It’s difficult to keep up with technology trends in a world where innovations are announced every month and technologies are easily changed one for another.
To keep up with innovations, IT professionals should visit several important annual events. One of them is Web Summit, a news-generating conference where you can find new opportunities and people to share them with. This annual technology conference, which took place in Lisbon a few months ago, gathered thousands of developers, scientists, engineers, and investors who are poised to considerably change our world. Our Chief Business Development Officer Bogdan Yosava was there and shared his impressions with us, which form the basis for this article.
There weren’t only humans among the conference participants, however. But we’ll get back to that shortly.
Along with stages for speakers, Web Summit provided special zones for startups and investors. Dozens of startups were represented. But most of them brought neither innovative ideas nor even brand new products. Many investors were disappointed by clones or adaptations of Google Maps, Uber, TripAdvisor, and other successful companies. Interestingly, Bogdan noticed that investors seemed most attracted by newcomers and those who didn’t have products in production yet.
There were indeed some CEOs of startups (as well as of Silicon Valley giants) who gathered bigger crowds than others. And they were talking about Artificial Intelligence, or AI – demonstrating its rapid development, expansion across industries, and, in some cases, its dangerous power.
A robot named Sophia attracted the most attention. She got an amazing upgrade since her last appearance and showed off her new abilities to set goals, philosophize, and joke.
Although AI is used peacefully today, Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the main speakers at Web Summit 2017, warned of its potential dangers. Hawking asked developers to take all code protection measures possible so that neither programmers nor software itself can implement changes that could potentially destroy humankind.
When one of the smartest men in the world talks this way, Skynet and Terminator seem more real than their Hollywood producers could have imagined.
Despite some (quite reasonable) fears about AI, however, people are allowing this technology into such significant spheres as healthcare and finance.
In finance, AI algorithms are already choosing long-term stock holdings and doing a number of other tasks in the investment arena (according to Fidelity, Vanguard, and others), replacing research analysts. They haven’t shown a better track record than humans so far (probably because they lack an emotional side), but they’re known for stable percentage gains and lack of mistakes.
AI is also used today in health care. Implanted programmable robots are able to gradually lengthen tubular organs by applying traction forces and stimulate organ growth without interfering with organ function. There’s also another form of artificial intelligence that can create maps to compare types of cell receptors. (You can read more about how AI will affect business in our next article.)
One of the most interesting examples of the progress of Artificial Intelligence shown at Web Summit 2017 was a bot trained to practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It delivered the idea that it’s not events and circumstances themselves that affect us, but rather our attitudes toward them.
Bogdan believes that visiting events like Web Summit helps us understand the directions in which new technologies are going so we can avoid duplicating existing solutions and making mistakes in strategic planning when developing and updating IT projects.
“I was paying attention to different web and mobile apps, the variety of technologies, and implementation of design and functionality. There were many cool ideas implemented in mobile apps which at this stage were keeping 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 and ML team is a good investment in the future. We can assist in developing projects which are likely to create a new industry and a new world.”
It might seem that Web Summit 2017 contained one lesson: In order not to be left behind by competitors, you need to implement AI to improve the functionality of your products and the quality of your services. But don’t get too caught up in the excitement with AI. It surely has great potential, yet every business owner still needs to come up with a practical way to apply it (and profit from it) in their particular case.
To stay abreast of the latest technology trends, monitor technology events like Web Summit and sources like Reddit, TechCrunch, Wired, and The Verge. Pay attention to expert analysis and suggestions.
And if you think you’re ready for AI, come to us for a consultation. We’ll help you determine how you can get tangible benefits for your business from an AI solution.