If there is one field brimming with enthusiasm in tech these days, it is machine learning. From the promise of self-driving cars to the mastery of one of our most ancient and complex board games, from cancer treatment to sophisticated open-source libraries, machine learning has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives. This is why it is important for a community to form around it, explore its possibilities and limitations, support its members to understand and improve the technologies available, and consider its ethical and legal implications.
At Limbic, we have been hosting technical meetups for these purposes over the past couple of months. For the first one, in April, we had an informative introductory talk and presentation by Ryder Bergerud, who was the main instigator to create and organize this group in the first place, and who walked attendees through the tasks of setting up some tools to get started doing basic machine learning tasks. We covered the basics of Jupyter notebooks, pandas, and scikit-learn, and then went through a Kaggle challenge to classify zoo animals.
For the second meetup, in May, we had a great presentation by Chris Foster, a graduate researcher at the University of Victoria, on the fundamentals of neural networks. Attendees created their own neural networks and had an interesting back and forth with Chris on neural network tuning, trade-offs, and the characteristics of several types of networks.
As good as the presentations have been, the conversations after them have probably been as useful or more in creating a community around this topic. Beyond some useful cross pollination of ideas on practical applications, data science, and the latest discoveries, there is now an excellent lineup of speakers for the next meetups, and talk about forming a more advanced research paper reading group in the coming weeks as well.
If you want to keep informed, please join the #machine-learning channel on the YYJTech Slack to learn of future events. We plan to host about half of them at Limbic, and if you are interested in this topic we would love for you to attend.