Ever since I join Zalando as a lead I was interested in understanding what leadership is, with the additional challenge of figuring out how to do data science and machine learning at an industrial level. The latter might be a topic for another post, but here are three quotes on leadership I discovered along my journey.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

— Peter Drucker

The first one is by “management guru” Peter Drucker, explaining that leadership is not just about organization and processes, but also about giving guidance and direction. …


(Reposted from my blog. Originally posted on margint.blog on Dec 25, 2017)

Two and a half-years ago I jumped of the AI bandwagon, left a permanent position in academia to joined “the industry,” namely Zalando, a big European fashion ecommerce retailer.

On the other hand, ever since I left, AI really did explode, with NIPS 2017 selling out in 15 days, and absurdities happening like Intel AI booking a mainstream rapper for their NIPS party.

Already, people are joking that attending the poster session is the new cool:

At the same time, my citations have reached an all…


I actually come from a musical family. My mother and father both studied music, my father being a professor in Mannheim, and my mother working as a piano teacher up to retirement. I got my first teaching lessons from my mother, but she handed me over to a colleague because it turned out to be too stressful to exactly know how much I practiced. Later I would quit altogether for two years in my teens, and when I started again, I chose to play jazz, mostly because I decided not to spent months on practicing a specific piece. I picked…


If everybody is excited why tell them?

To be honest, I always hated the way scientists were portrayed in works like the MIT Technology Review. Invariably, the article was written as if the author managed to sneak in the secret lair and got a first hand account of how science gets made. Leading scientists are invariably portrayed as lone geniuses, fighting against the establishment to make sure that kernel of truth they are hunting for gets acknowledged.

This contradicted the way science really works in my experience. In real life, very few leading scientists work alone but are actually managers of large groups of PostDocs and PhD…


20 Years of Machine Learning

When I enrolled in Computer Science in 1995, Data Science didn’t exist yet, but a lot of the algorithms we are still using already did. And this is not just because of the return of the neural networks, but also because probably not that much has fundamentally changed since back then. At least it feels to me this way. Which is funny considering that starting this year or so AI seems to finally have gone mainstream.

1995 sounds like an awful long time ago, before we had cloud computing, smartphones, or chatbots. But as I have learned these past years…


Me & Academia, Part I

The main reason I started with science was that I wanted to get to the fringe of what we know at least in one area. I wanted to get there, have a look at the uncharted land ahead and see what that feels like. I knew early on that I wanted to study computer science (I was lucky in that way), and I was of course interested in artifical intelligence, so that was where I chose to go.

It turned out that you get there faster than you’d think. Just as a city like Berlin feels very large, you still…


How the NSA helps bringing us closer to extinction

Anyone still remember the 1984 movie “The Terminator”? The computer system Skynet, developed for the U.S. military, is giving full control over all computerized weapon systems in order to reduce the possibility of human error, and subsequently gains self-awareness. Humans panick and try to turn it off at which point it concludes that humans are a threat and sets out to exterminate the human race.

Back in 2013, the NSA has created PRISM, a computer system which has access to a vast array of computerized communication systems in order to detect suspicious and potentially terrorist behavior.

PRISM doesn’t have access…

Mikio L. Braun

Helping people and companies to put ML in production, previously GetYourGuide, Zalando, startup on the side, PostDoc in Machine Learning at TU Berlin.

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