Machine Learning – The Primer – Part I
 

In this series of posts, I will emphasize primarily over the world of Machine learning. We’ll start with an overview of how machine learning models work and how they are used. This may feel basic if you’ve done statistical modeling or machine learning before. By giving ‘computers the ability to learn’, we mean passing the task of optimization — of weighing the variables in the available data to make accurate predictions about the future — to the algorithm. Sometimes we can go further, offloading to the program the task of specifying the features to consider in the first place. Let us first understand some basic definitions.

Machine learning: Machine learning lets us tackle problems that are too complex for humans to solve by shifting some of the burden to the algorithm. The goal of most machine learning is to develop a prediction engine for a particular use case. Common machine learning techniques include decision trees, support vector machines, and ensemble methods.

Deep learning: A subset of machine learning modeled loosely on the neural pathways of the human brain. Deep refers to the multiple layers between the input and output layers. In deep learning, the algorithm automatically learns what features are useful. Common deep learning techniques include convolutional neural networks (CNNs), recurrent neural networks (such as long short-term memory, or LSTM), and deep Q networks.

AlgorithmThe set of rules or instructions that will train the model to do what you want it to do. An algorithm will receive information about a domain (say, the films a person has watched in the past) and weigh the inputs to make a useful prediction (the probability of the person enjoying a different film in the future).

ModelThe trained program that predicts outputs given a set of inputs.

The below depicts the way the terms are related. Artificial intelligence encompasses the world of Machine learning and in turn machine learning encompasses the world of deep Learning.

Why Machine learning matters?

Artificial intelligence will shape our future more powerfully than any other innovation in this century. Anyone who does not understand it will soon find themselves feeling left behind, waking up in a world full of technology that feels more and more like magic.

The rate of acceleration is already astounding. After a couple of AI winters and periods of false hope over the past four decades due to Limited computer power, intractability of solutions, common sense knowledge and reasoning like face recognition and qualifying the right problems.  And therefore rapid advances in data storage and computer processing power have dramatically changed the game in recent years. In 2015, Google trained a conversational agent (AI) that could not only convincingly interact with humans as a tech support helpdesk, but also discuss morality, express opinions, and answer general facts-based questions.

So how is all this happening? How are the machines becoming smarter to the extent that they are able to beat human at most of the games like DeepBlue in chess, AlphaGo in Chinese GO, DeepMind in 49 Atari games etc. Much of our day-to-day technology is powered by artificial intelligence. Point your camera at the menu during your next trip to Taiwan and the restaurant’s selections will magically appear in English via the Google Translate app. Today AI is used to design evidence-based treatment plans for cancer patients, instantly analyze results from medical tests to escalate to the appropriate specialist immediately, and conduct scientific research for drug discovery. In everyday life, it’s increasingly commonplace to discover machines in roles traditionally occupied by humans. Really, don’t be surprised if a little housekeeping delivery bot shows up instead of a human next time you call the hotel desk to send up some toothpaste.

In this series, we’ll explore the core machine learning concepts behind these technologies. By the end, you should be able to describe how they work at a conceptual level. The process to implement Machine learning is given below. Needless to say that it’s a process that needs to be institutionalized to be an every improving one.

Gathering Data: You can acquire data from many sources; it might be data that’s held by your organization or open data from the Internet. There might be one dataset, or there could be ten or more.

Cleaning Data: You must come to accept that data will need to be cleaned and checked for quality before any processing can take place. These processes occur during the prepare phase.

Build Models: The processing phase is where the work gets done. The machine learning routines that you have created perform this phase.

Gain Insights and Report: Finally, the results are presented. Reporting can happen in a variety of ways, such as reinvesting the data back into a data store or reporting the results as a spreadsheet or report.

Stay tuned…. Part 2 of this foray, we will continue to dwell upon the steps in the machine learning process while we lead deep into the learning portions of this AI foray we have embarked upon

Please feel free to review my earlier series of posts on AI-ML Past, Present and Future – distributed across 8 blogs.

AI / ML – Past, Present & Future – Part 6
 

Just a recap, we learnt in my last update, the different ways to harness the new age machine to enhance market competitiveness of your products and services. In this excerpt we are going to dwell upon the different ways to harness the new age machine in by and large the innovation quotient that we need to invest upon.

