AI, CitizenMe and You – Part 3: Can AI Read or Hear?

AI, CitizenMe and You – Part 3: Can AI Read or Hear? 1200 801 StJohn Deakins

The ability for a computer to understand what we say and write (i.e. our everyday language) is called Natural Language Processing (NLP). We have had computers that can identify letters in sequence for a while, for example, a speed camera can ‘read’ the letters and number in a car number plate and transcribe it into digital form. This is known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

More sophisticated versions can string letters and numbers together to identify words and sentences. Next come algorithms (a set of rules and calculations) that can ‘read’ words and also interpret them, for example, understand that a question is being asked and respond with a reply. This is the way chatbots on a website (are supposed to) work.

Once this level of understanding has been unlocked, additional analysis can be added, for example, rating a Facebook status update as being happy or sad by looking at the types of words used (sentiment analysis). The CitizenMe platform uses similar analysis to reveal how your personality may be perceived on Twitter based on your last 50 tweets, or how thousands of Citizens might feel about a particular issue, product or organisation based on text they’ve shared (remember, with CitizenMe, sharing is anonymous by default).

Next comes speech. Many of us have already interacted with Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana or Amazon Alexa. These assistants have algorithms that understand our spoken words and then reply to us in a simple real-time conversation. This is AI hearing and speaking.  We all anticipate that these assistants will evolve into something like  ‘Her’  but they have a long way to go.



At CitizenMe we’re interested in the benefits of voice interfaces for simple voice conversations and, longer term, for some exciting ‘telepathic AI’ that we’ve conceptualised – but it’s not a short term priority.

Next Post: Can AI Move? (Smart Robots)


In this series of 7 blog posts, we explain what Artificial Intelligence does, why it’s so useful for us all, what we’re doing at CitizenMe – and what this means for you.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contacts us:

StJohn Deakins

StJohn founded CitizenMe with the aim to take on the biggest challenge in the Information Age: helping digital citizens gain control of their digital identity. Personal data has meaning and value to everyone, but there is an absence of digital tools to help people realise its value. With CitizenMe, StJohn aims to fix that. With a depth of experience digitising and mobilising businesses, StJohn aims for positive change in the personal information economy. Oh… and he loves liquorice.

All stories by: StJohn Deakins

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