Ali Khosh

Entrepreneur & Technologist

Future of Autonomous Cars – Part 1: The Product Perspective

Future Self-Driving Cars of the Past– Advertising Archive, via Everett Collection

This is part one of a multi-part series on the future of autonomous driving. Each one of these posts focuses on a different perspective on various challenges and opportunities in the design, development, engineering and legal aspects of building the cars of the future. Here is the first one, which takes a product design perspective. Hope you enjoy reading it.

In areas of science and technology where rapid disruption is prevalent, researchers and engineers are constantly surrounded by several challenges of varying degrees of urgency and complexity. In a continuous cycle, innovative solutions for solving these technological obstacles are found and significant progress is made, which gives birth to new challenges.

As one of the most active areas of research and development still in its infancy, autonomous driving is clearly not an exception. Such rapid pace of progress makes it more difficult to observe key challenges and opportunities in that market. Therefore, what looks like a big challenge in 2018 might be long resolved in the coming years thanks to rapid advances made in autonomous driving and other related fields.


How to Be Helpful During the CoronaVirus Outbreak

The meteoric rise of the CoronaVirus, has united communities and spurred numerous random acts of kindness by many. Here’s a running list of what I have compiled so far. Please consider partaking in one or some of these activities.

Ideas for everyone

• Restaurant gift certificates: buy gift certificates from restaurants you frequent. Check out SaveOurFaves if you live in the Bay Area.
• Send food to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously supporting small businesses
• Drive-by Happy Hour: anonymously drop off bottles of wines at neighbors’ doorsteps, ring the bell and disappear. Credit: Hunter Walk.
• Blood donation: help compensate thousands of blood drives cancelled.
• Donations: donate to a food bank and other places who are desperately in need. Here’s a Feeding America food bank locator in the U.S.
• Corporate giving: convince your employer to form focused teams to solve medical/health care pain points & participate in them.
• Helping neighbors: check in with elderly neighbors/friends to do supermarket shopping or find out if they are out of something.
• Medical supplies donations: donate unused masks/gloves and other protective equipment to local hospitals.
• Cook for others: making home-made food and dropping some by a friend’s door.
• Tip generously: if you’re using ride sharing, food delivery, etc., consider tipping 2-3 times what you would otherwise.
• Advance pay: if you have a maid, babysitter that you don’t have work for them right now, pay them for future services.

If you are an artist, instructor, or a musician

• Free art: if you’re an artist, consider streaming free performances, or giving away your music for free.
• Free exercise: if you’re a trainer, consider livestreaming your physical exercise classes such as Yoga.

For entrepreneurs

• Hiring: compile, contribute or share list of companies still hiring
• Investing: if you’re an entrepreneur, help compile list of angels still investing.
• Donations for professionals: a platform allowing entertainers/teachers to stream sessions while accepting donations.
• A Pay Forward website: build a platform where one could pay someone for a future service.

Students and Researchers

• Donate unused medical supplies: If you are affiliated with Universities that are currently closed, see if there is a way to find out if the labs such as physics and chemistry that used goggles, face shields, masks, gowns, gloves can donate those to local hospitals.

Nice and Free

• Stay home!
• Drive carefully: the worst thing that can happen is to get hospitalized due to an accident during these difficult times.
• Information access: help spread good information, fight misinformation
• Talk to someone: reach out to people who are anxious or need an ear.
• Connect with friends: reach out to folks who are not expecting to hear from you. You’ll make their day.
• Reconnect with your community: reach out to people you used to regularly see around.
• Connect with coworkers: talk about daily routines with remote coworkers.
• Stop buying medical PPE: there is a shortage now for medical/dental professionals who have to use them to see patients. Don’t buy them if you don’t need them.

Have more ideas? Please share and I’ll add them to the above list.

Image: Scripps Media, Inc.

If Picasso Were to Paint The Mona Lisa

Ever wondered how Picasso could have painted The Mona Lisa?

