Adventures in AI (Part 2)

I really enjoyed playing with MyAskAI as our first attempt at providing an Ontario/OAME lens to Artificial Intelligence– it’s a really practical and easy approach to making a knowledgeable chatbot and our OAME-proprietary content was safe from OpenAI’s data capture. Unfortunately, our situation required a chatbot that could pull information beyond that which we offered from OAME, Ministry and Ontario-educator documentation we have collected. And it had to do math.

Having sold my soul to Microsoft, I first tried out the Azure AI … Although markedly more involved than MyAskAI (I had to create environments, data storage, etc but it was really just name & click, name & click) once I had the underlying structures in place to store the data and communicate between sources, I was able to get to the AI Chat Playground.

The System Message sets up the environment and then, below that, you can train it to answer questions in particular ways. You then add your data to the chat — Azure made it really easy as I basically just create a storage space and upload all the PDFs, texts, docx, etc into one folder and then just linked it here.

You do have the option to make the chat internal-only, like MyAskAI, but we wanted to have it use the content from ChatGPT as well. You have the option for ChatGPT3.5 or 4 but the difference in cost between the two is considerable (like, 10x more expensive). You also have more granularity on how the chat uses your data, how responsive it is; much like everything Microsoft you can create your own environment.

It works great! And it includes links back to the source documents it uses from your data so the user knows they’re getting Ontario/OAME content. That was a really nice touch.


Why am I not immediately using it? Well, it comes down to money. I set everything up one day and then had school-life interrupt me (writing, reading and edit report cards!) and when I came back, I found that Azure was charging 10$US a day just to exist (no one was using it because I didn’t share it with anyone else yet). So that’s a problem — 5000$Canadian before anyone asks a question? Not where I wanted to be.

Fortunately, since my summer was spent in research, I had gotten the heads up that OpenAI was going to start offering custom GPTs shortly. I waited for the announcement and sure enough, Custom GPTs was on the menu! The next blog post will take care of that!

I really wish Azure had worked — it swallowed every piece of information I could throw at it and gave great answers. But money talks. As someone said on Reddit — this service is for big business that’s okay with spending money for a top-flight experience. For non-profits, not so much.

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