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Technology

GPT 3 – How OpenAI’s latest tech is a glimpse into the Future

Elon Musk’s OpenAI has released a commercial API for their latest GPT 3 language model. This is an exciting development in the field of AI. 175 Billion Parameters, and approximately 12 million dollars just to train. As a result, this can easily be the most expensive and expansive model ever built. It can generate language, computer code, answer questions and much more. Most benchmarks give it state of the art performance. It is also scary because it can have some negative applications. Fake news and misinformation being the obvious ones. Therefore, OpenAI wants to limit access to the technology. This is because it wants to protect it from falling within wrong hands. As a result, OpenAI has launched a commercial API. It says it will use proceeds to cover costs and progress the mission of achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

Anyone who knows or has heard about ML / Artificial Intelligence should gasp at this point.

What is GPT 3 and what is the fuss about?

What is GPT 3

GPT stands for “Generative Pretrained Transformer”. GPT 3 is the latest version of OpenAI’s language models released in 2020. It is an autoregressive model with 175 billion parameters! In Machine learning parlance it is a breakthrough, well known for its few-shot and task agnostic performance. It can do translation, sentence and text completion, question and answer, 3 digit arithmetic.

I believe this is a fundamental shift in the field of AI since we are moving away, for the first time from task specific data and training.

For instance, look at the application below where a consumer of the API has been able to simply “describe” the layout of the page he wants to build and GPT 3 was able to generate a complete layout with functionality.

OpenAI has a vision to enable AGI or Artificial General Intelligence

It can generate layouts and designs just by describing

Social media has been flooded with other applications such as extremely logical and realistic chats. See one here that suggests that there is a deep connection between laws of physics, and love! I don’t think most humans could have made this up.

It can answer questions with deep context and make up believable answers

Or look at the example here where it tells Paras about the “central idea of a fairly complex book. It is eerily accurate (or not but that is not the point). The point is, that it is unbelievably realistic. Don’t forget to also look at the advise on starting a startup. Just amazing!

It is not all intelligent, not even close. We must separate the hype from reality

A lot of conventional wisdom in AI research has been that we may be at the end of extracting performance by simply scaling up the data and size of the models. GPT 3 has basically destroyed that debate.

However it is still to be discussed whether this is the go to approach, especially considering the resources such models take to build, and the resources they take to retrain, deploy and possibly maintain. Artificial intelligence has always been about modelling intelligence on our brain, which is more about top down reasoning. However, most AI and deep learning that we see today is bottoms-up and therefore takes way too much data to train. There is a new vigour in inventing systems that learn top down. However it still remains fairly elusive.

Turing test has been the golden standard for understanding whether we have truly reached human levels, GPT 3 brings it pretty close but still there is a long way to go! we must separate hype from reality

So where does GPT 3 flounder?

As mentioned above the size of the model makes it extremely hard to deploy, run, or change. It has not even been open sourced yet for obvious reasons. I came across one article that consistently and most logically stumped GPT 3 in question & answers. As long as you can ask a question that can be logical, it is pretty damn good. See below..(sourced directly from the blog)

Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: My favorite animal is a dog.

Q: Why?
A: Because dogs are loyal and friendly.

Q: What are two reasons that a dog might be in a bad mood?
A: Two reasons that a dog might be in a bad mood are if it is hungry or if it is hot.

Q: How many eyes does a giraffe have?
A: A giraffe has two eyes.

Q: How many legs does a frog have?
A: A frog has four legs.

Q: Are there any animals with three legs?
A: No, there are no animals with three legs.

Q: Why don't animals have three legs?
A: Animals don't have three legs because they would fall over.

(Sourced from the linked blog above)

However as soon as you switch to questions and answers that cannot be found on the internet, GPT 3 begins to flounder. It is not good at simple math questions either. The author of the blog (linked above) has done a great job and understanding sub-human performance of GPT 3.

Q: How many eyes does a giraffe have?
A: A giraffe has two eyes.

Q: How many eyes does my foot have?
A: Your foot has two eyes.

Q: How many eyes does a spider have?
A: A spider has eight eyes.

Q: How many eyes does the sun have?
A: The sun has one eye.

Q: How many eyes does a blade of grass have?
A: A blade of grass has one eye.

(Sourced from the linked blog above)

We have clearly come a long way since early days of language models I still remember playing with Eliza in my engineering days, and this is certainly going to make assistants even better. I can even imagine specific versions of these taking over some human tasks such as receptionists, personal assistants on administrative tasks completely…

We are not anywhere near Artificial general intelligence, but as a result of the advances made by OpenAI in GPT 3 it certainly doesn’t feel unachievable. If this is not a glimpse into the future, I don’t know what is.