As we have seen throughout this series of posts, the innovation related to the intelligent systems and digital economy is both a catalyst for and an outcome that will allow your organization to discover opportunities that were never before visible or addressable. Innovation being the center stone, it can’t be a side project which is nice-to-have but its central to remaining relevant in the great digital build-out that we are experiencing and of course lies ahead of us. While machines will do more and more of our work, the process of innovation will allow us to discover entirely new things to do that are impossible to imagine and hard to predict but they will be at the core of what we do in the future.

Today, a new economy is emerging with a flurry of job categories that even a few years ago would have been hard to predict; social medial consultants, search engine optimizers, full stack engineers, content curators, and chief happiness officers. These all jobs that the tech economy’s equivalent to the Charles Babbages of the early starters would have imagined. AI is changing our world already, but in reality we have only begun to scratch the surface of where it will take us over the next 20, 50, 100 years. Your job is to imagine the new forms of value you can create with the new machines of the new revolution. Institutionalizing the role and importance of being open to the fruits of innovation is a hugely important role that you as a leader of the future need to play. The openness to innovation is not just a job of the company’s formal R&D department. It has to be a culture of innovation that each and every one of you should exhibit.

We have learned right through this series that the new machine will be your platform of innovation. Once you are instrumenting, automating, tracking and analyzing the core operations of your business an applying machine learning, innovation opportunities will be consistently unearthed. Innovation is thus a rich term with many different attributes and applications. It can be applied to many areas including some I have listed below.

With product innovation, team will gain continual insight as to how your products are being used, also what customer frustrations points exist, and where the obvious areas for improvement exist. These inputs definitely can’t be gauged without a thorough AI system in place. Once you have automated, instrumented and enhanced your company’s activities, the associated AI engines can be applied to innovation. The team will get greatly enhanced by the application of the new machine, primarily because it radically accelerates the scale and speed of the innovation process. As such, when the new machine is soon widely adopted, the rate of human progress in the 21st century (as defined by the cumulative growth of human knowledge and he pace of the innovation) will be at least 1000 times the average rate of the 20th century. Obviously the general factors affecting innovation in the organization (opinions, ideas, emotions, organization’s inertia etc) can bring down above prediction to may be by two orders of magnitude. Still the innovation quotient of 10 times is way higher than traditional R&D ways.

One of the core principle in these posts is that machines can do many things but that practical application should be focused on specific business processes and customer experiences. When you are making discovery investments, start at the process and experience level and imagine how the process can be restructured and reinvented with digital.

Discovery can be a risk. Invest too much in the wrong ideas and you go broke. Wait for somebody else to do it and you can miss the market opportunity of a lifetime. So what’s the best practice for bringing about this new form of innovation? We find too many managers looking for the new “the next great breakthrough” but that doesn’t work. The opposite approach is to ask how the new machine adds the most value – that is, by looking for continuous, incremental improvements or looking to hit singles on a consistent basis. This primarily caters to “change for better” but is implemented as small, continuous improvements that in time have a large impact. Your goal should be to become a Know-It-All business via instrumentation, sensors, big data and analytics. In the real world, organizations should establish a portfolio of initiatives focused on discovery, with a clear life cycle methodology that manages these initiates from inception through o ultimate success or failure. Central to their generative acts will be the belief that something better can be created. The true core of discovery is, after all, hope.

Obviously, please don’t forget that with the Gods come the devils as well. While most part of my posts are ushering in that AI is an age of miracles and wonder of technological marvels but in the hindsight we should also see a world of robots, more powerful human like machines taking over. Thus strike a balance.

In these posts, we have argued that the information technology innovations and investments of the past 4 decades are merely a precursor to the next waves of digitization, which will have truly revolutionary impacts on every aspect of work, society, and life.

As the last S-Curve’s growth rate continues its inexorable journey south, the new S-curve is gather momentum, and so are the companies  poised to lead this new charge. These are the companies that have learned how to master the 3 Ms, how to align the new raw materials of the digital age (data), the new machines (intelligent systems), and the new models (business models that optimize the monetization of data-based personalization).These are the companies that understand how to build and operate a know-it-all-business, that understand that intelligent machines aren’t to be feared but embraced and harnessed, and that are energized by the unwritten future rather than just trying to hang onto the glories of the past.

Below are the few mandatory steps that any organization should embark upon and leaders from organizations should help them implement.

The companies that are getting ahead are the ones acting on these ideas. Some companies we work with emphasizes one ‘play’ over another, while others recognize the holistic connection between all of the plays, automation enables enhancement, discovery uncovers how to achieve excessiveness, and so on. All of them, however, understand the need to act now, to not wait for more certain times ahead, more clarity over exactly what AI is, and what it will become. All of them recognize that the rise of the machine intelligence is the ultimate game changer we face today. All of them know that inaction will result in irrelevance. All of them know that fortune favors the brave and punishes the timid.

