Machine Learning

Session 5. Training to Play Pool Using Machine Learning Principals

Sponsor: D.H.

Signatories: A.A., A.G., A.Gu., J.A., M.H., M.M., N.C., S.A., T.K.

Topic: Machine Learning. Applying Machine Learning Principals to Distinguish the Best Bank Shot Player

pool ml.jpg

Taking the approach of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to train a bank shot and using the algorithm to define the best player.

  1. In a retrospective of the World Champion in the game of Go, Lee Sedol’s defeat to a computer AlphaGo, poses the question: “Is this the match between human and the machine or human and humanity?”
  2. Reviews the definition of Artificial Intelligence using Max Tegmark’s maxim that “intelligence is the ability to solve complex tasks,” definition of Machine Learning adopting Arthur Samuel’s quote as “ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”
  3. Analyses the following branches of Machine Learning as Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning and Deep Learning. Supervised Learning tasks being prediction of continuous numerical values and labelling the agent, for example: the former may be useful to answer the question “What is the predicted price of a property in the Downtown Dubai area in one year?” and the latter – “Is this a high-rise residential tower or a villa?” Unsupervised Learning solves the issues of processing the data before it is handed over to a supervised algorithm. Typically computer is able to cluster the property listings by neighborhoods. Deep Learning uses hidden layers in its artificial neural network to process any kind of complex function. It mimics its workings from how the human brain processes light into vision and sounds into hearing.
  4. Reviews Reinforced Learning method to be used for the purpose of the experiment in learning to play the bank shot. This method can be described as series of rewards for correctly performed functions when correct input and output pairs are not presented.
  5. Questions what type of human activity in the present state of the world can not be outsourced to computer algorithms, and analyzes one of the answers to this question: selection of bespoke design objects.
  6. Agrees that Machine Learning may influence the selection.
  7. Highlights the issue of trust in the event of such artificial influence and acknowledges the variability of trust among different social strata.
  8. Brings up the notion of freedom of choice as human, however takes a conservative view whether this freedom of choice is unbiased and not influenced.
  9. Conducts an experiment in Reinforced Learning when the objective to perform the bank shot is given: achieve the best spin, angle and speed, however the participants are provided with only limited instructions by the sponsor. During the trial set the participants received positive feedback on good performance and no feedback on less than satisfactory performance.
  10. Conducts and experiment in defining the features of the best player using the spin, speed and angle criteria. Although the three best players showing the best results in the elements of the bank shot have been identified, the sponsor and participants agree that the data collected is insufficient to make complete judgement for combining the three best performing elements together and achieving sustainable results.

Side Notes:

Dubai, July 24, 2018

Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies

Session 4. Cryptocurrency

Sponsor: N.C.

Signatories: D.H., K.V., M.M., O.A., S.Y.

Topic: Cryptocurrency. Should I Be Bothered?

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

Trying to explain cryptocurrency

Attempting to understand the cryptocurrency and blockchains and trying to understand the hype of the cryptocurrency,

  1. Acknowledges the idea of decentralized money however acknowledges the market speculations
  2. Draws parallels between control over money and control over political power; with cryptocurrency this control shifts towards open markets from governments
  3. Questions the guarantees behind the cryptocurrency as opposed to supply and demand of the national currencies backed by the economies
  4. Brings in ‘peoples’ element into the equation: people recognize and adopt the use of currencies; states that people are giving values to the likes of Bitcoin and Etherium, and Ripple.
  5. Acknowledges the finiteness of the resource of cryptocurrency as limits in computational power, although those limits to be ‘soft,’ and predictable throughout the algorithm at any given point of time.
  6. Discards the threat of losing network connectivity as means of transactions and states that the connectivity is a given in our epoch like the roads built by Romans in the olden days.
  7. Questions why some countries embrace the cryptocurrency and some are opposed
  8. Poses a question what Karl Marx’s opinion of the social currency be
  9. Draws attention to the reduction of costs due to more effective services and manufacturing and highlights that abundance and emerging of ‘democratized’ currencies go hand in hand.
  10. Treats common sense as a finite resource
  11. Praises blockchain as open and fair technology which threatens intermediaries
  12. Sees usefulness in the blockchains for humanity as opposed to the cryptocurrency at the given moment of time

Side Notes:

  • We could not refrain from citing “There are no money in the 24th century.” Here is an episode from Star Trek about the economy.
  • A reference was made to an abundance, here is a Peter Diamandis’s talk.
  • Another good infographics found by one of our members on the blockchain.

Dubai, March 2, 2018


Session 3. Minimalism

Sponsor: O.M.

Signatories: K.V., A.G., S.M., M.Z., A.J., N.C.

Topic: Minimalism

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O.M.’s vision of minimalism

Expanding the borders of minimalism beyond the conventional perception of the term as aesthetics and anti-consumerism,

