Here's our experience at the AWS Masterclass on AI

AWS Masterclass on Artificial Intelligence
Jeff Chen, Guest Writer, The Tech Revolutionist

As previously foreign phrases such as ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Deep Learning’, and ‘AI’ pop up in everyday lexicon of young startups, one must wonder, “what in the world do they even mean?”.

While avoiding the topic and preaching the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) after attaining “expert knowledge” from movies such as “The Terminator (1984)” and “Transcendence (2014)” might be a viable option to some in the early 20th Century, it is most definitely unwise to shy away from understanding a field that will inevitably make a revolutionary impact to the evolution of the humanity.
Truth be told, even the proposition that technology is at the brink of converging to a singularity in a matter of decades sends chills down my spine every night.

As former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once noted, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.”

My sentiments toward the entire advent of AI and the exponential growth rate of technology are as such: Though the future might be unfathomably uncertain, it never hurts to understand it more rather than worrying about the risks entail.

As such, I pounced at the invitation to attend Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Masterclass on Artificial Intelligence.

The AWS office located on the 9th level of One George Street accentuated a variety of natural and organic tones, with the walls flushed with a forest green hue and honeycomb-shaped decor in the backdrop.

After receiving a warm welcome by our AWS speaker, Olivier Klein, the session commenced with a brief introduction about AWS and its on-demand (means you only pay for what you use) cloud-computing platforms such as ‘Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (E2C)’ and ‘Amazon S3’.

Operating in 42 Availability Zones within 16 geographic Regions around the world, AWS boast over 90 highly developer-friendly services that aim to enhance business operations, including Amazon AI services such as ‘Amazon Lex’, ‘Amazon Polly’, and ‘Amazon Rekognition’. Later on, we even got the opportunity to see how each of them worked and tried our hands on creating a chatbot using Amazon Lex, integrating it with Facebook messenger.

Following that, Klein provided an overview of what AI is and its applications in optimising business operations. As businesses grow, the volume of historical data that is recorded increases as well. In order to take advantage of this to evolve a business, predictive models are created using machine learning algorithms that train on historical data, just like how humans learn based on past experiences.

Klein introduced us to Amazon’s latest venture in exploring the realm of AI, Amazon Go ( A grocery that doesn't require physical checkouts to purchase items.

He sheds light on the concept of ‘The Internet Of Things (IoT)’, and explains how everything, with the help of AI will become connected in a world where data is seamlessly parsed from one smart object to another to enhance the experience for users.

One such example was of Toyota Tsusho Electronics (Thailand) which uses embedded software in automotive vehicles to display real-time traffic information service to motorists, resulting in a 30% reduction in traffic congestion with data only from 130,000 cars.

The highlight of the session was definitely the voice interaction between Klein and his Amazon Echo dot. Amongst the myriad of tasks the Echo dot could execute when interfaced with ‘Amazon Alexa voice service’, its ability to communicate with the cloud and to the Arduino device that Klein had built was by far the most impressive. Klein could even ask Echo dot to display what he said on the LCD screen of the Arduino!

Klein did an impeccable job in engaging the room for the entirety of the 3-hour session.

Overall, the masterclass was an absolutely eye-opening experience into the world of AI and the multitude of services AWS can provide to enhance and optimize business operations.

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