Reflections on “Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel” [Levy]

Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel — from wired.com by Steven Levy
How deep learning came to power Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and nearly every other division of the company.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

It took a lot of six-pagers to transform Amazon from a deep-learning wannabe into a formidable power. The results of this transformation can be seen throughout the company—including in a recommendations system that now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure. Amazon is smarter in suggesting what you should read next, what items you should add to your shopping list, and what movie you might want to watch tonight. And this year Thirumalai started a new job, heading Amazon search, where he intends to use deep learning in every aspect of the service.

“If you asked me seven or eight years ago how big a force Amazon was in AI, I would have said, ‘They aren’t,’” says Pedro Domingos, a top computer science professor at the University of Washington. “But they have really come on aggressively. Now they are becoming a force.”

Maybe the force.

 

 

From DSC:
When will we begin to see more mainstream recommendation engines for learning-based materials? With the demand for people to reinvent themselves, such a next generation learning platform can’t come soon enough!

  • Turning over control to learners to create/enhance their own web-based learner profiles; and allowing people to say who can access their learning profiles.
  • AI-based recommendation engines to help people identify curated, effective digital playlists for what they want to learn about.
  • Voice-driven interfaces.
  • Matching employees to employers.
  • Matching one’s learning preferences (not styles) with the content being presented as one piece of a personalized learning experience.
  • From cradle to grave. Lifelong learning.
  • Multimedia-based, interactive content.
  • Asynchronously and synchronously connecting with others learning about the same content.
  • Online-based tutoring/assistance; remote assistance.
  • Reinvent. Staying relevant. Surviving.
  • Competency-based learning.

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re about to embark on a period in American history where career reinvention will be critical, perhaps more so than it’s ever been before. In the next decade, as many as 50 million American workers—a third of the total—will need to change careers, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Automation, in the form of AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation), is the primary driver. McKinsey observes: “There are few precedents in which societies have successfully retrained such large numbers of people.”

Bill Triant and Ryan Craig

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

Online education’s expansion continues in higher ed with a focus on tech skills — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief:

  • Online learning continues to expand in higher ed with the addition of several online master’s degrees and a new for-profit college that offers a hybrid of vocational training and liberal arts curriculum online.
  • Inside Higher Ed reported the nonprofit learning provider edX is offering nine master’s degrees through five U.S. universities — the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. The programs include cybersecurity, data science, analytics, computer science and marketing, and they cost from around $10,000 to $22,000. Most offer stackable certificates, helping students who change their educational trajectory.
  • Former Harvard University Dean of Social Science Stephen Kosslyn, meanwhile, will open Foundry College in January. The for-profit, two-year program targets adult learners who want to upskill, and it includes training in soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Students will pay about $1,000 per course, though the college is waiving tuition for its first cohort.

 

 

 

This is how the Future Today Institute researches, models & maps the future & develops strategies

 

This is how the Future Today Institute researches, models & maps the future & develops strategies

 

Also see what the Institute for the Future does in this regard

Foresight Tools
IFTF has pioneered tools and methods for building foresight ever since its founding days. Co-founder Olaf Helmer was the inventor of the Delphi Method, and early projects developed cross-impact analysis and scenario tools. Today, IFTF is methodologically agnostic, with a brimming toolkit that includes the following favorites…

 

 

From DSC:
How might higher education use this foresight workflow? How might we better develop a future-oriented mindset?

From my perspective, I think that we need to be pulse-checking a variety of landscapes, looking for those early signals. We need to be thinking about what should be on our radars. Then we need to develop some potential scenarios and strategies to deal with those potential scenarios if they occur. Graphically speaking, here’s an excerpted slide from my introductory piece for a NGLS 2017 panel that we did.

 

 

 

This resource regarding their foresight workflow was mentioned in  a recent e-newsletter from the FTI where they mentioned this important item as well:

  • Climate change: a megatrend that impacts us all
    Excerpt:
    Earlier this week, the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change issued a dire report [PDF]. To say the report is concerning would be a dramatic understatement. Models built by the scientists show that at our current rate, the atmosphere will warm as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius, leading to a dystopian future of food shortages, wildfires, extreme winters, a mass die-off of coral reefs and more –– as soon as 2040. That’s just 20 years away from now.

 

But China also decided to ban the import of foreign plastic waste –– which includes trash from around the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. alone could wind up with an extra 37 million metric tons of plastic waste, and we don’t have a plan for what to do with it all.

