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Pushing Mobile Inventions Forward Seminar: Fjola Helgadottir, PhD – Director of AI Therapy

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Fjola Helgadottir, PhD

Director of AI Therapy

Vancouver CBT Centre


Translating Clinical Psychology Treatments into Algorithms: Successes and Challenges

Abstract: Computerized therapy has the potential to revolutionize how evidence based psychological interventions are delivered to those who need them. Many of the recent advances in AI, from computer vision to natural language processing, will doubtlessly be integral components of future treatment systems.

There is a wide range of approaches to computerized therapy. Many research projects aim to replicate the face-to-face therapy experience. This seems like a natural approach, given that this is a longstanding and proven model of therapy. For example, these systems make use of avatars and chatbots. However, this approach may be misguided. Computer-based approaches and human therapists are fundamentally different, and designing one to mimic the other may not be optimal. The goal should be to find the most effective methods of targeting the key mechanisms that are paramount to change in mental health.

In this talk Dr. Helgadottir will take a look at computerized therapy from the perspective of a practicing clinical psychologist. She will review some of the advantages that computers have over human therapists, as well as considering limitations of these systems. As a practical example, she will explain how her online “Overcome social anxiety” program works and discuss promising results from recent clinical trials.

Bio: Dr Fjola Dogg Helgadottir is a Director at AI-Therapy, a registered psychologist at the Vancouver CBT Centre and previously a Senior Research Clinician at Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford in the UK. She is a Chartered clinical psychologist within the British Psychological Society, and a registered psychologist with the UK Health and Care Professions Council and with the British Columbia College of Psychologists. Fjola has completed four degrees in psychology (see more professional qualifications). AI-Therapy grew out of her doctoral research, which was focused on innovative computer-based treatments for anxiety disorders.

Fjola has written extensively about online therapy, both in peer reviewed academic journals and conferences. She is an expert writer for Psychology Today with her open access blog Man vs Machine and is featured frequently in the Icelandic media. See Fjola’s publications for more details.

Fjola has received several major awards for her internationally recognized research, including Australia’s prestigious Tracy Goodall Early Career Award for Research Achievement. In addition, she has trained to the highest level as a clinical psychologist in Australia, and ran a successful private practice in Sydney. She currently provides consulting services on the topic of online psychology and psychiatry for her company AICBT Ltd, which has clients in Sydney, Australia; Oxford and London, UK; and Denver and New York in the USA.

AI and Beyond: The Integration of Artificial and Human Intelligence

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AI and Beyond: The Integration of Artificial and Human Intelligence

With Stephen Wolfram

A five day certificate program covering

  • The practical opportunities and risks (from individual to existential) of Artificial Intelligence.
  • A guide to integrating Artificial and Human Intelligence in products and in the organization.
  • The complex systems science of Human and Artificial Intelligence.
    • Differences between AI and HI
    • What AI and HI can and cannot do now and in the future
    • Individual, corporate and global implications.

NECSI is pleased to welcome Stephen Wolfram in addition to our other confirmed speakers:

Stephen Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language; the author of A New Kind of Science; and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. He has been a pioneer in the development and application of computational thinking, and has been responsible for many discoveries, inventions and innovations in science, technology and business. In May 2009, he released Wolfram|Alpha which has been widely regarded as a historic step in defining a new dimension for computation and artificial intelligence—and is now relied on by millions of people every day to compute answers both directly and through intelligent assistants such as Siri.

Iyad Rahwan is a professor at the MIT Media Lab. His work lies at the intersection of artificial intelligence and computational social science. He has analyzed the societal repercussions of the increasing adoption of AI in markets and industries, including the future of job security and the ethics of self-driving cars. He oversaw the development of deep learning algorithms to transform images of faces and places into nightmares or war zones, in order to increase sensibility among the population. Moreover, his work on sentiment analysis includes a study of opinion aggregation on social media which is able to detect non-trivial human expressions, like sarcasm and dark humor.

