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WYZER visits Web Summit 2018

Written by Sarah Mizzi, Front-End Developer and Marketing Executive at Wyzer.ai

Web Summit 2018 is now history. This year I left with the words Personalisation, Authenticity and Emotional Engagement ringing in my ear. This was my second edition of the Web Summit I have attended, having attended both as a Women in Tech attendee. Last year, I attended as a university student reading for her degree in Business and IT and about to start her dissertation in cryptocurrencies. It was my first conference, so naturally, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The hype around the event combined with the huge number of attendees expected for the event added to the overall excitement. Although this year I knew what to expect, the levels of excitement remained as one is not quite sure what new technologies will be presented. Having just started working for a company called Wyzer, a software development company that focuses on Blockchain, FinTech and Artificial Intelligence was another reason to be excited. Since it was my second event, I was used to the protocol and the ‘etiquette’ of such conferences, and I could keep a sharp lookout for any opportunities that could be of benefit for my company.

On my return, there has been one question which everyone has asked: “Which year was better?”. In my opinion, a better question to raise would be: “What has changed in terms of technology?”. After all, that is the reason the summit happens every year. One would not think that much can change in 8760 hours, and they are right, not much has changed in terms of technology per se. However, quite a lot has changed with regards to the use of already existing technology and how society has started to implement it to be more than just technology ‘for the sake of’ technology. They have morphed technology to be beneficial for the general public.

Technology today is being utilised to solve common day to day problems such as traffic management and the verification of financial transactions. A number of presentations focused on how Quantum Computing and Augmented Reality (AR) could help the financial industry, as well as the car and transport industry, become more efficient.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and in particular robotics was a main feature of the event. Furhat Robotics presented a robot displaying human-like interaction qualities (listening, showing emotions, eye contact etc.) with the aim of not only communicating via speech but also body language which plays an important role in the dialogue between people. By personalising human interactions humans are encouraged to develop an emotional bond to robots and technology in general.

The increasing use of AI in technology has been controversial. Probably fuelled by Hollywood’s over-dramatization of the technology in films such as IRobot and Ex-Machina the increasing application of AI and Robotics has raised red flags for employees around the world. Robotics are entering every sector in our lives, mostly in a servile manner such as cleaning, shopping, and driving. There is no escaping this growing trend. The main question being: will robots take over? Will robots just be limited to performing tedious, mundane and dangerous jobs or will their application spread into other sectors, causing widespread unemployment leading to economic collapse? What can one expect when robots are armed and used to fight wars or used for law enforcement? One must remember that although they are programmed to learn, they still lack the ability to learn soft skills that humans excel at such as empathy, creativity and imagination to mention a few. Therefore, although artificial intelligence is progressing at a fast pace, these are vital skills that artificial intelligence lack. Will robots “evolve” from being servile to masters? A scary thought indeed.

Furthermore, what if the technology is abused for criminal purposes. I am sure we will see a whole load of upcoming films from Hollywood specifically on this subject.

Besides AI, Internet of Things (IoT) was another ‘hot topic’ at this year’s summit. The difference between these two is that AI uses algorithms that allow machines to learn while IoT utilises the internet to allow devices to communicate with each other. The aim of both technologies is to simplify the lives of those utilising it.

IBM Q

IBM showcased their quantum computer this year which was an impressive sight for all — IBM Q. This goes to show just how far technology has come. IBM has a community of companies, such as Barclays and Honda, that are part of IBM Q Network that are using IBM Q systems, technology and software development kits to build their knowledge and understanding on Quantum Computing and investigate potential usages for this technology. This will have a great effect on the technological industry as a whole in years to come.

“Emotional Engagement” was a key phrase that appeared throughout the summit. It seems to be something that every company is focusing on nowadays, no matter the industry it operates in. A company that, in my opinion, managed to showcase this perfectly at the Web Summit was InnoWave. InnoWave specialises in technology, consultancy and innovative solutions. At their stand, they had set up a little room where people who had a business idea and had signed up outside would go in and sit down in front of a robot. This robot would then ask you a series of questions based on the solution, team, the business model, the market and the competition. In the end, the robot would evaluate the probability of success of your idea. This proved to be a popular attraction, emotionally engaging and personalising the visitor’s experience with the company.

Countless exhibitors showcased their applications in artificial intelligence and technology to help society at the web summit. A number of start-ups were involved with the creation of chatbots that can be tailored to cater for multiple applications. This is another example of how technology is becoming more personalised and emotionally engaging.

The last day of the conference featured a whole stage that was dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrencies called, “CryptoConf”. The main take away I got was that although people are sure blockchain is here to stay as it has proved itself useful in many industries, there is still some doubts regarding the life of the current iteration of cryptos.

The focus on technology, on the whole, is to create a more personalised experience with emotional engagement for the user. It is being invented to enable society to meet greater demands and to do things more efficiently. As part of the team of Wyzer, I found all this very fascinating and left the Summit with an optimistic outlook realising that all the companies are being ‘Wyzer’ and thinking about the future, which is now.

At Wyzer, we understand that innovation is the order of the day in the technology world. Our vision is to put the worlds most innovative technology in the hands of every single organisation in a seamless and cost-effective manner. If you’re interested in knowing more about how you can transform your organisation through Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology, get in touch on hi@wyzer.ai. Whatever the size of your organization, Wyzer is here to help!

Closing Remarks by the President of Portugal,
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
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