 

Immediate Futures Scenarios: Year 2019

  • Optimistic: Climate change is depoliticized. Leaders in the U.S., Brazil and elsewhere decide to be the heroes, and invest resources into developing solutions to our climate problem. We understand that fixing our futures isn’t only about foregoing plastic straws, but about systemic change. Not all solutions require regulation. Businesses and everyday people are incentivized to shift behavior. Smart people spend the next two decades collaborating on plausible solutions.
  • Pragmatic: Climate change continues to be debated, while extreme weather events cause damage to our power grid, wreak havoc on travel, cause school cancellations, and devastate our farms. The U.S. fails to work on realistic scenarios and strategies to combat the growing problem of climate change. More countries elect far-right leaders, who shun global environmental accords and agreements. By 2029, it’s clear that we’ve waited too long, and that we’re running out of time to adapt.
  • Catastrophic: A chorus of voices calling climate change a hoax grows ever louder in some of the world’s largest economies, whose leaders choose immediate political gain over longer-term consequences. China builds an environmental coalition of 100 countries within the decade, developing both green infrastructure while accumulating debt service. Beijing sets global standards emissions––and it locks the U.S out of trading with coalition members. Trash piles up in the U.S., which didn’t plan ahead for waste management. By 2040, our population centers have moved inland and further north, our farms are decimated, our lives are miserable.

Watchlist: United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; European Geosciences Union; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); NASA; Department of Energy; Department of Homeland Security; House Armed Services Sub-committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; Environmental Justice Foundation; Columbia University’s Earth Institute; University of North Carolina at Wilmington; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; National Center for Atmospheric Research.

 

10 jobs that are safe in an AI world — from linkedin.com by Kai-Fu Lee

Excerpts:

Teaching
AI will be a great tool for teachers and educational institutions, as it will help educators figure out how to personalize curriculum based on each student’s competence, progress, aptitude, and temperament. However, teaching will still need to be oriented around helping students figure out their interests, teaching students to learn independently, and providing one-on-one mentorship. These are tasks that can only be done by a human teacher. As such, there will still be a great need for human educators in the future.

Criminal defense law
Top lawyers will have nothing to worry about when it comes to job displacement. reasoning across domains, winning the trust of clients, applying years of experience in the courtroom, and having the ability to persuade a jury are all examples of the cognitive complexities, strategies, and modes of human interaction that are beyond the capabilities of AI. However, a lot of paralegal and preparatory work like document review, analysis, creating contracts, handling small cases, packing cases, and coming up with recommendations can be done much better and more efficiently with AI. The costs of law make it worthwhile for AI companies to go after AI paralegals and AI junior lawyers, but not top lawyers.

 

From DSC:
In terms of teaching, I agree that while #AI will help personalize learning, there will still be a great need for human teachers, professors, and trainers. I also agree w/ my boss (and with some of the author’s viewpoints here, but not all) that many kinds of legal work will still need the human touch & thought processes. I diverge from his thinking in terms of scope — the need for human lawyers will go far beyond just lawyers involved in crim law.

 

Also see:

15 business applications for artificial intelligence and machine learning — from forbes.com

Excerpt:

Fifteen members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some of the latest applications they’ve found for AI/ML at their companies. Here’s what they had to say…

 

 

 

U.S. students spend more time working paid jobs than going to class — from bloomberg.com by Riley Griffin
Facing mounting debt, U.S. college students spend double the time working paid jobs than in the library.

Excerpts:

Haunted by costly degrees and insurmountable student debt, American college students now spend more time working paid jobs than in lectures, the library or studying at home.

The vast majority of current students—85 percent—work while enrolled, according to an HSBC survey published Thursday. Students spend an average of 4.2 hours a day working paid jobs, which is more than double the time they spend in the library, nearly two hours more than they spend in class and 1.4 hours more time than they spend studying at home.

Haunted by costly degrees and insurmountable student debt, American college students now spend more time working paid jobs than in lectures, the library or studying at home.

The vast majority of current students—85 percent—work while enrolled, according to an HSBC survey published Thursday. Students spend an average of 4.2 hours a day working paid jobs, which is more than double the time they spend in the library, nearly two hours more than they spend in class and 1.4 hours more time than they spend studying at home.

