Games and Game Theory appear to be the ruling paradigm for the current AI top dogs. Both Irina Higgins and Simon Lucas made clear cases for the choice of gaming environments as AI training grounds, and referenced Game Theory, too.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to argue with them – but I do think it is worth examining the assumptions that underlie gaming approaches and Game Theory, and considering these as they relate to the problem spaces which we dearly wish that AI could help us with. As you might guess, I am not sanguine… Continue reading “Games and Game-Theory – the trouble with paradigms…”→
Irina Higgins is a senior research scientist at DeepMind, and has a background in neuroscience.
The second presentation at this event largely focused on telling a story about DeepMind’s development of AlphaGo – using this as a vehicle to explain DeepMind’s approach and give insights into its culture.
She told us that DeepMind now has 300 scientists, and was keen to emphasise the high-minded aspirations of the organisation – from its mission statement;
to its ‘intentionally designed culture’, which aims to mesh the best aspects of industry and academia; the intense focus and resources of the former with the curiosity driven open-ended approach of the latter.
This was the foundation-laying talk of this event, and it was excellent – a rapid-fire but followable overview of the history and principal themes of AI research and development, and more detail on the approach currently producing the results that have been making headlines – neural networks. There was nothing here that some general reading wouldn’t get you, but it was engagingly and thoroughly presented at speed.
This New Scientist event was aimed at a general interest audience, rather than an expert one, but assumed a relatively high level of general understanding – the presentations were light on technicalities, but not shy of discussing complex ideas. I had booked without looking into the speaker’s details, trusting to New Scientist to deliver, and my trust was over-rewarded, as the presentations provided a wider range of views than I could have imagined.
These notes are provided mostly because a number of people I’ve spoken to since weren’t at the event, but were wishing they had been – they will be a poor substitute for having been there, but will hope to convey the key points and provide some links. I’ve split the event up into several posts – skim the headings and dip in to the parts that interest you – there is no grand overarching story here, folks!
This event was put on by Tech Meetups, an international setup with events all over the world – the first of theirs I’ve attended.
I was unfortunately late, so I missed the presentation from HootSuite, who aim to allow management of multiple social media campaigns. My loss.
ProdPad: As I arrived, Janna Bastow was presenting a tour through the set of tools offered by ProdPad, the startup she founded with her partner, and which they have successfully bootstrapped. ProdPad offers a suite of services clustered around the earlier stages of product development for teams – starting with ideas, offering tools for capture and management, for gathering comment and feedback on them, all recorded and transparent to all stakeholders – specific permissions can be given to users outside the organisation.
As the name suggests, this is not so much a networking event, as an opportunity for startups to get free legal advice. The organisers bring along some working solicitors, and team them up with a number of law students. They sit around a large table, and you put your issue to them, then talk it through.
There were three tables on this occasion, and they saw us one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis. There wasn’t any noticeable time pressure – you had as long as you wanted to explore your issue.
Two in-depth presentations, followed by a dizzying parade of 30 second pitches. Event details here.
First presentation up was from one of the founders of Canadian tech outfit Mobify, Peter McLachlan. I didn’t know them, but it seems they have provided tools and support for many major brands to translate their web offering to mobile formats. We were treated to a compressed history of the outfit, a classic tech startup of three Computer Science graduates having some insight and then plugging away making clever things happen one after another – by their own admission, many of them blind alleys.