I used the ideas of Neural Style Transfer presented by Andrew Ng in his deep learning course to optimize hidden layer activations of a pretrained Convolutional Neural Network (ConvNet) to generate one!

The algorithm was fed the image of Mona Lisa painting as well as a second “style image” representing Picasso’s painting style. I then used Tensorflow to optimize the ConvNet in 200 iterations. Here is the input and output.

The following video shows the generated image being progressively built (intermediate results are rendered every 10 iterations.)

The Story behind My Last Name

As you might have noticed (while trying to remember, spell or pronounce my last name), I’ve got a last name that was at some point long enough to fit into two lines on my driver’s license (I guess I need to be grateful it’s not “Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele” long). It was being constantly misspelled, and there were 22 other less important issues

Well, the picture below explains how it all got started.

This is a photo of my grandfather. His name is “Seyed Jaffar Khoshgozaran Haghighi”. When I was born, I was named after him, which made my full name “Seyed Jaffar Khoshgozaran Haghighi”, although everybody called me by my real name “Ali” (go figure!). For you language geeks out there here’s a breakdown:

“Seyed” is a title which essentially translates to “Sir”. “Jaffar” was my grandfather’s first name. “Khoshgozaran” roughly translates to “party animal” and “Haghighi” means “truly”. So in short my (grandfather’s) last name translates to “real party animal”.

After several phases of shortening my entire name, I landed on “Ali Khosh”, which is hopefully easy enough for you my lazy readers to remember, spell and pronounce (like “Kosh” in “OshKosh”).

Android Power and Battery Management: A Look Underneath The Hood

When it comes to mobility, battery life is a paramount concern and a key selling feature for mobile phone manufacturers. Tech giants such as Google and Apple spend a significant amount of time to fully optimize and improve battery life and performance characteristics of their mobile devices. Recent concerns about iOS11’s hunger for power consumption indicates a 60% higher battery decay rate causing many to hold off updating to the latest iOS version which could potentially cause significant business and brand damage to a Apple. While batteries are getting better, demand for power is also increasing with the proliferation and ubiquity of services available on smartphones.

Storytelling in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Excerpts from this post appeared on this Huffington Post piece. 

Software was eating the world. Then came AI.

Can you remember the last time you sat in on a panel discussion about technology without hearing the words “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning”? Reminiscent of big data in 2007, the ubiquity of AI in 2017 is profoundly impacting the world. Unlike big data, which predominantly focused on the enterprise sector, rapid advances in AI and machine learning are directly affecting end consumers in a much more tangible fashion. In only a few years, we went from smart phones and smart TVs to AI-powered shoes, strollers, luggage and bags, doors, trucks, burger flipping robots, and even more recently, Microsoft’s audacious attempt to push AI into single board computing devices the size of a red-pepper flake.

State of LA Startups

Starting a high tech startup 5 years ago in Los Angeles would be nothing like how it is in 2013. Los Angeles is finally earning the credit it deserves in being one of the world’s fastest growing startup communities. Events like LA Tech Summit with almost 1000 attendees are testaments to this movement. I feel lucky to have co-founded Tilofy in LA this year where we are surrounded by a vibrant community to help us succeed. Team Tilofy was featured along with thought leaders like Michael Abbott from Kleiner Perkins in a short video about the role of startups in creating a vibrant economy in Los Angeles.

Tech Startups & the LA Economy from USC Viterbi on Vimeo.

Starting a New Chapter

Peek Into The Future

Tilofy – Peek Into The Future

Around 10 years ago I came to the states to pursue my dreams. I spent the first two years as a masters student in George Washington University and the next five getting my PhD at University of Southern California. To me, it wasn’t about buying a nice car, living in a nice house or eating at the most expensive restaurants. In a world that has given us Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs there are many more satisfying dreams to live for and get inspired by. Throughout these years, I had the blessing of working with some of the smartest people I have seen in my life at USC, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Samsung. People who empowered me, inspired me to dream, and supported my professional growth. I am indebted to them all.

