You know AI has arrived when…

April 23, 2017

A lot has been written about artificial intelligence or machine learning and how it is going to fundamentally change our lives. Whether it was DeepBlue who defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997, or Watson who defeated Jeopardy champion in 2011 or very recently AlphaGo who defeated the 18 time world champion and a 9 dan rated Lee Seedol! Machines have become better at tasks that we thought only humans can do. Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 1.34.35 PMIt may not be so obvious to you now, but the AlphaGo victory is a clear indication that we have gone from linear to parabolic in terms of how fast the technology around us is going to evolve. In order to have true appreciation for this statement you must read this very readable article, “The AI Revolution: The road to super intelligence” and also check out my earlier blog post.

What prompted this blog post however was a very simple and innocuous looking story that I came across recently from Google Creative Labs about Machine Learning that enables fast drawing. You can read it here. Fast drawing? Whats so interesting about it? Imagine drawing a meaningless doodle and AutoDraw converts it into a meaningful image! Give it a try at, https://www.autodraw.com/ by doodling anything you want and see how AutoDraw will start suggesting what you actually wanted to draw. It is a fascinating to see how accurately AutoDraw will read your mind.

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Defeating humans by learning to play better than us in board games was just the first step. Now artificial intelligence can start to predict what we may want. And every time we tell it whether or not it was a right prediction, it learns! And since everything is connected via cloud, it learns fast!

AutoDraw soon will become so ubiquitous that it won’t be long before it is available on toys as low end as the doodlePro tabs. Imagine how quickly it will kill the art of doodling. Just like we stopped memorizing phone numbers of family and friends when the mobile phones came around, we would quickly give up the art of doodling. So while the machines are getting smarter, human race in general will continue to become dumber!

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Don’t get me wrong, I love AI and machine learning. I love the possibility that long before I get too old to drive myself around, I will have a self navigating car at my disposal. I just hope that we have enough intelligence left to remember where we came from and where we want to go!

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Demystifying buzz words…

August 8, 2016

Once in a while you get a chance to work on a presentation that is simultaneously challenging and extremely interesting. My challenge was to explain some of the most exciting topics (Containers, Micro-services, DCOS, Block chain architecture and Deep Learning) to Sales folks with an attention span of a goldfish! (Digression: It is no longer okay to humiliate goldfish about it’s attention span since it was recently discovered that humans have shorter attention span  than goldfish!). I found myself totally engrossed in researching and putting together this presentation and in the end it was very well received. So without further adieu here is my presentation, DemystifyingBuzzWords. Do check out the last slide for some of the excellent articles which formed the basis for my slides.

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The role of the CIO in the Apple-Google era

March 23, 2016

Originally published at, https://www.digitalnewsasia.com/role-cio-apple-google-era

By Benjamin Cher | Mar 21, 2016

(Reproduced here for longevity)

  • Nobody wants to be told how to use IT, self-service rules
  • Enterprise IT services need to be more like Apple products

IN the ‘Google age,’ where the collective knowledge of the world has been indexed for quick reference, solving IT problems is a self-service effort for most users.

This paradigm shift will affect chief information officers (CIOs) and IT departments used to just keeping the lights on and maintaining an iron grip on IT environments, argues Suhas Kelkar, Asia Pacific chief technology officer at BMC Software.

“If you look back to when the CIO role was created in the early 1990s, it was because IT was too complex, but you wanted to use it as a competitive advantage,” he says.

“In the last 20 years, we have made amazing progress in terms of technology, and it has become more consumer-friendly.

“All the complexity is hidden from view, and in that sense the role of the CIO needs to evolve,” he adds, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.

With the ‘consumerisation of IT,’ CIOs now need to simplify their service delivery to match user expectations.

“They have to hide the complexity away from the user – the complexity doesn’t really go away, but it has to be shifted away from the front-end,” says Suhas.

Twenty years ago, CIOs came into organisations to implement huge and complex IT systems, and used a top-down approach to put in place the processes that everyone in the organisation would have to use.

“They dictated how people used IT,” says Suhas.

That top-down approach now needs to change, as users are becoming more digitally-literate and have their own ideas on how to use IT, he argues.

