Gender Equality

I was reading this report from IBM Institute for Business value titled ‘Women, Leadership and the Priority Paradox‘ and it just came to my mind : how obvious and commonsensical this actually is.

Everybody should agree that intelligence is equally distributed among two genders. At least all of us could see that in the primary and secondary schools, where boys and girls are both able to understand math, learn languages, science and arts. Still, later in life, in the western and most of modern societies, men have more power and money and women less of it. Maybe you would say : “Men earn money to bring home and women decide how to spend it”. But who decides within these companies and governments how to spend money ? Following the same logic, then shouldn’t it be the women ?

Continue reading “Gender Equality”

Blockchain for Trade Finance

I was invited recently to take part in Blockchain Finance conference in Singapore as a panelist in a panel discussion about the use of blockchain for trade finance applications. I find this subject very interesting for many reasons that I will try to elaborate in this post. First I will just explain the main purpose and challenges of trade finance, and then what the benefit of blockchain in this particular field can be.

Continue reading “Blockchain for Trade Finance”

Think 2019

February 12 – 15 was the week for Think 2019, according to some analysis the most important tech event of the year. IBM assembled together all major individual exhibitions and this was the second edition of Think, now the main annual IBM conference. This time the event took place in San Francisco. I attended the event as one of the speakers on the subject of Watson Machine Learning and Watson Studio, and in my session I also had as guest Anyline, AI company from Austria.

The conference was successful and it was huge. Not only based on the number of participants (around 30’000), or sessions (more than 3’000), but also on the quality of discussions and topics. IBM events are not so much about announcements, but I will list and describe the most important ones in this post, along with highlights of the most recent and interesting technologies.  Continue reading “Think 2019”

Quantum Computing Master Class

On January 31, I was instructor at the Quantum Master Class at IBM Studio in Zürich.

I coded in Qiskit (IBM’s Python SDK for quantum information science) and demonstrated how different Bell states can be implemented in jupyter notebook, how one can code the entanglement of three qubits, how to develop of the quantum circuit for bit addition, and the logic behind Deutsch’s algorithm with its implementation in Qiskit. Continue reading “Quantum Computing Master Class”

AI Conference in Serbia

“Serbian AI Valley”

On November 9 this year, I gave a speech at the first international AI conference in Serbia. The venue took place in the beautiful city of Novi Sad, in participation of around 300 AI developers and enthusiasts, data scientists, businessmen and representatives of academia. A first thing that you realize when going to Eastern Europe for a tech conference, is a high level of technical interests and expertise of the local people. This was the case also in Serbia. When you talk to them, you realize they are serious developers. It is estimated that there are around 50’000 people in total working in different IT jobs in Serbia, and this region around Novi Sad has actually the highest concentration of skilled IT professionals. Continue reading “AI Conference in Serbia”

Deep Learning and Watson Studio

It was fun to play with Watson Studio and create my own convolutional neural network. Watson Studio is complex but easy and graphically intuitive tool, and integrates well with Watson Machine Learning engine. I used standard MNIST data set (with images of hand-written digits), created three layers deep CNN, exported the algorithm in TensorFlow / Keras, trained the model both using GPUs on Watson and locally on my Jupyter Python Macbook environment and got nice results. To data scientists and AI developers : go and use it. And for all other enthusiasts, the best way to learn AI is to create it yourself 🙂 ! Continue reading “Deep Learning and Watson Studio”

From Deep Blue to AlphaZero

Twenty years ago, IBM impressed the world with its specialized chess-playing system that won the match against the best chess player of all times, Garry Kasparov. Last year, Google repeated the same achievement with its Go-winning solutions AlphaGo, AlphaGo Zero and most recently AlphaZero. How did this evolution happen and what are the key success factors of these remarkable events in the history of AI ?

Deep Blue

First, a little bit of history and background theory. The history of chess-playing AI solution goes back to 1957 when IBM research scientist Alex Bernstein wrote the first complete chess-playing program and ran it on IBM 704. But it was only 40 years later, in 1997 that computer-based solution reached such a level to surpass the best human performance. AI-based solutions for game-playing haven’t changed a lot during this period. The best practice was the use of opening books for the first dozen moves, and then use of Minimax algorithm for the search. Chess has up to 35 different moves, and can go to 50 moves deep, which makes it computationally impossible for any computer to identify all possibilities until the end of the game (35^50 is higher than the number of atoms in the universe). Due to the wide search, even nowadays this algorithm would go to the depth of maximum 10 levels within the allotted time for the move decision. Alpha-Beta pruning was developed to discard those subtrees that don’t contribute to the evaluation of the best moves for the Minimax algorithm. This helped to reach deeper levels (up to 18 levels from the current position). Once this depth is reached, an evaluation function must be defined to assess the strength of achieved positions and to grade the selected moves. Evaluation functions are very complex, and this is were humans typically excel. Garry Kasparov had for example extraordinary sophisticated evaluation capabilities, better than any other player. Continue reading “From Deep Blue to AlphaZero”

Managing Stress and Emotions for Busy Professionals

The job of project managers is very stressful, often up to the point of being unbearable, and long term it can come with health hazards.

Frederic Kerautret, in a short 1.5 hour training session with >50 leaders in project management from Lausanne and all Switzerland, showed us that to manage it successfully, we need first of all to understand very well our emotions. Practical tools which are based on neuroscience, if exercised regularly and practiced the right way, can change our lives and significantly increase collaboration and productivity of the whole teams.

It reminds me of emotional intelligence, but specifically focused on how to cope with stress.

Especially important and not to be neglected in this era of digitalization !

Sasha Lazarevic

 

The Amazing Human Brain Project

It was great pleasure to moderate a session with Cristoph Ebell at our PMI event on November 2 in Lausanne. Christoph is Executive Director of the Human Brain Project, European-wide initiative to provide the infrastructure and software tools necessary for decoding and understanding of the human brain. The interest was considerable, since this is one of the most important scientific projects in the world managed from Switzerland.

The Human Brain Project consists of 12 subprojects, driven concurrently in around 120 different institutions in more than 20 different countries. Christoph Ebell was talking about the project objectives, challenges and lessons learned, and how the collaboration stimulated by this project will create numerous innovation opportunities in neurorobotics, neuroinformatics and medicine.

The overall team consists of over 500 people from neuroscience, engineering and IT. The massive data and complexity of the mathematical models require ever-growing super-computing power. So, the day-to-day management, governance, technical and scientific leadership, and communication requirements are simply massive. We’ve learned how to deal with such challenges using some new concepts like science diplomacy, as a way of communicating with stakeholders, and co-design as a way to integrate the distributed engineering of innovative technologies.

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Excellent atmosphere and after-event networking with more than 60 participants !

Sasha Lazarevic, November 2016