Week 1

I’m not sure that I’ll update about the program every week, but I just finished the first (4-day due to Labor Day) week of Insight AI.  I had pretty much no clue what the program entailed outside of building an applied Artificial Intelligence project.  One of my friends had done the program in the past and is enjoying a good career, so like a movie that you don’t want to spoil with too many previews or reviews I went in dark.

Wow… I’m used to sprints and challenging hours, but it still was a big jolt.  The atmosphere and people leading the program keep things light and easy going fortunately. This deflects from the fact that day 1 you’re pitching your background to dozens of strangers, discussing Machine Learning/AI/Engineering across a broad range of topics guaranteeing that there are some/many that you have little familiarity with, starting to build an AI project, and culminating with a presentation of your initial results for that project!

I recently read some unrelated quote that I’m paraphrasing which sums up the first week for me as follows: “A cold glass of water isn’t nearly as satisfying without the long day of work outdoors first.”  In my journal (that used to be a daily habit, but I haven’t done since last week) I noted that I learned more in those past four days than I had in the previous month.  Even soft skills which as an entrepreneur for many years I am relatively strong at I still learned things about condensing my life biography, getting an intuition if someone is afraid to ask for help, etc.

My AI program has around 16 fellows, and I’m very impressed with all of them.  I went to undergrad at the University of Michigan which I think is the most difficult school in Michigan to get into, and I went for a year of grad school at the American Film Institute which at that time was ranked the #1 film school in the world just ahead of USC/NYU.  Both of these institutions were great, with great students, teachers, etc.  Unavoidably there always seems to be a few unmotivated/rude people that slip through the cracks that you ignore.  High school this obviously goes without saying.  This program is the first one that I’ve ever done where everyone is super smart, motivated, and genuinely good people.

There is also a Data Science program with about double the people in our co-working space, and Data Engineering with about the same as our program.  People come from diverse backgrounds, primarily just finishing their PhDs in recent years looking to transition into the real working world.  I’ve lived in Los Angeles for several years hanging out with the 1% who mostly didn’t even finish college, so it’s a breathe of fresh air be around the exact opposite spectrum.  Even though I never did a PhD in a STEM area I feel very comfortable in academic environments, and my years of real world applied statistics in trading, poker, and entrepreneurship also balances nicely when discussing more theoretical ideas.

That’s it for this week!  Leaving with a pic of this big hawk that I passed by on a hike in Palo Alto.  It’s nice for me to be reminded sometimes that there still are wild animals out there when I’m confined to cafes/offices on my laptop.



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