0x03 The Builders of Bots
The heart of this newsletter is going to be about some programmers who have been paving the way for chatbot adoption and development. This is a list compiled by me, and filled with my own biases--so this is a top programmer list according to me, based on the five or so people that I know. Take it for what you will, and apologies for exclusions. --Michael Szul
Probably the most salient aspect of children learning from robots is that machines have unlimited patience. Children benefit greatly from forbearing tutors, and I would think that spectrum children even more so. It’s perhaps ironic that the thing that most humanizes these robots is the trait that is too often lacking in most humans: indefatigable tolerance. --Bill Ahern
The list below consists of a handful of people whose work got me started on the chatbot path, and who continue to be valued resources. I've refrained from including actual Microsoft employees for the Bot Framework stuff, and instead kept those head nods to MVPs in the community. --MS
Amir is on here so I can prove that not every entry is going to be a Bot Framework person. Amir works at Slack, and recently wrote a book on building conversational experiences. I took one of his live training courses from Safari Books Online, and it was good to draw a contrast between what Slack bots offer natively, and what the Bot Framework offers.
I'm starting to think that James actually looks like that cartoon image. James probably has the best YouTube channel when to comes to chatbot tutorials, but he's also done stuff with Python/NLTK, LUIS, and various other Azure-related cognitive services.
Gary followed me on Twitter, and then said he'd love to talk about bots... and beer when we're both at the MVP Summit. That alone gets you on this list. Additionally, you can find Gary on the speaker circuit, and blogging about the Bot Framework and Microsoft's Cognitive Services.
Joe literally wrote the book on Bot Framework. The Microsoft Press book that is. As an added bonus, Shaheed Chowhuri did the technical reviewing, and Shaheed helped me tweet out this newsletter when I first started it. Joe is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the Bot Framework, and has been one of the early figures championing the service.
Yes, these people are all white(ish). I realize that. As I said, these are the handful that have influenced me personally. If you know a female or minority bot builder of excellent repute, please forward me their blog, web site, or Twitter account, and I'd be happy to include them in a subsequent newsletter. --MS
AIs and Human Together
While it's true that we’ll eventually get to a point where we see a sort of kinship with our technological progeny, I still get irked by the conflation of AI and machine learning, even if it’s just semantics. The reality is that there is a huge difference between true AI and algorithms that can learn complex patterns and do work orders of magnitude faster. Machine Learning IS a tool. One day we’ll see true AI that expresses a level of awareness that merits our respect. That day is not today, and machines are still just tools until then. As a side note: humans are still working on how to respect and cooperate with one another, so even when true AI arrives, we’ll be imperfect stewards to be sure. --BA
Firestone Walker's Velvet Merkin
Firestone Walker's Velvet Merkin (not to be confused with the Velvet Merlin) rates a one of my all time favorite beers. I’ve never met a bourbon barrel stout I didn’t like, and this Bourbon Oatmeal Stout does not disappoint. The rich chocolate oak flavor is finished with a smooth vanilla without any bitterness. --BA