Of Labyrinthian minds

On Campus Jan 13, 2018

A brief coverage of the talk by Tanmay Bakshi, the 14 yr old whiz kid

Imagine being the youngest person in a gathering of 500 people, consisting of students and teachers alike, eager to hear you speak. They await your story to success, to hear your thoughts on a subject vague to most, and yet you manage to keep a level head and inspire people who are twice, even thrice your age. Exhilarating, right? This is probably how Tanmay Bakshi felt when he addressed the crowd gathered in the F block assembly hall in our college on the 4th of January. Coming to think of it, it might not be so because this has become commonplace for the 14 year old algorithmist, TEDx and keynote speaker, Watson and Cognitive developer, and IBM Champion for Cloud.

The panel consisting of the Principal Dr.Rudramoorthy, Tanmay Bakshi and Dr.Vimal Veereshwarayya

The event was organised by the Grad Valley Data Science Institute (GVDSI) along with the Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences Department of our college and was attended by the Principal, Dr.Rudramoorthy, Dr.Vimal Veereshwarayya (Founder and Director of GVDSI), various HoDs, Professors, and students of the college and PSG schools. At around 3:30 PM, the room was heavily packed and the excitement in the air was palpable. Enter the speaker for the day, and the crowd became quiet. First, the Principal addressed the gathering briefly. He began with a nod to the common confusion amongst the people in the room on how they could address the speaker for the day with him being the “youngest speaker” to have ever set foot in the college. One of the constant principles he puts forth to the students is that education must bring about a change. He stated that Tanmay has brought about such changes in his own way, which is a testimony to his unparalleled passion in his work. He also added that education is becoming increasingly open with the growth of virtual universities and resources, which help many people around the world. He mentioned that Tanmay has contributed immensely to this trend, thus proving that age is just a number.

The speaker took to the stage and began by thanking the people who made the event possible. He then introduced himself with a seemingly never-ending list of his roles and achievements. He mentioned that his passion lies in the field of Deep Learning which could power services such as IBM Watson. He then gave brief introductions about IBM Watson, Artificial Neural Networks and Data Science. He stressed on the importance of Data Science as it plays a major role in developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Age had a hard time keeping up at this event.

Next, he spoke about two of his projects in the field of healthcare that used the power of Deep Learning, which he hoped would interest the audience. The first is one targeted at preventing youth suicides. As he explained, there are certain patterns in the behaviour of the people who are susceptible to suicidal tendencies, which can be classified by using Deep Learning algorithms. This information could be used to identify the cause of depression, one of the biggest reasons for youth fatalities. For this, there must be some data that can be fed into the learning algorithms, which is obtained from various sources such as a person’s health records, social media, GPS, etc. After identifying potential victims, he hopes to provide e-therapy to them using the many capabilities of machine learning. His motivation to work in this project stemmed from some startling statistics about teenage suicides in various countries such as Australia and the US.

The next project is called the “Cognitive Story”, which aims to combine Cognitive learning capabilities and Artificial Intelligence. The first chapter of Cognitive story addresses disabilities. It all started with a woman called Boo from Canada, who suffers from Rett Syndrome. This caused a drastic decrease in her ability to communicate with others. On hearing about this person and her condition, IBM, Darwin Ecosystems and Tanmay Bakshi set out to help her communicate with the help of Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing. The idea is to take Boo’s EEG brainwave signals while she communicates with her mother, who is the only person who can understand her, and have her interpret it. Thus, the brainwave signals and the mother’s interpretation are fed into an ML algorithm, which the team hopes can be used to “learn” to process her brainwaves and translate it to natural language. But since the cognitive abilities provided by cognitive computing is only a model of the cognitive abilities of humans, this project might not be successful. Nevertheless, it proves to be a great development in its field.

After briefing the gathering about these projects, he assured that the sole purpose of AI was to aid human efforts and amplify our skills, not to completely replace them. He then invited questions from the audience.

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This lead to a very enthusiastic response from the gathering as it was questions galore in topics ranging from Hyperparameter Optimization (Confused? So were most of the audience), to Sophia – the humanoid robot, Quantum Computing, India’s place in technology and such an abundance of others that they had to limit the questions due to lack of time. Dr.Vimal Veereshwarayya also pitched in a few questions to Tanmay and spoke to the audience about the importance of Data Science in the modern world and noted how the Data Science programme offered in our college excels in providing the fundamentals required to become an expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. The event ended with the end of the Q/A session, and saw the crowd depart with awe-filled minds and eagerness to delve into the world of Artificial Intelligence.

For more information on the Cognitive Story, visit www.thecognitivestory.com.


Rahul Anand

Along with Shashank Narayanan

You'll find me lost in music