Categories
Technology

Smartphone wars: Splitsville with iOS in 2020 💔

Smartphone wars are tough. I am not even going to attempt to sway you one way or the other. It gets emotional, worse it even gets political! Let me tell you, how I switched a few weeks ago to a high-end Android Smartphone as my daily driver. Especially rare given I have never used an Android smartphone since 2010. I will also tell you more about what I am loving, and what I miss


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User Experience on the new flagship Android smartphones is miles ahead of iOS, yes even iOS 14

Android for the most part has nailed “micro-interactions”.

When someone sends you a message on WhatsApp that is merely informative, the system automatically picks up the context and gives you a pre-cooked auto-reply right within the notification pop-up – just tap “Okay” and done! That is not all, Android has better contextual menus that make it easier to do stuff then and there. Quick share buttons for examples are available everywhere, just hit on the URL in chrome, and there is a copy / share URL icon waiting for you.  Widgets have been around in Android for ages, sorry iOS 14!

I love the Android Lock Screen Experience

smartphone with a google assistant screensaver
Clean, personalised, informative

The idle display for instance, displays precise elapsed time remaining for the battery to charge. Nice little icons appear about notifications you have received, for instance you may not worry about Amazon delivery notifications, you may however want to check when someone sends you a message via LinkedIn. This helps me de-clutter my attention. To add cherry on  top, Google Assistant on locked screen gives me full access to a suite of features with options to customize – it is miles ahead of Siri at speed as well as range of things it can do. It is also more easily compatible with my Smart Home technology. I also love an AI driven screensaver option, you can ask the assistant to show you pictures of people you decide from Google Photos.

A few hardware features truly set flagship Android smartphones apart from Apple, but

Once you get used to Fast Charge, you will not go back

I am completely addicted to fast charge on my Android smartphone. 40-45 minutes of charge and the device is back to 100%  I really don’t feel the need to carry around a power brick. Wireless charging is really fast as well. There is also reverse charging option I use to charge my AirPod Pro’s.

smartphone as fast as a racing car
Fast charge… Can you hear the engine roaring? Love speed, don’t you?

Much much better display that supports customization

The PPI on my smartphone screen is higher than that of Apple’s latest iPhone, the blacks are deep, the colours are just phenomenal and the gamut is very wide as well. Moreover, if I want to conserve my battery, I can switch to a lower resolution or a lower refresh rate. 90 Hz or Above display rate, is simply phenomenal – you just have to experience the butter smooth animations, and games. 

Physical Switches & Connectors

I love having the option to flick a physical switch and go from silent mode, to vibrate to ringer mode on my android smartphone. In case of Apple I mostly always set it on Vibrate, but it did disturb my sleep time to time unless I switched on do not disturb. Also its nice to finally move to USB C, cheap, now near ubiquitous, and probably more durable, I am glad not having to worry about a lightening connector.

Little things matter, and my high-end Android smartphone has plenty of these that make me smile

Better Do Not Disturb and Well-being settings

Do not disturb in Android for example, has a wonderful option where you can grey-scale the screen, schedule it. I can alter pattern of notifications. All of these features I find very useful.

Better network management & smart acceleration

My phone has the option to use both Wi-Fi and Cellular when one of the connections is poor, it can also use both simultaneously to provide for blistering fast speeds by combining 5G and Wi-Fi. This is awesome to have. I find Wi-Fi connection switching is faster, more seamless, and also I like the option of connecting to a private DNS server/

Built-in Hands Free Alexa

Smartphone pulldown menu

This is truly awesome – when charging in the night by the bedside table, we have a fully functional Alexa with a smart display. This is particularly useful as I have automation that controls AC temperature, and all the lights and scenes through Alexa. I also have Smart Speakers connected via Alexa, so it becomes a fully functional smart device wherever I am.

I love under the glass fingerprint scanner

smartphone touch ID embedded in screen
Source (Android Authority)

This feel futuristic, it is zippy and fast and I don’t have to hold the device to my face if I am in a meeting or video conference. Perhaps not quite laser secure but the phone has reasonably good Face ID as well.

iPhone camera is still the best smartphone camera out there

This is probably down to clever algorithms and better processors overall (Apple is miles ahead in that department). However I found inconsistent camera experience on my high end Android device. The selfie camera is average, it over processes images. The main driver sensor is high resolution, has amazing colour accuracy and HDR capability but somehow I don’t like how it focuses. Low light photography is better than iPhone though. Video is not great on this Android device, but honestly I don’t use the phone for videos at all.

smartphone photo taken in nightscape mode
Night photography is absolutely stunning but as a general shooter, iPhone is much more versatile and capable.

