DeveloperWeek NY and MongoDB World Tackle Transformation - InformationWeek

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DeveloperWeek NY and MongoDB World Tackle Transformation

IT pros from IBM, The New York Times, and T-Mobile discussed digital transformation best practices at a pair of conferences aimed at educating developers.
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What Change Looks Like in AI and Data

Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth
Image: Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Adam Storm, distinguished engineer at IBM, gave a keynote talk at MongoDB World about recognizing the signs of change and adapting rather than holding on to the past. “Clearly AI is changing the world,” he said. “We have phones in our pockets that can visualize our faces. AI has infiltrated medicine for the betterment of people.” He also noted the rise of smart thermostats and the potential for self-driving cars as other examples of the changes driven by AI.

Storm also shared a story about a home appliance (his freezer) being AI-enabled, thanks to the actions of his local power company even though AI did not directly connect to the appliance. When an ice storm hit his home, taking down powerlines, the electrical producer in Storm’s city was prepared due to its proactive use of AI. “They’d taken weather data they’d collected as the storm was approaching and predicted the path of the storm and which areas of their grid were most vulnerable,” he said.

That model and predictive analysis let the power company send crews to vulnerable locations before problems occurred. “They worked to fix and repair the grid and bring power back to 500,000 people one full day faster than they would have normally,” he said.

Such benefits might make a case for AI, but the technology has a long way to go, Storm said. Data from visual inputs, for example, can confuse some AI. A study by a team at Princeton University showed that the addition of a little “noise” to a KFC sign tricked some self-driving car algorithms into misinterpreting that branding as a stop sign, he said.

Teams at other universities worked the problem in reverse. With just four well-placed stickers, they tricked self-driving car models into misreading stop signs as speed limit signs. “This is happening all over in AI,” Storm said. “We see AI models putting the wrong people in jail, predicting the wrong people to die at the wrong rates -- adversely affecting their life insurance policies.”

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career immersed in business and technology journalism first covering local industries in New Jersey, later as the New York editor for Xconomy delving into the city's tech startup community, and then as a freelancer for such outlets as ... View Full Bio

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