London AI Summit 2019

Richard Benjamins    17 June, 2019

The London AI Summit attracted thousands of visitors; so many more than when AI was still a niche thing in the 90-ies. As always with such big events, it was a mixture of really cool things, hyped promises, important issues, real use cases, fun apps, and some cool startups.

Among the cool stuff was an RPA (Robotics Process Automation) demo that in 15 minutes programmed a bot where a handwritten message was sent to an email as photo; transcribed to text (no errors); pasted into a browser after first opening it; clicked on the tweet button and finally published the text on Twitter. And all without any human intervention!

Hyped promises were made several times, one presentation mentioned that “if it is written in Python, it’s probably Machine Learning, if it is written in PowerPoint, it’s probably AI”.

One of the overpromises was that AI will make health care accessible and affordable for everybody on earth. While this is a great vision to work with, achieving it involves so many other things besides AI.

I was happy to see that there was a talk on data ethics and the ethics of AI algorithms. Rather than ticking the boxes in checklists, for aligning organization values with practice, it is paramount to have meaningful conversations.

An example of a real use case was to use AI to evolve the customer relationship, and especially to do this across an organization in a scalable way across multiple channels and business processes. The pillar is a common data format which is turned into value through the combination of NLP, Machine Learning and RPA to improve the customer experience and increase efficiency. Another example of a use case was how AI can help pharmaceutical companies to fight the decline of the ROI on their R&D.

A fun app was TasteFace that uses facial recognition to estimate how much you (dis)like Marmite, a typical UK thing for breakfast.

A start-up with a purpose was Marhub which aims to build a platform to support refugees through the use of chatbots. Another social start-up was Access Earth who aims to provide – by crowdsourcing and AI – a world map of accessibility of public places for people with reduced mobility.

And London remains a “hip” place, not only for colored socks, but also for shiny shoes.

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