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Words to go: Amazon AI services

Artificial intelligence is a growing area of focus among the major cloud vendors. Use this list of key terms to see what AWS has to offer in the realm of AI.

For some people, AI conjures up images of personal assistants on their phones or robots from films. But AI is also a major component in an increasing number of enterprise cloud deployments and applications, even if the technology tends to work behind the scenes.

Amazon AI is a collection of cloud-hosted tools and services that enable enterprises to use a variety of technologies, such as machine and deep learning, chatbots, natural language understanding (NLU), document sentiment analysis and image and video recognition. These services help app dev teams create advanced applications with which an end user can interact in a variety of ways.

Here is a collection of Amazon AI tools and services to know.

Machine learning: At its core, machine learning uses algorithms to read data and predict outcomes within an acceptable range. One common example of machine learning is a recommendation engine, which can present an end user with a product she might like based on past purchases and search history. Many of the other Amazon AI tools listed below use machine learning, and the cloud provider supports popular machine learning frameworks, including TensorFlow and Apache MXNet.

Deep learning: Deep learning uses layered algorithms to dive deeper on data than machine learning. This technology typically uses neural networks to sort through large amounts of structured data to train models to make informed predictions. Like machine learning, deep learning technology underpins several Amazon AI services and tools.

Amazon SageMaker: SageMaker enables developers to create and train machine learning models and includes built-in algorithms for popular machine learning use cases. The service provides Jupyter notebooks to help IT teams visualize S3 data, or they can use AWS Glue to pull and translate data from AWS-hosted databases. From there, a developer trains the model within the SageMaker console and deploys it into production.

Amazon Lex: This Amazon AI service enables developers to create chatbots for applications. Lex provides the same deep learning framework that powers Alexa, which enables automatic speech recognition and NLU.

Amazon Polly: Powered by deep learning, Polly performs text-to-speech conversion to enable an application to output humanlike speech. Developers input text through the Polly API, and the service creates a playable or storable audio file of that text. Polly supports a variety of languages and voice types.

Amazon Rekognition: This Amazon AI tool is an image and video analysis service that detects and identifies faces, scenes, objects and more. The service uses labels -- created by Amazon and users -- to categorize objects and scenes in an image or video library.

Amazon Comprehend: With the Amazon Comprehend service, users can input large volumes of documents for textual analysis. This tool uses natural language processing to analyze a text document and classify entities into organized subsets, such as locations or people. The tool uses AI algorithms to rank key words or phrases with a confidence score in relation to their importance in the document.

Amazon Transcribe: This automatic speech recognition service enables users to submit audio files for transcription to text. The service can transcribe audio from common formats, such as MP3 or WAV, and include time stamps for specific words in the original audio file.

Amazon Translate: This service uses machine learning and deep learning to translate text from one language to another. AWS claims the service will translate volumes of content in real time, which can be helpful for enterprises with global customers.

AWS DeepLens: This programmable video camera comes with deep learning capabilities, which enable it to perform onboard analysis of video it captures. DeepLens comes with sample projects that help beginner- and expert-level developers grow their machine learning skills.

Alexa Voice Service (AVS): This suite of resources enables developers or businesses to incorporate Amazon's voice-controlled program, Alexa, into their products. AVS relies on technologies, such as voice recognition and NLU, to provide a voice-controlled interface for end users.

Alexa Skills Kit (ASK): With this SDK, developers can build skills -- akin to voice apps -- for Alexa-enabled devices. ASK includes APIs, code samples, webinars and documentation for dev teams. Developers can create a variety of skill types, such as smart home, trivia, flash briefing, video skills and custom skills. Amazon also includes a developer console to make it easier to build skills.

This was last published in March 2018

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