“Now, it has completely shifted – users don’t like to be told how to use IT, they want to be left alone … and the top-down approach cannot continue,” he stresses.

Essentially, CIOs today can be divided into two groups: Those who can cope with these changes, and those who cannot.

Beyond the new breed of users, CIOs also have to cope with pressure from all directions – from cost and governance, to compliance and risk pressures.

The Google and Apple factors

With ‘google’ now a verb, IT departments also have to make technology ever more intuitive – users today expect to be able to use IT without even looking at a manual. In fact, many would not even know what you mean when you tell them to RTFM.

“For example, when you buy an Apple product, you open the box and there is just the product and no documentation,” says Suhas.

“You just know how to use it no matter what product you buy from Apple – that paradigm will have to come into enterprise software.

“Gone are the days where you have to learn complex enterprise software – we have to start treating enterprise software as consumer software,” he adds.

To adapt to this paradigm shift, enterprises could start with how they approach troubleshooting, suggests Suhas.

“Today, if you are working on your laptop and get an error message, the first thing you do is to google it and try to help yourself.

“If you don’t find an answer on Google, the next thing you’ll do is reach out to your friends and colleagues for a solution.

“If they can’t help you, you’ll finally pick up the phone and call the helpdesk as a last resort,” he says.

“People today want to deal with enterprise software differently – they no longer want to call helpdesk,” he adds.

From fact to friction

Failure to adapt to changing user behaviour will result in ‘IT friction,’ which can cause productivity loss.

“IT friction is a concept where you are not delivering services in the way people want to consume services,” says Suhas.

“For example, people want to use their preferred device – if an organisation bars me from using my preferred device, I won’t feel as productive as I could be,” he adds.

And if organisations remain insistent on approved devices, costs can go further up as people circumvent the IT department.

“We have seen a lot of this with the public cloud, with people using their own personal credit cards to get an Amazon server because it is quicker than getting it from the IT department,” says Suhas.

“Once they do that, IT has no control on what is on the server, what policies are applied, and whether it is compliant – we call that ‘shadow IT’ and we want to minimise that,” he adds.
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Adapting to change

There are steps CIOs can take to adapt to this new IT paradigm, starting first with understanding that these changes are central to the CIO of the future.

“First and foremost they need to understand … that there are three types of disruption happening,” says Suhas.

The first is the technology disruption, from autonomous vehicles to 3D printing, but it is the other two that will affect an organisation even more critically.

“There is business model disruption, when a startup comes in and eats your lunch with a new business model,” says Suhas.

“Then there is behavioural disruption – people expect to work with IT systems in a different way.

“In my opinion, CIOs need to understand these disruptions to grow and become transformation leaders, rather than be the end-receiver of all these changes,” he adds.

These changes are leading to some people quipping that ‘CIO’ now means ‘career is over.’

The only way of remaining in charge of a change is to drive it, and CIOs need to drive this within their organisations, Suhas argues.

“In order to stay relevant, I think CIOs need to become CI3Os (chief information, intelligence, innovation officers), or they will find themselves facing a ‘career is over’ scenario,” he says.

CI3O.jpg


“I am too sexy for my shirt…”

July 23, 2014

Right Said Fred released their hit song “I am too sexy for my shirt” in 1991. Almost 25 years later, what Fred rightly said is becoming a reality! Smart fabric and sexy shirts are just around the corner!

shirt

Recently I had the honor of hosting a panel on “Wearable Tech” at Confluence 2014 conference organized by Zinnov. I had interesting panelists on my panel, Sathya from BOSCH, Dr. Raghunath from Mindtree and Mohammed from http://www.GetActive.in. Sathya gave us the perspective on how BOSCH is making smaller and smaller building blocks (sensors, accelerometers) that are enabling the wearable technology devices. Dr. Raghunath talked about the role Mindtree plays in helping other companies build cool devices. And Mohammed who is the CEO for http://www.GetActive.in showed us cool wearable consumer products that his startup is making. It was interesting to discuss social, security and privacy issues around wearable technology. Mohammed also talked about what lies in the future for the exercise bands of today. He mentioned that folks are already working on detecting your ECG via these bands. ECG like fingerprint is unique to every person. So when the armbands start becoming your identity tools, we can start using them in variety of ways such as financial transactions etc. The possibilities are endless! Sathya talked about how they are making sensors smaller and smaller. The day won’t be long when instead of wearing a device, you swallow a device! The device will draw power from acids from your stomach. This is a whole new direction that will unlock many barriers and create interesting opportunities.

