May 26, 2004

Perceptual Learning in Autonomous Systems

robot image

Yuri Ivanov of Honda Research Labs and MIT.

He develops machine learning for the Honda humanoid robot, ASIMO.

He believes that an adaptive user interface requires some way for a human to direct the adaptation in some naive way. He wants a solution that is on-line and practical so that it works in real-time.

Some of the things that he has investigated are different ways of keeping data points to best represent clusters. This is motivated by the fact that new data points are constantly arriving, and given resource constraints you must choose what to keep and what to throw out. So he came up with a bunch of ways of defining the important data points in a cluster and evaluated how each idea did at reconstructing the cluster.

He also showed a couple of videos of a synthetic dog learning commands from a human giving commands. I couldn't follow his formalism for how the dog learned the command that the trainer wanted. It sounded to me like he was claiming that he developed POMDP's, but he didn't use the standard formulation of a POMDP although the problem solved seemed to be the same: hidden state, distribution over rewards in a state and reward feedback.

After asking a question I found out that he is compactly representing a state space and then applying a POMDP-like techniques to the reduced state space, but he is not modelling a state transition model. So his technique could be considered solution to a POMDP with a known-uniform state transition model.

Conclusion: This could be cool if there was some efficiency achieved by virtue of the fact that the state-transition model is static - not sure if this is the case.

Second part of the talk is a technique of recognizing a person from ASIMO. It uses a combination of features: a face recognizer, a speech classifier, a speaker classifier, a clothing classifier, and a height classifier. These are fed into a Naive(?) Bayesian classifier which has some external knowledge of how good the features are at person classification.

I think I missed a key point because he suggested that each person can have a different weight on each feature so that someone who has a distinct voice can be recognized by voice, but someone with distinct clothes can be recognized by that. I'm not sure how the feature weights are figure out unless there is a separate classifier for each person. That would mean classifier one says it is Don or it is not Don with some confidence level. Then you choose the classifier which is the most confident.

Conclusion: Interesting problem with robust feature set, but I'm not convinced that the approaches are to solving the problem are that deep.

Posted by djp3 at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 25, 2004

Driving Wireless Internet in Rural India

Map of India

Dr. P.S. Ramkumar from Intel India Strategic Initiatives. This talk was given at Intel Research Seattle.

Modern IT technology does not work for the majority of the world. 85% of the world's population account for <5% of the Internet usage. This is due to several challenges:

  • Cost The cost of a copper phone line in Indea has dropped from $800 to $200 in 15 years due to privatization and technology improvements
  • Relevance Why does rural India want network access? Fundamental systems work differently (e.g. cash based economy) Lots of diversity in Indian language, environment, literacy and economy. Lifestyle is different and generally slower. Kiosk model is fine. Lack of awareness of technical possibilities
  • Infrastructure Power-outages normal for 6-8 hours a day 15% of villages have network coverage

The challenges and the business opportunities imply some research activities:
Education Services:language skills, distance learning, skill development
Health Care services:remote diagnostics,census, education
E-Gov:data management (census info), bill payment
Financial Services:Banking, micro-finance

Case Studies: Kiosk operator in remote village started a kiosk with a micro-loan. Children are learning IT/English, agriculture, veterinarian and medical remote consults are successful and profitable. Kiosk operator is motivated to find the new market opportunities for the kiosk which will make her customers money.

Conclusion: ROI is insufficient using current products - needs paradigm shift

Posted by djp3 at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)