Local teen creates program artificial intelligent program [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.]
(Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 02--CHINO -- Meet Michael Ghandour: an 18-year-old high school student who is basically giving Apple's Siri a run for her money.
The Don Lugo High School senior has spent seven years developing software and programing and believes the recent artificial intelligence program he's created will revolutionize how people interact with the technological world.
Named after a shortfin shark, Ghandour's product is called "Mako."
"It's like Siri, but much smarter," he said. "When Mako is open, it's always listening and it's understanding everything you're saying."
Siri is Apple's touch-to-command, voice-activated artificial intelligence system.
Once Mako is 'on,' it can perform asked tasks and can keep up with conversations.
With no extensive training in computers, Ghandour is a self-taught programmer, who is also studying computer science on his own.
At 14, he created his own video game called "Final Heroes" and posted it on a server for players. He made $30,000 from that game, enough to buy a 2007 silver Ford Mustang.
Ghandour's latest focus has been on creating Mako a reality for computer users world wide.
"I'd spend nights programing, from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m... I'd sleep for a while, then wake up and program," he said. "I couldn't believe I had this whole thing up in one and a half months. As long as I dedicate the time to it, anything is possible."
Ghandour's idea came from watching the movie "Ironman" and observing the artificial intelligence software the character Tony Stark uses.
"I was thinking, 'Why wasn't something like this in the market?' I thought this would be a great technology for people to have," he said.
The teen knows seven different programing languages -- C Sharp, C plus plus, Visual Studio, Java, HTML, PHP and Python.
He does admit though he's never coded on iOS and Andriod, operating systems for hand-held devices.
Mako is still in its beta form, and before it is launched to the public Ghandoura needs enough money to create a website, digital downloadable copies, disk copies to be sold in stores, but more importantly, servers to support the program.
Ghandour has turned to "Kickstarter," an online funding platform, to help him.
The way Kickstarter works is project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing -- projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money, according to Kickstarter's website.
Ghandour set his goal for $75,000 and has until Dec. 13 to make it.
As of Friday, Mako has the support of 79 backers and has received $58,006.
Ghandour is so serious about his product that he got a copyright the program from the United States Copyright Office.
Ghandour's mentor and tutor Sargon Maradkel said he's impressed by the program and by the teen's tenacity.
"I have met students with drive and who have excelled academically, but what Michael has is passion," Maradkel said.
Maradkel started tutoring Ghandour in 2008 in English, writing and comprehension. By the time his student was a freshman in high school, Maradkel said he noticed Ghandour would spend a lot of time on his computer, not just playing games, but programming.
"This just goes to show you that learning can take place anywhere. We (eductors) need to start realizing that kids have their own potential," said Maradkel, who is a seventh grade teacher at Benton Middle School in La Mirada.
"We need to respect them, believe in them and support them in believing in themselves."
Ghandour's future plan includes going to a local university to study business and be an entrepreneur.
"People love to have fun during their teen age years, because it's the only years they don't have to worry about bills, a house, etc," he said. "But if you put in the time and commitment, you can avoid the hassle of the future."
(c)2013 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)
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