DeepMind and Machine Learning

On 2015.10.06, in Society, Technology, by Greg

By now you have probably seen this:

About Watson

Watson is a question answering (QA) computing system that IBM built to apply advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning technologies to the field of open domain question answering.

    The key difference between QA technology and document search is that document search takes a keyword query and returns a list of documents, ranked in order of relevance to the query (often based on popularity and page ranking), while QA technology takes a question expressed in natural language, seeks to understand it in much greater detail, and returns a precise answer to the question. –Craig Rhinehart

Watson can process 500 gigabytes, the equivalent of a million books, per second. The sources of information for Watson include encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, newswire articles, and literary works. Watson also used databases, taxonomies, and ontologies. Specifically, DBPedia, WordNet, and Yago were used. For the Jeopardy contest, Watson had access to the full text of Wikipedia.

In healthcare, Watson’s natural language, hypothesis generation, and evidence-based learning capabilities allow it to function as a clinical decision support system for use by medical professionals. To aid physicians in the treatment of their patients, once a physician has posed a query to the system describing symptoms and other related factors, Watson first parses the input to identify the most important pieces of information; then mines patient data to find facts relevant to the patient’s medical and hereditary history; then examines available data sources to form and test hypotheses; and finally provides a list of individualized, confidence-scored recommendations. The sources of data that Watson uses for analysis can include treatment guidelines, electronic medical record data, notes from physicians and nurses, research materials, clinical studies, journal articles, and patient information

About Deepmind

Google DeepMind was founded in 2011 by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman.The team is based in London and was supported by some of the most iconic technology entrepreneurs and investors of the past decade. DeepMind combines the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general‑purpose learning algorithms. This video from child prodigy Demis Hassabis explains their latest innovations:

About Machine Learning

Machine learning tasks are typically classified into three broad categories, depending on the nature of the learning “signal” or “feedback” available to a learning system:

  • Supervised learning: The computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, given by a “teacher”, and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs.
  • Unsupervised learning: No labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end.
  • Reinforcement learning: Software interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal (such as driving a vehicle), without a teacher explicitly telling it whether it has come close to its goal or not. Another example is learning to play a game by playing against an opponent.
  • And now for something almost completely different

    A little more Watson is fun:

    Ray Kurzweil

    No discussion of machine learning would be complete without some mention of the contributions of Ray Kurzweil. His focus for several years has been on pattern recognition. He is involved in fields such as futurology, optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil proposed “The Law of Accelerating Returns”, according to which the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially.

    Ray Kurzweil on “I’ve Got a Secret 1965”

    Ray’s Future

    An Intro to Machine Learning

    Steve Jurvetson provides a great intro to the field of machine learning:

    Nice first step for health applications


    The city and local government


    Teaching the way we learn



    “No provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprizes of the civil authority.” -Thos Jefferson



    Some ITIL 2011 Concepts

    On 2013.09.27, in Management, Technology, by Greg

    Service Warranty = how well the positive impact is delivered
    Service Utility = the service’s positive impact on the business operations
    Value = Warranty + Utility

    Deming Cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act. The Deming Cycle has more detailed steps when used to improve IT services and processes:

      1. Define what should be measured
      2. Define what you can measure
      3. Gather the data
      4. Process the data
      5. Analyze the data
      6. Use the data
      7. Take corrective action.

    There are six outcomes of an analysis of service portfolios: Renew (meets functional needs but falls short in technology), Replace (overlapping, redundant), Retain (working well and aligned to business), Refactor (needs clarity of focus or primary functional role), Retire (fail to meet the needs both technically and functionally), and Rationalize (needs standardization or consolidation).

    Co-sourcing is one of five different types of supplier agreements including co-sourcing, partnering or multi-sourcing, business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, and application service provision.

    Coordinating the metrics, data collection, and reporting activities of the other processes and functions is the primary goal of Service Measurement and Reporting. The reasons for monitoring and measuring include: validate (is there alignment with the organizational vision and strategy), direct (using facts to drive change), justify (ensure the targets and metrics are correct), and intervene (drive improvements through corrective action).

