Updated: Oct 24
“The world’s leading & largest AI summit”. Certainly there was big hype for this event. Last week, OMRT made the short journey across the IJ to Zaandam, to find out what all the fuss was about. As one of Amsterdam’s up-and-coming technology companies, we were chosen by Startup Amsterdam to help represent the city. And during the two day event, featuring hundreds of speakers, dozens of booths & thousands of guests from around the world, we noticed a few trends…
The impressive main stage at the event
1. Progress is finally here
Numerous technological sci-fi stories never came to fruition. If you asked someone in the 1950’s, they would tell you that we were 25 years away from a flying car in every driveway. Technologies like self-driving vehicles, nuclear fusion & for a long time Artificial Intelligence seem to always be around the corner. But in the past two or three years, progress has really started to pick up in the global field of AI. Every Week or Two there’s a new seemingly cutting edge development. The field is certainly red-hot right now, as we’ve moved away from the “fake AI” of supervised algorithms requiring tons of human input, to a world where creative imaging tools like Dall-E can generate something its creators never envisaged, or a self piloting helicopter can navigate itself around the dark side of Mars
2. Narrow AI, not broad
These concepts refer to two general use cases of Artificial Intelligence. Narrow AI means developing solutions for specific problems, for instance how can we can create a vaccine for COVID which is more effective, or like OMRT, “how can we construct a home which is 5% more effective in its use of resources”. Broad AI on the other hand, is the idea of an AI which is not focused on any one task. It’s designed to be general purpose, and a problem solver which can pick up a variety tasks.
The consensus at the Summit suggests to us that the industry is more focused on creating hyper specialised narrow AI’s to do one task very well, rather than this somewhat mythical idea of broad AI’s that can do everything.
3. Sustainability & Carbon Reduction
One of the present priorities for “Narrow AI” would appear to be tackling sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint & working toward a better ecological future. AI solutions are seen as one of the ways to address these issues that we are now obviously facing as a global society: climate change caused by man-made emissions, ecological disasters & continuously high emissions output. Easy to see why this such an interesting area for technology & AI companies.
4. Healthy & Smart Cities
AI for better cities was a big theme we picked up on. Speakers from the cities like Tallinn, Berlin and Copehagen joined the Gemeente Amsterdam in sharing their thoughts on how we can develop more efficient cities, healthier environments and better housing through Artificial Intelligence.
Several startups are focused on using technology to bring value to the real-estate sector in this space. OMRT, for example, brings value at the early stage of a building design process by bringing faster, better information to developers. Clappform, on the other hand, focuses on providing value during the life of a building, with analytics for the day-to-day running of a business or building.
The OMRT team showcasing at the booth on Day 2 of the Summit
5. No concern for “Robot Rights”
If you’ve watched too much sci-fi, like Black Mirror or Ex Machina, you might feel the need to advocate for the rights of an AI in the same way we advocate for human rights today. Although the topic of consciousness came up at the Summit at several talks, opinions seemed to lie somewhere between “AI will never be conscious & we don’t need to think about that” to “We can not know if there is consciousness, so probably we shouldn’t worry about it.”
Although this will certainly be an interesting debate in the years to come, there are not many reasoned voices concerned for the well-being of a desktop computer or our software algorithms just yet!
6. OMRT’s place in the industry & AI community
In the end OMRT left the Summit feeling we have our finger firmly on the pulse of the cutting edge of AI & the technology industry. Although we do not claim to be a true AI company, our product is in the same category of most “AI” products we come across (many use the term erroneously).
OMRT’s goal is to make better habitats, and a more sustainable world, and to do this, we develop technology. This vision falls broadly in line with the trends we spotted at the Summit, so our big take-away from the two days; we’re in the right space, let’s get back to work!