artificial intelligence in fashion (part two: a first step)

In my recent post, “artificial intelligence in fashion (part one: brainstorming)“, I produced a list of big ideas on how machine learning and artificial intelligence may be applied to the fashion industry. I addressed sizing, marketing, and design activities when brainstorming this list.

This post doesn’t specifically cover an artificial intelligence solution, but it lays groundwork that I need in place to get to an AI-based style recommendation engine based on body shapes that I’d like to build. Essentially, most fashion dictums take the form of IF-THEN-ELSE rules, where the IF clause generally starts with specifying one’s body shape.



So I needed a way for many individuals at once to determine their body shape, which led to creation of a web-based body shape calculator, pictured below. Several of these already exist, but I really needed my own for my AI project for the following reasons:

  • I can include this work into larger AI software pipelines.
    • Cannot easily include others’ tools, by comparison.
  • I understand the computational method behind what I’m offering.
    • Others’ tools are black boxes.
  • The computation method I used comes from academic literature, so it is peer-reviewed.
  • I can show ads to users to generate some cash flow.

Here is a picture of the web-application I created for this task. Click here to use the application!

radical forgiveness

(A text version of this video is available here).

Forgiveness is radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

The following video introduces the concept, and then discusses the rationale, the joys, and the challenges of radical forgiveness’ practice:

Aside

This video also demonstrates my significant progress to date toward developing a feminine voice and feminine body language. Much work remains on these fronts, but I’m proud of what this video portrays!

Closing Remarks

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

radical forgiveness (text version)

(A video version of this post may be found here).

Forgiveness proves radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

We all get hurt. Doesn’t matter if an offense is personal, such as someone berating you for a mistake, or institutional, such as experiencing a subtle, unconscious bias from a coworker that hinders you in the workforce due to your gender or sex.

Radical forgiveness combines several key actions: You must understand why forgiveness proves valuable, make the choice to forgive a person or institution, understand the process and pitfalls of forgiveness, continually repeat your choice to forgive that person or institution as necessary, and if possible communicate your forgiveness to the person or institution that harmed you. Moreover, you must treat forgiveness as a skill that requires practice and commitment to excel at. Finally, you must remember that humility must stand at the core of all these actions to succeed.

One might casually call one or two of these items alone “forgiveness”, but by employing the term “radical forgiveness” I assert a more comprehensive and effective mode of dealing with offenses than the mere casualty of the word “forgiveness” implies. We speak here of something more substantial than a flippant “I forgive you” or “I can’t stay mad at you”. Rather, we refer to a context of forgiving significant pain, like divorce pain or business-partner-screws-you pain.



So why forgive in the first place? Primarily, the process heals you, and enhances the chances of healing the other party and a relationship. Forgiving helps you “let go”, to use a colloquial phrase. You surrender, sort of. Basically you acknowledge the pain, and declare that it will no longer impact your relationship with the other party. You declare that it will no longer weigh you down. The act of forgiving claims power over emotional angst. Not complete power, but it provides significant relief. Note that by forgiving you still recognize guilt, and you still must take steps to remedy the problem. Forgiving merely leaps far beyond forcing the other party to remain mired in that guilt.

Moreover, your particular deity might demand that you practice forgiveness. We won’t name names.

One must make an actual “choice” to forgive, as forgiveness starts with a choice. And one must often continually repeat that choice for a given hurt, since anger and pain well up so easily. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, clinicians talk about “turning the mind”. That is, injecting your presence into a runaway thought to turn your think toward more productive thoughts. Similarly, when a hurt wells up inside you that you have already delivered forgiveness for, “turn the mind” away back toward a spirit of forgiveness. Again and again and again. I guarantee you that this process heals.

And that’s just it, remember that radical forgiveness serves as a process, not just a destination. You wrestle with it along the way. You start out unhappy and end with greater peace, but don’t expect an easy ride. For instance, you might have to objectively face your role in a situation, to determine how actions you took that may have put fuel on the fire. Unpleasant, I know. For encouragement, just remember that this process enriches your spirit.

