Adam Milton-Barker joined the Intel® Software Innovator program earlier this year and has been involved in a whirlwind of activity – everything from speaking at CodeMotion Amsterdam, TedX in Melbourne, IoT Solutions Hackathon in Furth Germany, and Collision in New Orleans to launching his own projects including an intelligent assistant and a platform to teach kids about artificial intelligence (AI). I'm going to take a guess and say that Adam has a future full of adventure and innovation.
What got you started in technology?
I’ve always been interested in computers etc., it started off by me teaching myself to type on a typewriter, I think I was about 5 or 6. Then we got a PC when I was still in primary school and I started teaching myself. I cannot remember the software but it was a kind of business management database. I saw there was a way to connect to an outside network but we did not have a modem, I tried to work away around it, obviously not understanding how it all worked yet. Although I couldn’t figure it out, at the time I was massively determined to connect to the outside world - it was like a personal mission that I was addicted to for a while. After that I was more focused on DJing and I actually did not use the internet till I was 16. My younger brother showed it me one day, but that is definitely not a story I will tell you about, it involved a dial up connection and a 700 GBP phone bill!
What interested you in becoming a DJ?
I always had a passion for music when I was a kid, but it was an accident that I became a DJ. At a party at my house I had a stereo that the record player and the CD player were on the same channel. When I was about 11 or so, I had a record playing and I put a CD on and it mixed quite well. My friends said I should become a DJ, but I could not afford the equipment so I continued to learn to DJ on the setup above with no mixer. I made my first DJ set up by getting an old amplifier and plugging both of two very old decks into the same channel, by 15 I was DJing regularly around town.
Tell us about getting started in web development?
My life in development began in 2003 as I began to develop websites to promote my DJing and events in the Northwest UK. Prior to this I had used online website builders to promote events and had also set up a fairly successful online clubbing forum that local promoters and DJs used for their events. On moving to Spain I began to expand the forum and the local DJs and clubbers in Benidorm began to use it, creating a bridge between the DJs and clubbers from the Northwest UK and the DJs and clubbers in Benidorm. As the forum began to get more popular, it attracted the attention of a local DJ, and together we began to set up clubbing websites promoting the local night clubs/DJs and entertainers, as well as a tourism forum for Benidorm.
When I moved back to the UK, I came across a web development company that were looking for part time staff, and I decided to take the leap into attempting to get my first professional development job. Although most of my work so far had been table and flash based, the company was looking for pure CSS and HTML websites, I was given a project for one of their clients and a deadline which challenged me with learning CSS and HTML within 3 days, to a good enough standard that the client would be happy with the project. I spent the next three days with almost no sleep to complete the project, the client was very happy with the result and after a few more projects I was taken on as a full time web developer at the office, where I stayed for 2 years and was responsible for developing brochure style websites for businesses developed with HTML, CSS and some basic dynamic programming and database implementation. In my own time I was becoming hooked on dynamic programming using PHP and MySQL, I came across Joomla, from there I spent two years breaking it down and taught myself how to program dynamic websites using PHP, MySQL, JQuery, Ajax.
In 2013 I decided to return to Spain and after a short while DJing I became development manager at the Spanish office of a UK web development and social media company, Xpoze Media. At Xpoze we provided Social Media page design/optimization, and websites based on my previous systems from DXWebdesigns. After a few months we began to rebuild one of my earlier systems, a Facebook Application I had previously created for restaurants.
In 2014 I was one of a select few that was awarded an Intel® Galileo development kit as part of the Microsoft Development Program for IoT for one of my project ideas and this started my journey into the world of the Internet of Things. I was also beginning to work on basic Artificial Intelligence projects mainly focused on natural linguistics and medical applications. Over the last couple of years I completed a number of Moocs, including Harvard CS50x, MITx 6.00.1 and 6.00.2 (I was also a teaching assistant for these two courses), and Stanford Machine Learning. I was a semifinalist in the IBM Global Mobile Innovators Tournament and was one of the first-place winners in the World’s Largest Arduino Maker Challenge. Recently, I was part of the team at the Intel and Microsoft hackathon at the IoT Solutions World Congress that won the Intel Experts Award for building a deep-learning neural network on an Intel®Joule™ board.
Tell us about TechBubble Technologies.
During the time I was in Spain, I also wrote a weekly tech article in a local newspaper which saw the start of TechBubble. I was beginning to see the massive disconnect between the general public/businesses and the advancements of technology that were happening at that point. TechBubble was initially a media outlet designed to provide a community for helping people to learn about modern technology and how to use it safely and securely; and to understand just why it is essential to adapt a technological thinking and learn how to utilize the latest technologies to ensure that businesses, and indeed society, will survive the 4th industrial revolution.
With TechBubble, in the early days, I hoped to help teach people about the importance of technology and promote the amazing progress that was happening in the world of IoT, Artificial Intelligence, 3D and 4D printing, Space Travel, Quantum Physics and Transhumanism. The blog began to become fairly popular and it wasn't long before I was being approached from tech companies to demo and review their devices through the blog.
What makes you want to educate people on how technologies can help them?
The reason why I began wanting to teach people about technology was that I was actually alienated a lot in the early days of my involvement in technology, it seemed that people could not see the potential I saw in technology. When I moved backed to Spain in 2004, people did not use the internet really and I was given the nickname Internet Boy because of the clubbing forums I had created, but before long, DJs and locals had begun using the forums actively. Another example was, on returning to the UK for a while, I saw a massive opportunity for businesses to use Facebook, unfortunately my boss did not believe there was a future in using Facebook for business and even laughed at my suggestion, turns out I was right.
