But scan the list of attendees at the 2020 Rise of AI Summit, a hybrid (digital and physical) event this week in Berlin (November 17-18, 2020) and the number of people from health insurance companies, banks and venture capitalists is astonishing. As one of the founders of the event, CEO of Asgard Capital, Fabian Westerheide, said in his opening remarks on “The Next Decade of AI, we are in a ‘renaissance’ of the technology.”
Westerheide says we’re seeing a “refurbishment of ideas from the 1960s, 70s and 80s,” combined with the amount of data we have now and today’s processing power. He calls it “old ideas, new execution, and new capital.” With extra stress on the capital. That change has happened in the last four years. After decades of development and numerous so-called “AI winters” of hibernation, AI fully arrived in 2016 when AlphaGo, an AI-driven system playing a Chinese game called Go, beat Lee Se-dol, the-then human, Go world champion.
Attention has quickly turned to making money with the (re)emerging technology and ideology. “Between 2017 and 2019, AI became big business,” says Westerheide. It is “unprecedented,” says Westerheide, how much capital is now flowing into AI “China: 130 billion, Germany: first 2 billion, then another 3 billion, European Union: 20 bn.” But there is a downside.
Politics and regulation have taken the “sexy” out of AI. There’s less innovation right now and a greater focus on “dry, robotic laws.” It will be “painful,” he says “as it usually is when public administrations give out money, but that also means [the cash] won’t dry up. So, if you’re in AI, stay in AI. This is huge.” Whether AI is truly mainstream remains a matter of interpretation, however. Its advocates, such as Westerheide, are certainly intent on its getting there. He does, after all, have a vested interest as the head of an investment firm, specialized in the field. But he and other speakers seemed positively angry at the slow progress so far.
Conference circuit is mainstream
It’s clear that if you want to make money with AI, you’ve got to get on the AI and robotics speakers’ circuit. Rise of AI is only one of four German AI events in these final months of 2020. Concurrent to Rise of AI, you’ve got ML Munich (November 16-18), where ML = machine learning. Next week, you’ve got a TRUSTinAI conference in Kaiserslautern (November 26). And on December 10, there’s the European AI Forum in Berlin.
Take your pick. Topics, if not the speakers, will overlap from one to the other, most notably, mainstream issues like trust and ethics in AI.
But it’s on the circuit that you’re likely to make the connections you’ll need to learn how to move AI systems into the real mainstream. There’s a push to take AI from purely software-based, data-driven, decision-making machines in industry, like cliche “black boxes” behind the scenes, and “scale” them up to tangible applications that affect people’s lives in the physical world.
That could be applications involving the Internet of Things appliances in your kitchen communicating with online retailers and manufacturers running diagnostics or in health care, agriculture, climate and resource management, down to apps on your phone that let you book a human to find your AI-powered autonomous car and wash it while you’re out to lunch or, indeed, at a virtual conference on AI.
— This article has been provided by Deutsche Welle