Hitting The Need for Diversity Head On in Forbes Post

In a recent Forbes blog post, I posed the question: Is there such a thing as a prejudiced AI algorithm? It’s a topic that’s been getting lots of attention by the media, as well as tech leaders lately, as complex AI solutions are taking on a life of their own and making decisions for us.

But what continues to make AI tick is the data that is fed to them, and that data is often delivered by real-life people who may have their own preconceived opinions, experiences and maybe even their own biases. As I outline in the blog post, the only way to ensure that an algorithm is trained to make fair and unbiased decisions is by making sure there is broad perspective and experiences among the people that will train it. Diversity is key to the data science team.

As I mention in the post, there are a few ways to make sure that the data science teams brings diversity to the training, including carefully reviewing candidate qualifications that go beyond the tech credentials; considering outsourcing parts of the project to get perspective beyond your company; offering internships and other programs to engage the next generation of professionals; and investing in training programs.

This Forbes post sheds light on a topic that is of great concern to us here at Wovenware and we’ll continue to explore ways to ensure any AI solution we create supports fair, unbiased and ethical decision making. The future depends on greater awareness and acceptance of diversity in the workplace and the creation of AI is no exception.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please reach out to us: info@wovenware.com

Wovenware Named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Annual Ranking of Fastest Growing Private U.S. Companies for the Fourth Time

Wovenware, a U.S. nearshore provider of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based services and solutions, today announced that for the fourth time it has been named to the Inc. 5000, the annual list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, published by Inc. Magazine.

“We’re quite honored to once again be included among the Inc. 5000 and be recognized for our success bringing AI solutions to an ever-growing base of clients,” said Christian Gonzalez, CEO and co-founder, Wovenware. “We’re committed to continuing to build on this achievement and push the envelope in the development and delivery of innovative deep learning, machine learning, predictive analytics and chatbot applications that are improving the way people work and live.”

Receiving a ranking of 2141 among 5000 private companies, Wovenware was judged based on Inc. Magazine’s criteria for percentage revenue growth when comparing 2014 to 2017. During that timeframe, the company grew by 207 percent. Wovenware’s growth during this time period is attributed in part to the continued development and maintenance of digital transformation projects for core long-standing clients, as well as the addition of new customers in industries such as healthcare, government and financial services, leveraging Wovenware’s expertise in AI-based technologies.

“For companies on the Inc. 5000, it’s unparalleled recognition of years of hard work and sacrifice,” said Inc. editor-in-chief James Ledbetter. “The lines of business may come and go, or come and stay. What doesn’t change is the way entrepreneurs create and accelerate the forces that shape our lives.”

Wovenware has also significantly grown its business because of its nearshore delivery model. Nearshoring to Puerto Rico is attractive to U.S. businesses looking to outsource software engineering and artificial intelligence project because of its proximity, similar time zones, adherence to the same currency and regulations, and costs far below those of nearshore providers in mainland U.S. states.

How AI Will Change the Very Nature of Work

There’s no doubt that AI is having a major impact on the way we work and live. By having machines do work previously done by humans, it not only frees up people to focus on other tasks, but it also changes the very nature of the work they do. A recent blog post I wrote for Forbes.com looks at these changes, and what companies need to consider as they prepare for the new world that lies ahead.

These changes extend beyond the worker, to the company and industry as a whole. For example, as AI continues to automate the administrative and processing tasks of healthcare insurers, the focus of workers might shift to encouraging customers to improve their health.

As I point out in the article, we’re seeing similar opportunities for change in the transportation industry, where single car ownership is transitioning to shared usage, and driverless cars slowly begin to take over the highways. Autonomous cars provide the intelligence to respond to traffic situations and drive without operators, giving more incentive for cars to be shared, which will mean fewer cars on the road and fewer manufactured. This would shift the focus to a services model, which would create new and meaningful work opportunities for people.

So, what does this mean for your company? It’s not too early to imagine the future of work, and how it may impact your company and industry. Be creative as well as strategic. Think about the needs of your customers and what you might be able to do that you didn’t have time for before. The possibilities are exciting, and they might not only result in happier, more engaged workers, but also provide a whole new source of revenue.

Wovenware Partners with Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust to Build AI Solution to Identify and Classify Disease-Carrying Mosquitos

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Aug. 8, 2018 -Wovenware, a U.S. nearshore provider of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based services and solutions, today announced that it has been selected by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust to develop an AI-based machine learning solution that will automate the identification and classification of Aedes Aegyptis. The purpose is to control the spread of the vector, or mosquito, that can infect people with diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya across Puerto Rico, and ultimately nationwide. The other purpose of this labeling is to develop safe and more effective insecticides.

The project, supported by a $50M grant from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is currently underway by the Trust’s Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU). It hopes to gain an understanding of why many mosquitos have become immune to insecticides approved by the FDA. In order to do this, researchers have spread out across the island, capturing different mosquito species in traps; monitoring and testing them for viral presence and insecticide resistance; and labeling and classifying them. To manually capture and classify thousands of mosquitos, across different areas in Puerto Rico is extremely time-intensive and requires specialized human resources.