One can liken the process of committing and recommitting to forgiveness to the experience of the mythical Sisyphus as described by the post-war philosopher Camus. The gods condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of pushing a large boulder up a hill by day, only to watch it crash back down the hill every night. Sounds meaningless, right? But Camus declared that Sisyphus found existential meaning in the task itself. Similarly, I claim that you will find meaning in the radical forgiveness process despite its often two steps forward, one step back nature.

The sweetest spot in the process of forgiveness is letting the other party know about your decision, because it generates the most opportunity for reconciliation. But understand that sometimes one cannot do this due to safety or other considerations—use your brain here before you act! And know that the other party may simply not be able to receive your words, may not even find themselves in a place to comprehend them. This hurts, but don’t let it derail your journey to peace over a matter.

Basically, don’t think of this action as “offering” forgiveness. Think of it as “transmitting” forgiveness. Offers feel incomplete if not received, but a transmission projects whether anyone proves receptive or not. In other words, you will have done all you can, so don’t sweat over it.

Humility drives the process. Forgiveness serves as recognition that you yourself exhibit flaws, that you could easily make the same mistakes. It recognizes that you will perform actions in the future that will require forgiveness from others. To forgive effectively you must empathize with and love the imperfect humanity in the one you choose to forgive, which can only emit from empathizing with and loving the imperfect humanity in yourself.

The last point I want to make is that radical forgiveness is a skill, like tennis or playing a musical instrument. It takes practice and sometimes years to develop competency. But if you make a habit out of choosing to forgive, and nurture the habit as you go, I assure you the skill will blossom inside you! I recommend initiating the forgiveness process the instant someone hurts you, rather than wait until you are “ready” to forgive. This strengthens the habit and prepares you for rapid closure once you achieve that readiness. And this practice increases the chance of salvaging relationships due to its proactive nature.

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

why I transferred ownership of Gender Punk 360 and Axis Evil to a corporation I hold majority stake in

Today I transferred ownership of Gender Punk 360 and Axis Evil to a corporation I hold majority stake in. Here’s why:

I founded Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc., the corporation, late last year to provide legal structure for my efforts to elevate the lives of transgender people through business enterprise. Axis Evil and Gender Punk 360 operate as enterprises that support the same goal, so I thought it best to roll these brands under the same corporate umbrella.

Now that Axis Evil and Gender Punk 360 generate (a currently small) income, the work faces tax liability. The new tax law in the United States (which I don’t approve of) offers reduced tax rates for corporations compared with individuals, so I retain more of the income to roll back into scaling up these efforts. Moreover, corporations may write off expenses while individuals cannot.

go to a damn tailor!

Let’s face it, transgender women often experience a difficult time finding clothes that fit perfectly. (But then, doesn’t every woman?!?). For example, my particular problems are:

  • I usually need plus-sized blouses to enable fit around my chest and shoulders, but then the blouses generally appear unflatteringly wide around my waist.
  • While I usually buy dresses that flair to diminish my lack of hips, I’ve at least one dress with too much “definition” in the fabric such that actual hips need to fill the space for it to look right.
  • At least one of my dresses expected a larger breast size than I possess.

 

To solve all three cases I’ll regularly hire a tailor rather than waste my time looking for perfection at the item’s point of initial sale.



This of course requires some experience (and common sense) to know what can be altered to suit your needs. I can’t tell you how to gain this experience except through taking risks and making mistakes (I generally buy at Goodwill so I’m only out a few bucks if the item can’t be altered to meet my requirements). Your tailor will describe to you why a request will or will not be achievable and you will learn from those discussions.

You may not even know what needs to be accomplished to improve a (mostly fitting) outfit. But your tailor will employ their experience to gain the best result for your body.

Here is the most important thing a transwoman must look for when seeking a tailor:

Are they trans-friendly? If you have a penile bulge under your panties it might show while they are working with you to specify the correct fit. They must be cool with that possibility!

But money talks—and therefore I’ve experienced no problems.

I also recommend tipping your tailor. Not sure if that’s customary, but I do it anyway.

The most important thing I want to impress upon you:  A good tailor will make a mediocre outfit stunning on you! Found this vital in my business life.