I have had experiences in the past where people would say I speak another language and that normal people would have no chance of understanding me, this annoyed me a lot. It had really got to me, I felt like there was no one out there that understood my passion for technology. It was a very dark few months for me and I began to develop a serious anger about it. I began to see the massive disconnect between the general public and technology and I hated the fact we were seen as geeks and different or strange compared to everyone else. I also hated the fact there was so much technology out there that could make a massive difference to businesses and they just were not interested.
During a meeting with the local newspaper at our office, I happened to go into work early and turned up at the right moment. The owner of the newspaper was sitting with my manager when I walked in the office, after speaking to me for a few minutes the owner said he was sending a reporter down to interview me for the paper, the interview never happened but I began writing for the newspaper and that is where TechBubble was born, this was when I first began to become more confident about talking about my views, which lead to the creating of the TechBubble blog.
In your bio, you mention biohacking and injecting an NFC chip into your own hand. Can you tell me more about that and about the devices & applications you’ve created that utilize it?
IoT is one of the main disruptive technologies I’ve used and I’m also a believer in Transhumanism and I research and develop methods that allow for the integration of technology with the human body. This subject is very controversial, but all of the people that I know that are involved with this type of technology, including myself, do it to help us evolve and security & privacy are our main concerns.
The first application that I created that utilized my microchip allowed me authenticate onto the TechBubble Technologies GUI; it was successful and I could access the GUI securely without needing a password. The second and third projects I created using the microchip were part of my project entries for the IBM Global Mobile Innovators Tournament where I was one of the semifinalists, and the World’s Largest Arduino Maker Challenge where I was one of the phase 1 winners. With these projects I combined AI, IoT, and Biohacking to develop a Windows application that you spoke to that would send commands to IoT devices I had created. If you want to learn more about it, you can read an article I wrote about it.
What projects are you working on now?
I have a number of projects I am working on at the moment, the areas of technology covered are IoT and AI. The main online project I am working on is Artificial Intelligence E-Commerce which is an E-Commerce system that provides an Artificial Intelligence Assistant that can help visitors find products, navigate the site, add to cart and check out etc. We recently demonstrated this product as an Alpha Startup at Collision Conference in New Orleans.
Regarding IoT, my main projects are the TechBubble IoT JumpWay, which is an IoT Platform as a service, and TASS, which is an Artificial Intelligent CCTV hub built on an Intel® NUC which uses computer vision to identify known people or intruders and can communicate autonomously with IoT devices via the IoT JumpWay, I recently demonstrated this project at the Intel booth at Codemotion in Amsterdam.
Tell us about Kids In A.I.?
I was actually approached by someone that had read my article about the NLU engine and asked if I could dumb down the article to be read by kids of age 10 - 17. We were discussing working together on it, but the more research I did the more I came to realize that there was a big gap and no one seemed to be teaching kids, of any age, about AI. Because of this I didn’t want to only focus on kids age 10 and older, but wanted to incorporate all ages. I believe it will play a massive part in their future so I thought it would be great to start something that is aimed at a younger age group.
I’ve only just created this new platform and the idea is to first make videos that go through the history of AI in order to actually help them learn about it. So many people now claim to be experts on AI since the recent chatbot boom but most really do not know much about AI in general. The vision with Kids in A.I. is to build them up with the basics and history, and then begin to do basic programming examples and tutorials in the same way. Eventually my vision is a backend like Kaggle, but a paid feature. I also read that a lot of the coding sites for kids actually helped the adults massively so hopefully the same will happen with this.
Tell us about a technology challenge you’ve had to overcome in a project.
Whilst developing the TASS project I was, as far as I know, one of the first people to implement transfer learning on a Raspberry Pi. Transfer learning allows you to train a neural network by replacing the final layer of the network and allows you to produce a model a lot more quickly and using minimal data. I came across an issue known as the Open Set Recognition issue, this issue meant that the device would accurately identify known people, but it would also identify an unknown person as someone it had been trained on. I managed to solve this issue using an unknown class and the device is accurately detecting known and unknown people correctly.
What trends do you see happening in technology in the near future?
I definitely see Artificial Intelligence playing a major role in the future of the Internet of Things, personally I am already working on this, but I think the capabilities that we are yet to uncover will increase the potential of the IoT.
Tell us about your experience with the Intel® Software Innovator program.
My experience as an Intel® Software Innovator has been amazing, since I first started to work in IoT, I had wanted to be a part of the program and I am very proud to have been chosen. In the short time that I have been on the program I have represented Intel across the globe at various events, been able to demonstrate my own technology at the events, trained many people on Intel® hardware and software, and given a number of speeches on A.I. and IoT. Through the program I have met many new people, many of which have become good friends and there are always opportunities to learn and help others learn.
Outside of technology, what type of hobbies do you enjoy?
I still enjoy music and DJing, and I spend a lot of time with my dogs and enjoying the Spanish scenery.
Is there anything additional you would like to us to share with the Innovator community?
I have a number of pages based around technology that I would like to share, these pages focus on modern and disruptive technologies, if anyone specializes in these fields and would like to help run the pages or write articles about them please drop me a message.
- Artificial Intelligence Assistants
- Robotic Evolution
- AI Chatbots
- AI Machine Learning
- Internet of Things Tek
- Quantum Physics
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