prg.ai newsletter #30: Start of the year marked by strategic partnerships
On the Prague AI scene, February brought new strategic partnerships, educational projects, and academic achievements. This month’s prg.ai newsletter will keep you in the loop, and thanks to its overview of upcoming events you can keep up with the heart of action next month, too.
🏡 What’s new at prg.ai
A new European Digital Innovation Hub hits the ground running
The Prague innovation scene is proud of a new internationally-supported addition: EDIH CTU is a new European Digital Innovation Hub based in the Czech Republic, focusing particularly on the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, transferring trustworthy solutions and services to the industry, health, transportation and energy sectors. After confirmation from the European Commission in Brussels, the Hub is kicking off its services, starting with a brand new website and interface. The Hub is a cross-sector collaboration between multiple academic, private, public, and non-governmental actors, including prg.ai as a founding partner.
Valeo introduces prg.ai Minor students to autonomous driving R&D
Artificial intelligence is an incredibly diverse field — and there is no reason why future AI professionals shouldn’t explore its nooks and crannies already while studying at university. As part of our flagship inter-university programme prg.ai Minor, students get to meet various companies to learn more about the industry and network with AI practitioners. Our most recent Industry Talk was hosted by Valeo, a prg.ai industrial member specialising in research and development of autonomous driving software and equipment.
During the talk, David Hurych explained the AI methods used for the development of autonomous vehicles and answered questions from the audience. The students learnt about where the training and testing data originate and how they are used, pondered the impressive volumes of data needed, and considered regional and clients’ specifics as well as validation campaigns’ pitfalls. As the cherry on top of an insightful evening, Gábor Iffland, Jakub Hudec, Dominika Benešová and Marcela Wacławik Molínková let the students try out Valeo’s testing car and testing van to explore all the sensors, radars and lasers that help collect data and improve the driving assistance systems. Our thanks go to Valeo for facilitating such a unique learning experience!
prg.ai Minor applications open on March 1st
In case the prg.ai Minor programme and its community sounds interesting to you, listen up: a new round of applications for the next academic year is opening on this upcoming Wednesday, March 1st. If you’d like to join the programme’s next cohort of interdisciplinary AI students and learn about the ins and outs of artificial intelligence and machine learning from leading academics and researchers across four Prague faculties, find more information here and send your application!
Promoting the potential of AI in education and beyond
The field of AI has seen a whole host of interesting developments in the past couple of months, and the prg.ai team is hard at work to make sure the Czech public is not behind the curve when it comes to latest AI trends and tools. Some of our latest AI popularisation endeavours saw our director Lukáš Kačena on the Praha inovační podcast discussing the added value of AI, as well as a series of informative articles on prg.ai Journal about trending topics such as AI-generated music or the benefits and pitfalls of ChatGPT. prg.ai team members also presented our educational activities and projects — in particular the Elements of AI free online course — at the AI in Education Conference organised by AI for Kids and supported by Microsoft Czech Republic.
A new concept of engagement for companies
The new year also brings new opportunities for collaboration. To further enrich our community and reflect the diversity of the various AI use-cases, our organisation is opening up to companies whose main business lies outside of artificial intelligence and machine learning, but are definitely not holding back in the AI field, and whose products and services are undeniably affected by the technology. Soon we will be introducing the new concept and welcome the first group of companies to come on board, so keep an eye out for our updates in March!
🎭 Events we’re excited about
2 March, Blindspot AI Webinar: AI in Business
What can artificial intelligence bring to the daily functioning of your company? And is your business even ready for it? During this one-hour long seminar, you can learn more about the ins and outs of deploying AI and ML technologies in various businesses, explore diverse use-cases, and reflect on whether investing into automation is the right next step for your business.
2 March, AI in Context Seminar – Synthetic Images with Rudolf Rosa (ÚFAL CUNI)
Generative AI models have seen a lot of buzz in the last months: seemingly out of nowhere, accessible graphic models by the likes of Dall•E, Midjourney, or Stable Diffusion have appeared at our fingertips. As part of this year’s AI in Context lecture series, Rudolf Rosa will help you explore the potential of synthetic images and the technologies that produce them.
2 March, AHK Webinar: Practical guide to introducing AI into enterprises
Like other historic innovations in the past, artificial intelligence now represents a significant change in how we understand and organise work. The goal of this webinar is to help companies leverage AI and benefit not only from increased productivity, but also from a reduction in costs. You’ll get practical tips from industry experts and have the opportunity to ask questions throughout the discussion.
2 March, DATA mesh Meetup
The DATA mesh community is full of technologists, data experts, and leaders on the start-up scene. Every first Thursday of the month, three engaging speakers present their field of expertise followed by an open after-party, designed to help you connect with fellow data scientists, engineers, and tech professionals. If you’re interested in attending this month’s informal meetup, share your email below to get notified!
3 March, Artificial intelligence in schools: what not to worry about and what to prepare for?
The increasing prevalence of AI holds important implications for our education system. With its help, students can generate a thesis in mere hours: is that plagiarism? Should we fundamentally change our system of grading and student evaluations? What are the educational consequences of this technology? During this event at the Education Forum, six innovative educators – AI for kids’ Eva Nečasová among them – will search for answers.
7 March, World Data Congress 2023
This year’s World Data Congress gathers leading experts around data, AI, cyber security, and generally all things IT: and we won’t be square, either. We’re proud to be one of the event’s partners this year, highlighting the vital role data plays in the AI industry. If you’re interested in rubbing elbows with world’s leading data scientists and technologists, don’t miss out on this event.
9 March, AI in Context – Synthetic Text with Ondřej Dušek (ÚFAL MFF CUNI)
Following a lecture on AI-generated image models, Ondřej Dušek of CUNI’s Institute of Formal and Applied Linguistics will introduce their text-based counterparts. Synthetic text is already used across multiple formats and industries: in case you’re curious about exactly how it gets created and what use-cases it is best suited for, don’t miss this lecture and subsequent discussion seminar.
13 March – 7 May, Effective Altruism: AI Safety Seminar
How to make sure that autonomous technologies benefit society in the long term, while avoiding the harms associated with frantic innovation? The Czech branch of the global Effective Altruism movement brings you a unique series of 8 seminars focused on developing safe and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems, both in terms of technical infrastructures and AI governance principles, based on the renowned AGI Safety Fundamentals syllabus.
20 March, Discover the increasingly attractive destination and benefits: Choose France!
The French Embassy in Prague in collaboration with La French Tech Prague extend an invite to an event dedicated to introducing France as a potential expansion market for Czech start-ups. The focus will rest on helping you learn more about the business environment in France, including business setup regulations, available state aid, social security, and tax environment. Fill out the form below and get ready to visit the French Embassy!
23 March, AI in Context of the Sex Industry with David Černý (ÚSP & ÚI AV ČR)
Artificial intelligence touches near-all domains of human activity: and sex is no exception. Join the third instalment of CUNI’s AI in Context series about the role AI can play in the sex industry and discuss contemporary developments with David Černý, legal and ethical researcher at the Institute of State and Law of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
24 March, Law and Artificial Intelligence – Challenges and Opportunities Conference
Charles University’s Faculty of Law is organizing an international conference on Law and Artificial Intelligence, exploring the intersection of law and technology from multiple academic and practical perspectives. The event will focus on how to design the law to ensure that the technology we build today becomes the infrastructure of the society we want to live in tomorrow, with a view toward both the short- and long-term implications.
👏 Members’ news that makes us proud
The Czech Republic has seen an eventful January: a long-anticipated election of a new president dominated the public discourse and prompted many speculations. To ease our wait for final results and better utilise an abundance of election data, Blindspot AI and Vojtěch Létal have developed an artificial intelligence-based prediction model calculating the final winner and vote share. The model saw success: it proved not only accurate in its predictions, but also interesting to the wider public, as it served as a relevant use-case of AI deployment in public affairs. To catch up on how the model worked and what it accomplished, check out a short video about the predictions. Yet Blindspot AI’s specialised models can be used in a much wider variety of situations: in case you’d like to explore their project streamlining logistics for Barum Continental, watch this 1-minute clip documenting the case study.
CITYA, one of our newest industrial members, also has an interesting case study to share: as part of an innovative mobility project unique to the Czech Republic, it has introduced an on-demand autonomous minibus service in Říčany, one of Prague’s urban satellites. Users can order their journeys through a mobile app which ensures that a minibus picks them up and drives them to their destination. “Crucially, our algorithm autonomously evaluates the current traffic situation along with historical data it was trained on. That allows it to optimise routes in real time so that vehicles pick up as many passengers as possible in one journey and arrive to their destination on time,” explains Dominik Janík, founder and director of CITYA mobility.
