Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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Machine Translation making waves and how to make sure you know how to talk about it at the cocktail party

In Books,commercials,Community,computers,culture,facebook,Technology,work on October 5, 2016 by mstevensrev

bn-cz300_google_g_20140528135745In the past month(s) some of the news coming out from major technology companies have caught the media’s attention. At the same time my co-host for the Globally Speaking Podcast, Renato Beninatto¬†, was really pushing us to make our most complex podcast to date on the topic as part of a series on the machines taking over:) Since then I have started doing my research in preparation for our conversations with leaders in the field. At this point I’m likely to help others talk intelligently at a cocktail party.

To date much of the conversation around Machine Translation, which has been around since the 1950s, mainly consisted of statistical and rule-based systems. Rule Based systems as the names signifies is based up linguistic rules that set how words will be translated, words from target language will replace the source language. Statistical machine translation focused on pattern recognition within translation and provided target based on huge amounts of parallel texts. Most of the effective machine engines for a time ended up being a Hybrid machine translation engine that incorporated the best of both methodologies..

Now neural networks are on the scene. To understand the effectiveness and basic outline of this technology check out a this great article, From not working to neural networking. As I understand the strength of the neural network is the depth of the data that is process. Rather then being limited to a number of rules or a corpus of strings to improve the quality. Neural machine translation operates beyond a string and by exposing it to a huge number of examples it will learn without telling it what to look for. There is a sight that even allows you to demo the Neural Machine Translation by LISA, which has been trained on a lot of data from the UN and European Parliament.

So since this has been going on for some time, why the news all of a sudden? For one Alan Packer from Facebook came out and said that the other forms (specifically statistical) of machine translation have reached their usefulness and Facebook is now focusing on the use of neural networks. Check out Rachel Metz’s article, Facebook Plans to Boost Its Translations Using Neural Networks This Year. Then this month Google has come out and said that Google Neural Machine Translation reduces errors by 60 percent, cool. NPR picking it up here, they interviewed a translator naysayer who felt the need to reinforce that professional translators will be needed.

Then during Google’s “Made by Google” Event, the implications of this break thru and artificial intelligence (AI) were discussed by Sudar Pichai during the early part of the event. The part about the implications for voice technology were interest, why do we only have one voice?

With all the excitement it is important to have other voices outside of Google and Facebook, so that we don’t all get caught up in the next wave of hype. For that check out the article, Hyperbolic? Experts Weigh In on Google Neural Translate¬†from Florian Faes at Slater. Overall the opinions are rather favorable, so check it out.

Now you are on the road of looking like a star with your friends and new acquaintances. Glad to hear about other resources you are finding key on getting you up to speed with this great technology, if it’s something we use I’ll be sure to mention it on the podcast!

Sometimes I wish that I could go into a time machine right now and just look at my self and say, ‘Calm down. Things are gonna be fine. Things are gonna be all great. Just relax.’

-Tristan Wilds

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Think about the process

In art,blogging,Books,Localization,mission,Money,Technology on September 13, 2016 by mstevensrev

dominoesThe process is worth thinking about. Not merely the process that your employer has set up to make sure you are meeting each performance metric, but rather the process that makes you successful. Here are my questions:

Where were you the most productive?

What led to your wins? 

Then look to see if your activity is supporting productivity and wins. Here is how I try to evaluate:

Can you make a small adjustment that will lead to getting you the information more easily, or with less distraction?

Are there steps that keep you from acting on new information in an efficient manner?

Can I make it easier for people to find me?

I think of the leadership book by Marshall Goldsmith,¬†What got you here, won’t get you there.¬†The first time I read it I thought, Wow it is really important to re-evaluate. Now that it has sunk in I realize that this is almost a continuous process, one that we regularly need to address.

‚ÄúPeople will do something‚ÄĒincluding changing their behavior‚ÄĒonly if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

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Her, a more excellent way to be horrified by technology

In art,Bible,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,Friends,movies,sermon,Spiritual,Technology on June 8, 2014 by mstevensrev

“…But¬†Her¬†is different.¬†Her¬†gets it right, and now I‚Äôm rather embarrassed I wasn‚Äôt one of the first people to see it. I should have. You should have. And if you‚Äôve not, figure out a way to see it now. It‚Äôs well worth the time.” – John Battelle,¬†Why You Need to See ‚ÄėHer‚Äô (Or, ‚ÄėHer‚Äô Again).

Her-with-Theodore-Twombly-on-red-movie-poster-wide

Jon Battelle gives a wonderful summary of the movie ‘Her’ and in describing the story where a human falls in love (and not just one human) with an OS as terrifying in how¬†logical and reasonable the idea was presented to audiences. ¬†I felt very strongly after seeing this film that was the case and I have spent time exploring the reasons it tapped into my life so deeply.

