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New Technology Could Help Understand How Machines Using Artificial Intelligence Learn to Teach Themselves

New Technology Could Help Understand How Machines Using Artificial Intelligence Learn to Teach Themselves

Machines developed by humans have the ability to learn on their own, and machines that use artificial intelligence cultivate “behaviors” on the basis of their understanding of data.

Professor Harald Martens is working to ensure that the computer revolution will be a good thing for people. He is developing technology to make Big Data more understandable. (Image credit: Mona Sprenger)

However, not much is known about how these machines teach themselves. In this regard, a start-up company named Idletechs was established by Professor Harald Martens to create a technology that will make it easy to better understand artificial intelligence for the remaining individuals.

Individuals may not realize it, but artificial intelligence is already here. Whenever they use Siri or Gmail, they are utilizing artificial intelligence. In photo software, face recognition has also turned out to be an off-the-shelf commodity.

Now, machines can learn to read, see, hear, talk, and offer forecasts. Statistical and mathematical techniques—together with computing power and huge amounts of data—allow the machines to become self-learning. They cultivate “behaviors” on the basis of their interpretation of data. This is called machine learning.

Is technology developing too fast?

The fact that computers can learn to teach themselves may seem to be somewhat scary, which is indeed what viewers see in popular science fiction films—robots ruling the world. However, is it really possible to control the artificial intelligence that is created?

It’s problematic when machines spit out a solution that we don’t understand and can’t do quality control on.

Harald Martens, Adjunct Professor, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Martens is the founder of the start-up company, Idletechs.

According to him, technology is emerging at a more rapid pace than can ever be handled by people

That doesn’t serve anyone well. The data revolution should be a good thing for people. It will become something evil if we become alienated from it,” stated Martens.

For almost five decades, Marten’s major areas in academia have been statistics, mathematics, and vast amounts of data. Now, he wishes to give something back to society, and he is fulfilling this through Idletechs—his start-up company.

Idletech’s technology makes it possible to automatically analyse huge streams of technical measurement data in real time, allowing you to discover new connections and interpret the reasons behind them,” he stated.

Idletechs’ technology is based on over 200 scientific publications as well as a number of books penned by Martens.

A flood of data

Humankind has never generated more data before. With a growing number of sensors being connected to networks, the volume of data is continuously increasing. In fact, today’s businesses have to manage staggeringly huge amounts of data than they did a decade ago, and these data are inspected by artificial intelligence systems that show relationships and patterns.

It’s really challenging to translate this potentially valuable information into usable and interpretable results. The answers may often be correct, but not always, and as users we have no way of understanding why this is the case.

Harald Martens, Adjunct Professor, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The professor pointed out that this lack of knowledge is rather unfortunate.

Although most people have little interest in how their car brakes work, it’s very reassuring to know that someone does. It’s worrisome when important decisions are made by artificial intelligence systems with rules that no one understands the reasons for,” he stated.

Best commercial idea

Testing of the Idletechs technology will be carried out in the smelting industry, on ship machinery, and on vital components in wind turbines. Environmental monitoring, aquaculture, and fish farming are other relevant markets.

This technology enables experts in different industries and disciplines to gain an overview of large amounts of data, and at the same time drill down into the results and see which data leads to the results. People won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of data, because the system extracts the essence and presents it intuitively. Our goal is to make good experts even better experts,” stated Martens.

According to Martens, the novel technology is relevant for many people, whether they are in the air, at sea, on land, or out in space. Idletechs’ analysis tool for understanding inSAR height measurement data fetched it the 2018 Copernicus Prize for the best commercial idea from the Norwegian Space Centre.

Dreaming of listening to a furnace like a geologist

Idletechs is first concentrating on huge sensor systems that have “perpetual” flows of multichannel measurement data. Vibration sensors, thermal video cameras, and hyperspectral imaging (cameras employing an extensive range of wavelengths) are some example applications.

Our goal is to detect abnormal warming as soon as it happens. I dream of being able to have the technology to listen to a furnace, just like a geologist listens to the rumbling in the earth after an earthquake. In two to three years, this technology will be ready to go,” stated Martens.

Trondheim can stake its claim

Globally, billions of dollars have been invested to create artificial intelligence. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple—all American technology giants—are at the forefront of this technology. According to Martens, Trondheim should try to stake its claim in this strong competition.

We have the ambition, technical environment and competent investors. These prerequisites put us in a good position to do fundamentally new things in the Trondheim region.”

He pointed out that Idletechs is closely located at NTNU’s Department of Engineering Cybernetics.

NTNU has made an ambitious commitment to Big Data Cybernetics. We now have five professors and an associate professor who are bringing together specialized expertise in cybernetics, chemometrics, physics and machine learning. We can see that interest in the field of Big Data Cybernetics is growing generally, as well as among the students,” he stated.

Less room for unskilled workers

Regarding the concern of whether any jobs will be left for humans to do with the emergence of artificial intelligence, Martens believes that while artificial intelligence will undoubtedly substitute a number of jobs in various sectors, new jobs will also be generated.

Perhaps, it will be more difficult for unskilled workers to get a new job when they lose it. He believes that the requirement for unskilled workers will come down.

In my younger days in the food industry I was in favour of protecting jobs, but now I see that this development can’t be stopped. Artificial intelligence is amazing and can be used for all kinds of things. We’ll have self-driving cars, which will reduce the number of car accidents. But it’s also a good idea to wait a little while before jumping on board, until the technology is well-developed and has been tested. We can’t expect everything to work perfectly at the outset.

Harald Martens, Adjunct Professor, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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