    Transform the Business (TTB), Grow the Business (GTB), and Run the Business (RTB) are all categories of Services Investments. Transform the Business investments are for new capabilities or new markets, Grow the Business investments are designed to
    help grow the current business, and Run the Business (RTB) are investments to keep the current services operating.

    There can be a variety of Configuration Items CIs: Service Level CIs, Service CIs, Organizational CIs, Internal CIs, and External CIs. Each CI can vary in size, type, and complexity ranging from an entire system to a single module.

    Service Portfolio consists of the Service Pipeline (proposed and planned services), the Service Catalogue (active services), and Retired Services (no longer available). The basic goal of Service Portfolio Management is to provide IT Service Management with strategies for future initiatives and investment management guidance to ensure an effective portfolio of services are being delivered.

    The three sub-processes of Capacity Management are Business Capacity Management (ensures capacity meets future business needs), Service Capacity Management (manages on-going service delivery per SLAs), and Component Capacity Management (manages the individual components of the IT infrastructure).

    A concept of Incident Management is the difference between Categorization and Escalation. Within Categorization, Impact + Urgency = Priority. Impact is the measure of how much the business is affected. Urgency is measure of how long the fix can be delayed. The human element of Escalation helps with determining which incidents should be moved up or down in priority.

    The Service Package is the detailed description of the collection of services available for delivery to customers. The Core Services Package is the heart of the service, Supporting Services Packages help differentiate the Core Services, and Service Level Packages
    define the Service Utility and Service Warranty.

    Five different types of supplier agreements: co-sourcing, partnering or multi-sourcing, business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, and application service provision.

    Application Management, the Service Desk, Technical Management, and IT Operations Management are the four functions of Service Operation. Application Management is also responsible for managing applications through their entire life cycle, helps identify functional requirements for software, helps make the build vs. buy decisions, and helps define what skills are needed by staff to support the applications.

    Access Management is the function that ensures users are authorized to use a service. Access Management is coordinated by Service Desk but depending on the request may also call on Technical Management and Application Management. The activity lifecycle of an
    access request is as follows: Requesting Access –> Verification –> Providing Rights –> Monitoring Identity Status –> Logging & Tracking Access –> Removing or Restricting Access.

    Application sizing is an activity designed to determine the hardware or network capacity needed; modelling is used to forecast the infrastructure’s behavior under a set of conditions; and demand management are the short-term responses to meet current demand. Additional considerations are performance monitoring, tuning, storage of capacity management data, capacity planning, and reporting.

    Event Management: Event Occurs –> Event Detection –> Alert –> Event Correlation –> Significance of Events –> Event Filtering –> Trigger –> Response Selection –> Review Actions –> Close Event.

    The Definitive Media Library (DML) is one or more locations in which the approved versions of all software CIs are stored securely. The DML will also contain the licenses for the software CIs along with the documentation. All software in the DML falls under Change Management and Release Management control and recorded in the Configuration Management System (CMS).

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    The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. The current form is known as ITIL 2011 edition. The ITSM lifecycle stages are listed below with their covered processes.

    Service Strategy

    • IT service management
    • Service Portfolio Management
    • Financial management for IT services
    • Demand Management
    • Business relationship management

    Service Design

    • Design coordination
    • Service Catalogue
    • Service level Management
    • Availability Management
    • Capacity Management
    • Information Security Management System
    • Supplier Management

    Service Transition

    • Transition planning and support
    • Change management
    • Service asset and configuration management
    • Release and deployment management
    • Service validation and testing
    • Change evaluation
    • Knowledge management

    Service Operation

    • Event management
    • Incident management
    • Request fulfillment
    • Problem management
    • Identity management

    Continual Service Improvement

    • Identify the strategy for improvement
    • Define what you will measure
    • Gather the data
    • Process the data
    • Analyse the information and data
    • Present and use the information
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    When you install Mountain Lion upgrade on the Mac, don’t be surprised if your Java installation gets blasted. I use CrashPlan for Cloud and local backup to the Mac. Crashplan depends on Java. Oops.

