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So you want to be a fast engineer: Critical careers of the future


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Cartoonists have a great understanding of how stories are shaped in a concise manner with a focus on design. Recently, cartoonist extraordinaire Roz Chast appeared in the New Yorker prompting DALL-E pictures and I was immediately drawn to the car’s hints above and beyond its actual output.

The title of the article is “DALL-E, Make me another Picasso, please” is a play on words like old Lenny Bruce joke about the genie in the bottle giving the old man anything he wanted. The old man asks the genie to “make me malt” and poof! the gin turns it into a milky drink.

Like the gift of the genie, AIs are powerful but unruly and open to abuse, making the intercession of the operations engineer a new and important job in data science. These are people who understand that when setting up an inquiry, they will rely on craft and persistence to get good (and harmless) results from the mysterious spirit of the machine. The best AI engineers will be the ones who consider whether there is a need for more derivative Picasso art, or what liabilities must be considered before asking a machine to plagiarize the work of a famous artist.

Concerns lately have centered around whether DALL-E will change the already muddy definition of artistic genius forever. But to ask who can be called a creator misses the point. What is art and who can claim the title of artist are philosophical (and rarely ethical) questions that have been debated for millennia. They do not address the fundamental convergence between data science and the humanities. Whether DALL-E, GPT-3, or a future algorithm-driven vision and language model, successful operational crafting will require not only an engineer’s understanding of how machines learn, but also tacit knowledge of art history, literature, and library science. also.


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Artists and designers who claim this kind of AI will end their careers are certainly invested in how this integration will evolve. Vox recently released a video titled “What AI art means for human artists” It explores their concerns in such a way that despite the current lack of “quick craft” and wordsmithing, there is a very real evolution. People are just beginning to realize that we may reach a point where a trademark for a word or phrase may not protect intellectual property as it currently does. What aspect of a copyright inquiry can we protect? How will derivative works be recognized? Could each image have a metadata tag stating that it is “suitable or authorized for AI consumption”? No one mentions these speed bumps in their rush to get their personal MidJourney score.

Alex Shoop, engineer DataRobot and an expert on the design of artificial intelligence systems shared some thoughts about it. “I think an important aspect of the ‘engineer’ part of ‘agile engineer’ will include best practices such as robust testing, reproducible results and leveraging technology. safe and secure,” he said. “For example, I can imagine that an agile engineer would set up a lot of different alert texts, as slightly different as ‘a cat holding a red balloon in the backyard’ and ‘a cat holding a blue balloon in the backyard’ to see how small the changes are. While DALL-E and generative AI models may not produce deterministic or even reproducible results, they will lead to different results, Shoop says, despite not being able to produce predictable artistic results. at least testing and monitoring test rigs it should be one of the skills he would expect to see in a true “quick engineer” job description.

Before the rise of high-end graphics and user interfaces, most science and engineering students saw little need to study visual art and product design. They were not utilitarian like code. Now technology has created a symbiosis between these disciplines. The writer who provides descriptions of the original reference text, the cataloger who constructs metadata as the images are scrapped and then dumped into the repository, the philosopher who assesses the bias hidden in the database all provide necessary perspectives in this brave new global world. image generation.

The result is an operational engineer with a combination of similar skill sets who understands the implications of OpenAI’s use of male rather than female artists. Or if the art of one country is more represented than another. Ask a librarian about the intricacies of cataloging and classification as it’s been done for centuries, and they’ll tell you: it is painful. Agile engineering requires attention to relationships, subgroups, and space, and the ability to explore. censorship and respect copyright laws. When training on images representing the DALL-E Mona LisaThe people in the circuit who had an awareness of these minutiae were critical to the reduction bias and promote fairness in all outcomes.

It’s not just abusive abuse that can be easily imagined. There is even an interesting turn of events a multi-million dollar art forgery reported by artists using artificial intelligence as a tool of choice. All massive databases or large model networks contain embedded in the depths of the data, internal biases, labeling gaps, and outright fraud that defy quick ethical solutions. Natalie Summers from OpenAI OpenAI’s Instagram considers and is the “man in the loop” responsible for enforcing rules that must guard against consequences that could damage reputation or incite anger, expresses similar concerns.

This leads me to conclude that being an operational engineer is not only about being responsible for creating art, but also about being willing to serve as a gatekeeper to prevent fraud, hate speech, copyright infringement, pornography, deep forgery, and the like. . Sure, it’s nice to pull out dozens of weird, slightly disturbing surreal Dada art “products,” but there must be something more compelling buried beneath the mound of sediment resulting from discarded visual experimentation.

I believe DALL-E has brought us to a turning point in the art of artificial intelligence, where both artists and engineers need to understand how data science manipulates and enables behavior, and how machine learning models work. To design a product of these machine learning tools, we will need expertise beyond engineering and design, just as understanding the physics of light and aperture takes the art of photography beyond the ordinary.

Photo by Professor Neri Oksman “The era of creativity.”

This diagram is abbreviated Professor Neri Oksman’s “Creative period.” His work with the Mediated Matter research group at the MIT Media Lab explored the intersection of design, biology, computation, and materials engineering, looking at how all these fields optimally interact with each other. Likewise, “to beoperational engineer” (a non-existent job title not yet formally accepted by any discipline), you need to be aware of these intersections, as wide as his. It is a serious job with many qualifications.

Future DALL-E artists, whether self-taught or schooled, will always need the ability to communicate and design an original point of view. As any librarian with image metadata and curation skills; as any engineer who can structure and test repeatable results; Like historians who were able to relate Picasso’s effects to what was happening in the world when he painted about war and beauty, the “quick engineer” will be the artistic career of the future, requiring a mix of scientific and artistic talents to guide the algorithm. They will continue to be humans injecting their ideas into machines in the service of a newer and ever-changing language of creation.

Tori Orr is a member of DataRobot’s AI Ethics Communications team.


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