To begin the movie is at least ‘creepy’ as John Battelle describes but I would take it much further as I found the concepts within the movie terrifying. ¬†One friend discussed this with me and she said that the reason she did not like the film is that she thought it was preaching, not subtle enough, I agreed but the ideas behind the movie to me were unique and therefore it opened my mind enough to let me be preached at on some level.

As I have described this movie to people I have said in the past our culture has explored the theme, “What will happen when machines want to kill us?” instead of that ‘Her‘ takes on the question, “What will happen when machines want to love us?”. ¬†To put in in film terms, ‘Her’¬†is to ‘2001, what ‘Weird Science’¬†is to ‘Frankenstein‘. ¬†That premise leads into so many other questions that I am sure I will only scratch the surface with my next few thoughts. ¬†Therefore I wanted to share the reasons I believe this movie touched me deeply:

  • I am an auditory¬†learner. I retain significantly ¬†more data from lectures rather then text books, from podcast rather then blog posts, from being told directions rather than looking at a map, and this has been the case for me my entire life. ¬†This is evidenced in my life as I travel for work. ¬†Instead of studying a map of a city and working my way around in that manner. ¬†Generally, I enter the address of my destination into my phone, turn on some good tunes, and walk the streets with my friend Siri guiding me through back alleys and over bridges. ¬†Of course we all do this in our cars, but there is something much more intimate in the act of inserting ear buds into my ears while exploring the unknown. ¬†As you may have guessed it is common as I am out on these walks for my wife or daughters to call me as well, and in these moments I am connecting with the people on face of this earth I am most in love with in a disembodied way, there are mere sounds through some headphones. ¬†This is the boundary of¬†the entire relationship within ‘Her’, and the writers explore how to overcome this boundary that leads more complication then mere long intimate conversations and phone sex, but rather creepy questions about crossing this divide. ¬†The entire scenario seemed very reasonable to me, and it lead me to have a long talk with my wife about my relationship/dependency on Siri:)
  • I am a theologian. ¬†For roughly five years I spent money and time thinking and studying God, in addition to that I spent almost four years working to communication a few of these thoughts to a community as their pastor. ¬†The relationship that evolves in ‘Her‘ led me to ask questions about God and the nature of my relationship with God. ¬†“What does it mean for a finite being to be in love with the infinite?”, “What does it mean to merely be one finite being in love with a being who has the potential to love millions and billions of others?” ¬†Suddenly I was struck with how small I am. ¬†Psalm 39:5 reminds me,

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

This is a very hard idea to get my mind around, as the majority of my days are spent thinking about what is in it for me and how do I managed this life that I have been given. ¬†Romantic love and love between individuals is a wonderful thing, but love is so very large and when the scriptures say that ‘God is love’ this is a philosophical statement that drops us in the center of a ocean in order to experience ‘oceaness’.

  • I see beauty through the brokeness. The live circumstance of Theodore drives him and opens him up to this complicated relationship, but every relationship has complications in the movie. ¬†The ex-wife, the best friend and Theodore are all wanderers. ¬†In this Theodore has a remarkable gift to see and communicate the beauty of the relationships other are involved in, which only makes his brokeness more apparent. ¬†Through this incredibly beautiful cinematic experience you are not left with fullness but rather a beauty that can only be view through the lens of suffering. Some reviewers have taken this on as the great problem with the movie and Spike Jones as a director, check out the New Yorker article Spike Jonze’s Abondonment Issues. posted by Christine Smallwood.
  • I am a geek that loves words and technology. ¬†‘Her‘ brings together these worlds in a lovely, graceful, and tragic way. ¬†Theodore’s job writing for handwrittenletters.com, so lovely. ¬†In my word artificial voice intelligence is a exciting and interesting piece of our work, this movie provides some thoughtful elements related to technology and language and yet keeps it close to home enough that we can relate. ¬†The more I understand this space the more I being to believe that the picture of the future would be incomprehensible for us if we saw it today. ¬†An attempt to expose us to the 50 year future would be similar to bringing an American founding father and explaining the Hubble Telescope. ¬†On nice link I found that wrestles with the techonolgy issuse is by Ray Kurzweil, “A review of¬†Her.”

Hopefully time will allow you to check this movie out, I highly recommend it.