I interviewed my tailor, Karla Vega of Vista, California, for tips on how to find a good one. Here is what she told me:

Know the difference between a “seamstress” and “tailor”. Seamstresses make dresses from scratch, tailors alter and repair clothes.

Tailoring works successfully when you begin with clothes that are too big rather than too small, for obvious reasons. So buy one size up if you anticipate the need for tailoring of an item. I asked if certain parts of an item, such as a dress, proved more challenging then others to alter, and she said no. My experience confirms this as she has successfully altered the bust areas, hips, or the waist of the items I bring her as required.

Learn your body type, e.g. “pear”, so you increase your shopping prowess.

Understand that knowing how to sew does not make you a tailor. The warned of clothing swap meets where an amateur sets up an alteration table for the event and sells “tailoring” services. Her advice is too look for someone who makes tailoring their business. I asked about places like Nordstrom that offer tailoring services and she said they are just fine.

artificial intelligence in fashion (part one: brainstorming)

Brainstorming as usual:

  1. Fashion dictums involve many IF-THEN-ELSE rules. One can convert this into a decision engine (inference engine).
  2. User specifies their body shape, and a recommendation engine selects suitable clothing for them, taking into account the user’s tastes.
  3. Upload an image of a dress you want to buy, and specify the dress’s given size. At the same time, upload your measurements. The algorithm then tells you the likelihood of fit.
  4. Upload your measurements. The algorithm searches for clothes that fit well.
  5. Upload your measurements. The algorithm searches for clothes that flatter your body shape.
  6. User submits 10+ images of dresses they like, with the option to add more. Moreover, they submit their measurements. The algorithm then designs dresses for them.
  7. Automate difficult design tasks. My model here is the AI drummer in GarageBand which provides very sophisticated beats, and which I use in all my songs.
  8. Enhance design. Algorithms can produce combinations that have not been thought of before. Here I envision designer as “pilot” and algorithm as “vehicle”.
  9. Create fiber optic dresses that light up responsively to movement, such that the changes in lighting accentuate curves.



Collaborate!

If you would like to collaborate with me to these or similar ideas happen, I’m an extremely experienced data scientist and would love to work with you!  Please contact me through Facebook if you are interested.

AI-Driven Fashion Show

Holding a fashion show for AI-created styles sounds fabulous!

Next Steps

See what tools exist already. See what APIs exist. Determine if measurement statistics are known. Investigate the Computer Science and Home Economics academic literature.

What data is out there?

See Also

body shape calculator

on this blog’s new name: “gender punk 360”

I recently changed this blog’s name from “gender punk” to “gender punk 360”. Why? For ethical and branding reasons:

Primarily, I owned “genderpunk.net” but not “genderpunk.com”. However, I do own “genderpunk360.com” and think a “.com” makes a better impression on potential readers.

More abstractly, “gender punk” is a general term used widely in our community [1], which I felt I had no right to co-opt directly. While I’m casting a wide net in describing my experiences with gender, the problem lies in the word “my”.

But “gender punk 360” sounds like a magazine title or website, i.e., a brand. In this way I feel I can “own” it.

I take inspiration from George Orwell’s description of the difference between the words “Communist International” and “Comintern”:

Communist International, for instance, call up a composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx, and the Paris Commune. The word Comintern, on the other hand, suggests merely a tightly knit organization and a well-defined body of doctrine. It refers to something almost as easily recognized, and as limited in purpose, as a chair or table. Comintern is a word that can be uttered almost without taking thought, whereas Communist International is a phrase over which one is obliged to linger at least momentarily.

Here, like “gender punk”, the community owns “Communist International”. However, Lenin and his comrades owned “Comintern”. It served as a Soviet brand. Likewise, my brand is now “gender punk 360”, referring to something “easily recognized and limited in purpose” as per the Orwell quote. “Gender punk” is an abstract, ill-defined concept. “Gender punk 360” is a specific realization of my experiences.

I don’t even identify as “gender punk”. I’m simply a punk who lives transgender. These two identities, “punk” and “transgender”, inform every facet of my life.

The number “360”, as in 360 degrees, implies a holistic, circular, and comprehensive view. I’ve always been a systems-thinker and this writing proceeds accordingly.

