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Main Category => FTE, Job and Career Discussion => Topic started by: I D Shukhov on September 02, 2017, 08:48:42 AM

Title: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: I D Shukhov on September 02, 2017, 08:48:42 AM
Quote
He says the demand now is for disruptive technologies, "like artificial intelligence, cloud [computing], big data analytics, ... robotic process automation."

I really find it hard to believe that work in these areas will ever be more than 1-10% of all IT work. 

It's the same old story of keeping IT workers off balance and in their place. 

"You're not good enough.   Do you have any data analytics experience?  No?  Didn't think so."

BTW, Udacity's AI course this fall led by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun has signed up 80,000+ people.   AI might be interesting, but a huge waste of time in terms of it being an employable skill for the average person.



Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 02, 2017, 08:58:07 AM
I really find it hard to believe that work in these areas will ever be more than 1-10% of all IT work. 

It's the same old story of keeping IT workers off balance and in their place. 

"You're not good enough.   Do you have any data analytics experience?  No?  Didn't think so."

BTW, Udacity's AI course this fall led by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun has signed up 80,000+ people.   AI might be interesting, but a huge waste of time in terms of it being an employable skill for the average person.

This is a really interesting opinion.

I felt exactly the same about Arpanet and TCP/IP in the mid-1980s when my DoD employer was hiring some specialists to implement a networking stack in our system. I felt it was too distant to be relevant in any way conceivable. I stuck with my character mode RS232/RS422 protocols where real men coded and sheep ran scared.

Less than about 7 years later (1993ish) the first browsers were being built at CERN and you could get TCP/IP over dial up from anywhere if you paid a subscription. Just a couple years later it's a gold rush.

So I think at least one of those technologies has the potential to be a game changer and profitable for an early adopter.

But the REAL problem at our level is which one? These f***ing bastards aren't going to tell you! They may not even know. Or they do but they want to kill off thousands of careers of underlings in the process of migration so they won't be honest.

Where I agree with you is that for the IT worker it's impossible to know where the best career position is, so the churn of multiple new technologies is a smokescreen that makes it impossible to build or plan a career.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: I D Shukhov on September 02, 2017, 09:13:15 AM
Note that AI has been around for a very long time.  It was one of the specializations in the program where I got my MSCS degree in 1996.  That was one of the earlier AI-Is-The-Next-Big-Thing hypes.

As far as process control goes and robotics, I think that will be a handled by industrial engineers and people already steeped in manufacturing.  There will be some new demand for programmers. 

The biggest growth in automation will be to automate software development.

Big data analytics will be helpful in learning consumer behavior.  But it has the problem -- at least for machine learning -- of not being able to explain why something is as it is.  For that reason, it will never fly in decision support areas such as medicine where you need to explain why, not just that something matched a pattern.   Humans will use these DSSes as tools though. And there will be some new demand for programmers to build the tools.

Watson is in the health care decision support system business now, and we'll see how it goes.   But I don't think think Watson and its ilk will need more than maybe 100s or 1,000s of engineers and they will all be top-tier school types.  Including IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) types.

But I've been very wrong about guessing technology before.  I turned down a Unix admin job in 1987 because I wanted to stick with VAX system administration.  Wanted no part of this upstart Unix thing.   :(

Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 02, 2017, 09:21:21 AM
I understand your rationales but you're making the same overly-conservative individual techie thinking on his own judgement that I did in my career. I say you and I and others at our level are incapable of predicting future trends and growth opportunities.

In exactly the same manner as you, I rationalized in the mid-1980s when I could have had some OTJ experience with ethernet, modern networking stacks, and TCP/IP, that computer to computer communications had been around FOREVER. Arpanet was a closed DoD system with no possibility of commercialization.

Therefore TCP/IP was NO BIG DEAL, it succeeded things that performed more or less the same tasks.

I was utterly wrong to disregard this buzzword that everyone at work was yapping about. TCP/IP started to be applied in ways that create commercial opportunities only a few years later. I had plenty of warning.

There was really no trade news to indicate to me that I should jump that bandwagon at that time, either.

