Being a better AI beat writer

Earlier today I realized my duties as a solid AI/ML beat writer were not being fulfilled. Nobody appointed me as the best AI beat writer ever in the history of online publications, but that should be clear enough. Ok finding the right amount of hubris should not be a problem. Maybe doing a little bit of writing to back it up would be a good place to start. For a few months I took the time to sit down and follow everything AI online with a vengeance. The output of that was a series of daily video deep dives into news stories via YouTube. It was fun and it was for better or worse the video version of writing daily beat coverage. It was humbling in some ways. The amount of content that springs up every day is massive. Keeping up with it and trying to provide grounded coverage on emerging trends and covering topics required a lot of thought. It was about more than reacting to the stream of things that were happening in the world. Most of it was about separating ridiculous hype from what was actually possible.

On advancing advances

Today I know that only 3 hours of productive time are still possible. That window should be enough to do some meaningful and important things. Each day is full of slices of time where things can get done. Maybe that is what makes our choices every day so important. Part of the challenge I face is staying focused on the problem at hand to drive things to resolution. My focus can get pulled from one thing to another. In the middle of changing focus the thing that was promising gets pushed outside of the window of possible. Within that framework even the best intentions end up faltering in the face of measured outcomes. That is exactly how you end up not advancing the planned advances in that mythical parade of desired output. Kick the can down the road on breaking down that hyperbole at your own parrell. Sometimes you just have to focus on making sure you are advancing all the things that need to be advanced.

One of the things that grabs and holds my attention is always the promise of a perfect possible future. Society in general works toward being better together. Maybe a stronger civil society brings people together in ways that benefit everybody. That is an argument that is easier to make at the start of things than at the end. Right now I’m listening to original music by David Duchovny which always makes me strangely hopeful. That is probably better than browsing the internet to look at potential guitar equipment purchase. It might be better to focus on doing some academic research or writing some code. Reading papers is pretty easy these days. So many of them are being openly published online. Preprints are a great source of rapid access to what people are thinking. The gates have been removed and you can kick the tires on all kinds of ideas within the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

One of the things that I need to focus on improving revolves around making sure to link to articles that catch my idea. Some of them get shared on Twitter as a method of archiving my digital path, but it would be more beneficial if all those links just got shared daily and in some type of more advanced literature review based framework that organizes the links into a consumable order. Strangely enough knowing where to start is often the hardest part of reading all the relevant works on a certain subject. Without question that is about taking the time to consume all the outstanding arguments on a topic. With that foundation in hand you can start to move around and assemble complex arrangements of thoughts to present things in different ways, provide supporting evidence to advance theories, or even challenge things.

The reflective Wednesday conjecture

Today was going to be one of those days that builds up and then drifts away. Maybe that is my fault. Every day you have the chance to seize the day and make something special happen. One of the things that I really enjoy about attending conferences and learning new things is that it creates the potential for a spark of invocation. Maybe that means pulling two things together or maybe making something out of nothing based on the spark of innovation. It is one of those things that when you see it you know it and it can slip away so quickly. Some days are just like that and you can make things happen that would otherwise take a long time. It is those moments of clarity that you cannot waste. You have to treat them like the precious opportunity they are to move things forward.

Today my Google Pixelbook Go Chromebook actually paired to my Pixel 4 XL smartphone to get mobile data without any problems. That was nice. Where I am sitting right now does not have any really solid WiFi options. During the course of writing I do not need to use very much bandwidth to access the internet, but it is nice to have the option. Typically, I find not having access to the internet slows me down. It is probably just one of those things I need to work on moving past at some point. Earlier today I was thinking about a bunch of different academic paper topics. Sometimes it is easier than others to put the drafts together. I used to keep an idea notebook that helped push my research interests forward. Maybe it is time to bring that back. My overall publishing productivity has been down in the last 5 years. The only way to really work on fixing that is to actively write papers. Part of that is working literature reviews and the other part of it is completing research projects.

My automated survey technology was ready and running for years. Maybe now is the time to turn that setup back on and pull together the data necessary to create a few research papers. This time around I could just share the code on GitHub and allow others to make the data collection magic happen. That is probably the right way to go about things. The only drawback for reproducibility is that the code would have to run on some server, but people have a lot more ways to get a server these days. Maybe that is something that I will start working on later this week. I’m still trying to finish up that “Google IT Automation with Python” course series. It has taken a little longer than I had expected. I’m probably going to have to focus in on knocking out part of it every night for the next 20 days to really finish it up. That has to happen in tandem with my efforts to create a new speaking presentation that focuses on walking some machine learning use case ROI example from start to finish.

It seems like a few things are stacking up. Normally, I like to work in real time and finish anything that pops up with extreme alacrity. From time to time that is not possible. The things that need to be done are bigger than the slices of time that I have to complete tasks. Like right now that course is eating up a lot of cycles of time that could be used to do some other things, but learning and pushing things forward is an important part of the process. Being a lifelong learner is a commitment that requires both time and effort to make happen. It would be easier to stop taking on hard challenges, but that would not be the right thing to do.

A little bit of wondering

Oh, some wondering is happening. A little bit of thinking. A little bit of planning. My thoughts were all over the place. Last night I sat down to write some notes about attending a conference this week in California. At some point, I’m going to spend some time really digging into and writing about talking and the experience of getting to meet so many folks interested in machine learning. Instead of doing that writing at the moment, I need to spend some time working on week 2 of the “Crash Course on Python” by Google on Coursera. It feels like forever since I did week the first week of course work. This weekend will be a good opportunity to really jump in and dig into the course with the attention it deserves.

Day 3 #GlobalAI Conference Santa Clara

Greetings from Day 3 of the #GlobalAI Conference. I’m speaking at two sessions today during the conference. Earlier today I went ahead and shared the slide deck and a pre read in mp3 format on LinkedIn. 

Here are the talks I listened to today with a few notes:

Business Track: The Autonomous Pharmacy: Applying AI and ML to Medication Management Across the Care Continuum (Ken Perez) – This was an interesting way to start the day. A lot of this talk focused on targeting and adherence. Both of those targets are about helping people get and sustain care. 

General Keynote Session: The Pros and Cons of Automated Machine Learning in Healthcare (Sanjeev Kumar) – This talk really dug in and tried to address silos and data quality. Those are two things that make it very hard to use dispersed and highly inaccessible data from legacy systems. 

General Keynote Session: Google’s Journey to AI-First  (Chanchal Chatterjee) – This was a really fun talk. Everybody really enjoyed it. The 3 hour version of this talk would have been epic.