References

  1. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=genderpunk
  2. George Orwell. The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage. 1945.

Thermo Fisher: ten years at an uncommonly fabulous company

Many laid-off employees trash their former employer. But my decade at Thermo Fisher stands as one of the richest experiences of my life, despite significant challenges along the way. So I want to remind current Thermo Fisher employees and leadership what they can take pride in:

Exceptional Handling of my On-the-Job Gender Change

I joined the company at the Austin site as “Daniel Edmund Williams” and left from the Carlsbad site as “Emily Marie Williams”. No easy feat.

The (public) transition took place one year into my tenure at the Carlsbad site. My colleagues there embraced my chosen identity completely. Sure there were a few initial hiccups in name and pronoun use, but those faded quickly. No one fussed about the bathrooms or showers.

Yes, a few folks were uncomfortable at first. I took them to lunch. I turned the other cheek. They came around.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their openness.

HR

Thermo Fisher’s HR department knows what they did for me, along with the challenges I faced. These stories are of course not for public consumption.

I thank them for all their tremendous support. I thank them for all the collaborative problem-solving and for delivering substantial grace.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their Human Resources Department.

Learned to “Manage Up”

Working at a large corporation for a decade usually means reporting to multiple bosses. Most managed exceptionally well, a few struggled. One was downright abusive. Immersed in this environment, I became skilled at collaborative problem-solving and team-centered idea promotion, skills I’m extremely thankful for.

I also learned how to stand up to the abusive boss—proudly setting an example for my less experienced colleagues.

Company employees and leadership can therefore (mostly) take pride in their management.

Learned to Manage (Down)

An intern reported to me one summer, allowing me to develop my talents at management. While no one specifically coached me on management skills during this period, the many good (and a few bad) management examples set around me directed my compass.

Acquired Technical Skills and Sharpened my Business Acumen

Immediately following my layoff last July I founded Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc. Employing all the data science skills I learned at Thermo Fisher, we are developing and optimizing day-trading algorithms. We are also selling bioinformatics and data science consulting services. My experience at Thermo Fisher made this possible.

Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their technical development.

Why Am I Saying All This?

This blog, and the book I’m writing based on it, covers transgender issues. Employment is a major transgender issue, not just during the public act of transition but encompassing the whole life experience of work. I wanted to celebrate an organization that is getting it right.

The whole proves greater than the sum of its parts.

delivering sex appeal to a job interview

About a week ago I attended my first job interview as a woman. There was so much more to think about than before:

  • Fear of discrimination as a woman interviewing for a technical and scientific position
  • Fear of discrimination as a transgender person
  • Keeping my voice in a feminine pitch range for the duration of the interview
  • What to wear

I dealt with the first two concerns by just giving my best absolute possible performance. Nothing else I can do. Similarly, I held the voice up as best I could—really can’t sustain a feminine voice beyond an hour. In other words, nothing much I could do about that than the constant practicing I’ve been doing.

The only real leverage I felt was in choosing what to wear. I originally was going to wear a suit. However, I bluntly decided to favor showing sex appeal instead, choosing an outfit that shows legs and curves (but still wholly appropriate). The company is made solely of men at this point, and I wanted to get into their heads in more ways than just intellectually.

We’ll see how this worked shortly. Here is what I wore:

an electric razor that works for me

While this blog generally transcends issues of commerce, occasionally I find products useful specifically as a transgender woman and will recommend them. Consider an electric razor:

Some background: Due to years of electrolysis and laser treatment, few hairs remain on my face. But they grow fast. I dislike traditional shaving because the procedure often cuts me. So I tried an electric razor.

One that works for these few hairs is the Kissliss KLS7110. If I use it every day on my face I do not need to shave in any further manner. I’ve not determined how many days of growth would render this razor ineffective.

But this razor also appeals to the engineer in me: I live in an RV, and therefore much of my electrical system involves 12 VDC. This easily converts to the 5 VDC of a USB port, so I bought the razor because one charges it from a USB port.

living fabulously off of society’s exhaust (part 1)

I’m exploring the concept of “living off of society’s exhaust”. What do I mean by this? Still working that out.

