Ambal’s Work Life

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On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

I am fascinated my the brain and all things neuroscience. 

On of my favorite books on the brain and what I can do is: On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines.

This book was written by  Palm Pilot-inventor Jeff Hawkins with New York Times science writer Sandra Blakeslee.

Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.

What is the big idea?

Hawkins’ basic idea is that the brain is a mechanism to predict the future, specifically, hierarchical regions of the brain predict their future input sequences. Perhaps not always far in the future, but far enough to be of real use to an organism. As such, the brain is a feed forward hierarchical state machine with special properties that enable it to learn.

Here is one of my favorite snippets from the book called altered door experiment:

When you come home each day, you usually take a few seconds to go through your front door or whichever door you use. You reach out, turn the knob, walk in, and shut it behind you. It’s a firmly established habit, something you do all the time and pay little attention to. Suppose while you are out, I sneak over to your home and change something about your door. It could be almost anything. I could move the knob over by an inch, change a round knob into a thumb latch, or turn it from brass to chrome. I could change the door’s weight, substituting solid oak for a hollow door, or vice versa. I could make the hinges squeaky and stiff, or make them glide frictionlessly. I could widen or narrow the door and its frame. I could change its color, add a knocker where the peephole used to be, or add a window. I can imagine a thousand changes that could be made to your door, unbeknownst to you. When you come home that day and attempt to open the door, you will quickly detect that something is wrong. It might take you a few seconds’ reflection to realize exactly what is wrong, but you will notice the change very quickly. As your hand reaches for the moved knob, you will realize that it is not in the correct location. Or when you see the door’s new window, something will appear odd. Or if the door’s weight has been changed, you will push with the wrong amount of force and be surprised. The point is that you will notice any of a thousand changes in a very short period of time. 

How do you do that? How do you notice these changes? 

The AI or computer engineer’s approach to this problem would be to create a list of all the door’s properties and put them in a database, with fields for every attribute a door can 5have and specific entries for your particular door. When you approach the door, the computer would query the entire database, looking at width, color, size, knob position, weight, sound, and so on. While this may sound superficially similar to how I described my brain checking each of its myriad predictions as I glanced around my office, the difference is real and far-reaching. The AI strategy is implausible. First, it is impossible to specify in advance every attribute a door can have. The list is potentially endless. Second, we would need to have similar lists for every object we encounter every second of our lives. Third, nothing we know about brains and neurons suggests that this is how they work. And finally, neurons are just too slow to implement computer-style databases. It would take you twenty minutes instead of two seconds to notice the change as you go through the door.

Check out Jeff Hawkins on Firing Up the Silicon Brain

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Intelligence

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Six Thinking Hats

Ever heard the phrases “He is an innovator”, “She is a devil’s advocate”, “He can see things that don’t exist yet”. We all have different strengths in our core thinking styles. What if we understood and learnt different thinking styles?

Six Thinking Hats is a system designed by Edward de Bono which describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking involving six colored hats.

Learn this framework and use it for in all discussions and decisions for work or life. Learn how to separate thinking into six clear functions and roles. Each thinking role is identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat.” 

What is the big idea?

Image result for six hats thinking
Source: https://www.storyboardthat.com/articles/b/six-thinking-hats-examples
Image result for 6 hats thinking
Source: https://mgrush.com/blog/2017/06/22/debono-six-thinking-hats/
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Research has shown that the brain does not spend much energy on habit based actions. Our capabilities of being frazzled and distracted have increased over time. Information about these habits purposes to impart you with knowledge on how you can become an effective individual at work and generally in life.

What is the big idea?

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the End in Mind
  • Put First Things First
  • Think Win-Win
  • Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw

Read Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit#1: Be Proactive

Being proactive entails being responsible for everything that revolves around your life. Individuals who are proactive can see that they can respond to happenings in their lives. Reactive is the opposite of being proactive. Proactive people will understand their responsibilities in their lives and therefore take the appropriate actions on matters. Proactive people will be driven to achieve their goals regardless of the surrounding circumstances. 

Habit#2: Begin with the End in Mind

Begin with the end in mind is based on one’s ability to see with their mind what cannot be seen physically. There are both physical and mental creations in this habit. The same way construction follows a blueprint; the physical creation follows the mental creation. When one does not make efforts to envision whom they aspire to become, they are empowering other people to make decisions that lead default shaping their future. Putting your goals and targets first reaffirm that you are moving your ideas into reality.

