Folks, it is the Pokèmon Go season 🙂 are you excited?
Perhaps not?! Ok, tell me one thing honestly. Do you get strange looks from your millennial friends when they find out you haven’t played Pokèmon Go or that you don’t know how to use Snapchat? well, good news, you are not alone. I will give you in on one more secret. I have never watched the “Game of Thrones”. For whatever its worth, I don’t feel like watching it either.
In the hyperconnected ADHD world, virality is an everyday thing. New fads catch the masses and they spread like wildfire. Profound technology waves however, rarely do so. They start relatively unannounced, and grow like strong forces of nature, very hard to stop. The growth is rarely abrupt. Think – iPhone, social, e-commerce etc. the tweet below is a nice reminder.
Getting to 1 billion cumulative:
• iPhone 9.1 yrs
• IBM PC 20.8 yrs
• Android ~4.5 yrs
• McDonald’s 23 yrs served
• Facebook 8.7yrs users
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) July 28, 2016
Artificial intelligence I believe is one such profound technology wave, and it is growing like a strong force of nature devouvoring information, getting smarter and better everyday. We are still in its early days but are beginning to see some really really cool applications.
A London based company owned by Google called DeepMind we recently learnt improved the power usage efficiency / PUE of Google’s data centres by 15%. Can you imagine how much money that saves for the company that runs one of the largest data centre ops on the planet? Not too long ago, DeepMind AI became the first to beat a world champion at the infamously difficult game Alpha Go. These are not small developments. On a much larger scale they signify a tectonic shift in the maturity of machine learning. DeepMind algorithms use convoluted learning, more specifically reinforcement learning. In simple words, they learn without specific programming given a goal, they “try to figure the best way” to solve a problem.
These relatively specific developments when multiplied by the opportunity scale promises nothing short of a revolution. This one I believe is going to be an “Inside-out” one. Take an industry e.g. aircraft manufacturing, apply deep learning and you have a 15% or even better efficiency in outcomes of a process for instance predictability in ordering of wing parts. Algorithms will let us learn causality like never before by letting these neural networks figure out hidden patterns. There is a good blog post by Google about machine vision visualisation; click the link in the caption below.
How a machine sees a painting (credit Google Research)
We are not too far away from an applications of computer vision that once seemed far fetched, for instance looking at your CCTV, your computer might tell you who is on the door before you find out! Ultimately more exciting and probably scary applications will come too. I believe that will take some time, and to my earlier point, highly potent AI has just made an unassuming entrance, now just wait and watch as it turns into an unstoppable force. I will leave you with an image created by convolutional neural networks – this sort of gives us a flavour of how computers “see” or some would say “dream” things. Credit Google Research.
Only if it could teach me how to use Pokèmon Go or Snapchat. Nope, I like being stubborn, I don’t think so.
So the difference between Pokèmon Go and Google’s inceptionism is that one seems like a fad, and the other seems like a unstoppable tech wave, let’s see where they both lead us.