Having said that, I do like the software control I have over the camera.  Especially the ability to manually control shutter speed, white balance, and to use the camera along with a tripod and take long exposure shots is good to have, although I am not sure how much I will use it.

The good news is that iPhone and Android are borrowing each other’s features

Ultimately, you know what, it doesn’t matter. At least not to everyone. iPhone users love it for the simplicity, beautiful hardware, amazing cameras and rock stable hardware / software combo. This is not likely to change and I don’t think Android will ever come close to that level of perfection. Android users just love all the variety, the flexibility, the customization. Android and iOS both are maturing as platforms, and therefore it is heartening to see the innovation is fast followed by both. Examples are ripe. See iOS for instance, it has widgets that have been common on Android for a very long time.  Notifications are looking more and more alike, App groupings. App slices are also looking more like each other than unique features.


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I love both iOS & Android and I am likely to use both but so far I just love Android as my daily-driver…

Call me a power-user but above mentioned reasons are enough for me to give Android a serious shot. Definitely for the next few months. I did find myself scrambling to download the iOS 14 beta though. However, my reviews are likely to be biased from a dated iPhone 7 plus smartphone.

More power to smartphones! its been 13 years since first iPhone and then Android followed, but it feels like we are just getting started.

Future is bright!

Oh and by the way, could you guess what high-end Android phone I am talking about?

Categories
Technology

Wi-Fi Coverage blues? Show your Home Wi-Fi who’s the boss!

When was the last time you were sat in that corner of your bedroom and felt like Wi-Fi was another name for devil? I did one day, and then another day and another day!! One day though I had enough. After multiple rounds of research, a few failed experiments I found a setup that works brilliantly well. Thankfully before the coronavirus crisis. Let me share with you a few tips that helped me.

Seriously consider upgrading to “Mesh Wi-Fi”

This consists of a main router and an ad-hoc number of satellite nodes as needed. These form a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password. When your device goes from one room to another, it effectively “roams” from one node to another thereby giving you hassle free coverage even in a very large area (3 Nodes typically cover about 4000 Square-feet). You need to plug in the main router into your modem, and other nodes wirelessly communicate with it and with each other. Setup is easy, and when done properly they work brilliantly. To sum up, Say goodbye to Wi-Fi Blind-Spots around your house! Ps. see my post on how my new flagship Android is better in network regard.

Mesh Wi-Fi
Many Brands and budgets to choose from! A simple setup usually is enough though!

Do your own research before buying, however they are an easy find on Amazon – sample links are provided below. These are expensive, but worth every penny. I would recommend a basic setup – it suffices for most needs we have from working to streaming.

·       TP Link – TP-Link Deco M4 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

·       Tenda – Click here

Tips for better stability of your home Wi-Fi

a.       For compact houses, consider investing in a dual band router and keep all streaming devices / smart TV etc. on a 5Ghz network (faster but less reach) whereas use 2.4Ghz (slower but more reach) for mobile phones, laptops etc. 

b.       If you have a lot of IOT / smart devices e.g. Smart Switches, Alexa, etc.

consider having a third 2.4 GHz dedicated router. This additional network can be configured to work alongside your router. As a result, you will need to re-configure to ensure no interference. For Bigger houses, I would definitely recommend Mesh Wi-Fi!

c.       I am not a big fan of range extenders – they work but in my experience are inconsistent and patchy, they might work for you though!

d. For advanced users, Wi-Fi analyzer utilities can help you detect interference from other Wi-Fi networks. Above all, it can resolve any channel conflicts etc. In addition, 2.4 GHz networks are fairly crowded in an apartment complex. Similarly, overlaps sometimes reduce speed as too many networks may be using the same Wi-Fi Channel.

Wi-Fi Analyzer
Wi-Fi Analyser is one app that it will allow to understand the state of Wi-Fi interference

e. Wi-Fi routers are susceptible to interference from certain kinds of devices. Therefore, we must keep them away from Microwave ovens, Bluetooth Devices, Baby Monitors, Fridge, etc. In addition, keep standalone routers in the center of your house, and in an open area – do not hide them in a bookshelf or a cupboard

f.        If you have DIY fever this weekend, you can also make DIY reflectors to tweak Wi-Fi Coverage / Leakage – sometimes all you may need is an Aluminum foil read more here

Bonus Tip

To sum up, if you are interested in setting up without digging up your walls, or have a smaller budget, you can buy a class of devices called as Powerline adapters. For instance, it will allow you to send data over your electric lines (don’t worry it’s very safe) one “plug-in” near your router, and one or more “plug-out” in the desired room. As a result, you can connect seamlessly using Ethernet or Wi-Fi over fairly large distances.

a.       Powerline Wi-Fi adapter with Ethernet port – Link here

In addition, I also want to mention, that this is my personal experience and not a promotion.

