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Tag Archives: AI

Chamath Palihapitiya could throw a wrench into AI heavyweights

It’s always god to keep an eye on what Chamath Palihapitiya is up to. He has been building a team of ex-Googlers, and is supposed to be after the next generation of computing. A $10 million startup, to be sure!

This could signal a lot of things, depending which pair of lenses you put on. It probably has a lot to do with AI – Artificial Intelligence. For instance he hired away eight of the ten people at Goggle working on a secret project involving a chip with AI. He has poked fun at Watson, the IBM cloud-based machine learning application.

Watson, as you might be aware turned tables on Jeopardy and Go (the 2,500-year-old game), but has machine learning entrenched in many sectors from genomics to industrial safety. Google’s machine learning project, known by its bland name, Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), is underway.

Pahlihapitiya talks of ‘probabilistic‘ software that is changing how we depend on devices – a great shift from ‘deterministic’ software based on “if-the” sequences. Watch how he explains how machine learning and II is transforming, and will up-end computing. I bet Watson took in every word of this.

 

 

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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Disruptive, Sri Lanka, Technology

 

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If only schools can be like this!

I just interviewed Kris Canekeratne, CEO of Virtusa, a 20,000-strong global business consulting and IT outsourcing company headquartered in Massachusetts. Among the many strands we talked about, I was fascinated by his take on learning, and how schools ought to be the ‘ignition’ for curiosity.

“Students have an innate proclivity to curiosity,” he says – no different how engineers are inherently curious, with problem-solving and design thinking as part of their skill set. If only we could design schools to be the spark plugs of knowledge! It’s time we began exposing students to Big Data, Nanotech, AI, user experience, and gamification, he says, instead of teaching them how to memorize material just to pass exams.

To this end, here’s an example of design-thinking class at a Charter School in Berkeley, California.

 
 

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Could humans replace robots? (That’s not a typo)

When we teach students about robotics, it’s important to give them the big picture of why robotics is important. To do that it’s best to steer clear of the cliché that ‘Robotics are replacing people.’

So don’t you love this story that humans are being given back jobs that robots are not good at? Mercedes and Toyota have begun this, which is a surprise considering Toyota set the standard for automation in its factories. Remember ‘Lexus and the Olive Tree‘ in which Thomas Freedman described how cars were being manufactured by industrial robots?

Turns out humans, though easy to lay off, are better at keeping pace with changes and problem-solving.”The variety is too much to take on for the machines,” observed the head of production at Merc. They realize that humans are better at individualization, and dealing with variations. Robots, on the other hand, while they never need a lunch break of a sick day, work appear to be unable “to keep pace with changes.”

The point is not to teach young people to design robots that will replace human input but to manage them, and work alongside them.

If you subscribe to the opposite view, that robots are replacing humans, this story proves your point. It is a robot called Eve, a ‘robotic scientist’ that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the University of Manchester.

 

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From HAL to Watson, AI is now more relevant than ever

Every time I overhear someone talking to Google to do a voice search, I am reminded the usual crop of techno futurologists from Asimov to Arthur C. Clarke to Ray Kurzweil who alerted us to the potential of AI. Just for the record I don’t buy Kurzweil’s funky ‘singularity‘ theory is about how around 1945, we will augment our bodies with super-intelligent machines…

Yet, AI is becoming more relevant. Consider what’s happening around autonomous cars. Hint: Google isn’t the only one in this race.Or consider the pace of robotics.

Sidebar: A few weeks ago I asked some students (2nd through 6th graders at a Montessori school) to design and build robots from assorted parts. Many of them gave them names, though that was not the requirement! They have no qualms about machines that might live’ alongside us. I once took some older students to visit a hospital and see a da Vinci surgical robot. They loved it! A bot that can cut and suture one of your body parts!

Back to AI. That famous ‘machine’ known as Watson, which beat humans in that game show Jeopardy, was able to search a massive databases and respond faster than Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. But that was not all. It also outsmarted them in strategy – that is in picking the categories that would win bigger. It is eerie to watch those rounds and see how a computer sitting in between two humans looks like. (It sounds human too, as it calmly picks a category such as ‘chicks dig me’ to the nervous laughter of the live audience.)

I was intrigued to read about how JWT, the agency that handled IBM and this show, was briefed on how to present Watson. At one time, the inventor behind it, specifically asked that Watson should not bear any resemblance to…HAL. If you know Stanley Kubrik’s and Arthur Clarke’s 2001: a Space Odyssey, you’ll know why. That softer logo ‘Smart Planet’ logo, derived from IBM’s larger project about a smarter planet was not supposed to look humanoid, or scare people.

Even those people who talk to their machines (Siri) or instruct them where to go (GPS).

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Technology

 

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