I just don't think you or I have a handle on these things and where they will lead which is more important than where they are now.

And it may not be any of these things either.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: I D Shukhov on September 02, 2017, 09:32:18 AM
A technology person can do a better job of forecasting than we did by spending more time doing research into emerging technologies.  It was difficult to do prior to the WWW, but now there's no excuse for not spending at least 10% of one's time doing market and technology research.   

Might take another 10-20% of one's time to experiment with the technologies, which doesn't leave much time for actually doing your current job.

Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 02, 2017, 09:35:12 AM
Easy to say, EXTREMELY hard to do in a truly productive way. I'm not denigrating you, but reflecting on the same issue that has been in my thoughts - "how to avoid not having the right tech under my belt" - answer: absolutely no way possible unless you have personal connections to big league players. One way of doing this: knowing venture capitalists socially who are willing to share ideas.

Your avoidance of Unix example is a PERFECT illustration of this.

One doesn't understand something thoroughly until it stops being an abstraction to you. Studying tech trends in isolation is too abstract to make any difference in one's insight.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: I D Shukhov on September 02, 2017, 10:28:01 AM
What I've done sometimes is to look at https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/ (https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/) for languages.  And the job boards give you an idea of what's popular now.

There might be other sites which are tracking the disruptive technologies mentioned in the articles. 

Data analytics could be used for technology forecasting. 

That's something we should talk about and post here:  anybody who is forecasting technology based on data analytics applied to the IT work universe.


Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 02, 2017, 11:04:17 AM
The entire topic of predicting trends in order to prepare oneself for career moves or emerging business opportunities is absolutely fascinating to me. Since I've done so poorly at it myself.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: JoFrance on September 02, 2017, 02:37:34 PM
AI and Robotics are the hottest things to get into now, IMO.  That is the future of technology.  If I was a kid first starting out, thats what I would study.  What exciting up and coming fields with all kinds of possibilities for future jobs!

Right now, there are more upper level jobs available in those areas, but once it gets going there will be millions of jobs available.  It will be like the birth of the personal PC era back in the 80's.  Who wouldn't want their own robot?  I know I do.

I always loved the idea of Rosey the Robot from the Jetsons becoming a reality and think we will get to see it in our lifetimes.  How cool is that!  I know you laugh, but she had personality and was very helpful.  I'd like that in my home, especially now that I'm getting older.

Robotics/AI is the new Hardware/Software field from the past, in the '80s.  I remember back then in the PC world we had MS DOS.  Loved it and we had Wordperfect.  It was great and you could make it greater by using Macros!  We had Lotus 123 and Harvard Graphics. I thought they would last forever.  I was a Novell network admin.  I think most people today don't know what that is.  It was all wasted education for me, but not at the time.  I guess not long term focused.

I don't think the Indians realized they had a shelf life.  It was just like what they did to Americans.  Maybe they're shocked because they thought they were better than us, but in reality they're expendable just like the rest of us.  We're just ordinary people trying to make our way in life and maybe be preferred for employment one day in our own country.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: unix on September 03, 2017, 01:32:07 PM
Hm, you think? I see lots of different directions. Anyway, food for thought.

re: JF: AI and Robotics


Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: JoFrance on September 03, 2017, 02:40:47 PM
There are lots of hot areas to pursue, no doubt, but the sexier stuff is AI.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 03, 2017, 05:08:05 PM
I'm totally NOT sold on the career potential of pursuing AI or robotics or other leading edge technologies for two basic reasons:

#1. It is NOT a career building decision. It's serfdom. No matter what technical knowledge you have, you ALWAYS drift toward being a serf. This is because work culture and business culture have both deteriorated substantially in the last 30 years.

#2: "AI" and "robotics" are quite broad. You can't compare them to PCs because with the PC revolution of the 80s there was enough specialization of platforms (basically MS-DOS) that it was fairly straightforward to find a sub niche to exploit. With either AI or robotics where is the bubble of dependable market demand that will allow you to learn something reasonably stable that you can find work in? Either AI or robotics encompasses huge broad swaths of buzzwords and technology.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: I D Shukhov on September 03, 2017, 06:33:18 PM
There are lots of hot areas to pursue, no doubt, but the sexier stuff is AI.
It's probably sexy, but I've seen this AI hype before in 1992-1996.  It was the hot thing to do then. What's changed?  Why did it go dark for the last 20 years and then emerge locust-like to grab everyone's attention?