Yaneer Bar-Yam is a complexity scientist and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. He has analyzed the structure and functional design of human brain and its relationship to human capabilities and behavior. He is the author of Making Things Work and Dynamics of Complex Systems, as well as articles applying complexity theory to organizational management, financial markets, social networks, military and ethnic conflicts, and other fields. He advises corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations on solving complex problems.

Alfredo J. Morales is an Assistant Professor at the the New England Complex Systems Institute. He contributes to building a better understanding of social systems by developing computational and analytical methods based on complex systems science and data science. His work is at the intersection of computer science, statistics, applied physics and artificial intelligence. He analyzes large datasets that result from human activity on social media, internet, mobile phones or purchases in order to retrieve unstructured patterns of collective behaviors that explain large scale societal properties, such as social dynamics, urban dynamics, segregation, political engagement, political polarization and social influence.


Registration is Required

Registration deadline is February 23, 2018.

U-M fosters thriving artificial intelligence and machine learning research

By | General Interest, HPC, News, Research

Research using machine learning and artificial intelligence — tools that allow computers to learn about and predict outcomes from massive datasets — has been booming at the University of Michigan. The potential societal benefits being explored on campus are numerous, from on-demand transportation systems to self-driving vehicles to individualized medical treatments to improved battery capabilities.

The ability of computers and machines generally to learn from their environments is having transformative effects on a host of industries — including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation — and could have an economic impact of $15 trillion globally according to one estimate.

But as these methods become more accurate and refined, and as the datasets needed become bigger and bigger, keeping up with the latest developments and identifying and securing the necessary resources — whether that means computing power, data storage services, or software development — can be complicated and time-consuming. And that’s not to mention complying with privacy regulations when medical data is involved.

“Machine learning tools have gotten a lot better in the last 10 years,” said Matthew Johnson-Roberson, Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “The field is changing now at such a rapid pace compared to what it used to be. It takes a lot of time and energy to stay current.”

Diagram representing the knowledge graph of an artificial intelligence system, courtesy of Jason Mars, assistant professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, U-M

Johnson-Roberson’s research is focused on getting computers and robots to better recognize and adapt to the world, whether in driverless cars or deep-sea mapping robots.

“The goal in general is to enable robots to operate in more challenging environments with high levels of reliability,” he said.

Johnson-Roberson said that U-M has many of the crucial ingredients for success in this area — a deep pool of talented researchers across many disciplines ready to collaborate, flexible and personalized support, and the availability of computing resources that can handle storing the large datasets and heavy computing load necessary for machine learning.

“The people is one of the reasons I came here,” he said. “There’s a broad and diverse set of talented researchers across the university, and I can interface with lots of other domains, whether it’s the environment, health care, transportation or energy.”

“Access to high powered computing is critical for the computing-intensive tasks, and being able to leverage that is important,” he continued. “One of the challenges is the data. A major driver in machine learning is data, and as the datasets get more and more voluminous, so does the storage needs.”

Yuekai Sun, an assistant professor in the Statistics Department, develops algorithms and other computational tools to help researchers analyze large datasets, for example, in natural language processing. He agreed that being able to work with scientists from many different disciplines is crucial to his research.

“I certainly find the size of Michigan and the inherent diversity that comes with it very stimulating,” he said. “Having people around who are actually working in these application areas helps guide the direction and the questions that you ask.”

Sun is also working on analyzing the potential discriminatory effects of algorithms used in decisions like whether to give someone a loan or to grant prisoners parole.

“If you use machine learning, how do you hold an algorithm or the people who apply it accountable? What does it mean for an algorithm to be fair?” he said. “Can you check whether this notion of non-discrimination is satisfied?”

Jason Mars, an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department and co-founder of a successful spinoff called Clinc, is applying artificial intelligence to driverless car technology and a mobile banking app that has been adopted by several large financial institutions. The app, called Finie, provides a much more conversational interface between users and their financial information than other apps in the field.

