Reply to post: Garbage in, very definitely garbage out

Machine learning for dummies: You needn't go back to uni to use it


Garbage in, very definitely garbage out

In my experience, collecting data about the physical world is rather more difficult than collecting data on the flows of money, or trending my film watching preferences. To use an example - how does one collect data about the physical condition of your server racks? Are cables routed tidily? Is the structure suffering from rust? Or, using a more pertinent example, how do you quantify the condition of a hundred year old bridge? What about the inaccessible, metal reinforcement inside concrete structures found virtually everywhere. Unlike Roman concrete made with seashells & volcanic ash, modern rubbish does not improve with age!

Such things tend to be expressed in terms of probabilities of reaching a certain age. The objective historically, was to undertake pre-emptive replacement. The cost challenge comes, quite rightly, from "if it's been OK for 50 years, won't it be OK for 10 more?" But how do you prove it? Other than by taking a punt on it and praying you'll be retired before it comes home to roost?

Magic AI boxes and analytics teams are employed to generate outputs in multiple industries. The outputs of those processes have to be calibrated. Low and behold; calibration exercises are usually against those original probabilistic models; especially when there is an absence of evidence!

From an engineering standpoint, I find the whole business of AI taking over the the decision making functions a depressing distraction from the shortage of people understanding form and function. If your model does not know about a failure mode, it cannot predict or react to it. Even more depressing, are those oblivious to the fact that our aged infrastructure, no matter how well made or maintained, has a finite life. Attempts to fiddle with life extensions here and there ultimately still lead to asset replacement, and in the meantime you continue accumulate additional risk and maintenance cost in trying to eke every last bit out of the original.

Simply put, it would be cheaper for all concerned to simply get on with it and put the replacement up!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020