Episode 82 – Mycroft with Steve Penrod

Summary

Speech is the most natural interface for communication, and yet we force ourselves to conform to the limitations of our tools in our daily tasks. As computation becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous and artificial intelligence becomes more capable, voice becomes a more practical means of controlling our environments. This week Steve Penrod shares the work that is being done on the Mycroft project and the company of the same name. He explains how he met the other members of the team, how the project got started, what it can do right now, and where they are headed in the future.

Brief Introduction

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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Steve Penrod about the company and project Mycroft, a voice controlled, AI powered personal assistant written in Python.

Interview with Steve Penrod

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by describing what Mycroft is and how the project and business got started?
  • How is Mycroft architected and what are the biggest challenges that you have encountered while building this project?
  • What are some of the possible applications of Mycroft?
  • Why would someone choose to use Mycroft in place of other platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s personal assistant?
  • What kinds of machine learning approaches are being used in Mycroft and do they require a remote system for execution or can they be run locally?
  • What kind of hardware is needed for someone who wants to build their own Mycroft and what does the install process look like?
  • It can be difficult to run a business based on open source. What benefits and challenges are introduced by making the software that powers Mycroft freely available?
  • What are the mechanisms for extending Mycroft to add new capabilities?
  • What are some of the most surprising and innovative uses of Mycroft that you have seen?
  • What are the long term goals for the Mycroft project and the business that you have formed around it?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA