photo: E15 Michael Tomeš
🏡 What’s new at prg.ai
prg.ai events and workshops boosting the local AI scene
This spring, the topic of AI pops up in unexpected places: in magazines, in political discussions, and on TV, the talk of artificial intelligence is suddenly everywhere. As the public starts to notice and integrate the transformative potential of newly-available AI models, it’s important to create spaces and resources that not only inform users of new possibilities, but also inspire them to use these tools effectively yet mindfully. At prg.ai, we’re aiming to provide just that – and in May we organised a string of workshops exploring AI in business as well as public policy.
prg.ai workshop: Generative AI in Business
Are you well-versed in all the various ways AI can help you organise your business, communicate in customers, and streamline internal processes? The boom of generative AI has flung open the doors of exciting new automation opportunities, and it would be a shame if small businesses fall behind the curve. Luckily, prg.ai is here to help! On May 9th, we welcomed representatives of local businesses and entrepreneurs to Kampus Hybernská for a hands-on workshop designed to showcase the potential of using generative AI for business tasks and processes. The event allowed participants to meet AI experts active across industries, featuring Ondřej Vaněk from BLINDSPOT.AI and Ondřej Vykoukal from KROUPAHELÁN as keynote speakers. The gathering did not neglect an opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas among participants, facilitating exchange of valuable best practices which help local companies adapt alongside new technologies and keep up with the competition. We’re already looking forward to the next instalment!
AI Act: finding a dedicate balance
On May 16th, on the other hand, we dedicated an afternoon to the hot button issue of AI regulation, focusing specifically on the upcoming European AI Act as it makes its way through the European Parliament. Together with KROUPAHELÁN and in cooperation with Podnikatelské a inovační centrum hl. m. Prahy and Prague Innovation Institute we welcomed an expert panel to debate the delicate balance between consumer protection and productive innovation proposed by this anticipated legal package.
The star-studded panel included Markéta Gregorová, member of the European Parliament, Martin Rehák, founder and CEO of Resistant AI, Jiří Drozd from the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, and Jan Kleindienst, co-founder and co-CEO of MAMA.AI. The conversation was moderated by Ondřej Vykoukal, attorney at KROUPAHELÁN. It covered the anticipated amendment addressing generative AI, compared the planned risk assessment process with current industry practice, and outlined the most important changes we can expect once new rules are implemented. Thank you for joining us for this insightful discussion!
Integrating AI literacy into education regardless of age
Integrating AI into the Czech educational system is one of our long-running goals. And we’re not alone in this effort: various initiatives focus on AI education starting at an early age and spanning formal curricula at primary and secondary schools as well as universities. In May, we organised a meeting which united many of the most prominent organisations, associations, and institutions working on AI education in and around Prague. It included AI dětem, Aignos, Czechitas, Technologická gramotnost, Smíchovská střední průmyslová škola a gymnázium (which leads by example when it comes to modernising IT curricula, as detailed in Deník N recently), Digihavel, Pavel Kordík, Národní pedagogický institut České republiky and Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy (MŠMT). The next meeting is planned for June: we’re looking forward to another productive discussion and cherish the prospect of future fruitful collaborations.
Yet AI education should not be neglected at any stage or domain: professional up-skilling for workers in relevant sectors is just as important as AI education in schools and universities. To highlight the potential of AI in public service, we prepared a workshop for the Prague City Hall led by prg.ai director Lukáš Kačena. To kick off for an audience of nearly fifty municipal employees, Lukáš presented the possibilities of putting AI to work for the public service. There are instructive examples of how AI is already used within the public sector at home and abroad, and after a general introduction to the technology Lukáš also introduced some useful case studies. The second part was then taken over by representatives of Světlodat, a project running a chatbot specialised in working with urban data, municipal documents, and urban policy plans. They walked the visitors through several hands-on exercises using OpenAI’s ChatGPT, with tailor-made content based on the real needs of everyday agenda of the City Hall.We’re confident that public servants walked away with new resolve to integrate AI into their daily working life, and that their important agenda already benefits from the use of new AI tools!
