30th November 2016, Brussels – The Artificial Intelligence Meetup Brussels’ very first session took place at the MIC Brussels. With more than 300 members, this Meetup really shows the interest of people in Brussels in this hot topic. The session was organized by the A.I. enthusiastic Pedro Faria, Software Developer at Akka Technologies. Here is his testimony…

 

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Contextualization of Artificial Intelligence

The field of Artificial Intelligence is one with huge potential. The term itself has recently started to become a buzzword, after having fallen out of grace more than once over the past decades. However, a few ingredients have all come together at the same time, promising to trigger a revolution that will not die down. They are not only the body of built-up knowledge but also the set of mature technologies that make its implementation possible. Concepts like ‘Deep Learning’, ‘Neural Networks’, ‘Natural Language Processing”, ‘Virtual Assistants’ or ‘Consciousness’ seem to be floating around a lot these days. Microsoft, being the behemoth that it is in the software industry, is not oblivious to this fact.

 

Artificial Intelligence Brussels Meetup

Notwithstanding the rapid A.I. progress over the last few years, several things seem to be hindering its widespread use, none more so than the difficulty in mastering the underlying techniques. At the moment, only a select few have a solid grasp of the ideas and algorithms at the heart of, e.g., Deep Learning (arguably the most popular of current A.I. trends). If we consider all the other approaches, topics and fields that fall outside of this denomination, then it is safe to assume that no one masters them all. The result is that experts are hard to come by. Even worse: for all its appeal and promise, A.I. and its applications tend to fall short of the fantasized end product. This gives place to disappointment from the side of the customer – be it an individual or a business – which can further curb the adoption of the technology.

To solve this conundrum, we tend to resort to strategies such as fostering the exchange of information between different people, creating communities and groups. The Artificial Intelligence Brussels meetup comes in as another tool to help bring people together. Initially created in August 2016, it was but the natural response to the lack of an all-encompassing non-academic and non-corporate A.I. group in Brussels. Its goal is to be a hub for anyone with an interest in the topic, encouraging open discussion and collaboration. At the same time, we cherish the notion of a close relationship with both academia and the business world so that we can benefit from the age-old expertise these two can bring to the table.

From its inception, the meetup entertained the idea of promoting the development of projects, as well as the possibility of having some of them spill into business-driven territory. Even if the latter does not come to pass, raising awareness in general and giving people an outlet to voice their thoughts and opinions is a worthwhile goal in itself.

 

The kick-off session

The very first A.I. Meetup Brussels session took place on November 22nd. Microsoft kindly offered the means with which to host it by allowing the session to take place in the Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels’ offices. This was an open and friendly event where lots of constructive discussions happened. It’s good to see that the interest as well as the amount of ideas are ever-growing.

 

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Written by Pedro Faria – get in contact!


 

 

Further information

Should you be interested in A.I., here are several links that will allow you to dig for more: