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.

2019 Speaker Video Questions

Earlier this week, I got sent a set of interview questions to help make a short speaker video for a conference I’m attending later this year. The questionnaire included a ton of different topics. I thought it might be good to just write out my thoughts real quick here and then try to distil the best of that brainstorming into a 3 minute video later today. My plan is to give the questions a quick once over and then circle back to each of them a couple times to really make sure they get all of the consideration they deserve.

Answer all of the following:
Introductory Questions

Q: Name, company, job title
A: Dr. Nels Lindahl, a fortunate 10 company, Director – Clinical Systems

Q: A bit about what you do
A: Every day I work to help solve meaningful problems in the healthcare space.

Q: A bit about your AI background
A: Thanks to my quantitative background including Ph.D. level statistics I was able to jump in and start taking advantage of all the open source software available. That quantitative background helped me feel comfortable to jump in and do any training I could find to help learn how to apply AI to everyday business problems. I’m well over 40 certificates or badges at this point 😉

Answer 2-3 of the following:
AI-related Questions

Q: What excites you the most about AI?
A: Possibility. Opening the door to new insights and data driven decisions is so powerful. The open source community has really democratized the first push and made it easy to breakdown the barriers that would have prevented AI at scale.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at Ai4 Healthcare?
A: Talking to people and learning about what inspires them to push things forward.

Q: What does AI mean to you?
A: AI to me is the applied application of programing to problems where intelligence, learning, simulation, or modeling benefit the process. That is probably a more nuanced answer than building or modeling human type cognition with a digital space.

Q: Who is the ideal person to attend your talk?
A: Anyone who is thinking about how to apply machine learning concepts to real world problems. Anybody that is daring to wonder how do we scale this up in an applied way to start solving problems.

Q: How do you interact with AI on a day-to-day basis?
A: My entire day is spent around huge data sources and data streams that face challenges and provide opportunities to really dig in and understand problems in meaningful ways. All my spare time is spent digging into TensorFlow notebooks and learning python.

Q: What sparked your interest in AI?
A: Back in 1998, I started learning LISP and wanted to do amazing things that just were not possible at the time. Now the power of open source libraries have opened the door to all those things that seemed out of reach.

Q: Where do you see AI bringing the Healthcare industry?
A: It is entirely possible that AI is going to drive the Healthcare industry to highly customized applications of drug therapies and away from formulary based management. That change toward customization in the pharmacy world will fundamentally change clinical trials and how we think about applied medicine. Imagine treatment based on a mapping of your specific genome resulting in custom printed tablets vs. treatments that generally worked at a specific strength during clinical trials.

Q: What impacts do you think AI has already had on the Healthcare industry
A: Speed to market for new treatments is facing real public pressure. All of the news reporting around how AI can be used to speed up drug development creates pricing and speed pressures within a marketplace that was already tightening.

Answer 1-2 of the following:
Fun Questions

Q: What is the best vacation you have ever taken?
A: One of the first vacation I had to Rocky Mountain was just really fantastic. The weather at the time combined with the beautiful scenic views of mountain trails was really majestic.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
A: Reading. It is ok to make reading your hobby today. I give you full permission.

Keeping track of what you read

This morning I woke up and read a few articles about artificial intelligence before my thoughts wandered back to sports trading cards. A lot of my article reading is happening on my Pixel 3 XL phone and it is a scrolling type of consuming content. On this computer here that runs Windows 10 I had thought about getting back into using EndNote to capture all of my citations. That is always a challenging thing to deal with when it comes keeping track of two different types of content. Online media and academic journals are always two different types of content that have to be tracked in different ways.

One of the things that I need to get back into the habit of doing is generally tracking content, but really digging into specific topics for literature reviews. Over the last couple of weeks I started planning out an article. It all started by drawing things out on a page from a Moleskine A3 size sketchbook. Yeah — that is a 11.75″ x 16.5″ giant drawing pad. Sometimes that is easier to work with than my whiteboard. All of that drawing and thinking set the stage for an area of inquiry that will be the seed for an interesting literature review.

You have to appreciate Google Scholar alerts

You cannot stop the stream of information. As the knowledge base of the academy grows one publication at a time you can only hope to tunnel into the shared knowledge within an academic space. It is no longer possible to keep up with the speed of publications. Reading and learning are inherently a reward for the pursuit of knowledge. The pace of publication creates a situation where the pursuit of knowledge has to be accepted as the goal. Any goal centered on learning everything would be aspirational at best.

Google Scholar has been sending over occasional “Scholar Alert” emails for my search, “Managing At the Speed of Change”. The latest electronic missive from Sholar Alerts only included one book. I was able to read part of the Google Books preview from Chris Cosby’s “Strategic Organizational Alignment: Authority, Power, Results” (2016). Inside the book it clearly shows a publication date of 2017. Given that it is only 2016 and the publication is available for purchase on my Amazon Kindle the 2017 date seems interesting. I would have guessed the publication year was 2016 not 2017.

My goal for 2017 is to write 5 academic articles and send 3 of them off for publication. I am hopeful that next year will be a key year for my contributions to the academy. A ton of my focus recently has been dedicated to knocking out a few lines of code each day. That pursuit will be deprioritized in favor of writing academic articles.

A weekend of reading literature

My epic literature review based adventure turned toward reading a few articles on people, process, and technology. Sometimes that gets presented as a triangle shaped diagram. It is another framework that pulls forward from the 1990’s into the modern workplace. Some of that research begins to wade into the world of ITIL. My search is taking me all the way back to Leavitt’s diamond model from 1964. I’m not sure how it will all tie together at this point, but the models are interesting to think about and apply to the modern workplace.