I’m proud to call myself Dr Bastiman. It’s on my email signature (personal and professional), it’s in my twitter name, it’s the title I use when dealing with I have to give my details for just about anything. I’m proud of it and have never consider this to be immodest. My title shows to the world that I’ve achieved something considerable. I was both surprised and then immediately not surprised when a storm started on Twitter…
My title is Dr Fern Riddell, not Ms or Miss Riddell. I have it because I am an expert, and my life and career consist of being that expert in as many different ways as possible. I worked hard to earned my authority, and I will not give it up to anyone.
I’ve had similar rants myself over the years. Particularly at one company where using my title in my email signature didn’t fit their cultural “tone of voice” yet at the same time senior males with PhDs were allowed to use their titles… I now use mine everywhere. However, the reason that the tweet came to my attention was one of the bizarre responses… Continue reading Dammit I’m a Dr not a Stereotype
I read an interesting thread this morning that really resonated with me. I am continually ensuring that my team have a great work-life balance, encouraging them not to work too hard and ensuring that they have time with their families. There are occasions when things go wrong and everyone needs to pull together but this should always be the exception. I’ve written before about the expectations of some tech companies in excessive hours as the only way. However, I have got to where I am by working as hard as I could, being determined in what I wanted to achieve, using my evening to improve and learn new things so I have the knowledge and experience for each new step. I pushed myself really hard, because I knew I could always do more, do better. I still do. Continue reading Constant learning, commitment and determination
At the ReWork Retail and AI Assistants summit in London I was lucky enough to interview Kriti Sharma, VP of AI and Robotics at Sage, in a fireside chat on AI for Good. Kriti spoke a lot about her experiences and projects not only in getting more diverse voices heard within AI but also in using the power of AI as a force for good.
We discussed the current state of AI and whether we needed legislation. It is clear that legislation will come if we do not self-police how we are using these new tools. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica story breaking, I expect that there will be more of a focus on data privacy laws accelerated, but this may bleed into artificial intelligent applications using such data. Continue reading Democratising AI: Who defines AI for good?
By now, the majority of people who keep up with the news will have heard of Cambridge Analytica, the whistle blower Christopher Wylie, and the news surrounding the harvesting of Facebook data and micro targeting, along with accusations of potentially illegal activity. In amongst all of this news I’ve also seen articles that this is the “awakening ” moment for ethics and morals AI and data science in general. The point where practitioners realise the impact of their work.
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, Oppenheimer
It’s been a crazy month. From the lead up to the product launch at work to know it seems like I’ve been doing nothing but back to back assignments for my Open University maths degree. So much so in fact that I’ve not had time to study, but only focus on the assignments themselves. It all started back with the second TMA for M337 (Complex analysis), which was a rush job and I got a much lower score on that than I would have liked.
I then had two weeks until a computer marked assignment for MS327 and was going into this without having looked at any of the material in the book. As usual, I spent my commute trying to get through it, but barely made it a quarter of the way through before I realised I’d have to start working through the questions for the assignment. Computer marked assignments are very different from the tutor marked ones. You either select an answer from a choice of 4-6 potential results1 or by typing a numerical result. Therefore your answers are either correct or incorrect. There are no marks for method.
If you find yourself in this position, my best advice is always to do the unit quizzes. These are usually in a similar format and will get your brain in the right place for the assignment itself. In combination with the handbook and text books you should be able to follow how to get the answers from the questions, although please make time to go back and fill in the gaps as soon as you can.
With the iCMA out of the way, I then had a week for the third TMA of MS327. Fortunately on the same topics as the iCMA, but much more involved questions. This was a lot trickier to pick up. With the usual standing room only on the commute, I’ve had to spend a lot of evenings trying to do this around family time and study in the excessive noise of soft-play centres… not a great environment for thought!
So I’ve just submitted the MS327 TMA online and I’m pretty happy with it. Now I have two weeks to get the M337 TMA3 done and I’m a little more nervous about that. There isn’t time to go through the study materials and answer the questions, so I’ve given myself a week to get as far as I can and then I’ll dive into the TMA and see how far I can get…
On the plus side, the OU offers substitution on your assignments, so it’s okay to have a bad one and you’ll be allocated a score that’s the average of the other three. So I can still pull up my average for M337, as long as I do well on this TMA.
