Interview by Tatiana Donets with Philippe Van Impe
On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds. .
This is already the fifth time you organise the DiSummit. Why did you decide to dedicate this year edition to the theme of « Being human in the age of AI »?
Philippe Van Impe: Last year we developed the theme of « AI demystification », showing that in Belgium we have been active in the AI domain for over twenty years and lived through two AI winters already.
The year before we were focussing on « Data4good initiatives » (or how we can use data to build a better world).
Taking into account what was going on at European level (for example the work of Natalie Smuha coordinating a European agreement called Draft Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI), as well as different local initiatives such as #AI4Belgium, it was natural that the human side of AI would get a podium this year.
In my opinion it is a good, positive theme that will promote AI and explain that it is not a “dangerous” thing.
What will be the main topics covered during this edition?
Philippe Van Impe: We will mostly focus on how to drive ethical AI into business and corporate world. We will also host the AI-awards – showing that today Belgium has a lot of start-ups using AI as a main differentiator to their product.
On top of this we’ll keep the formula that worked well last year:
- Big networking event of the entire #AI4belgium and Datascience community.
- Thirty one-hour workshops and master classes.
- More than forty inspiring presentations.
Speaking of ethics: lately we heard a lot about a biased AI raising a question of gender and racial discrimination. In your opinion how can the AI contribute to promote gender or equality for example?
Philippe Van Impe: The first conference we organised five years ago turned out to have 85% of male speakers. In 2016 we have already counterbalanced this by focussing on women in AI.
Having a gender-balanced agenda is just normal and is something that we want to achieve, even if the ladies are a little bit less proactive in proposing pitches. It is our task as a community to motivate them to share their ideas. This will automatically lead to a more balanced agenda where other topics are being put forward.
To answer your question it is clear that AI could include additional test to make sure that obvious bias is taken out of the equation. I have seen different start-ups promoting the fact that they are an ethical AI company.
Can you name some of your keynote speakers?
Philippe Van Impe: This year we have forty-five outstanding speakers. Here are some of them:
- Luc Julia – worked on Siri and is currently driving innovation at Samsung.
- Stephen Brobst – advised Obama on Bigdata issues and is now CTO of Teradata.
- Caroline Pauwels & Yvon Englert –working hard to promote bilingual education in Brussels
- Lorelien Hoet will explain us the basics of Ethical AI.
Europe is considered to be way behind USA and China in terms of AI race. How do you see a possible contribution of Brussels and Europe to AI development?
Philippe Van Impe: I believe we are well positioned in terms of our education system. Certainly in Belgium quantitative sciences are amongst the best taught subjects.
The fact that we are in the middle of the Ethical AI discussion will help us a lot: already today we see this topic presented to the students in the different data science courses.
We cannot compete in the R&D area. Certainly US, with its universities and companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, are far ahead – most of the AI innovations will come from there.
China, on the other hand, is stronger in using technology in practical cases. They are better in rolling out the technology. I believe that it is where we can make a difference as well.
Our country is a complex country with different rules and languages, so if you develop a solution here it will automatically include all the possible alternatives needed to deploy in any other country.
In your opinion may this event be of interest for general public outside Data science and AI community and why?
Philippe Van Impe: Yes, of course. Everyone uses AI today, so it is good for people to understand its limitations. During the event we will demonstrate many different applications where AI is used.
And finally can you give us your three main reasons to attend DiSummit 2019?
Philippe Van Impe: Because it is the annual event of the AI4Belgium and datascience community.
There are many reasons why you should come to DiSummit 2019 but if I have to choose, here are my main three:
- To inspire your team with real live business cases.
- To learn new techniques and develop new ideas in the workshops.
- To meet opinion leaders and be part of the AI4Belgium network.
Anything else you would like to add ?
Philippe Van Impe: Yes I would like to thank all our partners over the past years we are still working with the same partners but their number has increase at each event. Special thanks to:
- all communities & meetups groups that are contributing each year to the success of this event
- the speakers and trainers who are going to share their experience with all of us
- the structural partners icity.brussels, hub.brussels, digityser.org, AI4Belgium and Accenture.
- The numerous partners who are always supporting our activities
On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds.
Like last year our event will take place at the ULB in Brussels in building K. On the main stage we will have 45 esteemed speakers who will seek to inspire you and 6 other parallel tracks. We have also prepared 12 master classes on topics as diverse and critical as ethics, recruiting and architecture as well as 12 workshops for the more hands-on people .
Furthermore, the Job fair will be bigger and better than ever before! There will be a space for the regional AI-initiatives and like last year a partner village will be on the ground floor.
In addition to this, this year we are adding the AI Awards to reward the most interesting AI-projects and the most promising AI-startup.