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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Coursera’s CEO on the Evolving Meaning of ‘MOOC’ — from by Dian Schaffhauser
When you can bring huge numbers of students together with lots of well-branded universities and global enterprises seeking a highly skilled workforce, could those linkages be strong enough to forge a new future for massive open online courses?

Excerpts:

Campus Technology: Coursera used to be a MOOC operator, but now it’s a tech company, an LMS company, a virtual bootcamp and more. So how are you describing Coursera these days?

Maggioncalda: As a learning platform. We like to say to our universities, “Coursera is a platform for your global campus.”

You have [traditional universities] teaching with some of the world’s best professors, with some of the most cutting-edge research, to a population of people who have sat right here in front of you, on a small parcel of land, and who pay a lot of money to do that. It’s been very high quality that’s been available to the very few.

What we’re interested in doing is taking that quality of education and making it available to a vast group of people. When you think about our business model, I like to think about it as an ecosystem of learners, educators and employers. What we do is we link them together. We have 34 million learners from around the world. Our biggest country represented is the United States, followed by India, followed by China, followed by Mexico, followed by Brazil. A lot of the emerging markets and the learners there are coming to Coursera to learn and prosper.

[Editor’s note: Coursera currently hosts 10 online degree programs. And most recently, in July 2018, the University of Pennsylvania announced that it was launching its first fully online master’s degree, delivered through Coursera and priced at about a third of the cost of its on-campus equivalent.]

CT: Let’s talk about the University of Pennsylvania deal. Do you think that’s going to put some competitive pressure on the other Tier 1 schools to jump into the fray?

Maggioncalda: This is a very well-regarded program. The University of Pennsylvania is a very well-regarded university. I think it’s causing a lot of people to re-evaluate what they were imagining their future might look like: Maybe learners really do want to have access that’s more convenient and lower cost and they don’t have to quit their jobs to take. And maybe there is literally a world of learners who can’t come to campus, in India and Europe and Latin America and Russia and Asia Pacific and China.

 

 

As a learning platform. We like to say to our universities, “Coursera is a platform for your global campus.”

Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO

 

 

In two years we’ve had over 1,400 companies hire Coursera to deliver university courses at work to their employees.

Now we’re starting to link the 34 million learners out there to the employers who are looking for people who have certain skills, saying, “Look, if you’re on Coursera learning about this thing, there might be companies who want to hire people that know the thing that you just learned.”

Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO

 

 


 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012

Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A global, powerful, next generation learning platform — meant to help people
reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, conveniently, & consistently

  • A new, global, collaborative learning platform that offers more choice, more control to learners of all ages – 24×7 – and could become the organization that futurist Thomas Frey discusses here with Business Insider:
    • “I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider.
  • A learner-centered platform that is enabled by – and reliant upon – human beings but is backed up by a powerful suite of technologies that work together in order to help people reinvent themselves quickly, conveniently, and extremely cost-effectively
  • A customizable learning environment that will offer up-to-date streams of regularly curated content (i.e., microlearning) as well as engaging learning experiences
  • Along these lines, a lifelong learner can opt to receive an RSS feed on a particular topic until they master that concept; periodic quizzes (i.e., spaced repetition) determine that mastery. Once mastered, the system will ask the learner as to whether they still want to receive that particular stream of content or not.
  • A Netflix-like interface to peruse and select plugins to extend the functionality of the core product
  • An AI-backed system of analyzing employment trends and opportunities will highlight those courses and “streams of content” that will help someone obtain the most in-demand skills
  • A system that tracks learning and, via Blockchain-based technologies, feeds all completed learning modules/courses into learners’ web-based learner profiles
  • A learning platform that provides customized, personalized recommendation lists – based upon the learner’s goals
  • A platform that delivers customized, personalized learning within a self-directed course (meant for those content creators who want to deliver more sophisticated courses/modules while moving people through the relevant Zones of Proximal Development)
  • Notifications and/or inspirational quotes will be available upon request to help provide motivation, encouragement, and accountability – helping learners establish habits of continual, lifelong-based learning
  • (Potentially) An online-based marketplace, matching learners with teachers, professors, and other such Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • (Potentially) Direct access to popular job search sites
  • (Potentially) Direct access to resources that describe what other companies do/provide and descriptions of any particular company’s culture (as described by current and former employees and freelancers)
  • (Potentially) Integration with one-on-one tutoring services

 


 

 

Flexible Classrooms: Research Is Scarce, But Promising — from amp.edutopia.org by Stephen Merrill
An ambitious study of 153 classrooms in the United Kingdom provides the best evidence that flexible spaces can boost academic performance.

Excerpt:

Despite the challenges, an ambitious effort to study the design of lived-in classrooms, including looking at hard-to-define factors like flexibility, was completed in 2015 by the University of Salford, in the United Kingdom. Researchers put in the legwork, visiting 153 classrooms in 27 schools across the country—from small, remote village schools to much larger suburban buildings on the outskirts of metropolitan London. In the end, the effect of classroom design on academic performance was studied across 3,766 British children aged 5 to 11.

