Home» Interview» “We are enabling local people to solve their local problems using AI,” says Bülent Uyaniker, Director of Academic Affairs & Senior AI Researcher at Fusemachines

“We are enabling local people to solve their local problems using AI,” says Bülent Uyaniker, Director of Academic Affairs & Senior AI Researcher at Fusemachines

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If you have been following our site, you must surely know about our love for innovation, technology, and research. Moreover, we are a sucker of innovative tech in the IT sector.

Plus, Fusemachines is doing exactly that. How? Basically, the company trying to make everyday things easier with the power of AI.

If you are just an enthusiast or share a familiarity in the AI sector, you’ve probably heard about Fusemachines and it’s AI Education initiative. However, if you aren’t, let’s start from there.

Fusemachines is the pioneer of AI in Nepal. Moreover, they are the driving force behind the innovation and integration of AI in different sectors. “AI Expo Nepal 2019” is a perfect example of them doing exactly that. Believe it or not, that was just a beginning.

Finally, this brings us to the amazing opportunity to sit in an interview with Bülent Uyaniker. For this interview, we had designed questions that we wanted to ask, as well as, the questions from the AI community in Nepal.

Without further due, let’s see what he had to say.

Who is Bülent Uyaniker?

Bülent Uyaniker is the Director of Academic Affairs and Senior AI Researcher at Fusemachines. Additionally, he leads the Fusemachines AI curriculum research and development team. He has also designed the curriculum by utilizing more than 20 years of experience as a Data Scientist.

He is a Ph.D. from Max Planck Institute / Bonn University. Moreover, he has authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles, scientific journals, and many popular scientific articles. Furthermore, he is the founder of DataSpeckle Scientific where he focuses on complex imaging and data science problems.

Among his many achievements, there is one that caught my eye. Bülent Uyaniker has developed an automated flat field digital mammography segmentation algorithm for British Columbia Breast Cancer Screening Program.

Can you tell us about your journey in technology and how you started in this space?

Everyone has their moments when they realize what they want to be in life. For me, it was the stars in the night sky. These were just little tiny pointy lights in the sky. Carrying on that curiosity, I started my career in Science and Technology.

Starting in Data Science was a different story. I started with Physics, continuing through Nuclear Energy Generation and Astrophysics. During that time, people were not thinking about data as something usable. Please remember, this was a time before Google and Facebook.

Finally, I figured out that this mountain of data aka Big Data will be used someday, maybe for machine learning or maybe for something different. So, I wanted to be part of it. That’s how it all began.

What is the kind of problems that Fusemachines is solving using AI? Tell us about your role in it.

Fusemachines is solving problems in the market. Moreover, we are trying our best to solve problems with AI in the Tech World as well as Health Sector. I rather not go into details because that’s not the most important thing that we do. Fusemachines is supposed to be more than that. It’s about investing in the local people. Furthermore, it’s about enabling local people to solve their local problems. And, using AI to solve that problem is just an added bonus.

Yes, you need the training to use the power of AI. There is a gap between the market and the locals. I think Fusemachines is doing its best here. Furthermore, it is bridging the gap between the market and education. Moreover, it is fundamentally investing in people’s talent over everything else.

Just to achieve that, I am currently developing a 12-week curriculum with Fusemachines engineers. This will be tailored to solve the local problems as well as international problems.

You have been working in the field of Data Science for 20 years. So, please tell us what skills most companies look at in a Data Scientist?

I’ll be honest here.

Big companies look for many things like education, behavior, and work-ethics. But everything else is so minute in comparison with one big thing: solutions. So, companies are always looking for creative problem solvers and active thinkers… everything else is just secondary.

Doesn’t matter if you possess the will power to jump off a cliff, big companies will not think about it twice. So, you need to be a problem solver who’s actively looking to solve different problems.

I know, I keep connecting it to Fusemachines’ curriculum. But that’s what we are teaching people to do, to become active learners and learn critical thinking.


Rapid Fire Round

Best Programming Language for Machine Learning: Python

Top Three Data Science Tools: Python, Flask, and Scikit

Google or Apple:  I’d choose Blackberry for innovation that they brought… before they failed miserably.

