Changing the World with the Power of Cognitive Computing


In his keynote at Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, Tanmay Bakshi will talk about how he’s using cognitive and cloud computing to change the world through open source initiatives, including “The Cognitive Story,” which is aimed at augmenting and amplifying human capabilities. Through this project, Bakshi is working to decipher brain wave data through AI and neural networks and provide the ability to communicate to those who cannot communicate naturally.

Bakshi is a software and AI/cognitive developer, author, algorithm-ist, TEDx speaker, IBM Champion for Cloud, and Honorary IBM Cloud Advisor. He also hosts the IBM Facebook Live Series called “Watson Made Simple with Tanmay.”

At age 13, Bakshi is on a mission to reach and help at least 100,000 aspiring beginners learn how to code, by sharing his knowledge through his YouTube channel “Tanmay Teaches” and through his books, keynotes, workshops, and seminars. Here, Bakshi shares more about his work and his upcoming keynote. Can you tell us about how you are involved with open source? What are some projects that you maintain or have founded?

Tanmay Bakshi: I am a huge supporter of open-source code and technology. I have founded open source projects that I actively maintain. One of these projects is AskTanmay, an open source web-based Natural Language Question Answering (NLQA) System, which was one of my very first Watson projects.

I also have a YouTube channel called Tanmay Teaches, where I love to share my knowledge about topics like computing, programming, algorithms, Watson/AI, machine learning, math, and science. When I find something I think the community needs to know about, I create a tutorial, build the entire application, and explain and open source the project on GitHub. To date, I have 144 videos and counting.

Another project I’m closely involved with, which will touch a lot of people’s lives, is “The Cognitive Story.” It’s a project that I’m a part of, and it uses artificial intelligence in a field where I believe it can make the most impact — healthcare. The point of The Cognitive Story is to augment people’s lives using the power of cognitive computing and AI. This is a completely open source project, and anyone is welcome to take help from this project and also contribute to its common cause.

Furthermore, the reason I’m so passionate about open source is that it’s one of the ways through which I can share my knowledge. Lots of people reach out to me with their problems and questions that they have about coding and technology. When a project is open source, nobody needs to “rediscover fire” or “reinvent the wheel” — they’re not spending time rebuilding a base that’s already been built. They’re working on top of the base to create even better software that can benefit the community.

That is the main reason I love Linux, and at Open Source Summit North America, I look forward to connecting with more supporters of open source. How are you involved with these various projects?

Bakshi: DeepSPADE is one of my most recent AI projects, and I’m very excited about it — the basic point of DeepSPADE is to detect spam on public community websites and automatically report it to the people who can take care of it. It uses a very deep Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) + Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU) model to achieve this. You can find out more about it on a blog that I wrote.

AskTanmay was my very first Watson project, and it’s an NLQA system that can answer natural language questions. It uses a combination of IBM Watson’s NLU and NLC services with BiDAF (Bi-Directional Attention Flow) to understand online resources to answer your questions. This open source code is available on GitHub.

The first chapter in The Cognitive Story (TCS) is to help those with special needs and disabilities. Our very first goal here is to help a quadriplegic girl who lives north of Toronto, and her name is Boo. She’s unable to communicate or express herself in any way — and only her mom can understand the very broad concepts she tries to convey, which is why we’ve given her mom the title of “Intimate Interpreter.” My role in TCS is to implement deep learning systems to understand Boo’s EEG brain waves and decipher them into what she’s trying to communicate. The project is open source and is available on GitHub. What’s the common theme among these projects?

Bakshi: Whether it be (a) trying to reduce the time it takes to research something, (b) allowing website users to have a better experience, or (c) allowing those who can’t communicate naturally to communicate via AI, the commonality is that I want to share my knowledge through these open source projects. We are at a point in time where conventional computing alone is not able to help us. As an Open Source Community, we need to build and provide tools in the hands of those working in healthcare, security, agriculture, science, education, etc., so that they can do their work better and the entire community can benefit. All these projects use machine learning to make people’s lives easier and better to live. What is going to be the core focus of your talk at Open Source Summit?

Bakshi: In my talk, I’ll primarily urge everyone to understand the importance of open sourcing AI technology. Since AI is still an evolving technology, yet already such an integral part of our lives, there’s a need to expand this technology at an even more rapid pace through the power of open source – we’re only holding back our own progress by keeping our code to ourselves. You are also hosting a Birds of a Feather session at OS Summit. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Bakshi: In my BoF talk, I will take a deep-dive into the working of the DeepSPADE system: why it’s structured as it is and the logic behind the model. I’ll also talk about the evolution of the model, and why I chose the CNN+GRU method. Who should be attending your talk?

Bakshi: I’d recommend my keynote to machine learning beginners/experts, and those who are curious as to how the power of AI and ML can not only change but also augment their lives and amplify their skills. I’d recommend my BoF talk to all those who have used machine learning before, or are machine learning experts, and who are interested in how and why DeepSPADE works.

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