“We were trying to take a holistic perspective,” explained Peter Barrett, the lead researcher and now an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford. “In other words, we were trying to look at spaces as experienced by people. So this isn’t just air quality, this isn’t just temperature, or an effort to measure the factors separately. This is the whole lot together.”

THE FINDINGS

The study looked at three dimensions of classroom design: naturalness (factors like light and temperature), stimulation (factors like color and visual complexity), and individualization (factors like flexibility and student ownership).

The big insight? Optimizing all of these physical characteristics of primary classrooms improved academic performance in reading, writing, and mathematics by 16 percent. The personalization of classrooms—including flexibility, which Barrett defined as “student choice within the space”—accounted for a full quarter of that improvement.

 

The takeaway: Flexibility, combined with characteristics like acoustics and air quality, has a real impact on student achievement. If used properly, flexible classrooms produce better academic outcomes among primary school children than more traditional, static classroom designs.

 



Also see the work of:


 

 

What is a learning ecosystem? And how does it support corporate strategy? [Eudy]

What is a learning ecosystem? And how does it support corporate strategy? — from ej4.com by Ryan Eudy

Excerpt:

learning ecosystem is a system of people, content, technology, culture, and strategy, existing both within and outside of an organization, all of which has an impact on both the formal and informal learning that goes on in that organization.

The word “ecosystem” is worth paying attention to here. It’s not just there to make the term sound fancy or scientific. A learning ecosystem is the L&D equivalent of an ecosystem out in the wild. Just as a living ecosystem has many interacting species, environments, and the complex relationships among them, a learning ecosystem has many people and pieces of content, in different roles and learning contexts, and complex relationships.

Just like a living ecosystem, a learning ecosystem can be healthy or sick, nurtured or threatened, self-sustaining or endangered. Achieving your development goals, then, requires an organization to be aware of its own ecosystem, including its parts and the internal and external forces that shape them.

 

From DSC:
Yes, to me, the concept/idea of a learning ecosystem IS important. Very important. So much so, I named this blog after it.

Each of us as individuals have a learning ecosystem, whether we officially recognize it or not. So do the organizations that we work for. And, like an ecosystem out in nature, a learning ecosystem is constantly morphing, constantly changing.

We each have people in our lives that help us learn and grow, and the people that were in our learning ecosystems 10 years ago may or may not still be in our current learning ecosystems. Many of us use technologies and tools to help us learn and grow. Then there are the spaces where we learn — both physical and virtual spaces. Then there are the processes and procedures we follow, formally and/or informally. Any content that helps us learn and grow is a part of that ecosystem. Where we get that content can change, but obtaining up-to-date content is a part of our learning ecosystems. I really appreciate streams of content in this regard — and tapping into blogs/websites, especially via RSS feeds and Feedly (an RSS aggregator that took off when Google Reader left the scene).

The article brings up a good point when it states that a learning ecosystem can be “healthy or sick, nurtured or threatened, self-sustaining or endangered.” That’s why I urge folks to be intentional about maintaining and, better yet, consistently enhancing their learning ecosystems. In this day and age where lifelong learning is now a requirement to remain in the workforce, each of us needs to be intentional in this regard.

 

 

10 steps to achieving active learning on a budget — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser
Active learning often means revamping classrooms to enable more collaborative, hands-on student work — and that can be costly. Here’s how to achieve the pedagogical change without the high expense.

Excerpt:

Active learning is a great way to increase student excitement and participation, facilitate different kinds of learning activities, help people develop skills in small group work, promote discussion, boost attendance and give an outlet for technology usage that stays on track. It also requires remaking classrooms to enable that hands-on, collaborative student work — and that can often mean a six-figure price tag. But at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, a $12,000 experiment proved successful enough that the institution now sports two permanent active learning classrooms as well as a brand-new active learning lab. Here are the 10 steps this school with just under 2,000 students followed on its road to active learning victory.

 

the article being linked here is entitled 10 steps to achieving active learning on a budget

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem — from edu2030.agorize.com
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

Excerpts:

The problem
Technology is rapidly transforming the way we live, learn, and work. Entirely new jobs are emerging as others are lost to automation. People are living longer, yet switching jobs more often. These dramatic shifts call for a reimagining of the way we prepare for work and life—specifically, how we learn new skills and adapt to a changing economic landscape.

The changes ahead are likely to hurt most those who can least afford to manage them: low-income and first generation learners already ill-served by our existing postsecondary education system. Our current system stifles economic mobility and widens income and achievement gaps; we must act now to ensure that we have an educational ecosystem flexible and fair enough to help all people live purposeful and economically stable lives. And if we are to design solutions proportionate to this problem, new technologies must be called on to scale approaches that reach the millions of vulnerable people across the country.

