Tuesday 26 March 2024

Why Didn't AI work for Me?


A great friend and fellow Oracle ACE Director, Opal, has written an amazing series on AI in EPM

The first and introductory blog wasn't about EPM, it introduced generative AI, setting the foundation for everyone, by investigating the technology behind a bit of fun we had in the ACE program.

When I read her Linkedin post announcing the blog, I was intrigued, I had the ACE Superhero Avatars and am really disappointed in them, I read the blog and was blown away by how deep she had dug into what, as I said, I simply saw as a bit of fun. So I commented on it.

In précis she explained how the WEDO team inside Oracle, who build cool and exciting things to showcase Oracle technology, had set up this generative AI to take a set of superhero photos and generate new avatars based on photos of the ACEs who uploaded their headshots.

I have worked with the WEDO team before, they are based in Spain and full of young dynamic people bringing technology to life. When working for Accenture, we had one of their visual demos on our stand at an event in London. It looked like a scalextric set but it was run via commands in Oracle standard apps, E Business Suite, Transportation Management etc.

People loved it. So when Opal said they were behind the avatar project I wanted to know more.

My experience of the ACE project was disappointing. I was on the road and I sent pictures already on my phone for them to use, I didn't spend time on creating new ones. The results were terrible, none of them looked like me at all. 

Well except the non superhero or glamorous one! 

As more and more ACEs posted theirs I was so jealous. Theirs all looked really good. So I reached out, and begged for another voucher. The nice people in the ACE program felt sorry for me and let me have a second attempt. I took great care to take selfies in the same pose as the base avatars, believing I was giving myself the best chance. The email with the pictures arrived and I opened the attachments with great anticipation; I was equally disappointed.

As time went on, and I saw more and more posted in various channels I decided perhaps it was just better for men, then Opal and other ladies posted theirs and I felt deflated; theirs were definitely better.

Don't get me wrong, the pictures are excellent quality, they simply don't look like me.

One thing was that those disappointed were not posting their results so actually I was only seeing the best, and as some discussed on our slack channel I decided the problem was age. The closer you were in age to the original picture, the more recognisable the generated picture. I guess some kind of bias in the algorithm based on not many superheroes being old!

A couple of weeks ago was the Oracle CloudWorld Tour in London, and WEDO had a stand. They had a different take on generative AI. They took a photo of you and you described what you wanted the background to be, and the AI would generate the picture. I had to have a go. 

I asked to be underwater in a beautiful reef with a manta ray and an octopus in the background. It then generated this picture. Not bad.

I spoke with the  WEDO team and discussed my theory about the superhero avatars  bias and they agreed. As we discussed it, I realised it wasn't just age, but also hair colour; not many superhero's are grey!!!

My ACE avatars may not be as exciting as they were in my mind, but not quite an hallucination. 

Thank you again Opal, the  WEDO team and the ACE program for opening my mind.

Sunday 24 March 2024

New Look UKOUG

Linkedin is full of posts about Oracle Cloud World Tour London and many of the pictures include people wearing a new badge.

UKOUG Have updated their logo and what they stand for in their DISC mission. 

I love it.

Every organisation should regularly review what they stand for, internal and eternal opportunities and challenges to ensure they are relevant to their existing and potential members. As a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors, this governance has always been important to me; so pleased to see it front and centre of this renewed board.

I am very proud of my time on the board of UKOUG. It has had its own struggles as well as the Covid years that hurt all usergroups, but this renewal looks good.

I hope as a member, content provider and speaker I can continue to be part of UKOUG and that it goes from strength to strength.