Practical artificial intelligence tools you can use today

December 30, 2015

(credit: KurzweilAI)

By Bob Gourley
Courtesy of

Practical artificial intelligence has made its way out of the labs and into our daily lives. And judging from the pace of activity in the startup community and the major IT powerhouses, it will only grow in its ability to help us all get things done.

Most AI solutions today are fielded by the big players in IT.  For example, Apple’s Siri or the capabilities Apple embedded directly in iOS9, Google’s many savvy search solutions, Amazon’s very smart recommendation engine, and IBM’s Watson.

We expect to see a new wave of AI solutions that deliver value from smaller start-up companies as well. This is a very crowded space, with plenty of VC funding for entrepreneurs with capabilities in a wide-range of AI disciplines.

Most of these firms seem to be on one of two paths: Success, which will mean being acquired by Facebook, Apple, Microsoft or IBM; or failure, which will see them acquired by the same firms for a lower price for their talent. Either way, the innovation continues.

We are also on the lookout for hot firms that are not providing capabilities as part of other offerings or don’t seem to be on a path to be acquired by one of the big guys. This part of the market is very likely going to take off, since open-source platforms and open-cloud API’s and services are making it so easy for others to create and field AI.

Here is a short list of capabilities we recommend all futurists, technologists and business executives track. The list is by no means comprehensive, but is definitely representative of what is available now:

On your phone:

  • Siri: Part of Apple’s iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Intelligent personal assistant.
  • Cortana: Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant. Designed for Windows Mobile but now on Android, and a limited version runs on Apple iOS. Also works on desktops and Xbox One.
  • Google Now: Available within Google Search mobile app for Android and iOS as well as the Google Chrome web browser on other devices. Delegates requests to web services powered by Google.

From the cloud:

IBM | How IBM Watson learns

Really, most all of the AI on your phone and desktops is communicating with cloud services, so keep in mind that most solutions are a blend that highly leverages cloud capabilities. But we needed a place to talk about Echo and Watson and soon many others, so:

  • Watson: A technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data.
  • Echo: The device you buy is mostly a speaker and microphone with some commodity IT to connect it to the cloud. The real smarts come from Amazon Web Services.

For personal and business use:

  • Gluru: Organize your online documents, calendars, emails and other data and have AI present you with new insights and actionable information.
  • Let AI coordinate schedules for you. Your own personal scheduler.
  • CrystalKnows: Using AI to help you know the best way to communicate with others.
  • RecordedFuture: Leverages natural language processing at massive scale in real time to collect and understand more than 700,000 web sources.
  • Tamr: Unique approaches to Big Data, leveraging machine learning.
  • LegalRobot: Automating legal document review in ways that can serve people and businesses.

For developers:

  • Vicarious: Building the next generation of AI algorithms.
  • Soar: a general cognitive architecture for developing systems that exhibit intelligent behavior.
  • a service with easy to use, open templates for a variety of advanced AI workloads.
  • Jade: Java Agent Development Framework. Simplifies multi-agent system development.
  • Protege: A free, open-source ontology editor and framework for building intelligent systems.
  • Build smarter machine learning/AI applications that are fast and scalable.
  • Seldon: An open, enterprise-grade machine learning platform that adds intelligence to organizations.
  • SigOpt: Run experiments and make better products with less trial and error.
  • Scaled Inference: Cloud based models and an inference engine to help in model selection.
  • OpenCV: Open-source computer vision, a library of programming functions aimed mainly at computer vision.
  • OpenCog: An open-source software project whose aim is to create an open-source framework for artificial general intelligence (AGI).

For healthcare:

  • Enlitic: Deep learning for healthcare and data-driven medicine.
  • Automatic image recognition with many use cases, including medicine.
  • Zebra Medical Vision: Closing the gaps between research and result for patients with data and AI.
  • Deep Genomics: Machine learning and AI transforming precision medicine, genetic testing, diagnostics and therapies.
  • Atomwise: Using AI and analytics to predict medicines and discover drugs.
  • AI and machine learning delivering insights on treatments.

For Robotics:

  • Building flying vehicles powered by intelligent software.
  • Skycatch: Software for fully autonomous aerial systems.

For Space:

  • SpaceKnow: Using AI to track global economic trends from Space.
  • OrbitalInsight: Space trends for understanding global issues.

For marketing and customer interaction:

  • DigitalGenius: Computer driven conversation with customers in ways that scale and serve.
  • Conversica: AI to help you find your next customer, including automated email conversations to qualify leads.

We know this is not a complete list. Please let us know who you think we should include. Contact us here.

Bob Gourley is a Co-founder and Partner at Cognitio and the publisher of and Bob’s background is as an all-source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley.