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AI is modernizing all manner of legacy industries, including the valuation of used cars. Kelley Blue Book is leveraging artificial intelligence services from AWS to create a bot that understands voice and text to help people gain a better understanding of how much their car might be worth.
“We thought this was a very natural way that people use their voice already, and this was a great use case for us to think about how we’re going to evolve our products — which are very click and touch oriented — to using natural language in a way that feels natural to people and not forced,” Andy Lapin, a chief architect at Kelley Blue Book, said during a presentation at VentureBeat’s MB 2017 conference in San Francisco today.
KBB’s bot uses AWS’ Lex service to understand what users are saying and translate that into machine-intelligible intent. KBB then uses the Polly service to turn its output into speech. Creating that functionality didn’t require KBB to create either its own chatbot framework or system for natural language processing. This was key to getting this new functionality off the ground, Lapin explained.
Swami Sivasubramanian, the vice president of artificial intelligence for Amazon Web Services, introduced KBB’s chatbot as an example of what AWS customers have been doing with its AI services. (Disclosure: AWS was a sponsor of MB 2017.)
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Sivasubramanian sees this as the golden age of AI, but admits the benefits haven’t been evenly distributed. While it’s possible to do amazing things with machine learning, implementing AI often requires a team of PhDs well versed in the current state of the art.
Amazon Web Services is trying to lower that barrier to entry by providing developers with a set of tools like Lex and Polly that they can use to implement machine learning without as much advanced knowledge. The company also has a Rekognition service available that provides computer vision capabilities, along with a set of deeper machine learning capabilities for more advanced developers.
Providing companies with intelligent capabilities is one of the new battlegrounds in the cloud wars. AWS isn’t alone: it’s competing against the likes of Microsoft, Google, and IBM to be the cloud provider that democratizes AI for its customers.
One advantage that Amazon has in the conversational AI space is its Alexa virtual assistant. AWS would seem to be the logical choice for companies that want to integrate with Alexa.
KBB chose Lex and Polly in part because the company is in the process of moving its entire infrastructure to AWS, and it made sense to take advantage of those services.