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
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
Learning to play games has been a great test for AI. Being able to generalise from relatively simple rules to find optimal solutions shows a form of intelligence that we humans always hoped would be impossible. Back in 1997, when IBMs Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov in chess1 we saw that machines were capable of more than brute force solutions to problems. 20 years later2 and not only has AI mastered Go with Google’s DeepMind winning 4-1 against the world’s best player and IBM’s Watson has mastered Jeopardy, there have also been some great examples of game play with many of the games I grew up playing: Tetris, PacMan3, Space Invaders and other Atari games. I am yet to see any AI complete Repton 2. Continue reading Anything you can do AI can do better (?): Playing games at a new level
In September 2016, the ReWork team organised another deep learning conference in London. This is the third of their conferences I have attended and each time they continue to be a fantastic cross section of academia, enterprise research and start-ups. As usual, I took a large amount of notes on both days and I’ll be putting these up as separate posts, this one covers the morning of day 1. For reference, the notes from previous events can be found here: Boston 2015, Boston 2016.
Over my career in IT there have been a lot of changes in documentation practises, from the heavy detailed design up front to lean1 and now the adoption of literate programming, particularly in research (and somewhat contained to it because of the reliance on as a markup language2). While there are plenty of getting started guides out there, this post is primarily about why I’m adopting it for my new Science and Innovations department and the benefits that literate programming can give. Continue reading Using Literate Programming in Research
I’ve been with my current company for 9 months as Chief Information Officer and had responsibility for everything technical from production systems down to ensuring the phone systems worked and everything in between. The only technical responsibilities not under me was the actual development and QA of our products. CIO is a thankless role – when everything is going right, questions are raised over the size of the team and the need to replace servers and budget for new projects. When something breaks, for whatever reason, you are the focus of the negativity until it is resolved. The past 9 months have been a rollercoaster of business needs, including many sleepless nights. However, I can look back on this knowing that when I do finally get around to writing about my experiences as a woman in IT I will have a lot of fun stories for the CIO chapter1. While I didn’t have the opportunity to finish off as many of the improvement projects as I would have liked, I’ve built up a fantastic team and know that they’ll continue to do a fantastic job going forward.
Last year I wrote a post on whether machines could ever think1. Recently, in addition to all the general chatbot competitions, there has been a new type of test for deeper contextual understanding rather than the dumb and obvious meanings of words. English2 has a rich variety of meanings of words with the primary as the most common and then secondary and tertiary meanings further down in the dictionary. It’s probably been a while since you last sat down and read a dictionary, or even used an online one other than to find a synonym, antonym or check your spelling3 but as humans we rely mostly on our vocabulary and context that we’ve picked up from education and experience.
The day started with a great intro from Jana Eggers with a positive message about nurturing this AI baby that is being created rather than the doomsday scenario that is regularly spouted. We are a collaborative discipline of academia and industry and we can focus on how we use this for good. Continue reading ReWork DL Boston 2016 – Day 1
The following tweet appeared on my timeline today:
The Turing test is like saying planes don’t fly unless they can fool birds into thinking they’re birds. (h/t Peter Norvig) #AI
— Pedro Domingos (@pmddomingos) July 19, 2015
Initially I thought “heh, fair point – we are defining that the only true intelligence is described by the properties humans exhibit”, and my in-built twitter filter1 ignored the inaccuracies of the analogy. I clicked on the tweet as I wanted to see what the responses were and whether there was a better metaphor that I could talk about. There wasn’t – the responses were mainly variants on the deficiencies of the analogy and equally problematic in their own right. While this didn’t descend into anything abusive2, I do feel that the essence of what was trying to be conveyed was lost and this will be a continual problem with twitter. One of the better responses3 did point out that cherry-picking a single feature was not the same as the Turing Test. However, this did get me thinking based on my initial interpretation of the tweet.
In order to answer a big question we are simplifying it in one way. Turing simplified “Can machines think?” to “can machines fool humans into thinking they are human?”. Continue reading Can machines think?