“There is going to be an expansion of the number of problems solved and number of contributions that are AI-based,” Mars said. He predicted that more researchers at U-M will begin exploring AI and ML as they understand the potential.

“It’s going to require having the right partner, the right experts, the right infrastructure, and the best practices of how to use them,” he said.

He added that U-M does a “phenomenal job” in supporting researchers conducting AI and ML research.

“The level of support and service is awesome here,” he said. “Not to mention that the infrastructure is state of the art. We stay relevant to the best techniques and practices out there.”

Advanced Research Computing at U-M, in part through resources from the university-wide Data Science Initiative, provides computing infrastructure, consulting expertise, and support for interdisciplinary research projects to help scientists conducting artificial intelligence and machine learning research.

For example, Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research, an ARC unit, has several consultants on staff with expertise in machine learning and predictive analysis with large, complex, and heterogeneous data. CSCAR recently expanded capacity to support very large-scale machine learning using tools such as Google’s TensorFlow.

CSCAR consultants are available by appointment or on a drop-in basis, free of charge. See cscar.research.umich.edu or email cscar@umich.edu for more information.

CSCAR also provides workshops on topics in machine learning and other areas of data science, including sessions on Machine Learning in Python, and an upcoming workshop in March titled “Machine Learning, Concepts and Applications.”

The computing resources available to machine learning and artificial intelligence researchers are significant and diverse. Along with the campus-wide high performance computing cluster known as Flux, the recently announced Big Data cluster Cavium ThunderX will give researchers a powerful new platform for hosting artificial intelligence and machine learning work. Both clusters are provided by Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS).

All allocations on ARC-TS clusters include access to software packages that support AI/ML research, including TensorFlow, Torch, and Spark ML, among others.

ARC-TS also operates the Yottabyte Research Cloud (YBRC), a customizable computing platform that recently gained the capacity to host and analyze data governed by the HIPAA federal privacy law.

Also, the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) (also a unit of ARC) has supported several AI/ML projects through its Challenge Initiative program, which has awarded more than $10 million in research support since 2015.

For example, the Analytics for Learners as People project is using sensor-based machine learning tools to translate data on academic performance, social media, and survey data into attributes that will form student profiles. Those profiles will help link academic performance and mental health with the personal attributes of students, including values, beliefs, interests, behaviors, background, and emotional state.

Another example is the Reinventing Public Urban Transportation and Mobility project, which is using predictive models based on machine learning to develop on-demand, multi-modal transportation systems for urban areas.

In addition, MIDAS supports student groups involved in this type of research such as the Michigan Student Artificial Intelligence Lab (MSAIL) and the Michigan Data Science Team (MDST).

(A version of this piece appeared in the University Record.)

PyData November Meetup: David Rogers, MS, Sight Machine

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“Delivering Data Products for Operations”

Join us for a PyData Ann Arbor Meetup on Tuesday, November 14, at 6 PM, hosted by TD Ameritrade and MIDAS.

David Rogers from Sight Machine will discuss the technical and non-technical aspects of delivering a scalable data product for use in enterprise operations. The aspects, ranging from data pipelining to customer education, will be blended with examples and anecdotes from my experiences delivering data products for some of the largest companies in the world.

David Rogers is the Lead Data Scientist at Sight Machine, where he solves complex manufacturing problems for Global 500 companies with Digital Twin and AI technologies. His background includes full stack software development and applying system thinking for Boeing and nonprofit organizations. David holds a BS in computer engineering from Michigan State University and an MS in systems engineering from the University of Virginia.

PyData Ann Arbor is a group for amateurs, academics, and professionals currently exploring various data ecosystems. Specifically, we seek to engage with others around analysis, visualization, and management. We are primarily focused on how Python data tools can be used in innovative ways but also maintain a healthy interest in leveraging tools based in other languages such as R, Java/Scala, Rust, and Julia.

PyData Ann Arbor strives to be a welcoming and fully inclusive group and we observe the PyData Code of Conduct. PyData is organized by NumFOCUS.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit in the United States.

“use what you have learned to make something better and share with others”