The field of autonomous mobility is developing very quickly, and reaches far beyond the domain of public transportation: Valeo, another of our industrial members focusing on AI and mobility, has announced a new strategic partnership with the BMW Group for the joint development of advanced autonomous parking systems. This January’s agreement builds on a long-running cooperation between the two firms, allowing new vehicles to benefit from more advanced assistance systems, sensors, and software while parking as well as driving in every-day traffic. In addition, Valeo is newly partnering with the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen to support innovative projects in applied electrical engineering for production automation and industrial robotics. This strategic partnership allows Valeo and UWB to strengthen student research activities in electronics, computer modelling, industrial system management, and diagnostics, and also opens up possibilities for collaborative research as well as participation in publicly funded consortia. We are already looking forward to what the new partnerships will bring!
Financial crime is a multi-trillion dollar problem. Why is that exactly, and what can be done about it? How do different kinds of financial services companies deal with fraud? What technologies exist to protect businesses and consumers? Our industrial member Resistant AI has partnered up with Raconteur to bring you the Fraud, Cybersecurity & Financial Crime Report 2022, which illustrates and educates companies on how they can take control of their fraud prevention strategy through advanced technology and strategic collaboration. The Report presents a unique opportunity to tap into Resistant AI’s renowned expertise and stay ahead of the scammers – don’t miss it.
The outputs of various generative AI models – be it ChatGPT, Midjourney and Dall•E 2, the Bing chatbot or Google’s Bard – have been filling our social media feeds for some time now. What does the rapid rise of artificial intelligence models mean for the future of our societies and labour markets? In the Czech Republic, there are few people more qualified to ponder these questions than Professor Michal Pěchouček, director of FEE CTU’s AI Center and a member of our executive board. In his latest interview for Hospodářské noviny, he discusses the field’s recent developments and future trajectories.
Even beyond the immediate domain of artificial intelligence, the digital world is changing; users’ expectations for personalization are increasing, and Recombee is rising to meet the challenge. In their review of their best Innovative Personalization Features for 2023, they summarise what last your has brought in terms of new recommender system features, including their Item Segmentation and multi-armed bandit algorithms. To delve deeper into the world of content and product recommendation, consult more articles on Recombee’s website and blog.
The Czech Technical University in Prague is preparing technical students for future trends in their field. A new course at FEE CTU will introduce them to the world of quantum computing. The course will offer students of the Open Computer Science programme a unique insight into one of the bright fields of the future. The course will be taught in English, opening the Department of Computer Science not only to students from other CTU faculties, but also to international and exchange students.
The Open Computer Science programme sets up its alumni for success: Tomáš Trejdl is living proof, having claimed his spot on the Czech Forbes 30 under 30 list this year. He was awarded for his work on Wrest, an innovative venture connecting technological design and medical science. Together with Vasil Kostin, a medical student at the 3rd Faculty of Medicine of Charles University, they developed a special mouse pad for the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome. Yet that’s not all in terms of young innovators featured on this year’s 30 under 30 list: Jiří Tůma, Global R&D Manager at Valeo also appeared on the list, and so did Daria Hvížďalová, founder and director of the newly-running 42 Prague. Congratulations!
February has also seen more academic distinctions awarded to researchers active at Prague institutions. Artificial intelligence experts from FIT CTU won two competitions at the prestigious international conference NeurIPS 2022. Researchers from Prague won a competition on modelling the atmosphere of exoplanets and a competition for the most accurate weather forecast, testing the accuracy of predictions for extreme precipitation in developing countries. The New Orleans-based conference on machine learning was attended by 10,000 artificial intelligence experts from around the world.
In the Czech Republic, there is a noticeable shortage of cybersecurity experts who can predict and avert a potential hacker attack. And FIT CTU is responding to the shortage: it offers courses and programmes specifically designed to help develop skills needed for averting various cyber attacks. It can utilise state-of-the-art laboratories, design comprehensive study programmes, and offer projects opportunities students can get involved with.
In January, the DIH4AI Winter School of Artificial Intelligence for small and medium-sized enterprises was held at the CIIRC CTU. Its series of lectures, workshops and case studies offered an overview of how the latest AI technologies assist industrial production, helping entrepreneurs better understand the process of technology transfer, including its financing. Successful deployments of machine learning technologies in industry were also presented, and small businesses were able to benefit from expert advice on how to effectively implement new technologies into their existing operations.