Udacity's AI course this fall led by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun has signed up 80,000+ people so anyone who wants to specialize in this is going to have a lot of company.

Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: benali72 on September 04, 2017, 06:55:20 AM
Yeah, there's always someone pushing AI as the next big thing.

Remember expert systems? Supposed to totally obsolete traditional programming about 30 years ago.

How about neural networks?

Both are important, useful techologies, but they're mere niche technologies in the overall picture.

If you bet your career on either "back when", today you're in a pretty narrow niche today.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: JoFrance on September 04, 2017, 01:25:27 PM
AI has been around a long time, but the timing wasn't right for it in the '90s.  That timing is now, IMO.  There is no robust market in the US yet, its an emerging field that will boom.  If you study AI/Robotics now you will be in on the ground floor of something as big as the PC movement, if not bigger.

AI/Robotics isn't about any specific software, it's about integrating robots into our society.  There will be plenty of different jobs created to deal with the robots.  I see this as a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  If you do that you can be more competitive in the years to come.

There is a lot of competition in every field, I  wouldn't let that stand in my way.  Gorn, serfdom is good if you're making money and treated ok at a job.  Not everyone wants anything more than that.  I always had good jobs until I got older.  After that, I got to pick from the trash.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 04, 2017, 02:40:56 PM
Gorn, serfdom is good if you're making money and treated ok at a job.  Not everyone wants anything more than that.  I always had good jobs until I got older.  After that, I got to pick from the trash.

I agree with that thought.

Except that after you were at your career peak, and this applies to me, too: the "peak" of a typical IT career is so much less today than it was 20-30 years ago in terms of respect and real earning potential.

In other words it's pot luck to identify a technical specialty that will pay off, and THEN the payoff isn't even that much today.

And that picking through the trash phase can come much faster today than it did a decade ago.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: unix on September 04, 2017, 03:48:28 PM
I can see all technical devices around us becoming smart.

Your fridge. There is no reason you cannot control it via a remote app. An app that will monitor temp but most importantly, the contents. and come up with a shopping list the next time you shop.

Your security. A remote app that controls cameras around your premises and notifies you.

Your car. apps built in to monitor everything. An app to unlock the car door, the house door perhaps and much more. so you have a log file who came, who left. An app that automatically turns off AC if there is nobody in the house.

I can see a lot of devices going smart in the next generation.  From the common household bulb to the fridge to whatever you can think of. I think the old ways of doing things are obsolete. Who wants to carry around a set of keys for your car and your house when all you need is a password? Or a 2-factor authentication like a finger print + a password.

Same goes for banking.  Punch in your account number, then fingerprint and password.  Or something even simpler than that, but more secure than what we have now.

Or an RFID chip embedded in your phone that acts like a wallet and a key for everything (but still needing a password if it's stolen).

Now, what jobs will all the generate, you tell me.  I don't know if that's what you mean by AI.

I think servicing a dishwasher in the year 2030 won't be like doing so in 1980.

Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: ilconsiglliere on September 05, 2017, 10:06:54 AM
We'll have to clean up talk like referring to offshore labor as tards in the new site...

 :D :D :D :D :D

Kidding!

Just like any boom time economy, the Indians thought the gravy train would run on forever. That's as simple an analysis as it gets. Capitalist economies all experience booms and busts.

I'm personally happy the sector is experiencing pain.  It's well deserved for ruining and then nepotistically running IT in the US.

I could have easily just put Replaceable IT Tards :) . LOL.

