and all that Jazz

It seems like AI/ML is the big thing in silicon valley. If you check out how the VC money is moving, what the TechCrunch articles say, and what’s being posted on HackerNews, it’s like ML is the greatest thing since social networks. If Machine Learning is so great, why don’t we use it everywhere? Why not get rich building prediction models for the stock market? According to this NVIDIA blogpost, Deep Learning, responsible for the current ML boom, wasn’t so great until recently:

Over the past few years AI has exploded, and especially since 2015. Much of that has to…

How Machines Learn

In 1485, Leonardo da Vinci studied the flight of birds in attempts to create artificial flight.

Like all things artificial, AI requires a solid definition for intelligence and design for how to get there. In 1485, Leonardo da Vinci studied the flight of birds in attempts to create artificial flight. In 2017, Google designs hardware and software to efficiently replicate artificial neurons in hopes of advancing Artificial Intelligence, prioritizing the pursuit of artificial learning.

How do you learn to play a board game? Do you like to study the directions until it all makes sense, or do you like to learn as you go? Just like humans have different ways of learning, Machines also learn through…

Why must machines learn? Because humans can’t keep up.

The current AI/ML boom is a result of the advancements in a specific approach to learning, Deep Learning. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning are all responsible for some of the biggest advancements in the past year, and people celebrate these technologies interchangeably. Lately, tech conferences are swarming with people wanting to know more about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning as if they were the same thing. There’s a good amount of history behind each of these technologies, but a simpler way to keep track of the difference is by our motivations.

Hundreds of people gather to learn about Machine Learning at AI Frontiers for a Tensorflow workshop in 2017.

The Difference in Motivations

How to increase your Procedural Literacy

Are you Procedurally Literate? It’s the step beyond Computer Literacy, where you not only know how to use a computer, but also understand how the computer accomplishes your requests. The current Machine Learning (ML) boom is raising the bar for the logic behind our tech. Take Google, for example. In the last five years, there has been an exponential growth in the use of Machine Learning in Google products.

For Google, the focus is on Deep Learning, which is ML through Neural Nets

What this means for you, is that there are now cool features in your smart phone that didn’t exist before, like Google Assistant and on demand translation.

Historically, this type of…

Science Fiction, Movie Trailers, and Youtube Videos I Use to Help Kids Understand Artificial Intelligence

What can you learn from observing Pac-Man Ghosts like a Zoologist?

Imagine being a kid. Your parents just signed you up for some fancy Stanford Summer course in Artificial Intelligence. To be honest, you have no idea what Artificial Intelligence is except for robots or something; however, grownups think everything will have AI someday, so you better start learning now. You attend one of the best high schools in your country, and you tested well enough to get into the course, but you wonder whether you’d prefer your summers outside the classroom.

On the first day, the instructor loads up a game of Pac-Man and asks if anyone has ever seen…

I was in a gospel choir in a past life, and the preacher made a memorable analogy: “We are not thermometers, we are thermostats.” To me, that meant that we aren’t confined to detecting temperature; rather as active agents in the world, we are meant to be climate shifters. The novelty of Donald Trump, however, is less about being an agent of change. His ability to reveal certain mindsets and behaviors of our nation mimics the early Artificial Intelligence pursuits of the 1960's.

Politicians Barry Goldwater and Donald Trump

The Goldwater Machine

The birth of the term Artificial Intelligence (AI) happened at Dartmouth College in 1956. In 1963, a…

Students from Kazakhstan.

In this last trip to Kazakhstan, I really was amazed at how usable and accessible web tools have become. In particular, Github and Google Cloud Launcher. Through Github, my students had programming portfolios and their own personal blogs with great ease. With Google Cloud Launcher, a whole new world of web tools opened up before my eyes.


Through Stanford University’s Honors Academy, I’ve been sent to teach Computer Science and Game Design in five countries (Chile, Peru, India, China, and Kazakhstan). These are three of my biggest takeaways:

Sherol Chen

AI, Games, and Education

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