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    Mac OS X Server is an App

    On 2013.04.28, in Technology, by Greg

    The server-specific server applications and work group management and administration software tools from Mac OS X Server are now offered as “Server App,” an add-on package for OS X sold through the Mac App Store along with Server Admin Tools 10.7, available from the Apple support web site. There is no separate Server OS. This means that if you want server, you first install the Mountain Lion desktop release, a $19.99 upgrade to Lion, then separately download the Server App, also for $19.99. There is no separate server edition of Mountain Lion, just as there was no separate server edition of Lion. You cannot download the Mountain Lion Server App to a Mac that does not first have Mountain Lion installed.

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    Droid Update #3

    On 2013.04.27, in Technology, by Greg

    I switched to the Samsung Galaxy S3 in July of 2012. So I have been using it for nine months. The verdict: excellent, no problems. Especially good with the latest release of Android. Only complaint is battery life could be better … not as good as the iPhone 5, but good enough. The Galaxy S4 should be available soon, and there is a rugged version planned for this summer.

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    You are running a new version of VMware Player and try to start an older guest operating system, perhaps one you have not run in a while. You probably need to do two things in your image files, assuming your image name is “guest”:

  • Delete the guest.vmpl file from the image
  • Open the guest.vmx configuration file and delete these three lines:
  • policy.vm.managedVM = “FALSE”
    policy.vm.managedVMTemplate = “TRUE”
    policy.vm.mvmtid = “52 d6 6f f9 f3 36 0f 9f-31 da 9f f5 90 7b ce 76”


    A topic that comes up often these days is how to motivate remote teams on IT
    projects. It comes up because teams consist of personnel that are scattered all
    over the country and the globe. Technology enables people to work from home or a
    combination of work-home-travel. Sometimes teams are assembled ad-hoc for
    specific projects and then the people move on to other projects. Usually teams
    have daily duties other than projects. Project managers find it necessary to
    keep focus and timing for success. These are some techniques for project
    managers to consider for remote teams:

    Know your people

    Take the time to meet project team and remote members either on the phone or in
    person. It is only natural in one-on-one conversations to learn their
    aspirations for work and personal life. This experience will allow you to speak
    to them in their language and ultimately save time. Note that project team
    meetings need to focus on the project not on individuals, partly to respect
    everyone's time.

    A consistent heartbeat

    Do what you do on a project on a consistent basis because more than anything
    else people want stability and structure in their lives. People come to expect
    your status reports and queries and notifications of looming deadlines.

    Responsibilities and Estimates

    Project managers should almost never estimate time for others; they should shift
    the burden of estimation to those responsible for actually doing the work.This
    principle is necessary when the work is to be performed by IT professionals; it
    may not apply to all types of projects. The people doing to work take ownership
    and responsibility for the estimate and for the work itself. They recognize that
    they have only themselves to blame for delays on their part of the project. This
    principle may be obvious but it is necessary as a pre-condition to success.
    Ideally all estimates come from the functional manager to the project manager.
    IT personnel tend to underestimate their work and duration because of complexity
    and because any system change must fit into a larger whole. For IT and software
    development PERT estimation makes schedules more realistic.

    Peer pressure and accountability

    Remote teams need to be aware of the effect they have on the project and the
    consequences of not meeting their responsibilities. Project managers should make
    team expectations agreed and visible to the larger organization. Project
    managers also need to celebrate team contributions. There is nothing like
    accountability for motivation on projects. That is why it is so important to
    document roles and responsibilities in a project plan. The Wikipedia definition
    of accountability is instructive here:

    "Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for
    actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration,
    governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment
    position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable
    for resulting consequences."