 

“The economics of the debt crisis have become a major distraction to students’ education,” said John Hupalo, founder and chief executive officer of Invite Education, an education financial planner. “Students’ first priority should be to get value out of their education, not squeezing out hours at a job in order to make money to sustain that education.”

 

 


From DSC:
Obviously, this could be a major problem for many students — depending upon whether their work experiences are paying off in terms of other kinds of learning/experiences/skills development/obtaining jobs later on. But this need to work to get through school is also why I think online education needs to be more prevalent in higher ed. If students need to work to obtain a degree, then they need the flexibility to make their class schedules jibe with their work schedules. As with healthcare, I’d also like to see us find ways to bring the costs down.

 

Also see:

One HBCU Hopes Its ‘$10,000 Degree Pathway’ Will Win Over Students Considering For-Profit Alternatives — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

A public university in North Carolina has teamed up with six community colleges to offer a program that promises students they will pay no more than $10,000 out of pocket for their four-year degree.

Participating students will attend a two-year college in the state to get their Associate’s degree, then transfer to an online program at Fayetteville State University to finish their bachelor’s. The students will continue to have access to mentors and resources at the local community college to help them stay on track.

 

Making College Affordable Remains a High Priority in Washington — from campustechnology.com by Sara Friedman
More states are providing free college tuition, but equity concerns remain when it comes to the costs of textbooks, transportation and housing.

 

 

 

ABA doubles online learning hours — page 6 of 40 from the National Jurist

Excerpt:

Law schools will have the option of offering up to 30 hours of online learning in their J.D. programs, doubling the previous limit of 15, under a new measure approved by the ABA in August. Also, for the first time, first year students will be permitted to take online classes — as many as 10 hours. The ABA has allowed a small number of variances in the past for schools to offer more robust online offerings. Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., launched the nation’s first hybrid J.D. program in 2015. Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and Syracuse University College of Law in upstate New York have received ABA approval for similar programs.

Such programs have been applauded because they allow for more non-traditional students to get law school educations. Students are only required to be on campus for short periods of time. That means they don’t have to live near the law school.

 

From DSC:
In 1998 Davenport University Online began offering 100% online-based courses. I joined them 3 years later, and I was part of a group of people who took DUO to the place where — when I left DUO in March 2007, we were offering ~50% of the total credit hours of the university in a 100% online-based format. Again, that was 15-20 years ago. DUO was joined by many other online-based programs from other community colleges and universities.

So what gives w/ the legal education area? 

Well…the American Bar Association (ABA) comes to mind.

The ABA has been very restrictive on the use of online learning. Mounting pressure surely must be on the ABA to allow all kinds of variances in this area. Given the need for legal education to better deal with the exponential pace of technological innovation, the ABA has a responsibility to society to up their game and become far more responsive to the needs of law students. 

 

 

From DSC:
Can we please see a Saturday Night Live skit on this? It would be really interesting to see what happens to the AI based on certain facial expressions!  🙂


 

 

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Graduates are spending thousands of pounds on training to beat tough emotion-scanning robot interviewers for top City jobs.

Firms such as Goldman Sachs and Unilever are using artificial intelligence (AI) software to weed out candidates, as single advertised positions attract thousands of graduates.

Via a webcam, the software remotely asks preliminary-round candidates 20 minutes of questions and brain-teasers, and records eye movements, breathing patterns and any nervous tics.

 


From DSC:
But on a more serious note, getting by the Applicant Tracking Systems and AI’s of the world — in order to actually talk to a human being — is getting harder and harder to do.  


 

 

 

Microsoft's conference room of the future

 

From DSC:
Microsoft’s conference room of the future “listens” to the conversations of the team and provides a transcript of the meeting. It also is using “artificial intelligence tools to then act on what meeting participants say. If someone says ‘I’ll follow up with you next week,’ then they’ll get a notification in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s Slack competitor, to actually act on that promise.”

This made me wonder about our learning spaces in the future. Will an #AI-based device/cloud-based software app — in real-time — be able to “listen” to the discussion in a classroom and present helpful resources in the smart classroom of the future (i.e., websites, online-based databases, journal articles, and more)?

Will this be a feature of a next generation learning platform as well (i.e., addressing the online-based learning realm)? Will this be a piece of an intelligent tutor or an intelligent system?

Hmmm…time will tell.

 

 


 

Also see this article out at Forbes.com entitled, “There’s Nothing Artificial About How AI Is Changing The Workplace.” 