Elon Musk or Jack Ma: These are just the faces of their products. Actual heroes are people working behind the product, especially the ones who are actively trying to solve problems.

Siri, Alexa, or Cortana: Just because it was the very first to pave the way for Voice Assistant.


Fusemachines believes in democratizing AI (making AI more accessible). What are some major efforts that Fusemachines is taking to democratize AI?

Human intelligence is probably distributed evenly around the world. However, opportunities are not.

By democratizing AI, we are trying our best to give everyone even opportunities to become an AI Engineer or Data Scientist. Whether you are a national or an international individual, opportunities must be democratized.

We are creating some amazing products as part of our efforts to Democratize AI.

  • Chatbot called Fuse Chatbot: An advanced chatbot platform that can work as a standalone enterprise application or sit on top of common chatbot platforms such as Amazon Lex, Google Dialog flow, IBM Bluemix, and Microsoft Azure Bot Service to provide self-learning capabilities and handle complex dialogs.
  • Character Recognition System called Fuse Extract: Fusemachines Intelligent Character Recognition system recognizes and extracts alphanumeric characters, words, and sentences from both handwritten and printed documents.
  • Fuse Recruit: Platform with a repository of leads in the AI field with their email, expertise data, papers, and other information that allows the user to source AI talent.
  • Fuse Synthesis: A platform that collects and combines data from various public sources about any company and topic. Users can generate analytic reports on those companies and topics from the platform within a few seconds.

How do you see the raging trend of impacting businesses by including “AI in everything”? Has AI become a tool for many businesses to market, promote, or get funds for their service or products?

Yes, adding just the name “AI” or “Machine Learning” on businesses gets more funds. However, putting the “AI” in the name doesn’t always guarantee success.

Surely, investors will invest in your idea, even if you use or don’t use AI. Because they value ideas… Maybe putting AI in the startup title will increase investment chances.

For them, you are one of the many companies they have invested in. However, if you do promise to use AI tech and don’t, that’s just breaking the trust.

So, they won’t be trusting you next time around. I’d suggest everyone be cautious before throwing AI randomly in their products and businesses.


Knowing You

What are the tools you cannot live without?

Tools are just tools. I think I can live without tools just because I have the motivation to solve a problem with or without a tool. Moreover, if you don’t have tools, you simply create them.

What is your favorite book?

The First Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe by Steven Weinberg and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari 

What is your favorite movie?

2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick and Contact by Carl Sagan

How would you describe the way you work in one word?

I’ll use more than one word… I work and I work.

How do you keep yourself focused?

Thinking is difficult. Moreover, explain something is even more difficult. Like sports, just keep practicing and look out for yourself.


Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX CEO, has said that AI is “a fundamental existential risk for human civilization.” What are your thoughts on it? Should we be worried?

Not at all.

Usually, people like to create hype for something they don’t understand, for example, aliens.

Machine Intelligence and Human Intelligence is not the same thing. That’s the fundamental point we keep forgetting. Likewise, machines are doing things a lot faster. But they are not self-aware, we are self-aware. So, there is a huge difference between both Human and Artificial Intelligence.

Whenever people think AI, don’t think of it as a substitute for human intelligence. Rather, it is a different kind of intelligence.

Even if I try to imagine a worst-case scenario, AI will only mimic self-aware intelligence. In conclusion, it’s not a risk and we should not be worried.

In the past few years, AI learning is getting quite popular among youths in Nepal. What are the top three pieces of advice you want to give to the students or youths who want to pursue their careers in AI? And, to the startup companies who work in the field of AI?

Three pieces of advice are too many, I think one will do.

Whatever you do, do it to solve problems. Don’t run after the money, that’s not important here. Run towards solving problems. AI and Machine Learning  are just tools.

If whatever you are doing doesn’t have any corresponding meaning to something you are trying to achieve in life, then you are wasting your time. Plus, always work hard!

If you are in Nepal, I’d suggest you join Fusemachines education programs. We are doing something different here, and I want them to be part of it.

 

Honestly, that was an amazing insight!

If you want to know more about Fusemachines or the programs they offer, be sure to check them out at www.fusemachines.com

 


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