November 14, 2023
4 Minutes

Numi: Advancing Coin Collecting In The Age Of AI

Markets Change, Curiosity Doesn't

Like many others in the tech sector, I was part of the wave of layoffs in early 2023. But, the timing could not have been more interesting. The week I was laid off was the week that ChatGPT4 rolled out. I've always been fascinated with artificial intelligence and seeing the progress from GPT3.5 to GPT4 simply blew my mind. It's been fun playing around with ChatGPT and seeing it's capabilities grow over time.

Not to say these past few months have all been rosy. It fact it's been a trying time. The tech sector got hit hard and I've seen a lot of my colleagues let go. I have kept myself grounded by falling back into my lifelong passion for coin collecting. Since April, I have grown my collection of coin albums to over 500. I took the plunge into being an amateur numismatic researcher and have been publishing my research for others to enjoy.

Living in Colorado Springs has its perks, one being the proximity to the American Numismatic Association and a thriving local coin community. The knowledge and experiences I've gained from fellow enthusiasts has been invaluable. It's been wonderful getting to know local scene.

New Collectors, Same Challenges

Over the years, I have observed how high the barrier to entry can be to coin collecting. It can feel intimidating for new collectors to build up the courage to go to a local coin shop or coin show. And once they are there, they are bombarded with words like “grade”, “obverse”, “slabbed”, “mintage”, and hundreds of other insider terms. No wonder so many new collectors only show up once and never return. With the rise of the younger generation of collectors, I felt it was important to make numismatics as accessible as possible.

With the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence, I started to wonder how I could use AI to help out the hobby.

Meet Numi: The World's Most Powerful Coin Grading and Identification AI

I've been closely following the developments of OpenAI and ChatGPT. In November 2023, OpenAI released GPTs and I got access. I knew this was the chance I was waiting for. Within just 10 hours of getting access, I developed the initial build of Numi, a fine-tuned AI chatbot designed to simplify coin grading and identification for collectors of all levels.

Here is a video demo of Numi in action in case you do not have a ChatGPT Plus subscription.

Real-World Testing and Community Feedback

I've been actively testing Numi with my local coin shop and at coin club meetings. It's honestly thrilling (and a little scary) when I pull out Numi and test it live out in the field. Some collectors were blown away. Others simply could not believe it. I asked a collector to guess how long it took me to initially fine-tune and create Numi. He said three months. In reality, it just took 10 hours for the initial alpha build.

The feedback has been incredibly insightful. In just four days I have managed to take in this feedback and adjust Numi to handle a ton more use cases.

Challenges and Learnings in AI Development

Developing Numi has been an enlightening experience. I built Numi using only natural language. No traditional coding needed. Building out Numi has made it clear to me that this is the future of software development. This shift to AI will allow virtually anyone to create software tools for their specific needs. As a Product Manager, I can't wait to see what other PMs create with their teams.

Numi's Evolution and Future Vision

Short term, my goal is to optimize Numi for accurate coin grading and information retrieval based solely on photos.

My long term goal is to shape Numi to be the go to app for novice and advanced coin collectors. I want Numi to be so that good that whenever a collector has a question about their coin, the first thing they do is pull up Numi.

I created Numi out of a desire to give back to the hobby that has given me so much. I invite you to check out Numi, share your thoughts, and be part of its evolution.  


Update #1: In late December 2023, I decided to take a step back from Numi. It was wild ride and I learned a ton. You can visit Numi's project page to read a full retrospective where I give a rundown of what went into building the app, community reception, results, and lessons learned.

Update #2: After OpenAI released a major update to their GPT-4 model, I revisited Numi to retest it's accuracy. Check out this blog post where I broke down my test results showing that Numi's accuracy increased by 32.47%.