    Take advantage of modern communications like videoconferencing, intranet chat
    rooms, a virtual team rooms, and systems like SharePoint. Research by the
    Project Management Institute has demonstrated that project managers spend 90% of
    their time communicating. That is why some project managers come home and do not
    want to talk…they are tired of talking. There is nothing more important to
    project success than clear concise communications.

    Matrix Organizations

     In a matrix organization, a worker's allegiance will be oriented primarily to the
    functional manager and not to the project manager. As a project manager, who do
    you turn to for updates as a project progresses; do you turn to the professional
    actually doing the work or to the functional manager. In most cases you want
    project updates to come from the functional manager. You may get technical
    updates from subject matter experts and others that report to functional
    managers; do not get schedule updates from staff unless the functional manager
    is not available. Functional managers should report progress weekly in
    conference to the larger organization so that they seek to avoid the
    embarrassment factor. The organization should have reports weekly from project
    managers and functional managers in weekly all hands calls. Project managers can
    make projects visible via dashboards on internal websites and via status reports
    on emails and via project management software and project servers. The objective
    is to maintain a focus on the positive, a focus on the destination.

    Project Success

     Organizations do not undertake projects unless the project will remove a pain
    point for the organization. Therefore any project is important; there are no
    unimportant projects. Yes, some projects have higher priority than others. And
    there is a natural best sequence of projects. The point is that remote teams
    need to understand the importance of the project to their own financial and
    career success. It is the job of the project manager to maintain the vision of
    project success for the team by words, tone of voice, and body language. Normal
    people want to be associated with successful projects. Successful projects are a
    cause for celebration, can provide financial rewards, and at a minimum provide
    something to add to a resume. Successful projects attract people to associate
    with the project manager; a series of successful projects become the resume of
    the organization which in turn attracts people to the organization.


     Usually project managers measure success on the three dimensions of schedule,
    cost, and quality. However there may be other measures that are important to the
    project sponsors and to those affected by the project. For example a series of
    changes to an application software may meet schedule, cost, and quality metrics,
    but the Information Assurance group has an interest in whether the changes
    advance or retard the security posture of the software. So make sure you know
    what metrics you will need to monitor. Metrics are a way of keeping score. No
    one wants to be deluded that a project is proceeding successfully only to find
    that they have been following a mirage.


     Some organizations underestimate the value of non-financial rewards to their
    staff. A highly regarded award can mean as much to a remote team worker as a
    financial incentive because resumes are about status and stronger resumes equal
    stronger salaries. Encourage autonomy, an under-rated incentive. Use carrots and
    sticks wisely.


     Much has been written about the differences between cultures and how management
    can get things done internationally. For example, humor can attract or divide
    depending on how it is handled. Not all humor is universal. Some humor may be
    offensive. Project managers like all managers need to acquire sensitivity to
    peoples of other cultures and maintain respect and focus on the project. The
    project is universal; not everything else is universal.

    The international project

    If you manage people on different continents and time zones, consider setting up
    "office hours" (an opt-in conference call) three times a week for an hour. Thus
    you all know that staff can always count on those times – those heartbeats – to
    talk with the team and handle any major problems that have come up. Use a chat
    room every single day to stay in touch and encourage employees to share any
    great content they find. Email is great, but not necessarily for keeping up with
    day-to-day operations.

    Time zones

     When you have a deadline, be sure everyone knows when it's due in their time zone,
    as well as your own. Perhaps "all times Eastern" would work. Make sure your
    customers and clients are aware of the time differences, as well, so you can
    schedule meetings and launches accordingly.

    Giving credit

     You're in a meeting or phone call and giving status. Should you give credit for
    completed work to the individual or to the team. This can be debated but in
    reality it depends. If the work can be attributed to an individual say the name
    of the individual person and thank them for their contribution.

    Praisy people

     Project Managers need to praise people whenever possible, particularly when
    "bringing someone back from the brink." If you have a remote worker that is
    displaying signs of weakening, you need be firm about it but also let them know
    that they are not isolated from the team in spirit even if by location. As they
    work their way back you need to take every opportunity to praise them and give
    credit on a team conference call.

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