Mark Hammond


Doing for Artificial Intelligence what Databases did for Data

Building deep learning systems at present is part science, part art, and a whole lot of arcana. Rather than focusing on the concepts we want the system to learn and how those can be taught, one often finds themselves dealing with low level details like network topology and hyper parameters. It is easy to lose the forest for the trees.

Databases solved this problem for data by allowing users to program at a higher level of abstraction. With a database, one eschews low level implementation details and instead builds a model of the information (the schema) using a high level declarative programming language (e.g. SQL). The database server is then used to actualize this model, and manage its usage with real data. Similarly, for artificial intelligence, one can build a model for conceptual understanding (the mental model) using a high level declarative programming language (Inkling). An intelligence server can then be used to actualize this model, and manage its usage with real data.

In this talk, Mark will explore the underpinnings of this technique, detail the Inkling programming language, and demonstrate how one can build, debug, and iteratively refine models. To make things concrete and fun, Mark will detail creating a system to play the video game breakout using deep learning, but requiring codifying only the high level concepts relevant for intelligent play and a curriculum for how one can teach them.

Mark Hammond is the founder and CEO of Bonsai, a VC backed startup whose platform makes AI technology accessible to every software developer, regardless of machine learning expertise. Mark has a deep passion for understanding how the mind works, combining that with an understanding of our own human nature, and turning that knowledge into beneficial applied technology. A Caltech alumnus focused on computation and neural systems, he has worked extensively for the industry giant Microsoft, as well as numerous startups and in academia including Numenta and the neuroscience department at Yale.

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