MSCC MEETUP JULY 2017

WHAT’S UP WORLD?

A few days back, the Internet went crazy about Facebook having some pretty interesting AI mishaps reported by their FAIR team. The official story says calm down while the bloggers next door are restocking their shelves waiting for Skynet to make its move. Regardless, this post is not about that.

As it turns out, we have our own little headline in the AI field here in Mauritius – albeit not as big as one potentially turning to the dark side. Last Saturday, the MSCC held their monthly meetup themed on AI + Analytics – an event in which I had the pleasure of participating.

Here’s my account of the day.

 

ABOUT THE MEETUP

This month, one of our very own Microsoft Azure MVPs – Chervine Bhiwoo – took up the task to plan the monthly meetup. We had a nice audience of around 50 people, which was a pleasant surprise.

In our past events, AI and Data Science were common discussion topics. While networking in-between sessions, one would often talk about the possibilities and innovations in the field. The hype was there, but we never really had a proper event dedicated to the subject – till last Saturday. It’s just a small step for Mauritian developers, but it was about time. We’re looking forward to follow-ups.

 

MEETUP BREAKDOWN

SESSION 1: Introduction to Cognitive Services

SESSION 2: Cognitive Services with Xamarin

SESSION 3: Building your First Intelligent Bot

SESSION 4: Azure Bot Service

 

INTRODUCTION TO COGNITIVE SERVICES

By Vidush H. Namah

What if your computer was your friend?

This was, as the name implies, an introductory session with no coding. The idea was to show off Microsoft’s Cognitive APIs and their capabilities. More importantly, the session was focused on outlining the new horizons now open to developers in the Cognitive Intelligence field, regardless of their level of knowledge in Data Science. With APIs like Microsoft Cognitive Services out there, the power of Machine Learning and Intelligence is just within our reach. The only limit is our imagination!

 

COGNITIVE SERVICES WITH XAMARIN

By Arwin Neil Baichoo

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Neil’s session showcased the application of the Face API – one of the Cognitive Services. The session dove into Uber’s success story using the Face API to authenticate drivers and how it provides a competitive advantage and an innovative touch to the service. The best moment of this session was the demo where Neil showed off a Xamarin application that cross matches a user’s Twitter profile picture with a selfie taken on the spot. The application determines whether it’s a match or not.

SHOUT OUT TO OUR VOLUNTEER FROM THE AUDIENCE: AKASHA

 

BUILDING YOUR FIRST INTELLIGENT BOT

By Chervine Bhiwoo

You won’t even realize it’s a Bot!

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This session steered in a different direction – the world of messaging. Chervine dove into the growing impact of chat applications compared to social media, and how AI fits into the picture in the form of intelligent Bots. As it turns out, developing a bot can be relatively easy, but creating one that understands languages and can provide context-based responses can be a challenge – unless one is using Microsoft’s Language Understanding Intelligent Service, or LUIS. The presentation was followed by an in-depth demo covering the basics of configuring a bot from scratch using Microsoft’s Bot Framework to integrating LUIS and the Bing Search API (also from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services) to achieve some form of intelligence.

 

AZURE BOT SERVICE

By Adrien Rose

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Adrien’s presentation built on the foundations laid by Chervine’s demo of the Bot Framework. The session explored one of the industry’s first Chatbot-as-a-Service platforms – Microsoft’s Azure Bot Service. With a more hands-on approach, the demo consisted of creating and deploying a Weather Bot – capable of providing weather reports for specific locations on request. As for the codes, they were deployed from GitHub directly via Continuous Integration. Microsoft’s Azure Bot Service is indeed impressive, but there is much room for improvement before it can truly become an asset to the industry. To be fair, it is still in PREVIEW – implying development is still ongoing.

 

TILL NEXT TIME!

With that, the sessions ended officially and the crowd broke into groups for the usual chitchat – everyone sharing their views and thoughts (deciding on the best place for lunch). After this meetup, we all look forward to the next iteration on AI and Analytics developer events in Mauritius. We hope to hear about some user stories from the audience, relating how they achieved intelligence in their projects. Well, that’s it for my report of the day 🙂

BE SURE TO HOLLER IF YOU WERE THERE!

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