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Unpacking AI’s power and its controversies at Transform 2020


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I can’t wait until Transform 2020 starts tomorrow. It’s our flagship event for enterprise decision-makers to learn how to apply AI.

One of our goals at VentureBeat is to create a new kind of town square for enterprise decision makers to learn about transformative technology and transact. And the practice of AI is where we’re going deep. AI is the most powerful technology in enterprise today, and VentureBeat is the leading publication covering AI news.

So it’s important that VentureBeat create a virtual platform where that community can come together, and have conversations. Since we’ve already been digital with our news offering, we are able to pivot fully virtual and bring the same, if not more value to our AI events.

I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done, including the one-to-one meeting feature for executives who would like to connect with each other to get business done.

I’m excited about the agenda we have for the three days. We’re focused on the top application areas: for example, conversational AI and computer vision and edge IoT.

In my opening remarks tomorrow, I’ll provide preliminary results of our AI survey, and an overview of the big trends we’re seeing — shaped by the hundreds of conversations we had with executives while preparing for the show.

Parag Agrawal

Above: CTO Twitter Parag Agrawal

Image Credit: Twitter.com

I’ll personally be interviewing Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal, about how Twitter has been using AI/ML at scale to foster a more constructive public discourse and to flag harmful speech. Twitter has been in the hot-seat lately — forced to label tweets from President Donald Trump that it perceived as misleading or harmful. And how does Twitter flag offensive tweets accurately, when researchers have shown that leading AI models processing hate speech are often inaccurate or biased? Agarwal will discuss how Twitter blends AI/ML, policy, and product in a dynamic environment — where it has to counter adversaries who often use state of-the-art conversational AI technology themselves.

We’ll address the gap in perceived importance of ethics and accuracy in AI. In our AI survey, most of our practitioner respondents said they believe “enough is being” done at their companies to counter bias (ethnic, gender, etc.) in implementing AI models. This contrasts with what we’re hearing from professionals from underrepresented backgrounds. On Thursday morning, we’ll have an hour-long roundtable on the topic of “Diversity and Inclusion in AI” led by four Black professionals, which I highly recommend attending if you can get in (it will be capped). This will be a strong session, and eye-opening for anyone thinking “enough” is being done to counter bias in AI. It will follow our Women in AI (virtual) Breakfast, where we’ll have Timnit Gebru and other leaders represented.

One area of particular controversy is facial recognition technology, where study after study has shown that it is less accurate on underrepresented populations. At our AI showcase at Transform, Trueface, a facial recognition company, will be releasing a new product, and Hari Sivaraman, Head of AI Content Strategy, VentureBeat, will have a crossfire Q&A with Trueface CEO Shaun Moore about how it is using facial recognition and its purported accuracy.

There’s too much happening to summarize entirely here. The AI Innovation Awards tomorrow evening, the Expo, the intimate roundtables … But it does look like Transform will be the biggest AI event for business executives this year, given that most other events were canceled or postponed. We have almost 3,000 people registered, double the number from last year.

And of course, none of this is possible without our great sponsors — folks like Dataiku, Intel, CapitalOne, Nvidia, Modzy, Cloudera, DotData, Twohat, Dell, Inference Solutions, Anaconda, Conversica, SambaNova, Xilinx, Globant, and more. Many of their executives will be participating as speakers, alongside speakers from some great brands like Walmart, Uber, Google, Adobe, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Visa, PayPal, Intuit, CommonSpirit Health, GE Healthcare, Pfizer, Pinterest, Slack, Yelp, LinkedIn, eBay, and Salesforce.

Looking forward to seeing you there — virtually!





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