AI Conference in Serbia

“Serbian AI Valley”

On November 9 this year, I gave a speech at the first international AI conference in Serbia. The venue took place in the beautiful city of Novi Sad, in participation of around 300 AI developers and enthusiasts, data scientists, businessmen and representatives of academia. A first thing that you realize when going to Eastern Europe for a tech conference, is a high level of technical interests and expertise of the local people. This was the case also in Serbia. When you talk to them, you realize they are serious developers. It is estimated that there are around 50’000 people in total working in different IT jobs in Serbia, and this region around Novi Sad has actually the highest concentration of skilled IT professionals.

I presented the IBM’s approach to AI and Watson data science and AI platform, whose main advantage is unparalleled variety of enterprise-ready tools and their integration potential.

Besides myself, there were speakers from France, Germany, Switzerland and Serbia. Novi Sad is capital of Serbian northern province Vojvodina, which is known for its fertile and vast land, and the sophisticated applications of science and technology in agriculture, so it was interesting to listen to Oskar Marko, researcher from Biosense Institute, on various AI solutions in agriculture like crop yield prediction, seeds selection and classification of agricultural fields.

After our individual presentations, we had an open panel discussion with a lot of questions coming from the audience on how to develop AI systems in Serbian language, what are the state of the art solutions for bias detection and how to eliminate it, tradeoffs of building explainable AI etc.

In the afternoon part of the event I was invited again to do a practical demonstration and workshop around IBM’s flagship products : Watson Assistant (world’s mostly used chatbot engine) and Watson Studio (deep learning and data science platform). Again a lot of questions on how these tools can be integrated with existing communication channels, if Serbian language will be available in Watson some time in the future, how these systems actually work behind the scene, how AI can be used for Blockchain applications, etc.

The day was great and ended with a fantastic party with live music in an old brewery in the city center. I’m very happy to be able to contribute to the development of AI industry in Serbia. Looking forward to more events of this kind, and to meeting again all these talented and wonderful people with whom I was able to exchange, who came to get inspired with our ideas and to share their own.

Excellent presentations also from Cedric Bornand, Karthik Muthuswamy, Caroline Jeanmaire, and Valentina Djordjevic. And all that thanks to the great connector and AI enabler Jovan Stojanovic and his team.

November 20, 2018
Sasha Lazarevic

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