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How Can AI Help Santa?

Santa Claus is the most important Christmas symbol for children and adults. Each of us expects a miracle and gifts from this pot-bellied wizard. Kids try to be obedient during the year to get what they asked for in their letters. But what is behind all this magic? Santa Claus works hard to make childhood dreams come true: he needs to deliver all gifts on time, organize elves, read all the letters, and much more. The elderly man in the red suit does a lot for Christmas. Santa can also leverage technologies to make his life easier. 

Considering how AI is developing, we can come up with valuable IT magic assistants. But what exactly does Santa Claus need to improve and optimize his work? To answer this question, we will try to put ourselves in the shoes of the winter wizard. So let’s try to understand Santa’s responsibilities and offer him AI solutions to match his needs.

Gifts Recommendation

Children are not always clear about their wishes. Or, they might list a few of their coveted gifts in letters. Santa must think about each case and decide on a specific present. Artificial intelligence can help the wizard guess the desires more accurately and optimize the time for thinking. An intelligent system for recommending gifts for each child is a great solution. Santa probably knows everything about all the kids, so he has an extensive knowledge base. This data can be digitized and used as a dataset for one of the recommender systems: collaborative filtering, content-based or knowledge-based. Santa Claus will be happy to send children the gifts they want. And the recommendation mechanism will be one more little helper on the eve of the night of magic.

Letters Processing

Santa Claus receives tons of letters from all over the world. Children from different countries write to him every year. It means our Miracle Master is supposed to read texts in a wide variety of languages. Our task is to help him. We can develop a machine learning model to translate all letters into Santa-friendly language. It’s easy with emails and social media messages, but the wizard also receives many paper letters. Artificial intelligence will help digitize all handwritten texts. Children often misspell, and that’s okay. They will learn to write beautifully and competently. In the meantime, the machine learning model will try to understand all the inaccuracies of children’s texts and correct mistakes. It will help Santa read messages faster. 

And we can go even further. Just imagine how much time Santa spends reading letters from each child. He has a superpower. Let’s try to make this task a little easier for him. We can develop a machine learning model that reads the messages as well. And the main goal for this AI assistant will be gift detection for every child. We have already determined that all letters can be converted into electronic format. Therefore, having a massive database of letters, you just need to teach the model to search keywords and phrases about gifts. The task comes down to text processing, and we are dealing with NLP. Similar problems are solved in marketing or customer support. As a result, our wizard will have a list of children and the corresponding desired gifts from their letters.

Forecasting Popular Toys

Together with the elves, Santa prepares an incredible amount of gifts for Christmas night.  But even they are not omnipotent. Long before the big day, the work is already in full swing to make and pack all the toys. They prepare gift lists with the required amount in advance and rely on experience and intuition. Although they represent the wizarding world, they certainly can make mistakes in planning. Artificial intelligence can improve the procurement of materials, toys, and presents. To do this, we need to build a model that will predict the popularity of different gifts. It will be a forecasting model based on previous children’s desires and world toy trends. Santa Claus will familiarize himself with predicting the potential volume of children’s wishes and prepare in advance. And also, our kind wizard will be able to study the demanded novelties of the children’s world throughout the year. 

Unique Christmas Cards

All the kids want to get Santa’s attention. They write about dreams, a year spent, and secrets. How awesome would it be if Santa could take the time to respond to everyone. Again, machine learning can help. Elves can attach unique Christmas cards to packaged toys. Models for generating images based on text keywords have already been developed. Father Christmas can use this, and the elves will help print and add cards to each gift. For example, there is a model called DALL-E, which is publicly available. We’ve generated sample  Christmas cards from an AI artist.

Christmas images generated by DALL-E

We admit that they are a little far from the images for children’s cards. But artificial intelligence does not stand still and is constantly evolving. Maybe Santa will bring some talent to digital artists? Then Lapland’s cooperation with AI will give more surprises to children.

New Year’s Songs and Carols

Santa does a lot of organizational work at his residence. He manages resources, supplies, animal care, and the elves’ work. Elves are very hardworking and responsible magical helpers. But sometimes they can get tired as well. As you know, songs are an excellent tool to raise team spirit and efficiency. AI can generate new Christmas carols to improve the mood of the elves. Here’s an example of a Christmas song composed by artificial intelligence (source):

The world and joy of the sleigh

Santa baby bore sweet Jesus Christ

The holly bears a berry,

And all the reindeer of the sky

The holly bears a berry and reindeer

He was born today!

And Santa baby bore sweet Jesus Christ,

And the chimney the angels sing.

Of course, it’s not perfect. The most important thing is to please the elves and raise their Christmas spirit.

Building Optimal Routes

Santa Claus must distribute all gifts during the night. His travel route is quite complex and tense. AI will help build the best path for Christmas night to optimize the time and energy of our wizard.

The travel plan will include geographic location features, the population density of cities, time zones, etc. The AI traveling Santa tool will be based on the letters that come to the residence at Lapland. They contain the addresses of the senders, that is, the destination for the gifts. These addresses need to be collected into a single dataset. We will add details of the country, region, city, local address, and even a postal code. Knowing these parameters, we can find additional information to build a perfect route. Perhaps the reindeer can share a couple of travel planning tips in our knowledge base. 

Virtual Santa

Many points were listed above to help the primary inhabitant of Lapland. But what if someone creates an AI Santa? And such a platform already exists. AI startup StoryFile presented the first artificial intelligence virtual Santa: AskSanta.com. Children from all over the world can talk to Santa without any time limit. The company demonstrated the online Christmas platform in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The developers wanted to give children more communication and a little magic in this challenging year.  Kids from over 170 countries visited the Christmas platform. The most popular topics of conversation are questions about Santa’s age and real name, requests for telling a story and helping family or friends.

Conclusion

Santa Claus and AI are very similar. The whole world thinks that it is magic, but it is a lot of work. Machine learning can help the Christmas wizard improve and optimize his processes in many ways. The article contains only several cases on the use of artificial intelligence in a Lapland residence. The AI capabilities are much broader; Santa’s AI tools can generate Christmas scenarios, detect reindeer in a photo, or smart preventive workshop maintenance. The main thing is not to overuse new technologies and leave a little real magic. Merry Christmas!

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