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TechDays March 28: The trends, the takeaways, the highlights!

On March 28, in the eccentrically-chic TOBACCO Theater in Amsterdam, we held the first TechDays of 2023. If you weren’t there, you really missed out. It was epic. Here's our summary of the highlights and key takeaways of the day.
February 21, 2019

On March 28, in central Amsterdam, at the eccentrically-chic TOBACCO Theater, we held the first TechDays of 2023. If you weren’t there, you really missed out. It was epic. But don't worry, we've got another TechDays coming soon!

Without further ado, here's our summary of the highlights and key takeaways of the most fant-AI-tastic day of 2023 (so far).⚡️ But first, check out the aftermovie:

AI trends for 2023

We were treated to a whirlwind tour through the latest AI trends with Jakub Zavrel. Besides anticipating a revolution in weather prediction 🌦️, Jakub shared the leading topics in AI right now: AlphaFold, ColabFold, and Convnet for the 2020s, and the top sources of AI research. It’s not only big companies like Google and Meta pushing the field forward – academia is playing a major role too.

Hot topics for 2023 are likely to include multimodal AI, reasoning in LLMs (following the influential ‘Let’s think step by step’ paper), LLMs in general, image generation and protein folding models. And, of course, the Sparks of AGI paper 🧠. These are exciting times indeed!

AI trends in business

The age of AI is beginning, and that’s got a lot of people wondering how it will affect business. Luckily we got a lot of insights from the Data Science Leaders in our Panel Discussion and Victoria Bunyard’s Fireside Chat.

We learned from Victoria that AI isn’t the perfect solution to every business problem. Sometimes it will be just the tool you need, but as with any technology, it isn’t a magic bullet. In some cases, technology isn’t the answer at all — just think of the mine-detecting rats 🐀, doing the job better than any tech could.

Our expert panel (composed of Director of Data Science at Albert Heijn Bouke Huurnink, Head of Data Science at Erick Webbe, Data Science Lead for KYC, Financial Crime and Cybersecurity at ING Natasha Govender-Ropert, and Global Head of Data Science and Analytics at Heineken Surajeet Ghosh) seemed to agree that for well-established companies there’s a lot to lose by getting it wrong, and AI hasn’t proven its reliability yet. As the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. So while we’re likely to see a lot of businesses trying AI out in targeted, low-risk scenarios, it may take some time before it’s used in wide-reaching applications.

AI trends in the wild

It can be easy to forget the real world when you’re surrounded by code all day. But ultimately, that real world is where your data models will be put into action. And what happens then? Does your model work as expected? Can you measure its impact? What if it starts producing unexpected results? 🧐

Kees Mulder’s session, ‘Experimenting on data science models’, and the talk from NiyaStoimenova, ‘A realistic perspective on AI and its limitations’, raised interesting questions around this theme at TechDays. These questions are important for all of us to think about.

As we move forward with AI, understanding what it’s doing and measuring its impact are likely to become increasingly important. It’s not enough to build models in closed environments and then set them loose without studying their output in the wild. Whether by observation, experimentation, or some other method, understanding exactly how your model works in the real world is key.

AI trends beyond technology

Like most technological advances, AI has the power to speed life up dramatically. But that’s not all it’s good for. Particularly when it comes to creative generative AI, progress doesn’t need to mean making things faster. AI can create words and images that make us stop and think. This amazing new technology isn’t all about replacing people with robots. It can be more meaningful, more beautiful than that. We just need to give it the chance to do so.

And that’s exactly what Justus Bruns, Partner at VOUW, and Hugo Visser, owner of Little Robots, have done. The pair joined us at TechDays to show-and-tell us about their Poem Booth, which generates haikus from images. It’s a great example of how AI can create moments that connect us as human beings.

AI artist Olivier Teepe also took the stage at TechDays to announce our art series, The Dimensions of Belonging! Our attendees took home a signed and numbered limited edition art print from the collection, co-created by Olivier with DALLᐧE. We’ll be giving away more of these exclusive prints at all of our TechDays during 2023. Check out our interview with Olivier for a closer look at art and AI. 🎨🤖

A big thank you to all our speakers and attendees for joining! See you next time 😎

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