How should a software developer fascinated by AI but with no background build a base? Below are the resources that I used and would recommend.

I offer six stages to jump in:

  1. Learn or review the required math (mostly calculus, statistics, and linear algebra);
  2. Take some introductory machine learning (ML) courses;
  3. Work on some of your own ML projects — learn by doing;
  4. Take advanced reinforcement learning (RL) and deep learning (DL) courses;
  5. Learn about AI ethics and governance so you’re a force for good, not evil and negligence, and;
  6. Start following leaders in the field and reading their papers.


How should a smart, college-educated person with a fascination about AI but no technical background get up to speed on it? Below are the resources that I would suggest. I offer five strategies to jump in:

  1. Read some introductory articles;
  2. Pick a few books and delve deeper;
  3. Learn about AI/ML ethics;
  4. Take a short-course for non-technical people;
  5. Follow the newsletters that best report on AI/ML.

I also have another post on AI/ML for more technical people (math and CS backgrounds) which is Part 2 here.

1) Articles to Get Acquainted with AI/ML


Part of the Bot Master Builders Series

Leena AI is an AI-powered HR Assistant providing instant responses to employee queries and improving the employee experience. Leena builds HR chatbots for enterprise employees, basically automating the HR helpdesk. Leena has 8 modules across the HR lifecycle: Onboarding, FAQ, health and wellness, travel and expense, HR services and transactions, performance management, learning and development. A customer’s employees don’t have to go multiple interfaces; they only need to go to one interface and Leena does all the integrations. This summer, Leena had 12 enterprise customers on annual plans (including Coca-Cola, Viacom, Pearson, Axis Bank), with 10 doing Proofs-of-concept and proposals.


Part of the Bot Master Builders Series

Ivy is a 24-hour virtual concierge service that smooths the stay of guests at hotels.

Ivy is available in more than 6,000 rooms within Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas Resorts, including Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. Ivy can check guests in and check them out, and also check in with guests mid-stay to see if they have problems (and “execute real-time guest recovery” as hotel insiders say). Ivy helps hotels improve their guest experience while improving speed and efficiency for desk staff.

Ivy uses IBM’s Watson-enabled Natural Language Classifier API to read incoming guests’ texts and directs them…


Part of the Bot Master Builders Series

The Edwin chatbot is the first step in building a cost-effective service for learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Edwin’s co-founders, Dmitry Alekseev and Dmitry Stavisky, aim for Edwin “to become a comprehensive EFL service delivered by both bots and humans that gets students to proficiency in one-third the time and for one-third the cost of existing solutions.” Mssr. Alekseev is Head of Product while Mssr. Stavisky is the CEO.

The two Dmitrys are building Edwin for one simple reason: Students and their families spend an estimated $40 billion a year on EFL education. Still, most students who receive…


Part of the Bot Master Builders Series, Alison Darcy was a clinical psychologist at Stanford before founding Woebot.

Woebot is your 24/7 cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) chatbot. Woebot is genderless but the company refers to it with the pronouns “he”/”him”. While the field of mental health is classically more feminine and social-relational, Woebot’s users’ gender distribution is equally split between men and women. Currently Woebot sends 2 million messages a week to users in over 135 countries across the globe. I estimate Woebot has a few hundred thousand monthly active users (MAUs) in early 2018.

So what’s the big problem here? To replace human therapists? Not really. A recent estimate suggests that roughly one in five Americans have…


Part of the Bot Master Builders Series

The seasoned team at X.AI have spent years doing one thing really well. They have built one of the best AI experiences. Their assistant agents, Amy and Andrew Ingram, help you schedule meetings so you don’t get stuck in email ping-pong. The original agents were designed by the X.AI founders and the first interaction designer, Anna Kelsey. Diane Kim then took over after graduating from Penn, where she studied cognitive science with a focus in computation. So basically conversation design was her first job right out of college and she is the youngest designer I’ve profiled.

How it works: Amy…


The greatest jump in the history of search is happening under our eyes and Google is keeping pretty quiet about it.

Photo by Álvaro Bernal on Unsplash

Last year, Google announced and Hitwise estimated that around 58% of all Google searches were mobile, and more than 20% of mobile searches were via voice. Sources inside Google have hinted that voice search is approaching 25% of mobile now and some expect it to go above 50% in the next 3 to 5 years. For example, voice search was cited as the fastest growing type of search, according to the keynote speech given by Behshad Behzadi, Principal Engineer at Google Zurich, at SMX West in March 2017. Why is this happening?

2017 is the year of voice — starting…


(Part of the Bot Master Builders Series)

Bruce Wilcox is a legend in the chatbot community. For the last 7 years, his bots have come in 1st or 2nd place more than any other competitor in the Loebner Competition. This is an annual contest to test whether an AI chatbot can pass a version of the infamous Turing Test. This is a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish a machine or chatbot from another human being. The human asks questions to both and tries to figure out which anonymous responder is a human versus a chatbot.

Bruce…


(Part of the Bot Master Builders Series)

Many people believe Earplay is the best voice-first experience available on chat and voice platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Earplay is a company that has launched a series of voice-driven games like Code Name Cygnus and the Orpheus Device for conversational platforms.

The Orpheus device is one of the cool games Earplay offers.

I recently interviewed Jon Myers, CEO and co-founder at Earplay. He sees chatbots as “creatively messing around with text worlds that accelerated with NLP processing and the Loebner prize.”

Jon views the Earplay voice experience as a completely different path than text and chatbots. That is because of the difference between text-to-speech (TTS) synthesis versus pure…

Arun Rao

Music Machine Learning

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