Archive | September 22, 2017

All Aboard the TrAIn to Westworld

See what I did there? TrAIn? AI or to give it its Sunday name Artificial Intelligence is everywhere just now. Or rather, it is everywhere in the technology press, but we’re just at the cusp of it coming into and affecting our lives. No longer do we need to worry about Cloud or Big Data as our hype trends, now we have AI and her close friend IoT.  (You forgot Machine Learning – Ed)

However, we are several years away from seeing the true impact of AI. The growth in the number of connected devices allows businesses to transform (you nearly got Digital Transformation in as well for those playing buzzword bingo – Ed) based on the more and varied sources of data. As the number of connected devices grows so our Data Scientists can interpret and turn this deluge of data into business Information.

IOT Infographic

(Image Source; The Connectivist)

At present, this is simply Machine Learning, not true Artificial Intelligence. Current decision making technologies and outcomes are programmed by humans, there is no interpretation with all outcomes driven by complex algorithms. We now have infrastructure solutions more capable than ever of processing information in real time. As an example, Suduko; a typical person would take over two hours to complete a 4×4 puzzle, Google Image Recognition Software can complete the same puzzle in 9 seconds.

Therefore we know advantages can be gained by systems completing tasks faster than humans can possibly consider. We have high precision robots, we can translate signs simply by pointing our phones at them using image recognition and we almost have driverless cars, however the car doesn’t quite understand yet why I want to go via Dominos to collect a pizza on the way home.

The gap to true AI is logic and reasoning; whilst robots can do a significant amount of human tasks they will not know why, they are following a set of instructions. Whilst we can possibly program logic into a robotic operation can we get the same robot to comprehend moral issues? What if a self-driving car is out of control? Does it drive into a wall risking its passengers or hit a bus stop of people? The moral issue has relevance in these situations, and has to be involved in the decision making process.

So whilst we are still somewhat away from holidaying at Westworld[i] the current rate of technological advancement will see it arrive in the next several years. It will have a material impact on all our lives and we will see autonomous vehicles, enhanced customer services and a myriad of options we simply have not considered yet. The data we are generating today is already impacting development of future products and services, from healthcare to transport and everything in between.

The obvious concern is the terminator scenario where computers think for themselves and take over, as per the well-publicised exchange between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk recently there are differing opinions on this. Whilst unlikely, the potential for computers to adopt human traits of emotion, aggression and protection exist and it’s important that humans retain the ultimate off switch.

I’m not planning to work for Cyberdyne Systems or develop my own Skynet just yet, and I fully intend that any robot will work for me and not the other way about.

 

[i] Westworld, for those living in a bubble, is an American science fiction western thriller television series. The story takes place in the fictional Westworld, a technologically advanced Wild West–themed amusement park populated by android hosts. Westworld caters to high-paying guests, who may indulge in whatever they wish within the park, without fear of retaliation from the hosts, or so they thought.

 

An update from the 2017 graduates

Hello All,

Welcome to the first edition of the 2017 Projects Practice Graduate Blog. My name is Alex and I’ll be the first of eight to be updating everyone on the graduate scheme and what we’ve been getting up to over the coming months.

To first give a background of myself; I graduated from the University of Exeter back in 2016 having studied a bachelors in Mining Engineering – yes mining, nothing at all to do with computers! Having completed my degree, my first proper job was as a graduate civil engineer working in Cornwall before switching tact entirely and opting for a career in project management. So, not your usual route into IT! I must say however, having worked in a different industry and in the public sector gives to some very useful perspective!

Civil engineering is a very busy and prosperous industry within the UK and a fantastic thing to get into. However, as with many industries, the higher up you go, the less technical you become and the more people management begins to dominate your day-to-day working life. So if the end goal was to be a project manager, why not start now? And why not dip my toes into a different industry while I’m at it? Well here I am!

What is becoming increasingly apparent to me, is the wealth of tools and support that Computacenter makes available in order for you to reach your potential. Having briefly worked in the public sector, I was in a much more stagnant environment operating on a very much ‘dead man’s shoes’ principal. Now, maybe that was because I was working in Cornwall and I must say the pace of life is a lot more laid back there, but it’s certainly not what a lot of young people want in their early careers and this inevitably added to the reasons why I decided to move.

In our brief 9 weeks with Computacenter, the grads have had dinner with the Group Professional Services Director- Andy Moffitt, we’ve met the Head of Projects Practice- Zameer Kaderkutty and the Head of Consultancy- Martin Provoost to name but a few. All these hugely important and influential people in the company and they are able to spare the time to meet us and welcome us. I am overwhelmingly impressed; the only time I ever spoke to and shook the hand of the office manager in my previous job was to say “Cheerio, I’m leaving for London!” That was after six months in the job which you’d think is enough time to rub shoulders with your office manager; it wasn’t even a big office! What I’m trying to say is that I did not expect such important people to be concerned with or interested in graduates because my previous superiors certainly weren’t! I’m delighted to have been proved wrong in this assumption.

Aside from socialising with ‘big wigs’ of the Computacenter society, we have started our rotations where we delve into some of the core divisions of Computacenter. We have spent two weeks with the Central Projects Office which appears to be a very successful and rapidly growing section of Computacenter. It’s probably easier for me to tell you what they don’t do rather than what they actually do as it seems to me as nearly everything. This epiphany led to the development of our new graduate strategy going forward: “If you don’t know where to go, contact CPO!”

After the Central Projects Office, we spent a week with scheduling followed by a week with BECS. Scheduling provided a very useful insight and it’s great to know where all those iRequests that project coordinators raise actually go!  The following week with BECS provided us with a grounding in the pre-sales process and all the work required to win a bid. We were also given a task of developing a background study and a tailored sales campaign for several potential clients entering the market in the future. So who knows? Our background studies may contribute in some small way to a few future bids!

That brings us nearly up to the present. I just want to reiterate how impressed I am with CC- and how well I’ve been received into the company. The guys on Glassdoor weren’t kidding about the level of praise the company deserves! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’ve added a photo of us all on our first day, all trying to look as professional as possible! From the left: Tom D, myself, James, Issie, Laura, Rollie, Tom W and Nick (who seems to have lost interest in looking at the camera!).

group-a.png

The next entry will be by Laura Springall in the upcoming weeks.