Big data and IoT benefit from machine learning, AI apocalypse not imminent

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchITOperations.
article_Big-data-and-IoT-benefit-from-machine-learning-AI-apocalypse-not-eminent

Suddenly, everybody is talking about machine learning, AI bots and deep learning. It’s showing up in new products to look at “call home data,” in cloud-hosted optimization services and even built into new storage arrays!

So what’s really going on? Is this something brand new or just the maturation of ideas spawned out of decades-old artificial intelligence research? Does deep learning require conversion to some mystical new church to understand it, or do our computers suddenly get way smarter overnight? Should we sleep with a finger on the power off button? But most importantly for IT folks, are advances in machine learning becoming accessible enough to readily apply to actual business problems — or is it just another decade of hype?

There are plenty of examples of highly visible machine learning applications in the press recently, both positive and negative. Microsoft’s Tay AI bot, designed to actively learn from 18 to 24 year olds on Twitter, Kik and GroupMe, unsurprisingly achieved its goal. Within hours of going live, it became a badly behaved young adult, both learning and repeating hateful, misogynistic, racist speech. Google’s AlphaGo beat a world champion at the game of Go by learning the best patterns of play from millions of past games, since the game can’t be solved through brute force computation with all the CPU cycles in the universe. Meanwhile, Google’s self-driving car hit a bus, albeit at slow speed. It clearly has more to learn about the way humans drive.

Before diving deeper, let me be clear, I have nothing but awe and respect for recent advances in machine learning. I’ve been directly and indirectly involved in applied AI and predictive modeling in various ways for most of my career. Although my current IT analyst work isn’t yet very computationally informed, there are many people working hard to use computers to automatically identify and predict trends for both fun and profit. Machine learning represents the brightest opportunity to improve life on this planet — today leveraging big data, tomorrow optimizing the Internet of Things (IoT).

Do machines really learn?

First, let’s demystify machine learning a bit. Machine learning is about finding useful patterns inherent in a given historical data set. These usually identify correlations between input values that you can observe, and output values that you’d eventually like to predict. Although precise definitions depend on the textbook, a model can be a particular algorithm with specific parameters that are tuned, or one that comes to “learn” useful patterns.

There are two broad kinds of machine learning:

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Is It Still Artificial Intelligence? Knowm Rolls Out Adaptive Machine Learning Stack

(Excerpt from original post on the Taneja Group News Blog)

When we want to start computing at biological scales and speeds – evolving today’s practical machine learning forward towards long-deferred visions of a more “artificial intelligence” – we’ll need to take advantage of new forms of hardware that transcend the strictly digital.

Digital computing infrastructure, based on switching digital bits and separating the functions of persisting data from processing, is now facing some big hurdles with Moore’s law. Even if there are a couple of magnitudes of improvement yet to be squeezed out of the traditional digital design paradigm, it has inherent limits in power consumption, scale, and speed. For example, there simply isn’t enough power available to meet the desires of those wishing to reach biological scale and density with traditional computing infrastructure, whether evolving artificial intelligence or more practically scaling machine learning to ever larger big data sets.

Knowm Inc. is pioneering a brilliant new form of computing that leverages the adaptive “learning” properties of memristive technology to not only persist data in fast memory (as others in the industry like HP are researching), but to inherently – and in one operation – calculate serious compute functions that would otherwise require the stored data to be offloaded into CPU’s, processed, and written back (taking more time and power).

The Knowm synapse, their circuit-level integrated unit of calculation and data persistence, was inspired by biological and natural world precedent. At a philosophical level this takes some deep thinking to fully appreciate the implications and opportunities, but this is no longer just a theory. Today, Knowm is announcing their “neuromemristive” solution to market supported with a full stack of  technologies – discrete chips, scalable simulators, defined low-level API’s and higher-level machine learning libraries, and a service that can help layer large quantities of Knowm synapses directly onto existing CMOS (Back End of Line or BEOL) designs.

Knowm is aiming squarely at the machine learning market, but here at Taneja Group we think the opportunity is much larger. This approach that intelligently harnesses analog hardware functions for extremely fast, cheap, dense and memory-inherent computing could represent a truly significant change and turning point for the whole computing industry.

I look forward to finding out who will take advantage of this solution first, and potentially cause a massively disruptive shift in not just machine learning, but in how all computing is done.
 

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