In the near future, the European Commission plans to connect 100 million people through a brand new internet infrastructure. Researchers from the Artificial Intelligence Center at FEE CTU, the third largest member of the international DNS4EU consortium, are also contributing to its development. The aim of the multinational project named DNS4EU is to provide European citizens, companies and institutions with a secure, privacy-aware and powerful recursive DNS, the “phone book of the internet”, which allows web browsing through domain names instead of numerical codes. The project is set to become an important pillar of European internet sovereignty in the near future.
What happens in case a radioactive source goes missing? Drone developers from FEE CTU are working on the RaDron project, which has the ambition to assist rescue forces in similar accidents and natural disasters. Scientists from the Multi-robot Systems Group at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of CTU have been working on the development of this technological solution for three years. The research project combined the capabilities of small unmanned aircraft and miniature radioactive radiation detectors: detectors for rapid detection of static or moving gamma radiation sources are integrated into small and flexible drones, which are controlled autonomously with the help of artificial intelligence, all without the intervention of a human operator.
Czech schools face many challenges, but one of the most important is to prepare pupils and students for a future full of modern technologies. And artificial intelligence is proving to be a key tool. An educational project by Aignos, Rudolf Rosa, and Tereza Hannemann from IFF UK introduces AI to schoolchildren and shows off the creative potential of new AI tools. During the practical workshops focused on Creating with AI, students have the chance to try out many of the new generative systems, including ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Dall•E 2.
📍 From the local AI scene
A new Czech start-up record: Filuta AI secures 56 million crowns
After just a month in existence and with no marketable product to try out, the brand-new Filuta AI has already made its mark. The company’s plan is ambitious: it aims to develop an intelligent automation service that can supply an optimal solution to virtually any social problem. The initial investment was led by Nation 1 and joined by SPM Invest, and Czech Founders VC, supported also by Microsoft’s start-up programme or EU Horizon funds dedicated to supporting research and innovation.
📰 Stuff that interests us
- What to expect in 2023 in AI (article)
- Google takes on Microsoft. Who will take over the world of artificial intelligence? (podcast, in Czech)
- Who has power over AI? Mozilla Internet Health Report 2022 (report)
- Schools shouldn’t be banning artificial intelligence, but use its educational potential instead, claims AI for Kids founder (article, in Czech)
- Questions and answers about ChatGPT and large language models (article)
🧩 AI/ML sources we recommend
Welcome to the largest AI tool directory! On this simple website, you can explore the diversity of activities AI can assist you with and browse over 700 online tools across 40 different categories. You’re bound to find something of interest: hundreds of paid as well as unpaid applications specialise in audio editing, copywriting, design assistance, software development, and consumer support, among other areas.
The field of artificial intelligence and machine learning moves fast. But, we’ve got good news: it has now figured out a way to help us keep up with itself! If you’re interested in the latest in terms of AI and ML research, try subscribing to Alpha Signal’s comprehensive email summaries. Their AI models aggregate a weekly newsletter of the latest publications and breakthroughs in machine learning, keeping you on top of all the buzz.
A Critical Field Guide for Working With Machine Learning Datasets
Machine learning is a mighty tool: and, as we all know by now, with great power comes great responsibility. This becomes particularly important given how heavily machine learning as a method relies on training datasets – and just like any other product of our complex society, data frequently suffer from various quirks, errors, and pre-processing flaws. This guide helps you navigate these challenges and reflect on the epistemology of machine learning as a discipline.
📢 Community calls
The Business and Innovation Centre of Prague offers business consulting services
In cooperation with the Prague Innovation Institute and with support of Prague City, the Business and Innovation Centre of Prague offers free consulting services to help you launch your innovative business project or supercharge your existing entrepreneurial efforts. Regardless of the field in which you operate, the BIC offers long-term mentoring programs as well as individual support: with their experienced consultants, you can improve your business plan and get support in safeguarding the legal side of your business. For inspiration about what the consulting can offer, you can read more about their case study helping supercharge the innovative lighting company Spectoda.
CzechInvest is forming Technological incubation’s Evaluation committee
The technology incubation aims to support highly innovative startups entering the Czech innovation scene, and its second round is coming up soon. For the expert assessment of innovation and competitiveness, CzechInvest is looking for senior evaluators with experience in monitored fields, including artificial intelligence and digital technologies. If you are interested in joining the project and helping prospective start-ups to succeed, you can apply here.
💼 Open job positions
AI Engineer for Robotic Multi-Agent Systems
Various positions (including ML and Data Science)
Various positions (including ML and Data Science)
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AI Music with a Human Heart
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