Dublin Tech Summit 2018 Round-Up: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and More

Thousands from across the world descended upon Dublin’s Convention Centre on April 18th and 19th for the Dublin Tech Summit. Attendees hope to learn something new about technology and the world around us. There was something for everybody, with topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence to the Internet of Things to even the science behind music and the science of appealing to consumers. While none of the talks were directly related to Android or smartphones, many of these advanced technologies will be hitting the markets in the coming years and will have a direct influence on smartphone advancements as a whole. Artificial intelligence advancements that can be applied to how we use our smartphones are coming, and all of them aim to make life easier for everyone.

The Dublin Tech Summit had 4 types genres of talk, INNOVATExTECH, FUTURExTECH, FACTORYxTECH, and MUSICxTECH. All of these had their own schedules and own talk rooms, so at any given time there were about 4 on-going talks to keep people busy. There’s something for everyone, and if there really was nothing that appealed to you at any given time you could go downstairs to check out the expedition where lots of startups and bigger companies had set up booths and ran competitions and giveaways. A STARTUPxPITCH area was set up as well, where startups could pitch their ideas in the hopes of attracting investors and also winning 5000 euro for the most unique and promising idea, straight from the Dublin Tech Summit themselves.

dublin tech summit artificial intelligence internet of things
dublin tech summit artificial intelligence internet of things

Artificial Intelligence at the Dublin Tech Summit 2018

Have you ever thought about who the largest taxi, accommodation, or retailing companies are in the world? It may not come as a surprise that the answer to those questions are Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon respectively. These companies do things differently than the rest of the competition. Uber does not own a taxi fleet, Airbnb does not own any hotels, and Amazon (until recently) owns no physical retailers. These companies grew from the ground up with the help of innovation and artificial intelligence, often with artificial intelligence being the driving factor behind this innovation. Complex calculations and algorithms allow these companies to make changes that their data suggests will retain users for longer in the expectation that they will spend more time using their services and thus, more money. It appears to work. According to Jordan Bitterman of IBM, AI can change how consumers interact with the world around them.

There are 12 risks to human civilization, according to the Global Challenges Foundation. Artificial intelligence is one of them and it is the only one on that list that can be used to combat the other 11.

dublin tech summit artificial intelligence internet of things

The 12 risks to human civilization

Artificial intelligence is a vast topic, which Bitterman later goes into, referring to the “three stages of computing” to demonstrate his point. Tabulating, programming, and finally AI. Tabulating refers to the arrangement of data, the first computer of its kind was invented in 1890 by Herman Hollerith in order to help with managing data collected in the US census. This was the very first type of computer we saw and predates basically anything we ever see today.

The programming stage is a lot easier to understand, and we entered that stage when it came to being able to create our own programs on our computers. Artificial intelligence is the third and final stage that we’ve seen so far and has gone a step further than simply programming computers.

When we program a computer, we are effectively programming it a “skill”. Programming a computer to be a calculator is giving it mathematical skills, but the things it can do are finite. If it can multiply, add, subtract an divide, it later won’t learn to calculate the square root of numbers by itself. It’s not going to develop any further skills and its current skill set will never evolve past what we as humans have given it. This is where the artificial intelligence stage of computing differs – computers are now learning.

AI uses skills, but it develops its own as well. It can analyze and adapt accordingly. Researchers have discovered skills programs developed all on their own without any help from the scientists behind the projects. A robot which was designed to traverse its surroundings by being told to move and being given basic motor skills eventually learned to adapt and walk correctly – but it also learned how to identify human faces, not something anybody involved in the program developed for it.

So how does this affect our mobile phones? While it sounds scary, it can also be helpful if you are willing to let it be. Analysing your movements and interests, artificial intelligence based on your phone may soon be able to do more than just talk to you. Machine learning algorithms could soon start to try and learn more about you, what you like and don’t like and even learn more about the environment around you. AIs are already doing this, but what if they could do it better, smarter, and faster? One of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself is if you trust the AI and the people behind it with your data, and if you don’t there is absolutely nobody blaming you. There’s a reason why AI is one of the 12 threats to human civilization – it all starts somewhere.

Internet of Things at Dublin Tech Summit 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly invading all of our homes. With Smart TVs, smart dishwashers and even autonomous cars becoming more and more commonplace it’s becoming increasingly likely that at least one device in your home can be considered part of the IoT initiative. With these devices entering our homes, security has become paramount in IoT, and according to a panel held by Dr. James Crawford of SEP and Conall Laverty of Wia, companies aren’t doing enough to protect our privacy when these internet enabled devices enter our homes. They can often film and record simply because that’s how they work. That’s a huge problem when hackers can take control of them to spy on users or even organize large-scale DDoS attacks.

Security is paramount when it comes to the Internet of Things, and with companies taking security for granted on their devices both Crawford and Laverty believe that these companies should be held accountable for their poor security and poor support of their devices. The data belongs to the consumers and should belong to the consumers, not the companies making the devices and certainly not the hackers who use these devices to steal personal data. This can be problematic for consumers who have already bought into a set of IoT devices that have weak security, ecosystems are very real and can make switching from one brand of device to another extremely difficult. This is why Wia is working in tandem with Airbnb to launch the “Universal Language of Things” – a way for different IoT devices to connect to each other in the same household and share data despite being from different ecosystems. Airbnb will be rolling these out as part of special smart homes that people can rent and try out. If the testing is successful you can expect to see this technology reach the worldwide market in the near future.

An important message was also given to all those who want to get into IoT development: context matters. If you develop something that will tell you the current temperature inside of a shipping container, that’s useless by itself. What is being transported in the shipping container? If the shipping container is at 7 degrees Celsius, that doesn’t matter. If the shipping container is at 7 degrees Celsius and you’re transporting milk, then that becomes a very different problem. Context is everything when it comes to the Internet of Things, and it’s something that a lot of developers miss out on when developing these technologies.

Start-ups at Dublin Tech Summit 2018

There were a number of great start-ups at the Dublin Tech Summit 2018, but two that stood out to me were Wolf3D and Kuzzle. Wolf3D is used to make realistic 3D avatars of yourself for use in games and augmented reality, while Kuzzle is a cloud-based open-source server back-end that you can use to manage your Internet of Things devices.

Wolf3D

Wolf3D is used for making 3D avatars of the user and is unique in that its recreations are lifelike and can be used in a number of scenarios that aren’t just recreational. With a recent investment from the clothing retail company H&M, in certain stores, a Wolf3D powered H&M app will allow you to try on clothes on your virtual-self simply by walking around the shop and scanning barcodes. Wolf3D is also working with Bluehole in testing to bring features to PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds. You can check out some of the promotion material below which was designed to showcase just how well it works.

Kuzzle

In keeping with the Internet of Things theme throughout this article, Kuzzle is a cloud-based server-backend designed for managing your other Internet of Things devices. It was a fairly simplistic idea demonstrated by the connecting of three different devices via one back-end server hosted off-site. Light, noise and other information that was taken in from one device could be displayed on a mobile phone or laptop so long as they were connected to the same back-end server.

dublin tech summit artificial intelligence internet of things

It’s a fairly simple idea that was demonstrated well and could later be used in smart home initiatives, along with having other uses too in the future.

Dublin Tech Summit 2018

This year’s Dublin Tech Summit was a great event which had a larger focus on artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things than other years, demonstrating the importance of these topics holding such a large weight at a general technology conference. If you ever have the chance to attend one, I highly recommend it.

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