I’m really hoping that I can get time to get these to 100% before the exams in June!
Breaking discipline with my Open University studies is never a good thing. Once you’re behind, it’s so difficult to catch up, especially with a full time job and a young child. It’s been a crazy few weeks at work too, we’ve had a major launch event and lots of projects with looming deadlines.
It was in the days leading up to this launch that I had a TMA due for one of my level 3 OU modules, M337 Complex Analysis.
What a day! OU TMA on complex maths first thing, full work day with a break to #Giveblood then @StoryStreamAI ‘s fantastic #aihype demystify event. Fantastic speaking to everyone, but happy to be heading home.
With all the other deadlines I’d only done half of the study necessary for the TMA. This is never a comfortable position. I got away with it at level 1 and mostly got away with it at level 2 but you really can’t do this at level 3. Especially when the focus is calculus of complex functions. I made a start in good time, but without the time to really get my head into the topics, it was always going to be an uphill struggle to make the intuitive leaps necessary at this level to determine the correct method.
In the days leading up to that TMA my sleep profile was pretty awful. I can’t remember what caused it, but I had so many nights in a row where I got very little quality rest. This isn’t great. It impairs judgement at the best of times. I could have asked for an extension in good time, but that would just compound the problem with the MS327 assignments in a few weeks1.
When you’re sleepy, it’s easy for “i” to look like “1” and “z” to look like “2” particularly in equations where there are other terms with these numbers. One of those days I found myself working on problems from the wrong module (MS327) and just looking at my notes it’s pretty obvious that I nodded off in the middle of writing these2. Maybe it isn’t that obvious, but trust me that this level of spider scrawl is not representative of the handwritten work I normally submit!
The results of my assignment are back and it turns out I can’t do calculus in my sleep, let alone path integrals of complex functions. I really do need to up my game and attribute more time to this degree3.
On a side note, I’m really pleased that my presentation at the launch event was recorded – I was a little light-headed after giving blood on top of poor sleep. I presented for 5 minutes and couldn’t remember a thing I said immediately afterwards. I got some great feedback, so there’s definitely a learning there for being relaxed, not overthinking what you’re saying and also speaking about what you know! I’ve only heard the audio so far, but will post the video when I have it.
If you’ve not read the day 1 summary then you can find that here.
Day 2 had a new host for track A in the form of David D’Souza from CIPD. His opening remarks quoted Asimov and Crichton and encouraging us not be magicians and to step back and think about what we should do rather than just what we could. Continue reading AI Congress London 2018 Day 2
London is a hive of AI activity. The UK is positioning itself as a leader in AI technology and you can barely walk around London without passing an AI company or meetup or training course1. If I didn’t actually have a day job, I could fill my time with AI conferences without actually doing much more than my daily commute. That said I am quite picky about the ones I go to. I’d never been to the AI Congress before and liked the diverse set of speakers and topics. I was lucky that the team at Logikk had invited me as their guest for the two days. So how did it stack up? Well, day 1 was at a much higher level than some of the other conferences I’ve been to, with a lot of implementation and enterprise discussions and far fewer talks on the technical implementations. If you’re senior then these conferences are for you. If you want someone to talk about their latest paper on arxiv then there are far more technical events that will suit you better.
One of the biggest problems I had was that there were three separate tracks and only one of me, so if I didn’t make notes on a particular talk then hopefully the slides will be available after the event at some point. I missed some of the high profile talks, in preference of other speakers, on purpose as I’d already heard those speakers at other events. Continue reading AI Congress London 2018 Day 1
I’ve taken longer than I normally would to respond to some recent news stories about AI “outperforming humans” in reading comprehension “for the first time”. Partly because I can’t help the wave of annoyance that fills me when I see articles so obviously designed to instil panic and/or awe in the reader without any detail, but also because I feel it’s important to do some primary research before refuting anything1. The initial story broke that an AI created by Alibaba had met2 the human threshold in the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD) followed closely by Microsoft outperforming Alibaba and exceeding the human score (slightly). Always a safe bet for sensationalism, mainstream media pounced on the results to announce millions of jobs are at risk…. So what’s really going on? Continue reading AI better than humans at reading?