Sarath is an SDE at Amazon AWS. He has a Masters degree in computer science from Stony Brook University. He is currently involved with Amazon’s Alexa service for business.

He is here at Kids Ask Network to answer all your questions related to the web infrastructure and general AI.

Discussion

49 Comments
  • Mango Education

    Good morning all! @sarath_rami is here to answer all your questions related to web infrastructure and general AIs. To make the most out of this session, we have curated some questions as well. We’ll start off with those. Things to note.

    – Take turns and wait for the previous questions to be answered.
    – State your age when you ask something.
    – Do not bump your questions.

    Hey Sarath!

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I work on an AWS service called Alexa for Business. It tries to make Alexa be a great assistant at the workplace (‘Alexa, start my meeting’ starts the video conference in your meeting room.

      ‘Alexa book this room for thirty minutes tomorrow’ would book the room for you e.t.c). It does a lot more (I’m not a official spokesperson for amazon or AWS), but you can find more info here- https://aws.amazon.com/alexaforbusiness/ .

      • Mango Education

        Cool! What’s your general opinion on weak AIs? Whatโ€™s the near future of weak AIs look like? Could the so-called โ€˜smartโ€™ devices could get any better than being a voice activated remote or a speaker?

        • Sarath Rami
          Sarath Rami

          I’m not an expert on AI(It’s a loaded word that comes with a lot of interpretations), but Alexa for example is getting better everyday. It is way more than a smart home controller. For example, it can understand accents better now(better Speech Recognition), understand context(NLU) and provide a lot of native experiences which make it more and more ‘conversational’.

  • Avatar

    Hello @sarath_rami sir! Alexa, Google assistant, Siri and a lot of AIs are fast replacing people. The AIs take on the work of a secretary/personal assistant. What’s your opinion on that? ( I’m 15)

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      Nice question Mithun! Yes, it might look like secretaries or work assistants are being made redundant, but right now, they all are tools that help them. For example,the assistants in out office use our product to schedule meetings, book rooms & start video calls. It frees them up to do other tasks which is not automated yet.

      • Sarath Rami
        Sarath Rami

        A lot of stuff built and held up in the internet is because of this ^! Also, guys from TN are authors in that paper :p Interesting fact: Swaminathan Sivasubramanian(one of the authors of the paper) now is a VP of Alexa AI.

  • Avatar

    AIs are being used by people all over the globe. Will this cause a decline in human interaction and also, will we be entirely dependent on AIs in the future?

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I personally dont think it’ll stop people from interacting, but we would be more dependent on AI. Right now in our seattle offices, most of us just walk into a room and start a video conference call without thinking much. Earlier you had to setup, enter the pin/password on a console etc. Now anyone can use it but just talking to alexa. This might make us more dependent, but it saves time.

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      Yeah, I use a cloud desktop EC2(another AWS service) M4-2XLarge, with IntelliJ as the IDE using Java(mostly), Ruby, GoLang(not an expert), and bit of python, JS and shell scripting

      I like JS & python for scripting

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      There are student outreach programs that you can search for. developer.amazon.com and aws blogs are a good place to start. We value a lot of input from outsiders and use that to drive features & improvements. You can also look at the AI link from above and see how you can contribute. Best thing I’d say is a paid-internship at amazon ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I’d hate to add fuel to a war that has been raging for 40+ years, but I’d say Vi if I had to choose ๐Ÿ˜Š (Vi can be a pain, but you can get a lot done by starting with just the basics)
      Nano is good to start with, emacs is good for its plugins & window management, but vi is a POSIX standard. This makes it the default editor in most systems. When you are a software engineer, you will sometimes have to login to other systems and work on it quick. You can almost always find vi if it is a linux distro unlike the other editors.

      vimtutor will help most beginners.

  • Avatar

    AWS, has been helping a lot of people develop their skills and also in the consumer end by saving time. Other than Amazon, there are a lot of orgs which offer such kind of open jobs/tasks. But, there are a lot of people who don’t utilize. What’s your take on that?

