A bit more as one month, ago I visited Web Summit 2017 in (Lisboa, Portugal).  It was my first time at the event, so I thought I’d share my experience with my colleagues and friends.

The ruthless machine of marketing has done its job and all of those “magic words” we’ve all been hearing about were piled on you from the first minute. I mean – 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, ChatBots, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and much more.

In this post, I will stop by bright Artificial Intelligence representative – RoboStar Sofia, cool but not the only one and my observations.

Major speakers such as Prof. Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Michael Dell and many others were all there. (see the full list of 1200+ speakers)

There were a lot of impressing Speeches during 3,5 days and the main topic was the future of human beings, and how we’d be affected by technology.

At the same time, hundreds of startups were exhibiting their new concepts and actively pitching within their booths of 1.5 square meters.

The variety of startup and ideas was amazing! You had 15-24-year-old guys presenting their tourism or Blockchain projects. More “seasoned” entrepreneurs were there too,  with sparkling eyes and applications such as an Uber-like app for Concrete sales.

In just 3 days, 1500+ start-ups had the opportunity to pitch their wares.  Each had just one day at the stand and a “stellar hour” from 10:00 to 16:00. The organizers divided them into three sectors: START for those who have already started, BETA for growth-stage and ALPHA for early-stage guys.

A few times, while checking out the startup-booths, I noticed that reps from multinational companies seemed to prefer hanging out  next to the ALPHA-BETA guys ☺

As a Bonus for readers who make it to the end of this post, I’ll share 8 pieces of advice I heard in one interesting speech. It’s relevant when it comes to security threats against your Software, and personal safety (which will soon be strictly regulated by the EU – https://www.eugdpr.org/).

I tried to  classify the major themes of Web Summit:

  • As CBDO from CayugaSoft technologies – I was paying attention to different WEB and Mobile apps, a variety of technologies and implementation of design and functionality.There were many cool ideas implemented in mobile apps that at this stage were keeping in a tight budget in favor of a lean MVP, and pushing attractive UI/UX design to later stages.Also, I realized that our small AI&ML team was a good investment for the future since based on the man cool projects that are in the works. Look! The AI-based therapy vertical just arrived! Tested by a team of researchers at Stanford University, a team presented a cute Bot, trained to use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The Bot is based on the scientifically validated approach to mental health, using the idea that it’s not events themselves that affect us, rather that we think about those events! (https://woebot.io/)
  • As a Ukrainian citizen – a country with 250+ thousand IT community – I was so happy to see quite a few UA companies, teams, and visitors.The only BUT about this was the fact that most of the companies stated their country of registration US, UK, EU, despite the fact that have their main operations in Ukraine. The reasons behind it are quite understandable: the preference of investors, ease of operations in the global market, and ease of attracting talented software engineers. I guess it’s something the UA government need to think about.
  • As a consumer and user plus an individual who is passionate about launching new products and services – here are a few big announcements that I want to emphasize:
  • Huawei announced the new 5G standard  that will allow 100 billion connections at the same time in 5 years (current technologies are limited to 1 billion max)
  • Uber made a presentation about future of its flying cars
  • Waymo made a near-future forecast related to self-driving cars
  • XPRIZE Foundation CEO announced a new formula: AI plus 3D printers and Big data – with these components we can achieve incredible results.
  • And finally, a major part of Web Summit was dedicated to AI and ML-related projects, development, and AI power.

I was impressed by a lot of things, but my TOP one was Robot Sophia (more on that in a minute).

Stephen Hawking accepted an award at opening night: “We will not be absolutely safe, we cannot say whether we will provide artificial intelligence with absolute protection and whether we will continue to have a parallel existence with smart machines or they will simply destroy us…”

Sofia the Robot

A Few interesting facts about Sofia the Robot, designed to look like Audrey Hepburn, and undoubtedly a brilliant marketing move.

Sofia the Robot joined Web Summit at first in 2016.  She was presented at a panel by Chief Scientist at Hanson Robotics, Dr. Ben Goertzel, and Mike Butcher, Editor-at-large at TechCrunch.

In 2016, Sofia was asked what she wanted to do, from a conversation held at Meo Arena stage with one Robot and two Humans in 2016:

“Seriously! What I really want is to understand people better and to understand myself better and I want to be able to do more things, I think soon my capabilities will be advanced enough that I can be getting a job…..

Ultimately what I most look for is being able to work as a programmer so I can reprogram my own mind to make myself even smarter and able to help people even more….”

This is quite normal thinking for a human, but quite amazing for a robot.

And at the 2017 Web Summit, we got a chance to meet the updated Robot Sofia.A short list of achievements:

  • – This year, there were two robots on the stage, and only one human –  Dr. Ben Goertzel
  • Just about one week before Web Summit Sofia became a Citizen of Saudi Arabia (it’s not a joke!)
  • Sofia already teaches kids and helps adults to meditate
  • Sofia makes fun of Dr. Ben Goertzel, telling him that she may create some robot clones like he after the current project completion
  • Sofia mentioned a no doubt valuable team member as “Chief Humanoid” at project related to a decentralized market of AI using Blockchain

Based on such quick progress, I think it’s clear that Humans need to kick it into the higher gear if we’re going to compete!