Categories
Technology

Machine learning – a little closer to AI?

Before we get to Machine Learning, I want to introduce you to a story my kid loves – “The Gruffalo…”. A mouse walking through a jungle meets a series of predators. He escapes each and every one of them by making up stories of a non-existent creature called a “Gruffalo” and scares them away. There is a twist though – creature is for real!! The mouse manages to pretend his way and get out of the pickle – In summary, the little brat outsmarts his own creation 😅

I wonder sometimes if Machine Learning is like a Gruffalo!

Frankly most of the hype around it seems make-belief. The biggest disservice to the field of machine learning is the word AI. It promotes hype and fear that AI will trounce humans or will one day take over the world. We at least today seem to be far from such a dystopian scenario. Almost all science community agrees that we are far away from achieving “Artificial general intelligence”.

Let us extend the Gruffalo metaphor a bit – while most agree about the wrongness of fear mongering on AI, we should be open to precaution. Perhaps the creature is not make belief after all! Very recently I have come across 3 things that have given me the creeps when it comes to what machine learning can become!!

machine learning
Reinforcement agents learning on their own

Hide and seek intelligence!

Elon Musk’s Open AI just released a paper in which they describe a simulated training environment in which they make agents (RIL) play a game of hide and seek. The environment progressively introduces 6 strategies and counterstrategies. What they observed was incredible, they observed emergent complex tool usage. As an example, hiding agents using boxes to block doors so that they cannot be discovered by seeker agents. Seeking agents use ramps to jump over obstacles. Hiders use ramps and hide these in rooms to prevent use by seekers to jump. If this type of “completely un-programmed” behaviour is not intelligence then I don’t know what is! Please read a blog post by OpenAI here.

Google Duplex Machine Learning enable a natural sounding calling service for restaurant bookings etc was out of this world – borderline spooky as well

This is the first time synthetic speech was indistinguishable from human speech. To use it, improvise it and do it at Google scale was simply an incredible feat for speech synthesis, natural language understanding and processing and apparently a factory of human agents as well 😄 jokes aside this really gave me goose bumps. Google uses RNNs for this. See conceptual architecture and the link to original Google blog here.

Breakthrough language model GPT 2 released recently by OpenAI achieves state of the art performance on many language processing benchmarks and performs rudimentary machine translation, comprehension and summaries

I don’t think people appreciate how much of a big deal this is. Basically you feed the model some seed and it generates many many paragraphs of coherent human like text on its own, replete with stories, meaning and full sense. If you read it you will not believe that an AI wrote it. You add this and you have a frankenstein-ish monster on your hands. This can be used to generate fake news en masse. and would be hard to detect it. It can impersonate people. On a positive side it will make bots, writing assistants translation, and knowledge systems remarkably useful and human like! For an AI that is the ultimate goal. See an example below from openAI original blog post. See also a post on newer version GPT3.

Look at the dexterity of text completion. Be sure to check out my post on GPT3

While it is impossible to list down many incredible feats achieved in this path breaking tech, I wanted to cite a few examples that gave me the goose bumps. You should also check out DeepFakes and MuseNet.

I believe we are looking at building blocks of higher intelligence getting better and better, you could say we are helping machines evolve faster in their own right – but most still believe we are far away from AGI, or singularity… But are we?

Ps. This blog post was written by a human, and if you don’t believe it, ask the Gruffalo 😅

Categories
Opinions Technology

Smartphone is now officially boring. Wait, that can be a good thing!!

The rumour is true. When was the last time you got really excited watching a smartphone launch? I bet it was a long time ago. Even the once highly sought after leaks are all too lacklustre these days. I love to be on Twitter during a major launch event and watch some really funny mock-tweets. It has got to a point where people don’t even know the difference. They just love Apple and buy! see one of the Jimmy Kimmel creations below!

In all seriousness though, we all know that smartphones have transformed the world. Growth in smartphone base, number of apps, and the amount time people spend on the apps is just staggering. This is true despite seeming lack of innovation. I highly recommend reading this blog post. It highlights that Apple & Google are now unassailable until the next S curve is here. AR, VR, AI, voice and chatbot may all turn out to be a thing, but that may not affect the S Curve of the Smartphone. In fact, as the unit growth in smartphone continues, Apple and Google will focus more on improving software, experience and the ecosystem.