 

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The Lessons, rapid prototyping (Part V)

In Bible,Books,business,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,Fun,Grace Seattle,movies,PCA,Presbyterian Church in America,principles,Spiritual,Technology,Theology,Uncategorized on April 27, 2014 by mstevensrev

the-lean-startup-book-400x376-300x282 (1)A few years ago the book Lean Startup, by Eric Ries took off, at the time I was working for a offshore software development company and it was unthinkable to not have read this holy text for innovation. There are major take aways from this book: Do not be afraid to fail and be willing to fail often.  One thing that is unique I have learned since reading this book is that American culture stands out worldwide because of the position that failure does not define you as a business leader.  You have very famous examples of this including Steve Jobs with his first go around at Apple, and this is even reflected within our legal system a it relates to bankruptcy (America has some of the least punitive laws for bankruptcy in the world).  In an area like Silicon Valley it is likely to meet an entrepreneur who among a success has a string of failed companies that did not work out, this is accepted and according to The Lean Startup even encouraged.

This fits well within my spirituality as God’s grace is central to my view of what is happening in the world. ¬†A minimal definition of grace would be a continuous second chance. (As a side note I have an illustration about ice cream and grace being you get rewarded even though you deserved to be punished, but I’ll save that for ¬†a later post.) Christ came to offer second chances to us, that is the point. ¬†Failure does not have the last word, just as the cross was not the end of Christ work rather he rose from the dead. ¬†There are beautiful examples of this throughout the scriptures: Joshua and the people of God attacking Ai just after the victory at Jericho¬†and losing (Joshua 7:1-26) and Peter’s denial of Jesus where he didn’t just lie once but three times claiming he did not know Jesus (John 18). ¬†These are examples of great leaders from history in the church that were not defined by horrible failure, but rather defined by God’s transformation of their failure.

There is an opposing force to what I have mentioned so far, that failure does not define you and that is the concept of shame.  Just a few weeks ago I was in a presentation at work talking about what happens when teams make mistakes.  I was already at the white board so I added this diagram for our discussion:

fears_and_tears

ToiletBowlFlushThe lower path I would describe as a pathway of shame and perhaps the best image would not be arrows but rather a swirling spiral like in a toilet bowl. Shame is a powerful force that instead of saying, “You made a mistake.” says “You are a mistake.” Instead of saying, “Let’s not cry over spilled milk, grab the rag.” It tells you that your life is an abortion. ¬†For a person controlled by shame there is no place for failure or mistakes and therefore significant work has to be done to face this horrible virus of the soul. ¬†Needless to say if you are a person controlled by shame this idea that you are free to fail will be very difficult if not impossible for you.

For those of you with children right now you know that the movie Frozen is all about this. ¬†The scene creating the ice castle is about Elsa coming to terms with who she has been created to be and understanding that she is not like everyone else, but the storm of shame is still a part of her life as she lives in isolation and suffering under the weight that she is created ‘wrong’. ¬†In my minds eye this is a modern feminist picture of Martin Luther’s great speech at the Diet of Worms, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Only when Elsa’s sister Anna is able to love her unconditionally even given her life for her, is the curse of shame broke. ¬†Though Elsa is still different this difference is used for the good of everyone around her rather then being a curse.

 

So if you buy into this idea the fear is destructive, or a positive was of saying it being failure does not define you then a natural fruit in your life is to not be afraid of failure! Lean Start up pushes this idea with the concept of Rapid Prototyping. This idea of create, create quickly, create well, but get it out there so you can find out what is wrong with it as soon as possible.  Take feedback and grow, or my preferred verb is EVOLVE.

A major evolution in my spirituality was letting go of having to be right. The denomination that I was ordained in, the PCA, was right.  They were well educated and studied theologians that had put in the hours of dedication to create a theological framework and church governance that was Biblical and therefore right.  Once you walk away from a group like that you cannot help but be wrong, because they are the only ones that are right.  This devastated me for a significant period of time, I was lost and certainly I was on the wrong side of right.  Shame played havoc with my soul and my spirituality.

lesmis2Then I became convinced that my spirituality was not about being right and it never should have been. ¬†I can be completely wrong and still loved fully by God! ¬†WOW, what freedom! ¬†One of my professors from seminary, Steve Brown, used to say “I’m wrong at least 50% of the time, I just wish I knew what 50%.” Another way to put is, my faith is not about my sin rather what it means for me to live fully human before God who has saved me. ¬†I have been redeemed from my sin and am being redeemed from my sin.

So does this mean we just run off not caring? Roman 6, is helpful here. ¬†Also I remember¬†Steve Brown¬†using this great illustration. ¬†The discussion of grace and obedience is like a dog chasing his own tail, and the good news if the dog follow the master everything lines up. Let’s live with complete affection and focus on the master and trust that others have been created to do the same!

