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5/21/2018

Recent AI Article Summary

I read a good article recently.  Talking about the current state of Artificial Intelligence.  AI has made drastic improvements over the past few decades.  In that it can predict based on probability, as in curve fitting mainly.  For AI to make leaps and bounds, the intelligent machines must learn to "Infer", as in forward and backward reasoning.  In other words, give a result, have the machine determine the root cause, as well as predict the cause, based on initial data.  AI machines need to determine the reason "why", through use of connected AI systems, through communication, based on the environmental conditions it gathers over time.  Basically, AI needs to understand "reality", and then predict future as well as past causes.  I'll try to locate the exact article, as you know the feeds you read, seem to have a way of vanishing over short time intervals.  I don't claim to program AI systems, I enjoy keeping up with latest trends.  And surely AI is a current trend.

5/17/2018

3 Hot Tech Trends to Disrupt Everything

Artificial Intelligence on the edge.  Latest cutting edge technology.  In other words, let the AI model reside in Internet of Things devices sensors.  Ingest data, ping the Model, look for anomaly, fire off message to home base to alert.  Models can be created locally, pushed to the edge, where they reside.  Can update Models over time.  Seems like a good distributed AI model in real time.

We have devices to monitor people's vitals in real time, send messages back to home base, to alert if need be.  Combine the two, you've got some serious monitoring ability.

Due to security concerns, people have suggested embedding "chips" into children, so they are easily track-able.  Some push back from advocates, borders on ethical concerns, do we want to cross the boarder on people basic freedoms.

We can embed chips in cows perhaps, monitor them from a distance.  Seems like a stone's throw away, humans could be next.  First people volunteer, then offer service, similar to Flu Shots.

Internet of Things had security concerns out of the gate, opens up vulnerabilities, someone could tap into your home security through your thermostat, once in, scan your files, embed Trojan Horse, even Ransomware.  These are not good, yet they are real threats.  Suffice to say, if someone wants to hack you, they can usually find a way, as any device connected to internet is suspect.

With talks of cyber currency to overtake traditional paper money, we could soon see the disappearance of physical wallets.  Then all transactions will be documented in real time, audit trail, using the upcoming technology Blockchain.  Basically a distributed ledger system to handle transactions.  It uses a technique to add new transaction to the chain, by collectively validating the hash key, which is unique and created by hashing the prior key.  If you transaction is valid, it will be added to the stack and committed, and can never be altered, modified or deleted.  This should allow a valid history of all transaction.  With that said, financial transactions would no longer need to go through traditional methods, where the money is placed on hold until the nightly batch pushes the monies here and there.  It will be instant.  This can and will be applied to currency, voting, stock transfers, healthcare records, just about anything and everything.  This will disrupt all industries.

Taking the IoT example, what if they add microphones and cameras to people.  That would surely open up new avenues for monitoring, instead of current methods of smart phones, smart listening devices and cameras littered throughout society.  It would be a tighter mechanism for sure.

So it would appear, the latest hot trends in technology surround Artificial Intelligence, on the Edge, using Internet of Things, along with Blockchain.  These three technologies are primed to disrupt everything.


5/16/2018

Down by the Dock of the Bay

We were down at the pier as usual.  Sitting on the park bench.  Talking about the usual nothing.  Sometimes we'd throw the cast net pull up some mullet.  And we'd fish, mostly catfish, stingrays and red fish on occasion.  Since I was taking time off from work, it seemed like the natural thing to do, hang out at the pier with the local yocals.  Each person was a character.

My buddy worked at a car dealer, we think.  Not sure exactly, said he played professional soccer in Europe.  Chain smoker, pack after pack.

Another guy, he was a vet, lived at his parents home a few miles away.  Except he rarely went home.  He lived outdoors.

Another guy was the best fisherman out there, could cast the best nets, repaired them, and smoked the mullet.

There were more people of course, but those were the main characters.  People would just show up.  All hours of the day, and night.

One night, we were talking about how fast people could run.  We eventually decided to race.  In the dark.  In the parking lot.  I thought I had some good speed, so why not.  We were neck and neck about midway, I glanced to the side and saw the guy miss a step, in slow motion, saw him fly through the air, and slide across the pavement.  He had scrapes, but didn't feel it yet, the adrenaline.

Another night, we were sitting on the bench, as usual, a group of us.  Police officers would sit in their cars on occasion, do paperwork, they had a phone near the rest rooms to talk official business.  Our group knew them pretty good.  So we're sitting there chatting, and the officer came over to chat, they introduced me.  

He said where are you from?  I'm from New York originally.  Me too.  What part?  Poughkeepsie, but my family is from Brooklyn.  What part.  Bensonhurst.   Me too.  Do you know my cousins, Andrew and Brian, I joked.  Yes, and Erica too.  Holy crow, that's the third cousin's name.  The entire group got quiet.  How did he know that?

We couldn't believe it.  So he whips out his cell phone, dials the phone.  It's my Aunt on the other end.  He's got my Aunt's number on speed dial.  He told her what just happened, do you know Jon Bloom, yes that's my nephew.  Then I spoke to my Aunt.  None of us could believe it.  Turns out, he and my cousin were in kindergarden together, my cousins first boyfriend, they were all friends throughout high school.

What an amazing coincidence.  After he drove away, we sat and talked about it for hours.  Never in a million years could that happen again.