I have a background in AI as I did it in college and than in defense. I know way to much about it. Device intelligence like what unix posted about fridge, security, your car and other household appliances is not really true AI. Early AI was glorified rule patterns that were like this:

If ABC = XYZ than
   Do  DEF
Else
    If GHI than
        Do DEF

This is mostly what these devices are doing. What has held AI back in the past was computing power and cost. The computing power was not there and even it was the cost was astronomical. On top of this the languages used for AI tended to be quite bloated and required tons of computing power. You couldnt really have one or the other. Where AI starts to shine is software that learns patterns as it goes and starts building out its own rules. Over time it just keeps learning different patterns and putting in more and more rules. The problem in the past was the rule structure keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Eventually it becomes far larger than the hardware can handle.

This is not really the case now. Hardware is dirt cheap so all kinds of things are possible that werent before. The end result is you are starting to see device intelligence that wasnt possible before. Now you can just keep scaling the computing power.

All this stuff now of being able to control the lights, heating, fridge and whatever else in your house remotely IMO is quite dangerous. I have seen locks you can unlock via your iPhone. Do you honestly want your house remotely controlled so that a hacker can lock you out of your house and take control of everything in it? No thanks. The same thing applies to cars - do you really want a car that the hackers can come visiting when they want. Again, no thanks.

Now true AI intelligence where the machine makes its own decisions about things it can do is a ways off. I have read quite about the chess computers that have beat the chess masters. Those machines have beat the masters via brute computing power, its not that they are actually intelligent. They just have huge lists of rules. Stuff like the movie Colussus is a long way off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRq7Muf6CKg

As far as AI being the next big thing for IT tards, I would not take that bet. They said solar and 3D printing was going to be the next big thing for IT as well. All the solar is now being made in China now, 3D printing - eh I dont know.

If you want to stay in IT I am of the opinion you need to find a niche that the H1B hoards have not invaded or cant invade.  I have read that functional programming is a growing thing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_programming

But its very difficult to learn which should keep the script kiddies and idiots out of it. Or you can focus on something they cant do, I took the latter approach and focused on human skills that cant be easily learned from a book and there is no cert for it.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: The Gorn on September 05, 2017, 10:40:51 AM
I have a background in AI as I did it in college and than in defense. I know way to much about it. Device intelligence like what unix posted about fridge, security, your car and other household appliances is not really true AI. Early AI was glorified rule patterns that were like this:

If ABC = XYZ than
   Do  DEF
Else
    If GHI than
        Do DEF

This is an expert system. Rules - based automation. Essentially you have access to higher level testable conditions (IE, you're not testing program variables as such) and you trigger real world actions based on the tests. I never worked with expert systems but I recognize the basic concept.

If Trump wins 2016 election than
   Do  Pepe_memes
Else
    If Hillary wins 2016 than
        Do Nuke Haiti


The other major branch of 1980-90s AI was neural networks, which had the attribute of fuzzy logic. Today you have many models of counter top rice cookers that use fuzzy logic (I guess it avoids burning the rice.)

A good short definition here at the top o' the page: https://www.google.com/search?q=neural+network+fuzzy+logic&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

I surmise that neural networks can "learn" and grow in functional capabilities. Rules based systems are more like compiled software.

In terms of digital computing I don't know of any other AI type tech.

By modern standards of newness, both of these technologies are older than snot.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: unix on September 05, 2017, 07:03:13 PM
Interesting points you make.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: benali72 on September 11, 2017, 03:33:04 PM
I worked with expert system software years ago on a project. It was great for that particular application, which would have been very hard to program otherwise. But it only addresses a certain set of problems -- the need for expertise where the domain is known and the rules can be precisely expressed.

I think JoFrance has an interesting idea that AI may be at long last bursting out of its previous limitations. I guess we'll see over the next 5 or 10 years.
Title: Re: AI and Robotics: new opportunity areas?
Post by: JoFrance on September 12, 2017, 03:10:27 PM
Japan is doing a lot of interesting work with humanoids that will become care givers to their older population.  I sure wouldn't mind having a robot around the house when I'm too old to do a lot of things.

https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/cbsn-on-assignment-explores-japans-future-of-humanoid-robots/

There is a definite need for this technology in Japan and also, as the Boomer generation gets older, we will have the same need here.