 

The challenge
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

The Challenge—Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem—seeks bold ideas for how our postsecondary education system could be reimagined to foster equity and encourage learner agency and resilience. We seek specific pilots to move us toward a future in which all learners can achieve economic stability and lead purposeful lives. This Challenge invites participants to articulate a vision and then design pilot projects for a future ecosystem that has the following characteristics:

Expands access: The educational system must ensure that all people—including low-income learners who are disproportionately underserved by the current higher education system—can leverage education to live meaningful and economically stable lives.

Draws on a broad postsecondary ecosystem: While college and universities play a vital role in educating students, there is a much larger ecosystem in which students learn. This ecosystem includes non-traditional “classes” or alternative learning providers, such as MOOCs, bootcamps, and online courses as well as on-the-job training and informal learning. Our future learning system must value the learning that happens in many different environments and enable seamless transitions between learning, work, and life.

 

From DSC:
This is where I could see a vision similar to Learning from the Living [Class] Room come into play. It would provide a highly affordable, accessible platform, that would offer more choice, and more control to learners of all ages. It would be available 24×7 and would be a platform that supports lifelong learning. It would combine a variety of AI-enabled functionalities with human expertise, teaching, training, motivation, and creativity.

It could be that what comes out of this challenge will lay the groundwork for a future, massive new learning platform.

 

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

 

Also see:

 

The scary amount that college will cost in the future — from cnbc.com by Annie Nova

Excerpt:

Think college is expensive now? Then new parents will probably want to take a seat for this news.

In 2036, just 18 years from now, four years at a private university will be around $303,000, up from $167,000 today.

To get a degree at a public university you’ll need about $184,000, compared with $101,000 now.

These forecasts were provided by Wealthfront, an automated investment platform that offers college saving options. It uses Department of Education data on the current cost of schools along with expected annual inflation to come up with its projections.

 

Excerpted graphic:

 

From DSC:
We had better be at the end of the line of thinking that says these tuition hikes can continue. It’s not ok. More and more people will be shut out by this kind of societal gatekeeper. The ever-increasing cost of obtaining a degree has become a matter of social justice for me. Other solutions are needed. The 800 pound gorilla of debt that’s already being loaded onto more and more of our graduates will impact them for years…even for decades in many of our graduates’ cases.

It’s my hope that a variety of technologies will make learning more affordable, yet still provide a high quality of education. In fact, I’m hopeful that the personalization/customization of learning will take some major steps forward in the very near future. We will still need and want solid teachers, professors, and trainers, but I’m hopeful that those folks will be aided by the heavy lifting that will be done by some powerful tools/technologies that will be aimed at helping people learn and grow…providing lifelong learners with more choice, more control.

I love the physical campus as much as anyone, and I hope that all students can have that experience if they want it. But I’ve seen and worked with the high costs of building and maintaining physical spaces — maintaining our learning spaces, dorms, libraries, gyms, etc. is very expensive.

I see streams of content becoming more prevalent in the future — especially for lifelong learners who need to reinvent themselves in order to stay marketable. We will be able to subscribe and unsubscribe to curated streams of content that we want to learn more about. For example, today, that could involve RSS feeds and Feedly (to aggregate those feeds). I see us using micro-learning to help us encode information and then practice recalling it (i.e., spaced practice), to help us stop or lessen the forgetting curves we all experience, to help us sort information into things we know and things that we need more assistance on (while providing links to resources that will help us obtain better mastery of the subject(s)).

 

 

From DSC regarding Virtual Reality-based apps:
If one can remotely select/change their seat at a game or change seats/views at a concert…how soon before we can do this with learning-related spaces/scenes/lectures/seminars/Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)/stage productions (drama) and more?

Talk about getting someone’s attention and engaging them!

 

 

Excerpt:

(MAY 2, 2018) MelodyVR, the world’s first dedicated virtual reality music platform that enables fans to experience music performances in a revolutionary new way, is now available.

The revolutionary MelodyVR app offers music fans an incredible selection of immersive performances from today’s biggest artists. Fans are transported all over the world to sold-out stadium shows, far-flung festivals and exclusive VIP sessions, and experience the music they love.

What MelodyVR delivers is a unique and world-class set of original experiences, created with multiple vantage points, to give fans complete control over what they see and where they stand at a performance. By selecting different Jump Spots, MelodyVR users can choose to be in the front row, deep in the crowd, or up-close-and-personal with the band on stage.

 

See their How it Works page.

 

 

With standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Go now available at an extremely accessible price point ($199), the already vibrant VR market is set to grow exponentially over the coming years. Current market forecasts suggest over 350 million users by 2021 and last year saw $3 billion invested in virtual and alternative reality.

 

 

 

 

Home Voice Control — See Josh Micro in Action!

 

 

From DSC:
Along these lines, will faculty use their voices to control their room setups (i.e., the projection, shades, room lighting, what’s shown on the LMS, etc.)?

Or will machine-to-machine communications, the Internet of Things, sensors, mobile/cloud-based apps, and the like take care of those items automatically when a faculty member walks into the room?

 

 

 

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