An IBM Solutions Architect Made a Real-Life Harry Potter Sorting Hat

June 14, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

The Sorting Hat at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo credit: The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

Using IBM Watson technology.

Although a Buzzfeed quiz may have categorized you as a Ravenclaw, it’s easy to wonder what the real Sorting Hat from Harry Potter would have to say.

Thanks to Ryan Anderson, a solutions architect for IBM Watson, a real-life version of the Harry Potter Sorting Hat now exists, and it works using Watson’s Natural Language Classifier. The Natural Language Classifier interprets the intent behind a set of text, and with the help of his daughters, Anderson associated key words with specific Hogwarts houses by “setting a ground truth.”

Basically, by putting adjectives in one column and a corresponding house in the other, the technology can figure out whether the person in question would be a better fit for Gryffindor or Slytherin. For example, Anderson coded “honesty” as a characteristic of Hufflepuff, so if you describe yourself as honest or use similar words, the Sorting Hat may categorize you as such.

SEE ALSO: Invisibility Cloaks Might Become a Reality Sooner Than You Imagined

However, if the hat only used the Natural Language Classifier technology, users would have to describe themselves with written text. To get around that, Anderson employed Watson’s Speech to Text feature so users could talk to the hat just like the young witches and wizards in Harry Potter do.

The Speech to Text service converts the human voice into written text, using machine intelligence to combine information about grammar and language structure to generate accurate transcriptions.

Further, the hat uses deep learning, which is a branch of artificial intelligence that leads machines to learn how to complete tasks on their own. Anderson told Tech Insider that the hat teaches itself more “ground truths” by scanning the web, but if the hat gets a ground truth wrong, he can go in and correct it.

At a Hackathon, Anderson and his team used animatronics, which is the technique of making lifelike robots, to add a little character to the hat. If someone is sorted into Slytherin, the hat’s eyebrows will furrow, and its eyes turn green to signify the good in Gryffindors.

"I may, time permitting, for next Halloween give it more personality and make it more dynamic," Anderson told Tech Insider.

Check out the video below to see the Sorting Hat in action as it sorts Stephen Hawking into a Hogwarts house.


You might also like: How Much is Wizard Money in Harry Potter Really Worth? Reddit User Does the Math

Hot Topics

Facebook comments