Top speakers defied time zones to contribute:
“I learned something new in every single talk, and that is not a given”
Last week, AI enthusiasts from all over the world followed the AI+ Virtual Conference to learn more about opportunities and trends within the field of applied artificial intelligence.
By Mari Kristine Buckholm, 21 September 2020
“I said yes to be Master of Ceremonies because this is a very exciting topic. Applied industrial artificial intelligence AI) is something Norway is uniquely good at, but not something we are good enough to brag about, which is why we should increase awareness of the fact,” says Dr. Silvija Seres, entrepreneur and CEO of the technology podcast LØRN.TECH.
She took the participants through two afternoons packed with quality content from experts all over the world, including knowledge sharing and examples of smart use of AI.
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Seres is highly satisfied with the implementation of AI+, which was diverted into a fully digital conference when Covid-19 stopped the original plans for a grand event in Halden.
“Professional and inspiring”
The webinar platform Zoom made it possible for her to stand in front of the camera on stage in the Simulation Centre at Halden Innovation Park while introducing the participants to a variety of speakers, some in the room with her and others in different countries – and continents.
“It is innovation both when it comes to content and focus, as well as platform. It is difficult to organize a hybrid conference, with people calling in from different places and with strange sound solutions. I think AI+ has been implemented professionally and we have had quality talks,” notes Seres.
The topics on the program during the two half days, were:
- Smart City & Mobility (with Petra Dalunde from AI Innovation of Sweden and Sara Nozkova from Kista Science City)
- Environment & Sustainability (with Francesco Fuso-Nerini and Ricardo Vinuesa from KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
- AI Enabling Technologies (with Anand Raman rom Microsoft)
- AI for Good (with Tomas Nordlander from IFE)
- Health (with Klas Pettersen from NORA)
- Ethics, Laws & Regulations (with Doug Cutting from Cloudera)
- Industry 4.0 (with Michael Ger from Cloudera)
- + panel debate
All the talks were followed by Q&A sessions with the keynote speakers.
“I learned something new in every single talk, and that is not a given. A lot of people talk about AI and use the same examples and presentations picked up in Silicon Valley. I think we presented exciting local examples, as well as important global topics. During the panel debate, we connected research with applied AI in a great way. It has been instructive and inspiring,” emphasizes Seres – which has already started looking forward to next year’s conference.
A responsibility to share competence
AI+ is a collaboration between complementing actors in the strong AI community of Halden and is organized by Halden Municipality, Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), software company eSmart Systems and research organization Smart Innovation Norway – which also facilitates Cluster for Applied AI. The goal is to offer Norwegian as well as international environments an arena for competence sharing and interaction within the field of applied artificial intelligence.
“Our unique collaboration provides us with the opportunity to organize AI+ together, but we also have a responsibility to share our competence. The initiative will help Norwegian businesses to solve the challenges and seize the opportunities provided by AI,” comments Kjell Reidar Mydske (to the right in the photo), CEO of Smart Innovation Norway.
Applied artficial intelligence is one of the company’s main areas of research. An example is the Norwegian-Chinese research project IntHydro, where Smart Innovation Norway collaborates with NTNU, Østfold Energi, Lyse Production, Hohai University and two energy companies in China.
“In this project, we investigate how AI in a better way than traditional methods can be used for optimizing flexibility between wind farms and hydropower plants, where the surplus energy from wind tubines will be used to pump water into upper reservoirs,” explains Dieter Hirdes, Head of Research & Innovation at Smart Innovation Norway.
Yearly dose of applied AI
IFE’s Research Director, Dr. Tomas Nordlander (to the left in the photo), gets behind his co-organizers.
“I agree completely. We have solid insight in what artificial intelligence is and how the technology can help businesses. With that comes a responsibility to ensure that the whole country sees those possibilities,” adds Nordlander.
He was one of the keynote speakers himself and gave the talk “AI for Good”. The participants were taken on an AI journey showing how AI is in fact a neutral tool that can be used for either good or bad.
“It is important not too mix AI with science fiction. Even though AI can be used for bad, it can also be used to counteract those bad things. AI is here to stay, and it is up to us humans to decide how we should utilize and regulate the technology,” explains Nordlander.
AI+ was held for the very first time this year, and the organizers had great expectations. The day before the conference started, the total number of registered participants had just exceeded 1000.
“This is meant to become a yearly conference and now the world has gotten a taste of what we can do. We have seen that people call in from different time zones and are willing to get up before the sunrise to contribute, which shows that we have the potential to attract the best international competence in the field. That is both exciting and promising for next year’s event, says Mydske.
AI+ 2021 is set for 19-21 May in Halden.