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      Sarath Rami, [24.02.19 12:13]
      I think AWS is better liked by customers because we try not to loose customer trust & have a huge eco system to support what ever you want to do
      For example, if you need to do AI/ML work, you have AWS SageMaker as a cloud service. If you want a powerful compute system, you have AWS EC2, so you dont have to but hardware & AWS serves a huge, huge amount of the internet traffic.

      Netflix, AirBnB, NASA, Zynga are all our customers, apart from many world governments

        • Sarath Rami
          Sarath Rami

          lol! AWS supports a lot traffic from the internet, so if something goes catastrophically wrong, you can see what went wrong in istheinternetonfire.com. The chance of that happening are very very slim. Systems are built to be redundant, regionalized and fail safe. You can have localized outages (for example, US east), but a worldwide outage is not something that is common. There are like 20+ regions where the services run FYI

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I like to read & paint a lot as a kid, which I still do. I design for my team’s internal release logos ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I work in the Seattle office, so if its not snowing/raining, I work from office (or I stay at home and work remotely). Work starts for me at 9:00 am, check emails, 10:45 am my team does โ€˜scrumโ€™. scrum is like a daily standup where the team gathers and discuss (1) what they did yesterday (2) what they will do next (3) any issues with a task etc. We then focus on the next big task/release.

      Work usually windsup by 05:00pm, spend 12:00-12:30 for lunch, Usually outside near office.

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      I would not say so, C is always here to stay, but the learning curve is quite high. Misusing C causes a lot of issues in software. GoLang is less regid than C I’d say. Check out Rust that Mozilla uses for safety checks + blazing good runtimes.

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      Yeah, I did my schooling with @arumugham in KV Coimbatore, did my under grad in Amrita School of Engineering, then I worked at Hewlett-Packard Storage labs(R&D) for 4 years. I did my Masters in SUNY StonyBrook & did my internship @Amazon. They asked me to stay for a while & I complied ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar

    What are your thoughts on having computer programming in the school curriculum? Should the kids and educational institutions take this up seriously, instead of teaching the kids how to make powerpoint slides?

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      Yes, I think kids should be thought programming instead of just word processing & ppt skills. Getting them early makes it easy for them to pick up serious programming later.. It can also help think logically even if they do not become software engineers.

  • Avatar

    So in some schools (like mine) computer programming is a serious subject from 11thgrade only. And half the time, we are just mugging up the programs like how to calculate the area using c++ etc. Whats your take on that?

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      It is sad if they are forcing you to just memorize something without understanding how it works. For example, the tower of hanoi program is a wonderful program to know to understand recursion, but if you don’t understand the core concept, its useless. That being said, learning GUI using C++ is very helpful. You learn math skills you can apply later. For example I use GIMP for image processing & you do sometimes have to do scripting & a lot of math which you might have learnt in school programming.

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      India schooling is quite good (I was mostly CBSE, not sure about state). Schools here emphasize a lot on vocational work & are more all-round. For example, wood working, robotics etc. There are also AP (advanced) courses for smarter kids. It also totally depends on the teachers too, I’ve been fortutate to have excellent teachers in my school, under grad & grad schools. Vignesh & @arumugham can attest to that.

  • Avatar
    Jeyabharathi

    How can the upcoming school grads select a right college for higher studies? Most of college pass-out s are not industry ready. What skills Amazon looks out from young grads?

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      What I have noticed is that attitude & aptitude matters the most. So going to a great college like IITs won’t hurt, but it is not absolutely necessary. I’d say the kids should do more opensource projects & do extra-curricular programming outside college hours. Selecting grad schools is good based on specialization you might want to do.

      My school SUNY StonyBrook was well known for Systems. CMU is known for DS/ML. UT Austin is good all-round. UMD has good faculty on security.

    • Sarath Rami
      Sarath Rami

      As a kid, I always loved the non-fiction books like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man or Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Might give nightmares though ๐Ÿ™‚ One game I used to love playing was called Commandos! It involves strategy + action (I played it 2 days straight without sleeping to finish it) :p Do check it out, but do not be addicted like me.

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