Here is an excerpt:

The New Meeting Scribe: Artificial Intelligence

As I write this, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. You no longer have to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Instead, with voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join or end a meeting by simply speaking a command (think about how you interact with Alexa).

Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes (from AISense, a Zoom partner), Voicefox and others, can take notes during video meetings, leaving you and your team free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown. AI-based voice-to-text transcription can identify each speaker in the meeting and save you time by letting you skim the transcript, search and analyze it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Over 65% of respondents from the Zoom survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many claiming it will save them one to five hours a week.

 

 

To higher ed: When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track. [Christian]

From DSC:
When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track.  What do I mean by that? 

Consider this quote from an article that Jeanne Meister wrote out at Forbes entitled, “The Future of Work: Three New HR Roles in the Age of Artificial Intelligence:”*

This emphasis on learning new skills in the age of AI is reinforced by the most recent report on the future of work from McKinsey which suggests that as many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills because approximately 60% of jobs will have least one-third of their work activities able to be automated.

Go scan the job openings and you will likely see many that have to do with technology, and increasingly, with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, big data, cloud-based services, robotics, automation, bots, algorithm development, blockchain, and more. 

 

From Robert Half’s 2019 Technology Salary Guide 

 

 

How many of us have those kinds of skills? Did we get that training in the community colleges, colleges, and universities that we went to? Highly unlikely — even if you graduated from one of those institutions only 5-10 years ago. And many of those institutions are often moving at the pace of a nice leisurely walk, with some moving at a jog, even fewer are sprinting. But all of them are now being asked to enter a race track that’s moving at 180mph. Higher ed — and society at large — are not used to moving at this pace. 

This is why I think that higher education and its regional accrediting organizations are going to either need to up their game hugely — and go through a paradigm shift in the required thinking/programming/curricula/level of responsiveness — or watch while alternatives to institutions of traditional higher education increasingly attract their learners away from them.

This is also, why I think we’ll see an online-based, next generation learning platform take place. It will be much more nimble — able to offer up-to-the minute, in-demand skills and competencies. 

 

 

The below graphic is from:
Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

 

 

 


 

* Three New HR Roles To Create Compelling Employee Experiences
These new HR roles include:

  1. IBM: Vice President, Data, AI & Offering Strategy, HR
  2. Kraft Heinz Senior Vice President Global HR, Performance and IT
  3. SunTrust Senior Vice President Employee Wellbeing & Benefits

What do these three roles have in common? All have been created in the last three years and acknowledge the growing importance of a company’s commitment to create a compelling employee experience by using data, research, and predictive analytics to better serve the needs of employees. In each case, the employee assuming the new role also brought a new set of skills and capabilities into HR. And importantly, the new roles created in HR address a common vision: create a compelling employee experience that mirrors a company’s customer experience.

 


 

An excerpt from McKinsey Global Institute | Notes from the Frontier | Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy 

Workers.
A widening gap may also unfold at the level of individual workers. Demand for jobs could shift away from repetitive tasks toward those that are socially and cognitively driven and others that involve activities that are hard to automate and require more digital skills.12 Job profiles characterized by repetitive tasks and activities that require low digital skills may experience the largest decline as a share of total employment, from some 40 percent to near 30 percent by 2030. The largest gain in share may be in nonrepetitive activities and those that require high digital skills, rising from some 40 percent to more than 50 percent. These shifts in employment would have an impact on wages. We simulate that around 13 percent of the total wage bill could shift to categories requiring nonrepetitive and high digital skills, where incomes could rise, while workers in the repetitive and low digital skills categories may potentially experience stagnation or even a cut in their wages. The share of the total wage bill of the latter group could decline from 33 to 20 percent.13 Direct consequences of this widening gap in employment and wages would be an intensifying war for people, particularly those skilled in developing and utilizing AI tools, and structural excess supply for a still relatively high portion of people lacking the digital and cognitive skills necessary to work with machines.

 


 

 

Prudenti: Law schools facing new demands for innovative education — from libn.com by A. Gail Prudenti

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Law schools have always taught the law and the practice thereof, but in the 21st century that is not nearly enough to provide students with the tools to succeed.

Clients, particularly business clients, are not only looking for an “attorney” in the customary sense, but a strategic partner equipped to deal with everything from project management to metrics to process enhancement. Those demands present law schools with both an opportunity for and expectation of innovation in legal education.