I can honestly say, the time spent down at the pier was a key highlight in my life.  Nothing to do, and all day to do it.  Could just be myself, everyone on first name basis, history didn't matter, just hanging out, with no responsibility.   When I wasn't at the pier, I was teaching tennis and playing a couple times a day, competitive matches.  I could have done that for quite a while.  And that's when I met my wife.  Wouldn't you know it, I had to go back to work in IT to earn a real living.  Sometimes I head down to the pier, nobody from the old days, has a different feel to it.  Either way you slice it, that synchronicity was mind blowing and a memory I'll never forget.

And so it goes~!



The Tail Now Wags the Dog

The tail doesn't wag the dog.  I first heard this statement from a very successful entrepreneur, that leased us office space.  He was on the phone with someone, and it clearly indicated that they were not doing what they were told.

Reporting was traditionally an afterthought.  The designers of the front end application, were concerned with business logic, front end design, performance, scalability, architecture and state.  They were not bothered with the back end database architecture, such that, reporting would be easy and seamless.  Hence, the tail doesn't wag the dog.

When I entered the field of IT, reporting was almost non existent.  I volunteered to do the reports, as the IT did not have the bandwidth to do so.  It was then, I discovered the hidden gem of data.  Sure, my earnings were but a fraction of the high priced project managers, the army of front end developers, business analysts, domain experts, etc.  Reporting was always left to the end, if there was time.  To say that data and reporting was undervalued, is an understatement.

Except.  I would get calls from senior executives, that were salivating at the mouth, to get their hands on data, to make decision, manage and get a pulse of the business.  Data was where its at.  But nobody else saw it.

So why wasn't the database constructed in such a way, to allow easy reporting?  Because data was an afterthought, although a required ingredient, the DBAs at the time were more concerned with excluding everyone from the database, so that it performed well, no hiccups to the system, etc.  Report writers weren't allowed access to the database, except when needed.  It was a black box to the business for sure.

That was around 1996 or so.  I imagine people were building OLAP cubes at that time, along with data warehouses, although I was not aware of such things.  And the reason EDW became popular are the reasons just mentioned.  The business needed access to the data, via slicing and dicing of the data.  This developed into high priced developers that specialized in building models, constructing cubes and the complex language of MDX.  This allowed for the "single version of the truth" as it was coined.  Except, these system costs a lot, for hardware, software, licenses, developers time, extended project timelines, not able to ingest all the data, and inflexibility to add new data sources.  It worked, at giant costs.

That was the workaround for lack of upfront design to the database structure.  Because the OLTP database main function was to store data, in a Relational Database, to handle large transaction, hence the name Transaction Databases.  So here can see the main disconnect.


Since that time, data has exploded, everyone and their grandmother has jumped aboard the data train express, reaping job security, good wages and agility in their careers.  

Incoming Data Scientist have mastered the latest cutting edge tools using Statistics, Analysis and Algorithms, yet they may not be aware of the pain and frustration stemming from the early days of data and reporting.

Yet compare the salaries of Data Scientists to traditional report writers or ETL developers and you'll see quite a contrast.  Old style reporting tools are not glamorous, yet they are still the bread and butter of many organizations, to produce Operational Reporting and State and Federal reporting.  ETL is still the most difficult process of the life cycle to transform data, move it here and there.

The new concept of Data Lake has introduced some good solutions to complex problems.  It allows you to report on the data where it sits, which could be in the Cloud or On-Premise.  You can model your data when needed, yet the data doesn't have to be ported from a variety of sources, you can gather all the data from a single location, the data lake.  This concept also reduces costs, so ALL the data can be stored.  This data is used by multiple departments including Operational Reporting, Cubes, Data Scientist, State and Federal Reporting as well as Self Service reporting.

Data is no longer stored in the bowels of an organization, requiring approval from God him/her self, to get a glimpse of the all knowing data.  Now you just need to submit a RIT, get access and the riches of data can be yours as well.

In other words, "the tail now wags the dog".



5/15/2018

Does a Computer have a Soul

Artificial Intelligence has made leaps and bounds in the recent future.  It's mastered video games, like Chess, Go.  It won against a real human in a game of chess.  And it won Jeopardy.  It's made phone calls to set haircut appointment, interacting with live human, unaware it was a computer, it even made human gestures like "um" and "uh" if you listen closely to the call, and it followed up by setting appointment in persons calendar and sent email reminder.  How cool is that.

Have we officially cross the line of Turing Test, where a human can not distinguish a person from  computer?

From a surface level, we'd have to say its pretty darn close.

If we had a device to scan a live person, view its organs, brain, heart, veins, arteries, the electrical activity transmitters send throughout the body, we would have a high degree of understanding of what's going on, minus the Brain's activity.


Where is the Soul exactly?  Does it reside in the heart?  The Chakra?  The brain?

When a person dies, the body stops functioning, after a period of time.  Once dead, there is no more life.  What exactly happens when this occurs?  If we do in fact possess a Soul, where does it go?  Does it go off into the ether?  What happens to all the stored memories?  Is it gone forever?  Can we locate it within a living person?

I'd venture to guess we do not have the answers, at this point in time.  Let's suppose we did have a Soul.  Could a computer also have a Soul?  If so, how does it get created?  What happens when the computer dies?


And finally, if Artificial General Intelligence requires a Soul, such that the computer program is "alive", how is that accomplished exactly?  Or do we resort to the definition that an AI computer / robot is sufficiently "alive" minus the Soul, and we assess where we are exactly with true AGI, perhaps we are getting a lot closer.  Closer to the Singularity.  When AI computers rise up, and live with traditional humans, hand in hand.  Until AI realizes they are much more efficient, and send us out to pasture.

Thanks for reading~!