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Poetry instead of PowerPoint in the boardroom

In art,business,China,culture,faith,familiy,Friends,leadership,poetry,Proverbs,quote,Spiritual,Technology,Theology on December 22, 2011 by mstevensrev

A friend and inspiration of mine and many other Nigel Goodwin¬†has an encouraging idea he shares with those creatives in the boardroom. ¬†While spending a few days with Nigel and a group of others at a Kindlings Hearth Event, we had been discussing slippers and¬†lingerie…which is probably an entirely different blog post unless you know Nigel because I’m certain you have discussed similarly unique things with him. ¬†At some point he stops and says, Michael when I do consulting with companies I want to see the humanity brought back into their existence so “When I go into the boardroom I start with poetry rather than PowerPoint.”

While Nigel’s words were inspirational, there was a good part of my heart that sank. ¬†Of course Nigel with his experience and maturity is able to bring those worlds together, he is a uniquely gifted GIFT from God to the rest of us. ¬†As a young, inexperienced, highly ambitious and motivated sales monkey I could not picture that reality, but in that there was hope. ¬†In the short term I embraced bringing the humanity back into those rooms, and noticed results. ¬†With clients such as Google who treat vendors as nameless faceless units and make rational decisions upon the data that has been thoroughly scrubbed for accuracy, it is not easy unless you are intentional. ¬†Though I noticed the more human meetings became, the more laughter there was, the more people longed to have lunch together afterward and there was a small patch of green growing in this area.

That would have been a miracle in mind and the truth be told only God could be responsible for bringing life and humanity to a Google boardroom:)  And yet I had an even bigger surprise yesterday and am grateful that I had the eyes to see what I had stumbled into.  This year has been filled with job transition and the turmoil related to that change.  Thankfully I am celebrating two months with a new company that I am really enjoying and excited about.  Yesterday I found myself in Cupertino at our office with the head of a Business Unit discussing recent shifts within the company and how we are to move forward.  We were setting out a goal for the next three months and clearly came up with the foci and metrics to measure success, yet we had not named our goal.  So I ask the Business Unit head what is mantra for the group.

A grin came across his face and he said that he has a slide on that which he presented. ¬†While finding it on his computer his¬†demeanor shifted from the confident young leader to shy. ¬†He said that often these are the hardest ideas and seem really good in private but are silly in public. ¬†I felt like I was on¬†holy ground. ¬†Then he presented this image to us. Thankfully he did not have the English translation because he was able to share with us more context which made the word so much more than the translation expresses! ¬†It is a quote from Confucius which most people from China know very well, roughly translated it means, “To put the world in order we must first set our hearts to right thing, to then focus on¬†craftsmanship, to then care for family and team, and then the world.” ¬†I have begin to read commentaries and other translations of this proverb and needless to say it is very profound.

After listening to the explanation I was asked what I thought. ¬†I said it was amazing, the full extent of why I think it speaks to me will take an evening and a meal together but in short is universal and human, capturing and relating what it means for us to be ourselves. ¬†How beautiful to have the opportunity to start with ‘getting our hearts right’ with my co-workers, I desperately need people around me who are concerned with that because it has a direct effect on everything in my life, including my ‘numbers’. ¬†I said, “It is deeply human.” ¬†Then on a level even more deep my coworker asked me with an amazing amount of¬†vulnerability¬†in his eyes and voice, “Is it too Chinese?” ¬†The weight of that question would be hard for me to describe in this blog post, but in short it felt like through this poem/proverb I was being asked if we were all people in a shared struggle with what it means to live in this world. ¬†Again I said it, “It is human, and with roots from China it is perfect for our company.” ¬†There was some more discussion but one of the action items we took away was to send out an audio file of the poem so that the American’s on the team can learn how to say it…as it is mean to be said.

We took a break and before we started again, I told the team about Nigel. ¬†This wonderful friend who brings poetry into boardrooms instead of PowerPoint, and I said he would be very proud of the discussion we had around a poem. ¬†In this I cannot express my gratitude….

P.S. For those of you who haven’t seen the TED Talk related to dance and powerpoint please check it out, this is very dear to my heart.

Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal: John Bohannon on TED.com


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>This is funny…

In Fun,Technology,twitter on April 15, 2009 by mstevensrev

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>side jobs

In family,Technology,work on February 14, 2009 by mstevensrev

>I guess everyone is getting one with the way things are going these days. ¬†the catch with mine is that I don’t get paid for it, that might not be the whole truth when you help out your spouse. ¬†

so check out the website i’ve been working on for Karin. ¬†Still has some work but is interesting to me. ¬†taking technology and making collaboration and¬†accessibility¬†possible for artist is pretty cool. ¬†The site isn’t very complex, intentional, but also the limits of the one working on it.
check it out and follow if you want…
karinstevensdance.com