No-Code ML Apps: Build Models in a Few Clicks
Artificial intelligence and machine learning today allow us to reduce the time demanded for solving a certain problem from months and years to minutes. For example, it took your grandma years of practice to learn the right temperature for growing her zucchinis. If she had AI, she would do it much faster. But the problem is that even today not so many people can program ― only 0,5%! This is where no-code platforms step into the game.
In this post, we are going to talk about what no-code is in machine learning, its benefits, and the platforms you can use to implement AI in your project.
What is no-code/low-code?
No-code is a software development technique that enables anyone to create applications, websites, and software without knowing how to read or write code.
Engineers from top no-code companies have already written a bunch of customizable elements for whatever functionality you might need. What you need to do is just drag and drop ready elements from a library. The novelty of no-code is that all elements are accessible in a graphical user interface (GUI): what you see is what you get.
Low-code is often mentioned next to no-code. Low code platforms also help deliver apps faster but demand little to no coding. The difference is that low-code tools are sometimes used even by experienced programmers to avoid writing extra code. For example, using a low-code framework developers can quickly put together an app prototype to test the hypothesis. When the customer approves the prototype, they can write a real app from scratch with less corrections. But, of course, low-code and no-code tools are much more often used by business people and other professionals whose specialization in programming is not high enough to make real products.
These platforms work by subscription and usually charge their users monthly or annually. The prices can range from $15 per month to thousands of dollars per month.
No-code or not: AI Copilot and GPT-3?
When talking about no-code apps, it’s worth mentioning that there are also not libraries but AI systems that help developers write code.
In 2020, Open AI launched their GPT-3 model that can write code upon request. You need to describe what you want and the model will generate code for you. The founders of the project hope that their invention will provide for the democratization of AI and machine learning.
Copilot is a project made by GitHub together with Open AI. It is advertised as a pair programmer. Imagine a friend who is sitting next to you when you code and whispers how to do things. That’s AI Copilot. It provides you with suggestions for whole lines or entire functions right inside your editor.
Technically, AI Copilot and GPT-3 are a new generation of no-code. They provide you with countless options for your own digital projects. We must say: today code-writing tools aren’t perfect and need human supervision. Moreover, quite a good knowledge of programming is needed to put these separate bits of code together, test it, and transform it into a functional product. So it’s too early to talk about AI available to anyone. But the technology definitely makes the lives of developers a lot easier.
Advantages of no-code apps
Many people choose no-code for their projects. Here are three reasons why.
There are many people who don’t have time to learn programming to a level that would allow them to create projects. They work as entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, or policy makers. With AI, they could become so much better at their jobs but let’s be realistic. If the owner of a successful company can afford hiring a professional developer, high-school teacher or underground musician won’t be able to afford their services even in a hundred years.
No-code platforms make AI more accessible: not only corporations with multimillion funds but regular individuals can benefit from this technology. The social impact of the wider adoption of AI can be enormous. For example, musicians can use AI to create choral harmonies for their songs and increase the quality of production. Teachers who use artificial intelligence can do automated grading or reporting, which will give them more time to concentrate on the creative side of their job.
If you have some coding knowledge, you can still benefit from no-code platforms because they enable you to deliver products insanely fast. Instead of writing every element yourself, you can just drag-and-drop them from a library of ready elements. Sometimes you need to quickly create a mockup to test a hypothesis, whether it’s an application, website, or game. Unlike working with frameworks and programming libraries, you immediately see how the finished product will look like, which is good for prototyping.
If you’re a developer who is working on their own project, with a library of visual elements, you can do everything by yourself: no need to hire a designer or a frontend developer to complete the parts you don’t know how to do.
Disadvantages of no-code apps
However, no-code is not a universal solution that works all the time. There are some drawbacks to consider before kicking off with a new project.
Lack of flexibility
When you are writing code from scratch, sky’s the limit. You can implement any architecture and functionality, as long as you know how to do it or can find the answer on StackOverflow.
With no-code, it’s different. Most often, you’re strictly limited in what you can implement by the functionality of the no-code solution that you use. Low-code provides for more flexibility in terms of functionality but is still quite limiting. For example, if this app builder only allows integration with Stripe and PayPal payment systems, it will be very hard to overcome this limitation. Of course, you can hire a programmer who after racking his brain will write some unwieldy solution. But that’s not the point of no-code solutions, right?
High running costs (in some cases)
When you need to quickly make an MVP, no-code platforms can help. But the products you create with no-code don’t scale very well.
Such platforms often offer different subscription plans based on how much of its functionality and/or computational power you need. For example, a company allows you to build 3 custom models using their solution as part of their API subscription plan. You also get a batch of ten thousand queries and can share your account with no more than 3 team members.
This solution is convenient for a small team and doesn’t cost too much. Now imagine you want to scale and grow your solution, so that not 3 but 100 people could access the same model. You would have to negotiate with the provider about the custom price based on your individual needs, and the price would grow at the same pace as your company. If you decide to transfer your projects to another platform or to a custom solution, you will also have to pay extra.
So if you have a big project in mind, a custom solution may actually be better from the economical standpoint.
How to use a no-code platform?
Using a no-code platform is quite easy. Select a platform depending on what kind of product you want to build: website, application, chatbot, etc. Register and go to your working space. There you will be able to access some customizable templates and, by modifying individual elements, you can create a unique product.
Low-code solutions provide for even more customization. One of the famous examples is WordPress. This platform allows you to build a website even without programming experience. But by hiring professional developers and designers, you greatly expand the possibilities of the platform and can create a very highly-customized website that doesn’t look like it was built on a website builder platform.
No-code apps for artificial intelligence
If, after assessing pros and cons, you feel like no-code is right for you, here are some tested no-code/low-code platforms for AI.
- DataRobot. With this solution, you can build and deploy custom machine learning models. DataRobot offers a variety of solutions across different industries including tools for automated machine learning.
- MonkeyLearn. This platform enables you to train custom ML-models for sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and text classification without programming.
- Clarifai AI. If you’re looking for ready-made models that you can just apply to your task, take a look at Clarifai. This platform enables you to train and deploy your AI with no coding skills in the same interface.
There are many more no-code tools for AI. However, it’s important to keep the advantages and disadvantages of such platforms in mind. If you already have a big team or are planning to grow in the future or simply want to develop an out-of-the-ordinary AI solution, you might better think about outsourcing software development.
Is no-code the future of AI?
No-code is a tool that people who are not professional software engineers can use to create working AI solutions. This accessibility makes no-code extremely attractive, and will definitely continue to exist as an alternative to custom software development.
At the same time, no-code and low-code tools exist only as an alternative to fully-fledged software development. It’s unlikely that no-code will ever completely replace real coding ― unless, of course, we will have developed general artificial intelligence.