Source Code Control for Data Scientists

XKCD explains git source code control.. ūüôā

I work with many people who are recently out of academia. While they know how to code and are experts in their fields, they are lacking some of rigour of computer science that experienced developers have. In addition to understanding the problems of data in the wider world and testing their solutions properly, they are also unaware of the importance of source code control and deployment. This is another missing aspect from these courses – you cannot exist as a professional developer without it. While there are many source control setups, I’m most familiar with git.

I’ve recently written a how-to guide for my team and was going to make that the focus of this post, although I’ve seen some very good guides out there that are more generic, so I’d like to explain why source code control is important and then give you the tools to learn this yourself. Continue reading Source Code Control for Data Scientists

Learning BASIC – blast from the past

The book that taught me BASIC ūüôā

Back in those heady pre-internet days, if you wanted to learn something that you weren’t taught at school, it pretty much meant a trip to the library.¬† I was pretty lucky, if I wanted a book and there was even a hint of anything educational in it, then it was bought for me.

I was further fortunate in that with a teacher as a parent, I had access to the Acorn Achimedes and BBC computers as they were rolled out to schools for the entirety of the school holidays.¬† There was¬†one¬†rule: if you want to play games, write them yourself.¬† While rose-tinted memory has me at the tender age of 7 fist-pumping and saying “challenge accepted”, ¬†I’m sure there was much more complaint involved, but I’m glad that I was encouraged. Continue reading Learning BASIC – blast from the past

Inspirobot: generating motivational images with AI

Inspirobot generated motivational image. Deep and meaningful or meaningless rubbish?

Motivational posters, whether in their original form or the short images shared on social media, can instil multiple emotions.¬† They can be positive or downright cringe-worthy, inspiring or bad advice… all superimposed on an image that may or may not correspond to the text.

The latest “fun” AI to go around is Inspirobot.¬† This AI has been trained on the form and tone of motivational images, and at the touch of a button will generate one for you.¬† There is a limited stock of images (I have had the same image more than once, but am still also getting new ones, so I’d estimate this is in the hundreds), but the text itself appears to be generated each time1.

Seems legit?
Possibly my favourite…

Continue reading Inspirobot: generating motivational images with AI

Why are data scientists so bad at science?

Do you check your inputs?

It‚Äôs rare that I am intentionally provocative in my post titles, but I‚Äôd really like you to think about this one. I’ve known and worked with a lot of people who work with data over the years, many of who call themselves data scientists and many who do the role of a data scientist but by another name1. One thing that worries me when they talk about their work is an absence of scientific rigour and this is a huge problem, and one I’ve talked about before.

The results that data scientists produce are becoming increasingly important in our lives; from determining what adverts we see to how we are treated by financial institutions or governments. These results can have direct impact on people’s lives and we have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that they are correct. Continue reading Why are data scientists so bad at science?

Professional body for data science? Yes Please

Statistically significant
My new prized badge from the RSS

This week I was delighted to be at the Royal Statistical Society as a business representative for the launch of their Data Science Section. At over 160 years old, the RSS is one of the more established professional bodies and I like that it is questioning and making a difference as the¬†application of their industry changes and when faced with an increasing challenge of abuse of statistical methods. I wish the general public had a greater understanding of statistics so they wouldn’t be so easily swayed by the media with a simple graph “proving” a point. Continue reading Professional body for data science? Yes Please

MST210 – Exam and modelling exercise reflections

Revision day essentials – revising in 1 day is not recommended

This week was the¬†exam¬†for my level 2 OU module MST210¬†on methods, models and modelling.¬† This was a compulsory module, but had it not been I would have never chosen it.¬† The module has been mostly applied maths, which has been really interesting, but what’s been a problem for me has been the mandatory team work modelling exercise, which makes up 16% of the continuous assessment.¬† So much so, that I lost motivation to do the final TMA or revise for the exam as much as I wanted to.¬† I thought it would be worth a short reflection on why I disliked this aspect so much (especially as it led to¬†a repeat of last year¬†when it came to revision…). Continue reading MST210 – Exam and modelling exercise reflections

Smart watch insights – now I can’t do without it

Watch, fitness, weather, smart home control all in one

A couple of weeks ago I got an iWatch.¬† I’d had a Nike fuel band before and am no stranger to wearable tech, but I’ve never really worn a watch.¬†¬†I’ve been¬†surrounded by things that tell us the time since I was a child so I’ve got used to not wearing anything on my wrist1¬† However, when my other half decided not to wear his, I thought I’d give it a go before we sold it. Continue reading Smart watch insights – now I can’t do without it

Evidence in our AI future

Generated handwriting from the team at UCL

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that there have been great advances in the past few years with artificial image generation, to the stage where having a picture of something does not necessarily mean that it is real.¬† Image advances are easy to talk about, as there’s something tangible to show, but there have been similar large leaps forward in other areas, particularly in voice synthesis and handwriting.

Continue reading Evidence in our AI future

Artifical image creation takes another step forward in advertising

Dove's "perfect mum" image generated by AI
Is there the perfect mum? Dove’s Aimee is AI’s created image¬† based on what the media think she should be¬†(c) Dove

Earlier this month, Dove launched their new baby range with another of their fantastic adverts challenging stereotypes and questioning is there a “perfect mum”.¬† As a mum myself I can relate to the many hilarious bloggers1¬†who are refreshingly honest about the unbrushed hair, lack of make-up, generally being covered in whatever substances your new tiny human decides to produce, and all other parenting frustrations.¬† I’m really pleased that there are lots of women2¬†out there challenging the myths presented in the media – we don’t all have a team to make us beautiful, nor someone photo-shopping the results to perfection, and the pressure can be immense.¬† This is where Dove’s campaign is fantastic.¬† Rather than just creating a photoshoot with a model and doctoring the results, the image is actually completely artificial, having been¬†generated by AI. Continue reading Artifical image creation takes another step forward in advertising

Submitting evidence to parliament committees

(c) Parliament committee on Science and Technology

I love the fact that here in the UK everyone can be involved in shaping the future of our country, even if a large number of individuals choose not to and, in my eyes, if you don’t get involved then you don’t have the right to complain.¬† While this is most generally applied to the election of our representatives from local parish councils to our regional MPs (or actually standing yourself)1¬†there are also a lot of other ways to be involved.¬† In addition to raising issues with your local representative, parliament has cross bench committees that seek input from the public and to help create policy or consider draft legislation.

Our elected parliament is not made up of individuals who are experts in all fields.  Even government departments are not necessarily headed by individuals with large amounts of relevant experience.  It is critical that these individuals are informed by those with the experience and expertise in the issues that  are being considered.  Without this critical input, our democracy is weakened. Continue reading Submitting evidence to parliament committees