Habit#3: Put First Things First

Put first things first means that you have to set your priorities right and in order. It is essential to understand that you do not have to prioritize everything that comes your way. There is no point in over-stretching yourself; this will make you less effective. It is important to realize that you have the power to say no to things that are not priorities. This habit entails management and controlling of your priorities, roles, values, and your objectives. If you set your priorities, you will be able to manage and organize events and time according to the individual preferences you set in the second habit; Begin with the end in mind.

Habit#4: Think Win-Win

Majority of people love to base and measure their self-worth based on competition and comparisons. We think of succeeding based on another person’s failures in that if “you lose I win” and vice versa. There is a better alternative. Think win-win. Solutions and agreements cane be made mutually, making them beneficial and satisfying. An organization or a person who approaches issues with the win-win attitude has three essential character traits which include maturity, integrity and abundance mentality. You also have to be confident and brave to go win-win. 

Habit#5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

In life, communication is a very vital skill. Therefore, are you a good listener? A significant percentage of people will want to get their points across first. This will sometimes lead to ignoring what the other person is saying and therefore you will not understand them. A vast number of people will not listen to understand but to answer. Listen. Understand. Answer. 

Habit#6: Synergize

Two ideas put together are better than one. This habit entails the creation of cooperation. Synergy is also Open-mindedness and teamwork. Can you put together you expertise and life experiences to create synergy with another party? Synergy allows unveiling of good results we would not discover on our own. You will attain new insight when they start to interact with each other honestly. You will know you are in synergy when you start viewing things from a different perspective. Being able to value how people are different will help you see and drive synergy.

Habit#7: Sharpen the Saw  

Enhancement and preservation of your greatest assets mean to sharpen the saw. You have to have a balance in all life areas which include spiritual, mental, social and physical. One needs to eat, exercise and rest enough to be productive. Also, it is of great importance to be social, read more for mental growth and expand your spiritual self through prayer, music, and art. Practicing this habit keeps you rejuvenated as you engage in practices of the other six habits. Your ability to handle challenges and being productive increases tremendously.

Habit#8: Find your Voice and inspire others

Finding your voice tells you to discover work that encourages your talent and motivates passion. Finding your voice indicates that you are no longer on the path of mediocrity but on the right track. You will be able to increase your feeling of contentment by assisting others in helping theirs. Inspiring other too to find their voices by respecting, recognizing and creating meaningful opportunities. 

Check out this great summary of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Roundup of AI predictions for 2019

Are you pulling a holiday stunt like me? My holiday stunt usually involves manically reading to “look ahead” for next year.

This year, I want to leverage all the brain power that is looking in their magic ball and telling us what becomes of AI and how do we will harness the power of data.

Without further ado…given below is the list of articles I am speed-reading.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/predictions-for-2019-in-data-analytics-and-ai/

https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/ai-machine-learning/predictions-for-artificial-intelligence-in-2019/a/d-id/1333505

https://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/5-predictions-about-data-science-machine-learning-and-ai-for-2019

https://dzone.com/articles/your-2019-ai-predictions

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2018/12/12/20-more-ai-predictions-for-2019/#45bd63804d74

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2018/12/09/120-ai-predictions-for-2019/#40bd7901688c

https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/artificial-intelligence-predictions-2019.html

https://www.kdnuggets.com/2018/12/predictions-data-science-analytics-2019.html

https://www.kdnuggets.com/2018/12/predictions-industry-2019.html

https://www.information-management.com/list/5-trends-to-expect-for-artificial-intelligence-in-2019

http://www.dbta.com/Editorial/News-Flashes/AI-and-Machine-Learning-9-Predictions-for-2019-129046.aspx

https://www.forrester.com/report/Predictions+2019+Artificial+Intelligence/-/E-RES144617

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Enjoy the Rare Solstice FULL MOON Tonight

 A solstice is an event occurring when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere.

Today, Dec 21, 2018 marks the winter solstice. Not only that. It is all a glorious full moon. This is a very rare occurrence and won’t  happen until the turn of this century.

Since this day marks endings and new beginnings, I am going to be reflecting on 2018 and making plans for 2019.

You do the same. Enjoy the moon.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

The little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

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