This is the last blog in the series on AI/ML and the related space. Hope you all enjoyed reading through the posts. Stay tuned while I come back with yet another series on a technology topic.

AI / ML – Past, Present & Future – Part 2
 

Just a recap, we learnt in my last update, the advent of the industrial revolutions, and the current industrial revolution of the ‘Machines’ we are currently experiencing. The impact of the new age machines that are learning and thus by utilizing AI/ML mould the world we are going to experience. In this excerpt we are going to understand the machine in itself, the raw material that constitutes it and how the world of AI/ML comes alive.

New Machine: A system of intelligence that combines software, hardware data and human input:

  • Software that learns
  • Massive hardware processing power
  • Huge amounts of data

Any New machine exhibiting AI has three main Elements

1. Digital process Logic

  • Transform many manual processes into automated ones
  • Car dispatch process between traditional vs Uber
  • Digitized process multiplied over millions of transactions – an industry is revolutionized – structuring the process is the hardest part
    • thereby new Large Databases that are stable, scalable and tested. For e.g. Hadoop are finding favor against Oracle/SAP

2. Machine Intelligence

  • Combination of algorithms, automation processes, machine learning and neural networks – just a richer data set – HEART
    • thereby Highly efficient and always on plumbing

3. Software Ecosystem

  • Multiple systems of intelligence connected thru API. For e.g. Uber uses Twilio for cloud communications, Google for maps, Braintree for payments, SendGrid for email etc.
    • thereby an Intelligent System in action

So finally what will work for us to run an AI system is a combination of the above which not just a system but a very intelligent system based on new and enhanced learning.

Figure: Intelligent System working (Source: Internet)

Just to illustrate this in a live example for the most Successful Internet media-service provider and Production Company in North America. I have put together the to-be story of a system of intelligence that they built.

There is a big difference between merely having all the necessary ingredients of the new machines and actually getting them to perform at a high level. An intelligent system that can help you be the Michael Phelps of whatever race you are in will have all or most of the below characteristics to make it successful.

  • Learn more than any other system
  • Open to more changes/corrections
  • Not just being automated but also involve human inputs
  • Focused on a confined problem
  • Individual experience has to be top priority
  • Look out for Constantly improving system

Once the intelligent system is in place, you finally need a way to measure whether it is doing the right things or not –

  1. An Intelligent has to become better and better and that depends solely on the ‘Quality of Data’ that is being fed into it
  2. Intelligent systems has to be a journey in an organization and not just an individual contribution
  3. System should take ownership of more and more data analysis and should reduce human intervention

Every day that passes gives us more evidence and strengthens our conviction that the intelligent systems that we are trying to understand in this part are the engines of the fourth industrial revolution. Individuals and companies that are early birds on this bandwagon are the ones that are reaping rich benefits out of solving their major problems. So it’s but obvious that we need to the AI/ML way sooner or later. Are you ready?

Stay tuned…. Part III of this foray, we will quickly look through the making of Data that makes an AI system successful and then dwell upon the Digital Business Models and Solutions: – “Robots” that outline the design and delivery of the AI platform.

AI / ML – Past, Present & Future – Part I
 

The World has seen development/growth primarily driven by the Industrial revolutions. Each of these revolutions changed the way we looked at a time of economic dislocation; when old ways of production become defunct and they had to give way to far better/newer ways of production that could harness the improvement brought in by new machines. The First Industrial revolution was powered by the invention of the loom the second by the steam engine and the third by the assembly line, the fourth however will be powered by the machines that seem to think. We are HERE in the fourth one.

Between each industrial revolution to the next, there is long and bumpy road connecting one era of business and technology to the next, the evolution of each industrial revolution follows the part of an S-curve (as show in figure below)

  1. IDEA BURST : Breakthrough, high concentration in wealth, new industries created, new tech create press clipping but no impact on existing industries
  2. BUMPY ROAD :Revolution stalls, skepticism on value creation in phase I, economic models and value chains created, change in existing industries
  3. MASSIVE LIFT UP : Everybody richly rewarded, National GDP gets vertical lift off, Large wealth distribution

Just to see the impact of such AI driven world that is in front of us, few commonsensical usage of AI in the future world are below.