To automate this time-consuming task, Wovenware is creating an advanced deep learning solution. Through its private crowd of data specialists, the company will identify and label thousands of images of mosquitos and data sets over the next three-to-six months and will use those images and data to train an algorithm to automatically identify and classify specific species. By eliminating the manual classification process, the AI-based solution is projected to save the PRVCU months of work that can be used to more quickly analyze the findings and identify the root cause of resistance to insecticides, as well as disease spread and prevention routes.

“We support the valuable contributions of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust and its PRVCU, which is working tirelessly to address a serious mosquito problem in post-hurricane Puerto Rico. This work has serious implications for controlling the spread of mosquito-borne illness across the nation,” said Christian Gonzalez, CEO, Wovenware. “The project also underscores the impact AI-based technology can have when bright minds are augmented by smart technology to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

“The talented research team within the PRVCU is committed to shedding light on the mosquito population and the impact of insecticides in preventing the outbreak of related diseases,” said Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Trust for Science, Technology & Research of Puerto Rico. “Thanks to Wovenware’s support and deep expertise in AI technologies, we’re confident that our thorough field work and research will be bolstered by data-driven insights.”

In 2016, Puerto Rico registered 38,058 confirmed cases of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya. Aedes Aegypti is the vector, or mosquito type, that transmits those diseases. These mosquitos need accumulated water to complete their lifecycle, so Hurricane Maria may have drastically increased their numbers. Since one of the easiest ways to reduce diseases carried by Aedes Aegypti is by reducing mosquito breeding sites, their identification and classification is critical.

What I Learned as a Data Science Intern at Wovenware

Image recognition is one of the main branches of computer vision in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and one of the many things that I had the opportunity to learn during my internship here at Wovenware this past summer.

My experience is something that I’m confident will serve me greatly as I begin my career, and also something that I will cherish forever.

As a student at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez without any prior internship experience or expertise in AI, frankly, I was terrified of what would be expected of me and everything was new and overwhelming at first.

Nevertheless, hope was not lost, and with each passing day I worked hard to learn as much as possible so I would be able to complete my assigned tasks, which included assisting with the analysis and processing of data that would go into the creation of machine learning models for image recognition.

Building a Machine Learning Model to Recognize Images

Image recognition is the ability for software to identify any type of object or living thing inside a picture. Our goal was to create a model that could identify and predict the exact location of a variety of objects like buildings, aircrafts, and vehicles from a given picture. The model consists of a method named SSD, which is the process of predicting the location of the object inside a bounding box, a four point coordinate that encloses the predicted object of the desired category.

To handle our data, we used the pandas software library, written for Python, which helped us create a data frame to control, use and extract the desired data in a very few lines of code. The other part of this project required us to train and validate the models we created using a class with a factory design pattern.

The essential part of our project involved a single class that followed this pattern, to generated similar objects without the use of constructors. In this process, the factory receives all of the data that the client needs and it pulls all of the required classes to build that object with the client’s specifications. One of my main tasks was to write a code for reading the configurations of the desired model and generate it in a YAML file. Our model was generated by this factory class, and while it was being created, it went through the process of training in a deep neural network using the Single Shot Detector (SSD).

Thanks to this internship, I was able to expand my knowledge of fascinating news areas of AI, and work hands on with models just as a professional data scientist. I’m grateful for the opportunity not only professionally and academically, but also for the relationships I have created with my co-workers, and the opportunity to work at a dynamic and caring company. My supervisor, Leslie De Jesus and mentor Brian Landron were determined to teach me everything about the project, and helped me learn as much as I could so that I have the tools needed to continue on my own.

As I make my way to Google for a semester co-op, I will never forget Wovenware, nor the friendships and memories I’ve made here. They say that “you’ll never forget your first,” like your first car, your first love, or your first job. Well, I will certainly never forget my first internship.

Spotlighting Diversity at the National Minority Supplier Development Council Seminar

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) recently held its Program Managers’ Seminar here in Puerto Rico. As one of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations committed to helping solve the growing need for supplier diversity, we were delighted when I was asked to speak on behalf of Wovenware in front of corporate technology executives from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google and others.

Since Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, we are grateful to the NMSDC for choosing the island for its national seminar and supporting our local economic recovery efforts.

As part of my presentation, I explained the journey that Wovenware has taken to become a successful entrepreneurial firm – expanding from a company solely focused on custom software development, to one fully embracing Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning technology. I also shared stories of how we are helping customers deploy AI chatbots, deep learning tools and predictive analytics – in industries as diverse as accounting, telecommunications, mosquito disease control and government.

Here at Wovenware, we often forget that we are a minority-owned business, since in corporate headquarters, Puerto Ricans are actually the majority. But in fact, when we visit our clients in the mainland U.S. and attend events around the world, we are reminded that we are indeed a minority-based firm, yet we continue to be embraced by customers for the diverse experience, skill-sets and life experiences we bring to the table. Likewise, we’re also embraced for the common commitment to technology innovation, and solving business problems through a relentless commitment to excellence in our work.

As the NMSDC attests, supplier diversity is fast becoming a business necessity, and nowhere is that more evident than in the technology industry. It complements a global business world that must embrace different cultures, communities and ways of doing things; it fosters a workplace that produces happier and validated employees and stronger corporate identities; and by empowering people of all backgrounds, it boosts the economy.

We were inspired by the real interest and sincere commitment of the NMSDC program managers and all other attendees who are doing their part to foster supplier diversity in their companies.  We’re also confident that more companies will follow suit since diversity is truly the key to corporate and economic growth.