At Hofstra Law, we are in the process of establishing a new Center for Applied Legal Technology and Innovation where law students will be taught to use current and emerging technology, and to apply those skills and expertise to provide cutting-edge legal services while taking advantage of interdisciplinary opportunities.

Our goal is to teach law students how to use technology to deliver legal services and to yield graduates who combine exceptional legal acumen with the skill and ability to travel comfortably among myriad disciplines. The lawyers of today—and tomorrow—must be more than just conversant with other professionals. Rather, they need to be able to collaborate with experts in other fields to serve the myriad and intertwined interests of the client.

 

 

Also see:

Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030 — from pwc.com

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and HR challenges – at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption and political and societal upheaval.

The pace of change is accelerating.

 


Graphic by DSC

 

Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today. How can organisations prepare for a future that few of us can define? How will your talent needs change? How can you attract, keep and motivate the people you need? And what does all this mean for HR?

This isn’t a time to sit back and wait for events to unfold. To be prepared for the future you have to understand it. In this report we look in detail at how the workplace might be shaped over the coming decade.

 

 

 

From DSC:

Peruse the titles of the articles in this document (that features articles from the last 1-2 years) with an eye on the topics and technologies addressed therein! 

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, drones, automation, bots, machine learning, NLP/voice recognition and personal assistants, the Internet of Things, facial recognition, data mining, and more. How these technologies roll out — and if some of them should be rolling out at all — needs to be discussed and dealt with sooner. This is due to the fact that the pace of change has changed. If you can look at those articles  — with an eye on the last 500-1000 years or so to compare things to — and say that we aren’t living in times where the trajectory of technological change is exponential, then either you or I don’t know the meaning of that word.

 

 

 

 

The ABA and law schools need to be much more responsive and innovative — or society will end up suffering the consequences.

Daniel Christian

 

 
For museums, augmented reality is the next frontier — from wired.com by Arielle Pardes

Excerpt:

Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space, stood in the center of the room and prepared to become digital. Around her, 106 cameras captured her image in 3-D, which would later render her as a life-sized hologram when viewed through a HoloLens headset.

Jemison was recording what would become the introduction for a new exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, which opens tomorrow as part of the Smithsonian’s annual Museum Day. In the exhibit, visitors will wear HoloLens headsets and watch Jemison materialize before their eyes, taking them on a tour of the Space Shuttle Enterprise—and through space history. They’re invited to explore artifacts both physical (like the Enterprise) and digital (like a galaxy of AR stars) while Jemison introduces women throughout history who have made important contributions to space exploration.

Interactive museum exhibits like this are becoming more common as augmented reality tech becomes cheaper, lighter, and easier to create.

 

 

Oculus will livestream it’s 5th Connect Conference on Oculus venues — from vrscout.com by Kyle Melnick

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Using either an Oculus Go standalone device or a mobile Gear VR headset, users will be able to login to the Oculus Venues app and join other users for an immersive live stream of various developer keynotes and adrenaline-pumping esports competitions.

 

From DSC:
What are the ramifications of this for the future of webinars, teaching and learning, online learning, MOOCs and more…?

 

 

 

10 new AR features in iOS 12 for iPhone & iPad — from mobile-ar.reality.news by Justin Meyers

Excerpt:

Apple’s iOS 12 has finally landed. The big update appeared for everyone on Monday, Sept. 17, and hiding within are some pretty amazing augmented reality upgrades for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. We’ve been playing with them ever since the iOS 12 beta launched in June, and here are the things we learned that you’ll want to know about.

For now, here’s everything AR-related that Apple has included in iOS 12. There are some new features aimed to please AR fanatics as well as hook those new to AR into finally getting with the program. But all of the new AR features rely on ARKit 2.0, the latest version of Apple’s augmented reality framework for iOS.

 

 

Berkeley College Faculty Test VR for Learning— from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

In a pilot program at Berkeley College, members of a Virtual Reality Faculty Interest Group tested the use of virtual reality to immerse students in a variety of learning experiences. During winter 2018, seven different instructors in nearly as many disciplines used inexpensive Google Cardboard headsets along with apps on smartphones to virtually place students in North Korea, a taxicab and other environments as part of their classwork.

Participants used free mobile applications such as Within, the New York Times VR, Discovery VR, Jaunt VR and YouTube VR. Their courses included critical writing, international business, business essentials, medical terminology, international banking, public speaking and crisis management.

 

 

 

 

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