I am really excited that all the sci-fi gadgets that we grew up watching in Star Trek and other such shows are becoming a reality in our life time! Can we thus extrapolate that what we see in today’s sci-fi movies (Transformers, Matrix) will be our future? Scary but it just might be!

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Japan Articles

June 26, 2014

I recently had an opportunity to do a media launch of MyIT2.0-Japanese version. Here are couple of articles that came out of that efforts. These are my first japanese media articles. Here is one that was published in ZDNet Japan. And here is one from IT Leaders.

 

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Hack, Analyze, Love

February 21, 2014

This is a story of Chris McKinlay, a Mathematics major PhD Student from UCLA and how he used unstructured data mining to find his true love.Chris, frustrated by the match-making algorithm provided by OkCupid, decides to take matters in his own hands. The story is as much about how he wrote Python robots to scrape data from online profiles as it is about the difficulties he faced in his approaches, and how he tweaked his approach. When OkCupid disallowed his robots to harvest data, he trained his robots to become more human- like. This allowed him to get 6 million questions/ answers from 20000 profiles. Then armed with all this data, Chris set out to find patterns. For McKinlay’s plan of dating like a mathematician to work, he needed to find patterns from this vast data—a way to roughly group the women according to their similarities. Being a hard core mathematician, Chris coded up a modified Bell Labs algorithm called K-Modes first used in 1998 to analyze diseased soybean crops and divided 20,000 women into 7 distinct clusters. These clusters were based on their answers, which were harvested using the robots! The story doesn’t end here cause Chris had to take all this theoretical analysis and had to put it real world tests by dating women from each of the clusters. It is truly a fascinating story that ends with a sweet ending.

Chris McKinlay used Python scripts to riffle through hundreds of OkCupid survey questions. He then sorted female daters into seven clusters, like “Diverse” and “Mindful,” each with distinct characteristics

Chris McKinlay used Python scripts to riffle through hundreds of OkCupid survey questions. He then sorted female daters into seven clusters, like “Diverse” and “Mindful,” each with distinct characteristics

You can read the entire article on wired.com.

We all have read many articles about the buzz word technologies such as big data, unstructured data analytics and Hadoop. However as this story goes to tell, these buzz words will soon start shaping our personal and social lives in ways that we never imagined! It is no surprise then that we now say, “Personal data is the new oil of our digital economy!”. This does raise concerns such as the thin line between big data and big brother, however that is a topic for an article some other time. Till then “hack, analyze, love!”


IoT Coming to a Door Near You!

July 31, 2013

We all have been hearing about the Internet of Things (commonly referred to as Io T) for many years now.  The name Io T is usually credited to Kevin Ashton for using it first all the way back in 1999. And we have all heard about how refrigerators will be able to monitor your food inventory and if you are running low on milk would automatically place an order! However after all these years as I gulp down the last cup of milk somehow I keep wishing for milk to automagically show up on my door steps!

However last week I came across a start up that made me think that I may be closer to “Got Milk” stage than ever before. The start up is called August, www.august.com. You must to watch their introductory video, they have indeed done a great job of it! 

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I am sure you know of many such examples that are currently taking shape whether it is the central monitoring of all BMW cars or the ultimate Quantified Self via fitbit, nike+ and other plethora of apps!

Io T may have been slow to get off the starting blocks but I am sure that it is going to pick up rapid steam and we will finally start seeing the results all around us. I have reserved my lock, are you going to too? 

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Another interesting thing about August is that they don’t even have a product yet. I am seeing this trend more and more where you come up with a great product idea and start selling. Once you have million customers signed up to purchase your product, they you go build the product! Another famous example of this has been pebble, which raised the $100000 funding in mere two hours! This model of doing business is extremely interesting but that’s a topic for another article some other time! Till then, I better go to my favorite grocery store and buy some milk!