Can you give our audience a teaser of the topics and POV you plan to talk about at our conference?
Sure! The primary focus will be preparing your organization for Enterprise Conversational AI. As AI and Cognitive enabled technologies continue to proliferate the workplace, a paradigm shift is occurring in the way we perform our day to day tasks. Understanding practical applications of AI and how to deploy it successfully is at the forefront of nearly every technological roadmap within the enterprise. I'll start high, and then dive deep into the building blocks and implications of deploying conversational AI to the enterprise.
Some of the key points will be:
- Education and demystifying "AI"
- Mitigating fears of automation, robots, and organizational change management
- How to prep data sources for scale and computational access
- Choosing the right classifier algorithm for your use case(s)
- Conversational regression testing, data analytics and visualizations
Tell us about what you are working on right now.
Currently, I'm working on a project that utilizes a conglomerate of technologies including:
- Google's BERT, a deep neural net NLP classifier
- Stanford's Snorkel, a system for creating training sets w/weak supervision
- Zalando's FLAIR, a framework for implementing multi-NLP models
These, and a handful of other systems, work in unison with one another to automate the analysis of enterprise ticket data, complete with NLG summaries and automatically generated visualizations with ZERO human intervention.
Please tell us about your background and how you got into your field. What is your story of how you got here?
My passion for electronics and technology started very early on. My great-grandfather started a coin operated business in the late 1960s with Rock-Ola jukeboxes and shuffleboards, which quickly evolved into arcade video games with the advent of Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man. I spent countless hours watching and helping my father, who has worked for the company for over 30 years, tuning CRT screens, soldering buttons and joysticks, and playing every new game that came through the shop. I took apart my first Nintendo Entertainment System when I was 5 just to see how it worked. Electronics are in my blood.
Fast forward 20 years, post academia. It's the early 2000s, and I find myself working as a Network and Security Engineer. Although the work is challenging at times, it is increasingly predictable and repetitive. I start learning my first programming languages since C++ in college, and begin writing my first set of logic scripts using Perl and Python. This marks the first time I used any sort of technology to replace the day to day work I was doing as a human. Over the next few years, I shuffle my way through the ranks of many an ISP, MSP, and consulting agency, honing my development skills and picking up new ones like data analytics along the way.
In 2013, I landed at a company called IPsoft, where they were using Autonomic and Cognitive technologies to replace the mundane work humans did in IT and Shared Services. I quickly consumed the automation framework, learning the foundations of RPA, tuning my first Bayesian learning algorithm and adding Java to my list of programming languages. My aptitude and desire to learn new technologies would catapult me into the role of Solutions Architect, where I finally entered the cognitive realm, working on IPsoft's conversational AI product, Amelia.
In the following years, I've go on to complete over 35 successful cognitive software projects for many Fortune 500 companies spanning verticals in Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, Hospitality and Entertainment. I've become well-versed in a myriad of business and technical skills including writing SOWs, building financial ROI models, tuning NLP accuracy and designing real-time conversational analytics using the ELK stack. If it's somewhere within 2 standard deviations of the above, I've dabbled in it.
Currently, I am the Director of Engineering and Chief Cognitive Architect for IPsoft, where I lead a global team of Sales Engineers, Solution Architects, Data Scientists and Developers in delivering high-quality, scalable solutions for our clients.
In the next five years, what are the most important things to keep and eye on in your field? Why?
The roles of Data Scientist and Conversational Experience Designer.
Data Scientist is one of the hottest jobs on the market right now. Just 5 years ago you hardly saw this in job postings, and now it's everywhere. The interesting thing about the Data Scientist role, and this may be an unpopular opinion, is that it will likely become obsolete as we know it within the next 5 years. The sharp rise and fall of this skillset is largely due to the advent of more accessible tools such as AutoML, AutoKeras, Flair, Michaelangelo, Ludwig and other easy to use frameworks that don't require extensive understanding and tuning expertise of traditional data science. The Data Scientist of 2022 will likely be an ""overseer"" of models and tools; simply choosing the proper frameworks to use and letting the tools do the tuning themselves.
Conversational Experience Designer is something that didn't exist even 3 years ago. With the rise of chatbots and virtual agents in the workplace, more and more companies are understanding that the user experience is as important (if not more) as the development of the underlying technology. If you build the most technologically advanced system, but no one adopts it or is able to use it, you've failed. This is where the Conversational Experience Designer, or CED, comes into play. Developers are great at coding and building integrations. CEDs are great at ethnographic research, understanding the user and how they see the systems they interact with on a day to day basis. The trifecta of success in conversational AI is the Developer, the Data Scientist, and the Conversational Experience Designer.
Who (person or company) do you feel is doing exciting stuff in your field? Why?
There is a company based out of Houston, Texas called Hypergiant that is doing some next-level stuff right now! They're currently working on "interplanetary internet" which will utilize a mesh network of cubesats launched into the LaGrange point between the Earth and Moon. This will enable faster space-to-space communications with other interstellar objects and also serve as off-world data backup points. They're hiring everything from Data Scientists to Quantum Cartographers and Astrobiologists! I think the merging of so many fields is really exciting.
How do you hope Tulip Conference will be better than your typical event/conference? Why?
I'm hoping that Tulip Conference will change the status quo by bringing together C-Suite/Senior Leaders with technology practitioners in the same space to learn about next generation technology at the same time. Too often I see conferences that are targeted and exclusive to either group, which end up producing a game of "telephone" post-conference. One group doesn't understand the business case and implications, the other doesn't understand the difficulty and complexity of implementing cutting edge technology. I'm hoping to see positive interactions and calls to action for all parties involved.