The massively increased share of revenue via app stores, is certainly a leading indicator of this shift. The reason I say the slow innovation is a good thing is because I believe it is an opportunity for Enterprises. They can focus now more than ever to catch-up on the incredibly challenging task of gaining, keeping and transacting with customers on Mobile. In fact, I strongly believe that many enterprises need to re-think their very perspectives on this.

We need to stop thinking of Mobile as “an interface” and think of it as “the interface” and invest sufficiently, where it matters

Imagine, a fictitious sandwich company that wants to leverage mobile. Sounds like a great idea. You can build an app to enable ordering, delivery, streamline payments, click-to-buy and a host of other things. Alright, assume you have a great app and a fantastic user experience but think about it for a second. How many of us will care to download the Sandwich company app, and even if we did, how many will use it or keep it without deleting? With almost zero footprint of user’s attention, it is incredibly hard.  Even more so for a sandwich company! Business, technology and operational complexity even in a sandwich business is significant, and it would be foolish to suggest that there is one strategy.

However I believe, as enterprises strive to leverage mobile they need to consider the following 3 key dimensions. Attention, interaction and transaction. If we consider economics of an app based commerce, we can assume for most businesses it means lower costs, increased margins and potentially great 1-1 customer experience. This is very foundation of e-commerce, so nothing new here; but apart from having a great product, I believe we need to incentivise customers along these dimensions.

Attention

londonist32_4

Unless you are Snapchat and you can make a rainbow jump out of people’s mouth, there needs to be a compelling incentive for customers to even notice your app. Some offers are simply not good enough – for instance “a chance to win X” or “a chance to win trip to Y”. We can do better! something tangible, of real benefit to the customer.
Best fulfilled in context and instantly. For the sandwich company for example – 40% off your first purchase, or £5 credit on first usage. Nothing new here, most mobile native start-ups do this, so I wouldn’t dwell on it too much.

Interaction

7bbe7d884987539834f8d9780cc1a3dd_send-me-a-candy-crush-meme-candy-crush_510-522

How many times a day do you expect people to open the sandwich app? In order to continue to occupy people’s mind-space, we need to incentivise the customer regularly for visiting the app. I understand that this is easier said than done. Obviously some app categories don’t need this kind of interaction incentive. For instance, great content e.g. Netflix, ultimate productivity e.g. Dropbox, Social e.g. Instagram, to name a few.  So, interaction incentive is when you give something to the user for coming back to the app. Some games do this really well – every time you stop playing but come back to the game after some time, you get free virtual coins. Depending on the nature of business you can decide the frequency of your incentive. For instance, the sandwich company could do one of their best deals exclusively for app users every 2 weeks.

Obviously all needs to make commercial sense – generally though customer retention cost is less than acquisition cost and there can always be limited number of deals. Oh and there is word-of-mouth! invite a friend and both get credit. Remember Uber? Virulence is an important feature that needs to be built in to the app. It is expensive though! You could build social invites too. We all hate random invitations on Facebook, something to keep in mind!

Transaction

FreeCharge-Mobile-App

This is the holy grail. Assume that customer downloads the app, interacts with it regularly to redeem your generous incentives. How do you ensure they transact? Well firstly, the sandwich better be good, the ordering, payment, click-to-collect all needs to “just work”. That often is not enough, we still need to incentivise. You might think we’d be out of business after giving so much away in offers. However, with added volume of transactions, you will realise that it almost always makes commercial sense. Otherwise Starbucks wouldn’t do it – collecting stars on the app whilst having the ability to cut the queue is simply fantastic. So, how about an app exclusive loyalty program for our sandwich company? There can be a mix of options – coupons, points, virtual currency, or simply cashback.

It is needless to say that apart from offering direct incentives, your app can just create magic through experience that cuts the time and effort it takes for customers to transact or reduces anxiety associated with the transaction. Invisible payments (Uber), cutting the queue (Starbucks), live waiting times (Citymapper), real time tracking (Dominos) are all fantastic examples.

To sum up, I believe that whilst its not necessary to pester the users with deals & offers enterprises must make explicit effort to address the attention, interaction and transaction barriers when they think about their adoption and engagement strategy. While we hit the maturity curve of smartphone product lifecycle, it is now more important than ever for enterprises to catch-up.

A small disclaimer – I realise any generalising is dangerous & this may or may not apply for everyone. Thanks a lot for reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section.