Today was my last day as a senior technologist in Samsung Electronics R&D and hopefully my last day ever as an employee. I co-founded Tilofy for a dream. To give users a faster and easier way of discovering time and location-sensitive information on their mobile devices. My new journey has begun and I am already humbled by family, friends and colleagues supporting this effort. I wake up everyday with a dream of becoming the next agent of change through my entrepreneurial journey. To reach a point that enables me to have a positive effect on the lives of millions of people all around the world, through technology, philanthropy or hopefully both.

State of Social Media in 2012; Welcome to the jungle!

So Instagram is no longer cool enough and is getting outdated? His founder’s girlfriend gives you Lovestagram.

social media tools

Social media fragmentation

Have a cool picture of your last night’s lavish meal that you want to share? How about uploading it to path or twitting about it, or maybe posting it on facebook? You can also cheers to it and have your friends cheer at your cheers. Btw, did I mention Google plus, yelp, foursquare, Pinterest and Tumblr? And the list goes on with almost every month one or two new social apps popping up each trying to finding innovative ways to lure users into dragging them to their phones’ home screen and push the other guys to that third page to fight with their peers for retention.

But it shouldn’t be like that. And hopefully it won’t. To me the painful process of checking in at the restaurant using app A, taking a picture of your dish and uploading it to a social app B, and writing a short message about it on app C and tagging your friends in app D… is too much to worry about for users and does not scale. There are currently two alternatives to this problem. One is to totally ignore all of these apps and remain loyal to one (or a select few). The second solution is to link them all together and post to one allowing others to obliviously replicate your post. However, neither solution is optimal. The former locks you and your data in, is too restrictive, makes it more painful to migrate to new and better apps/experiences and shrinks your social media influence. The latter, while being less problematic, is not useful either as it totally ignores the “context” of each app, it’s “language”, the features specific to the target platform and finally its user expectations (yes, not everyone in the world is on twitter and familiar with a 140 character cryptic looking messages that appear on someone’s facebook timeline. Ask those who don’t use twitter). This paradigm will soon have to shift into a less painful alternative for users or apps start eating away each other at a rate that none can get even a fraction of facebook or twitter’s user base, influence or attention.

Social media fragmentation

Social media fragmentation

I use the following analogy to describe a departure from the current fragmented state of social media content generation and consumption. For a second imagine if you had to capture a new picture each time one of your users told you they were using a new image viewer application on their desktops/phones. You would have to take a different version of each picture for every single image viewer out there. However, thanks to the power of standards and the operating system, you create a picture [content] once without having to worry which or how many applications [views] will “render” your file. While this is not a very fair example due to its simplicity, it highlights the deep gap between a full separation of content and views and our current status.

While as Fred Wilson points out it is too simplistic to think about social media consolidation around a winner-takes all social platform, it is not that farfetched to think about a world where each social media outlet acts as a “view” over your singular and central “content”. This way, users generate a “multi-modal and multi-dimensional information element” that consists of any number of attributes such as name, description, location, time, image, video, etc. only once and allow a selected list of social applications to “interpret” and “translate” its content into a “language” or “form” popular in the destination platform. This way, the description of your social experience [how] of eating a fabulous Burger [what] at the awesome Father’s Office in Culver City [where] with Mary and Jane [who] along with the “video” or “image” of the burger [augmented modalities] form a single multi-dimensional multi-modal data element that can be (semi-)automatically transformed into a tweet, facebook post, youtube video, instagram picture, foursquare checkin, cheers to post, path update, and so on. With all information silos consolidating, location services becoming ubiquitous and facebook becoming everyone’s digital web identity we’re not that far. It’s a matter of solving a few (but very challenging) privacy, security & legal, UX and of course business issues. But these to entrepreneurs are hopefully what smells like teen spirit sounded like to teenagers of Seattle in 1991.

Images courtesy of The Conversation PrismPixeljointhardindd.

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