  1. States that minimalism is also a lifestyle, or way of life. The measure of success in practicing minimalism may be considered achieving happiness, but letting go all that has been dictated onto oneself without one knowing it.
  2. Recaps on the artistic history and social roots of minimalism, such as suprematism.
  3. Defines minimalism at home, as the focus point on family and human interaction. This is achieved through re-thinking traditional household items and re-arranging the space to create more of the perceived value.
  4. Defines minimalism at work through leaving out all objects of non-functional value from one’s working environment; although acknowledges that functional value of a tool has a different meaning for a different user. Another element of a successful minimalism practice at work is enforcing distraction free environment, such as a block of time and no disturbances during it.
  5. Opens up a discussion for the minimalism in technology, and social media adjacent to it, suggesting an approach when one consciously uses technology instead of the opposite. There are so many ways to do it, and the one that is suggested is arranging the phone screens and managing notifications in the least distracting mode.
  6. Acknowledges the positive side of tech which gives the ability to learn much faster and have access to the information in colossal sizes. eBook is stated to be a great tool for continuous knowledge expansion due to its portability and memory capacity.
  7. States that minimalism in food is a variety of a diet, although it originates in one’s mind through a discipline and goal setting.
  8. Recommends using a minimalistic approach to traveling. A week long trip is possible to be packed in a cabin luggage. Variety and interchangeability of clothes is attained by color coordination and using basic styles that could be worn in any situation of the trip. A “four by four” rule is recommended. This simple approach results in 16 clothes combinations.
  9. Questions how todays pace of life affecting human relations and proposes to bring minimalism into the relations category through scrutinizing the circle of people one interacts and staying with those who truly matter. An experiment conducted by one of the members of the think tank is cited. During the experiment the member had disconnected from his relations for one year and remained with those who would reach out and miss him throughout this time.
  10. States that minimalism in fitness is using the gym that is always with you: calisthenics, gymnastics, running. Your body weight is a machine and the surroundings are your gym.
  11. States that minimalism despite the modern raise of interest to it among the more successful part of the population is not an egalitarian life style. Minimalism is in many ways starts with disciplining one’s mind regardless of the social status or career path.
  12. Concludes that minimalism is a hard work and discipline.

Dubai,  Jan 30, 2017

Side notes: Some of the references: on Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich; we spoke of some prominent figures in minimalism, Leo Babauta, Collin Wright. Everyone has watched the Minimalism movie by distinguished authorities in cutting the clutter away from their lives, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. We have done an experiment similar to the one shown in this movie, and are grateful to our host for patience. O.M. who has sponsored the topic, had shared the deck of slides on minimalism: enjoy!



Session 2. AI Inevitable

Sponsor: S.M.

Signatories: A.G., D.H., H.M., M.Z., N.C..

Topic: Artificial Intelligence Inevitable

Explaining artificial intelligence as an advanced computational tool and acknowledging the inevitability of it,

  1. States that although the AI is a lot about machine learning it is important to identify the subject of learning and the method of learning.
  2. Distinguishes between the AI and Technology, where the latter executes and the former decides or at least aides in making a decision.
  3. Forewarns that the AI should be employed as a reference and not replace the judgement, at least at this early stage of its development.
  4. Draws parallels to the 1867 invention of dynamite by Alfred Nobel as a solution to use in mining and transport, and therefore stresses the danger of the AI if used maliciously.
  5. Speculates that AI may cause humankind loose their interest in life through repetitive and improving prediction algorithms.
  6. States the disadvantage of becoming a human habit not to doubt in the outcome of the AI computation and taking it for granted, which is eventually a trust in the flawlessness of another human being who had programmed the AI or, at least, had set in motion the learning process of it.
  7. Alerts about the infancy of the ethical and legal issues arising together with the advancement of the AI. Refers to a discussion around the ethical issues of the influence of social media during the talk of Tom Fletcher in Dubai this Autumn.
  8. Reminisces Isaak Asimov Laws of Robotics and calls for the issues of governance of the AI.
  9. Lists reduction of the maintenance costs in infrastructure as a positive side of the Artificial Intelligence, as well as an effect, similar to Toyota’s reinvention of the manufacturing process, on industrial expenses.
  10. Poses the question: how does humanity recognizes that the AI has arrived?
  11. Calls for the humanity to be prepared to upgrade itself and be prepared to create the jobs in lieu of roles taken over by the machines, more creative and emotionally fulfilling jobs.
  12. Stresses the necessity for the society to alter its principles of human remuneration or taxation of the machines.
  13. Foresees the coming iteration of the AI indeterminate to a more human form starting from the brain chips implants to prosthetics and biomedical engineering.

Dubai,  Dec 5, 2017

Side notes: the discussion has been packed with energy and disagreements and accord and we have really had fun. Some of the references: Tom Fletcher, Naked Diplomat book,  Isaak Asimov’s Laws, the importance of reading books in the ‘Short Circuit‘ movie, and sentient robots in the ‘Bicentennial Man,’ universal basic income from the book ‘Utopia for Realists‘ — a chance, and finally Tamagotchi.



Session 1. Agility

Sponsor: A.J.

Signatories: A.G., A.J., K.V., M.M., M.Z., N.C., S.Y., S.M.

Topic: Agile design beyond IT

Remembering the Agile Manifesto that underlines the four values:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan,

and attempting to help one of the members of the think tank to find a solution to his current professional objective of setting up an agile approach to project management,

  1. States that the organization that the A.J. represents is en route from using a Waterfall project methodology to an Agile methodology;
  2. Lists complications of having multiple stakeholders, necessity to batch the large projects into smaller batches, lack of clarity whether the smaller batches to be released to customers or hold till the competition of the larger project, and unclear priorities;
  3. Defines the way of working on projects in periods of time;
  4. Compares the agile approach to a factory conveyor;
  5. Brings up a question of defining priorities as the most crucial element of the project work;
  6. Offers  an approach to define priority using: a) commonalities, b) monetary value of the projects, c) alignment of the project to the strategy of the organization;
  7. Suggests using the priority matrix as a tool to define immediate activities, major projects, no-goes and thankless tasks;
  8. Acknowledges that any organization strategy pursues monetary or social  objectives
  9. Encourages to apply agile values and methods in fields of work other than IT, such as banking, construction, oil and gas, manufacturing and education, and others.

Dubai, Nov 15, 2017