Just the tip of the iceberg but a heck of a start
Machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence are all red-hot buzzwords right now. These computing techniques coupled with major leaps in computer performance are changing the world.
From software that can quickly identify skin cancer to predictive models that help us anticipate any number of complex outcomes, there’s hardly anything in the world that won’t feel the impact of next-generation AI.
It’s easy to feel that this AI revolution is happening somewhere “out there”, but the truth is that even your smartphone is already packed with a wealth of AI-powered software. Any of the voice assistants that ship with every smartphone and tablet sold today uses AI extensively to understand what you say and learn about your habits and needs.
There are also now many AI-powered apps that use machine learning to accomplish come pretty incredible feats. The best part is that you don’t just have to read about it. Here are five AI apps you can download to your device right now and experience for yourself. It’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming, but it’s a heck of a start!
Prisma – AI Photo Editing
When Prisma first launched there were so many people trying to access this AI cloud service that you’d be lucky if the app even acknowledged your presence. Since then the developers have fixed the resource issues and most of the time it works just fine, but what does the app actually do?
Well, it uses cloud-based neural networks to take your photos and transform them into works of art. Want a portrait to look like it was made by Dali? Prisma will spit out something very convincing indeed.
At this point the app has more than 300 filters to choose from and if the stars align you can get some really spectacular results. When you really look at how much “work” the neural net has put into transforming the image, you’ll get an appreciation for the complexity and power of modern machine learning software.
While there is a premium subscription version of the app, you can experience just about everything it has to offer for free.
Magisto – AI Video Editing
In the 20th Century, the most important type of literacy was the ability to read, write and understand text. Being competent in the visual arts was something reserved for film school students and other artists.
These days, it’s often easier to quickly make a video than it is to write a message and since everyone always carries an HD camera around with them, the odds of sitting on stacks of footage is pretty high.
The problem is that editing raw footage into something pleasing and effective is hard! It involves learning a whole new visual language. That’s not something everyone wants to do, which is why AI holds exciting promise for video editing.
One of the best examples has to be Magisto. An end-to-end video creation tool that leverages AI so you don’t need to be an expert.
While the pro subscription is a little pricey, you can try the base version for nothing and get a good feel for what the software can do. Magisto takes the footage you want to edit and asks you what your preferred style is.
It then uses AI to analyze it all and produces and end product that’s often shockingly professional. For small businesses that need to make marketing videos, but can’t afford a pro, this is already a viable option. This is something we would never have believed not too long ago.
Microsoft Seeing AI – A Talking Camera for the Blind
Accessibility is an incredibly important part of modern computing. Giving access to people with limited senses and mobility should be a top priority. For people with disabilities, technology can have the greatest impact on their daily lives.
This talking camera app from Microsoft is just such a piece of software. If it becomes reliable and polished enough, it could have a huge impact on people who are legally blind or have significantly impaired vision.
The app uses artificial intelligence to analyse whatever the camera is seeing. Point it at a person and it will try to recognize their face or at least describe things like their sex and estimated age. Any text you point the camera at will be read aloud immediately.
Barcodes on products can also be scanned for information on what you want to buy. The AI can also analyse and describe overall scenes, so if you want to know what sort of situation is right in front of you, it can do that as well.
While the technology isn’t perfect yet, it’s almost miraculous compared to what was possible just ten years ago. Sadly it only seems to be available for iOS devices at present, but hopefully will see a wider release in the future.
Get it for iOS
Replika – A Friend 24/7
If you’ve seen the movie Her, you’ll be familiar with the cautionary tale out there warning against getting too attached to AI bots. In the movie Joaquin Phoenix plays a guy who falls in love with what’s essentially a version of Siri. However, one important theme in that film is how the main character is going through a rough time. Something which his new AI friend helps him get through.
Here in the real world, that concept has come (somewhat) to life in the form of Replika. While this advanced AI chatbot is not designed to act as a romantic partner, it is designed to be a friend when you need it.
People who are feeling depressed, anxious or lonely can chat with Replika. The bot is always there for you, even when no one else has the time. Thanks to major advances in natural language technology and conversational UIs, chatting with Replika really does feel like shooting the breeze with a friend. Even if you don’t feel the need to use Replika for its intended purposes, the technology is absolutely fascinating to try out.
Hound – A Natural Search AI
When we first got to try Siri all the way back with the release of the iPhone 4S, it felt like the future was finally happening. Siri’s ability to fluently understand speech and respond intelligently was a big step up from chatbots of the day. However, limitations in daily use have quickly become apparent. Siri is much, much improved today but plenty of other AI assistants have arguably overtaken it.
Of the current generation of AI assistants, Hound is perhaps the most impressive. From the same people who gave us Soundhound, this bot can understand queries in a way that seems almost like magic. With Siri and its ilk you quickly learn to formulate what you say in a particular way. If you don’t, you risk wasting time restating your query because the software doesn’t quite get it.
With Hound it seems that queries are almost alway understood properly without needing reformulation. Even better, the actual results are also consistently relevant. Hound is also integrated with a bunch of services and can do things like book an Uber for you.
With this app the proof really is in the pudding. Try it and if you’ve been using one of the usual bunch, this is likely to really impress.
Not Exactly Skynet
There’s quite a lot of fear and disinformation around AI. Some of it thanks to fiction and some thanks to the media misrepresenting the technology. Of course, there are plenty of real concerns and some of our best thinkers have highlighted them.
When it comes to the sort of limited AI apps we have highlighted here, however, it’s hard to imagine anything bad happening because of them. That is, unless a human being decided to specifically misuse the technology, as we have seen with so-called “deepfakes”.
For the rest of us, AI-powered apps represent something that really makes life easier and unlocks creativity. In some cases it can even provide us with life-changing assistance. That’s definitely something worth trying for yourself!