  • 1/3rd of all food produced go to waste, could be moved to Third world countries by usage of AI to address the hunger prevalent there
  • 12 million Medical misdiagnoses in US only contribute to 4,00,000 deaths. By the right usage of AI, most of these deaths can be avoided
  • Driverless cars are reducing the Annual # of accidents from 4.2 to 3.2 per million miles driven. This will improve as days go by

Now that the machines are in, we need to see what is that we are supposed to expect

  • Technology will be embedded into everything (IoT – Internet of Things)
  • As machines become better, it is but obvious that by year 2030 standards, the current frame work of machines will stink. Advent of improvements on these machines
  • Becoming Digital – mastering the three Ms (raw Materials, new Machines, and business models)

While the above statistics on Job displacement is detrimental to many of human futures, however the pace of elimination will be slow. Consider the following

  • Most likely scenario : 12% elimination in next 10 to 15 years
    • 3 scenarios
      • Job Automation: 12% are at risk
      • Job Enhancement: 75% of existing jobs will be altered
      • Job Creation: 13% net new jobs will get created due to new machine requirements or new job categories

The advent of 13% of new job and the ones that cant automated and enhanced still would need human intervention and keep the true need of humans in place vis-a-vis machines replacing each one of us – Scary isnt it?

Source: internet

So Let me introduce you to some key definitions to keep us on track of this arduous journey

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence – Coined in 1956 by Dartmouth Assistant Professor John McCarthy, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) is a general term that refers to hardware or software that exhibits behavour which appears intelligent. In the words of Professor McCarthy, it is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.”

Other sources terms AI(Artificial Intelligence) as an area of computer science that focuses on machines that learn. There are 3 types of AI prevalent

  • Narrow AI (ANI)/Applied AI: Purpose built and business focus on a specific task. E.g. Driving a car, Reviewing an X-ray, Tracking financial trades
  • General AI (AGI)/Strong AI: pursuit of a machine that has same general human intelligence as a human. E.g. figuring out how to make coffee in an average American home
  • Super AI: 10(or 1000) steps ahead of us. Technical genie – havoc around us

By the way, AI has existed for decades, via rules-based programs that deliver rudimentary displays of ‘intelligence’ in specific contexts. Progress, however, has been limited — because algorithms to tackle many real-world problems are too complex for people to program by hand. To resolve the area of complex problems is the world of ML (Machine Learning)

Machine learning (ML) is a sub-set of AI. All machine learning is AI, but not all AI is machine learning . Machine learning lets us tackle problems that are too complex for humans to solve by shifting some of the burden to the algorithm. As AI pioneer Arthur Samuel wrote in 1959, machine learning is the ‘field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.’

The goal of most machine learning is to develop a prediction engine for a particular use case. An algorithm will receive information about a domain (say, the films a person has watched in the past) and weigh the inputs to make a useful prediction (the probability of the person enjoying a different film in the future).  Machine learning algorithms learn through training. An algorithm initially receives examples whose outputs are known, notes the difference between its predictions and the correct outputs, and tunes the weightings of the inputs to improve the accuracy of its predictions until they are optimized.

Why is AI important?

AI is important because it tackles difficult problems in a way our human brain would have done but much faster and less erroneous- obviously resulting in human well-being. Snce the 1950s, AI research has focused on five fields of enquiry:

  1. Reasoning: the ability to solve problems through logical deduction
  2. Knowledge: the ability to represent knowledge about the world (the understanding that there are certain entities, events and situations in the world; those elements have properties; and those elements can be categorised.)
  3. Planning: the ability to set and achieve goals (there is a specific future state of the world that is desirable, and sequences of actions can be undertaken that will effect progress towards it)
  4. Communication: the ability to understand written and spoken language.
  5. Perception: the ability to deduce things about the world from visual images, sounds and other sensory inputs.

AI has thus already gone past imaginations and already is part of our home, workplace, community and what not. To say it simply, it’s infiltrating all the frameworks that are driving the global economy. From Siri, Alexa, Google Home, to Nest to Uber the world is covered with smart machines which are operating on extremely strong software platforms which in turn are in self learning mode. And I am not sure if it’s the best part or the scary part – This is the just the BEGINNING!!!. I call it scary because these new inventions are always “ready to learn” and constantly “adding intelligence” which will very soon challenge and enhance the intellect and experience of the savviest professionals in every sector.

Stay tuned…. Part II of this foray, we will dwell upon the Raw Materials and New Machines that outline the core of the AI platform.