Striving to learn

Introductory Meetup for School of AI

Hello World,

This week has been weirdly awesome. It was at the start of this week that I decided, that I need to do something about the responsibility assigned to me as the dean at Raleigh School of AI. Again, I would like to clarify, that being a dean doesn't mean that I am an expert in any way. I'm just a learner. Just as most of the people. School of AI is just an opportunity that presented itself to me at the right time, and I grab hold of it.

I had begun talking to people a long time ago and used LinkedIn as a platform to approach people here in Raleigh. It is just commendable how much reach you potentially have to reach hundreds, possibly thousands of people around you, who are experts in some field or the other. LinkedIn is just a great platform to start developing connections, with people you never imagined you could ever talk with. I'm bamboozled by the sheer scale and magnanimity of this social platform.

LinkedIn provides you with an opportunity to exploit itself; just do it.

So back to School of AI, today I organized an event at Hunt Library in NC State, with over 45 people attending. It was like a mini-lecture that was going on today. The guest speakers at the event were David Ellison from Lenovo, Tao Wang from SAS, and Brandon Johnson from Koanologies.

I also had support from Insight Business Machines Pvt. Ltd. who sponsored our small event. The thing about having to organize an event for free for the audience is that you need to have some kind of financial backing from people.

Because, even though we at School of AI believe that Education should be free, the sad reality is this world isn't. Also, thanks to David for chipping in for the event from his own personal funds. Generosity like this is never overlooked and I would like to take every ounce of gratitude to thank you guys.

We at School of AI, believe that Education should be free, but the sad reality is this world isn't.

I managed to convince the Senior Artificial Intelligence Data Scientist at Lenovo - David Ellison. He is one of the first few people who showed interest in giving a talk at the meet-up I was trying to organize. Today, he introduced the audience to the topic of Artificial Intelligence, talking about how AI has evolved since its dawn in the early 1950s.

Photo Credit : Johnathan Robertson

Briefly introducing the audience to various aspects of machine learning through - classification, clustering, regression, and other unsupervised learning approaches. Swiftly moving to talk about deep learning and auto-encoders, David touched a little bit of everything to start the event off with some core concepts in the field of artificial intelligence and more specifically, deep learning.

He also talked about the types of jobs available in the data science industry and emphasized how vital data engineering jobs are getting. Finally, he transitioned towards the application of computer vision and its growth over the years. It was fun and exciting to see him talk about this, and the audience seemed curious to learn about the possibilities in the future.

4 Types of Data Science Jobs

After Dr. Ellison, the next guest speaker was Dr. Tao Wang. He is a Senior Manager AI & ML Division at SAS.

He talked for an hour about deep neural networks and took the audience to a whole new level of depth in the world of Deep Learning. It was fascinating to know, how much I don't know. Well, that's how life is - Challenging. He took everyone on a journey from artificial intelligence to Convolutional Neural Networks, to Deep Neural Networks, to Recurrent Neural Networks to Generative Adversarial Networks.

Photo Credit : Johnathan Robertson

He also talked about the possible alternatives, to Deep Neural Network with a more "shallow approach" using something called a Capsnet. He emphasized that shallow nets can be just as good as deep nets, and considers this new approach as the beginning of a new chapter in the world of deep learning. He concluded his talk by talking about a paper on deep forest, which sparked a few questions in the audience.

Finally, after Tao, I had invited Brandon Johnson up to talk about his work at Koanologies.

He is the solutions engineer at NetApp and has started a startup here in Raleigh called Koanologies. They work with drones and computer vision. A combination, which is not something we often think about. He gave a brilliant overview of the what the company is planning to do and where it is headed, with having a solid base and ties with the right people in the industry. He thinks and believes, an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system is something that is imminent and has the ability to impact our lives directly.

Photo Credit : Johnathan Robertson

After him, it was finally my chance. A week of preparation for this very moment. I briefly introduced the audience to the tools, projects, and libraries that we would be using. I also gave them a roadmap, as to how I am thinking of going forward with the school of AI and future meetups. I also introduced the audience to Jupyter Notebooks, and just a simple demo project to get them started with Regression using Sci-Kit Learn Library for Linear Regression.

As I had taken quite a few polls, I knew that a lot of audience members were very new to the field of AI. Hence I took every measure to document a lot of the content, which would help them to get started on their journey in this brand new world.

Presentation

Please feel free to go through the GitHub repo I created for today.

Hope you have a great week ahead

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