Our society produces two exhaust streams: Waste and information. Both involve entropy. Information can be further (sort of) divided into data and system state. Here I envision data being something like a Twitter feed and system state being for example the micro-differentials in a market that create price speculation opportunities.

I’m looking for ways to draw upon all of this for cash flow.

Will keep you posted.

dead reckoning

Sometimes circumstances require that you calculate your position using no information other than knowledge of your previous direction and distance traveled. Of course, this statement specifically refers to marine navigation, but it serves as a rather good metaphor for life and leadership.

Two years ago I became “Emily”, drawing courage only from deep confidence in who I was. In other words, I solidly built upon my “previous direction and distance traveled”. But I had no clue how things were to unfold, and the way they did unfold completely surprised me.

Leadership is often like this. Sure we try to acquire as much data and metrics as possible. We try to collect others’ narratives and experiences to guide us. But sometimes we must dead reckon: Sometimes we proceed with only our own internal reference points—our intuition—our knowledge of previous direction and distance traveled.

Fortuna audaces iuvat

I’ve done everything I can to cultivate courage in my character. It took substantial bravery to become Emily. I apply that same courage in love and business too.

I live by Virgil’s motto “Fortune favors the bold.” But I prefer the original Latin form, “Fortuna audaces iuvat”, where Fortuna is personified—as a goddess. This adds a spiritual competent to my bravery ethic.

There is a bipolar component as well: Sometimes I confuse intelligent risk and reckless behavior. This usually accompanies the highs and lows of my mood profile. (See my post “scoring my MMPI-2 assessment for both sexes” for a discussion of my absurdly high level of disconstraint for a woman). To attenuate this situation, I’ve learned to make decisions involving risk a little more slowly. But immediately upon concluding a risk is prudent, I execute with full audacity.

Back to the spiritual element: I firmly believe God helps those who initiate action. Helping one’s self means stepping into and staying in motion when there is a problem, letting God illuminate the path as one goes. It takes courage to take each step. It takes faith. To me faith and bravery tightly link.

I’ve burned bridges with my audacity; made mistakes. But for the most part my development of nerve as a major feature of my character enriches my life beyond measure.

And sometimes there is nothing to lose. I needed to become Emily, whether I possessed the daring to or not. So I claimed the requisite daring.

At work, I coach my interns and mentees in the following formula for risk-taking: For 90% of the risks you take, nothing consequential happens. Null program. 5% of the risks you take result in falling completely on your ass. Badly. Close to losing your job or reputation bad. (This is mitigated through development of diplomacy skills, but that is another discussion). But the outcome of the remaining 5% is so beneficial and so powerful that it makes that other 5%’s outcome worth it.

Courage is a skill. Practice it. Cultivate it!

Do this before you change your gender. (You’ll need it). Continue doing it after.

the trick to walking in heels…

The trick to walking in heels is to act like you own the world.

Videos to Help You Master the Art of Wearing High Heels

There’s technique involved: I compiled a video playlist to help you learn the it, including a video focused on the specific needs of plus-sized women:

Emily’s Tips

Pair bright and/or expressive shoes with otherwise “blah” outfits to really light up your presence. Show no fear!

Tall women wear heels too. Show no fear!

Don’t wear white shoes on rainy days! They just get dirty and look terrible.

Keep your feet clean if you are wearing shoes that allow others to see the bottoms of your feet!  Get a pedicure if going open-toe.



Large Feet

Huffington Post ran a great article recommending where to shop for shoes if you have long feet: The Best Shoe Sites For Women With Large Feet.  I simply provide this link to the article because Huffington Post repeatedly proves a reliable source, and because I do not possess specific knowledge about the quality of the recommended retailers.

My Workhorse Pair

For the price, I’ve found these the most comfortable. Have many pairs of heels, but this is the one I wear most often–so much that I’ve had to have them repaired once. Amazon sells them at reasonable price:

Stretching Your Heels for Better Fit

If your favorite pair of heels fits too snug, you (or your cobbler if you’d prefer) can stretch it. You’ll need a shoe stretcher specifically designed for high heeled shoes (make sure to choose the correct size), and shoe stretching liquid:

The following video demonstrates how to do it: