scenarios. Anyone who is familiar with Data Science and Machine Learning knows that we need troves of clean and trustworthy data to train an ML model to be able to predict results. The beauty of Cognitive Services is that Microsoft has already built these models around many categories, and even won many “human-parity” awards! Below are just a few examples of how Cognitive Services can help you with your AI needs:

• Speech Recognition: This service allows you to convert speech to text in real time or from audio files. You can use it for voice commands, transcription, dictation, captioning, and more. You can also customize it with your own vocabulary and acoustic machine learning models.
• Computer Vision: This service allows you to analyze and understand images and videos. You can use it for face detection, emotion recognition, object detection, optical character recognition, video indexing, and more. You can also create your own custom vision models using a simple interface. I recently created a video with an overview of the service here:
• Text Analytics: This service allows you to extract insights from text data. You can use it for sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction, entity recognition, language detection, and more. Another example would be to use it to analyze healthcare documents and extract clinical information.
• Many more: Cognitive Services offer a wide range of services for different domains and scenarios, such as natural language understanding, conversational AI, anomaly detection, spatial analysis, personalization, and more.

You don’t need to worry about building or managing your own AI models, or if required, many of the services allow for custom models to be built as well. Once determined, you just need to connect to the API and start using it in your applications. Even better, many of the services can be containerized within a docker container where you can deploy the models locally or in other clouds for an even faster prediction for your application. Finally, you also get the benefits of Microsoft’s expertise and innovation in AI, such as high accuracy, reliability, security, and compliance.

To get started, many of the services have free service tiers for minimal transactions, and each service is billed based on consumption, so as long as you are controlling those transactions, you don’t have to worry about cost overruns, etc.

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to add AI capabilities to your applications without the hassle and complexity of ChatGPT and similar tools, Cognitive Services are the way to go! And if you really want to go deeper in understanding all the capabilities check out our recent book “Practical Guide to Azure Cognitive Services” from Packt or through other online book retailers:

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