Inviting artificial intelligence into the public discussion
Do you buy Nový Prostor? With each purchase of a new magazine edition, you can brighten up your commute while helping a good cause – and this month, you can also learn something new about artificial intelligence. We’re delighted that the latest issue of the Nový Prostor magazine is dedicated to AI and its emerging social significance, featuring interviews with prg.ai director Lukáš Kačena and leading Czech computer science researcher Professor Matas. In their text, you can not only discover exciting AI endeavours happening on the Prague AI scene, but also dive deeper into a more research-focused discussion of recent advances in computer science. If you’d like to explore the phenomenon of large language models in a detailed yet digestible way, check out David Slouka’s contribution to prg.ai Journal about in-context learning of LLMs.
Artificial intelligence also featured front and centre in recent publications of E15, which showcased the work of CTU’s Josef Šivic and highlighted Czech contributions to large international research efforts by the likes of IMPACT – Intelligent Machine Perception project supported by an ERC Advanced Grant. In the text, Josef Šivic emphasized the important role of long-term investments into innovation and research in artificial intelligence, thanks to which Czech science can compete with European leaders in the field of artificial intelligence, computer vision, robotics or language processing. We were happy that Professor Šivic mentioned prg.ai as a shining example of a project driving much-needed AI education and popularisation!
Global (as well as Czech) public explores Elements of AI
For a couple of years now, we’ve been trying to ensure that everyone fully understands the fundamentals of artificial intelligence. And as we have all experienced throughout the last few months, understanding AI is not only desirable, but increasingly necessary. The centrepiece of our educational effort has been the online course Elements of AI, which now celebrates five years of educating participants about key principles of AI, free of charge. This month, Elements of AI surpassed 1 million enrolled users globally, originating from more than 170 countries! As a national partner, we extend our congratulations to MinnaLearn & University of Helsinki for helping to demystify AI for the general public at such a global scale. And the course has also seen exciting milestones in the Czech Republic: the course has registered over 13 000 participants in the Czech Republic, becoming one of the key resources helping the Czech public navigate the ever-dynamic AI landscape.
Joining the Prague Innovation Committee at Pii
In May, we joined the ranks of the Prague Innovation Committee, having been welcomed as its newest member during the Committee’s 14th meeting held at the Prague Innovation Institute this spring. Represented by our director Lukáš Kačena, we took part in discussing the newly planned Prague Smart Accelerator+, as well as some exciting pilot projects. We’re looking forward to a fruitful cooperation within this official body!
Hosting DNAi during May’s prg.ai Minor Industry Talk
This month’s talk presented students of prg.ai Minor with an exploration of digital twins under the auspices of DNAi, one of our industrial member companies. The topic is already starting to resonate throughout the AI world: on one hand, it promises important benefits to almost every branch of human activity. On the other, it requires complex computation including the integration of machine learning with other disciplines such as control theory, optimization, physical modelling, just to name a few. DNAi’s talk critically considered these challenges to solving digital twins, and even introduced some non-conventional approaches.
Gathering the international research community in Prague
The pursuit of knowledge oftentimes knows no borders – and international talent is an important asset for any research community. As an up-and-coming innovation hub, Prague attracts a diverse community of international researchers from all corners of the world. Since late 2019, we have been trying to support the international research community in Prague: throughout the pandemic, we have facilitated a Prague’s International Researchers (PIR) Slack community for knowledge-sharing among expats pursuing research in and around Prague. Since the public health situation eased up, we have also been organising a series of interdisciplinary meetups to allow the community to gather in person!
The latest PIR meetup was a collaboration between prg.ai and Středočeské inovační centrum (SIC), with a special presentation from the Research & Education Team at Amazon Web Services regarding their cloud services for research and technical computing. The meeting also included an introductory presentation to two interesting post-doctoral programmes which are open to international applicants. We were happy to see so many friendly faces – researchers from over 33 countries around the globe joined us to discover new opportunities and network with colleagues from other Prague-based research institutions.
As the month of May wrapped up, our colleague Lenka Kučerová had another exciting international engagement: as part of his visit to the Czech Republic, she got to introduce the Prague AI scene to the Algerian Minister of the Knowledge Economy, Startups and Micro-enterprises, Yacine El Mahdi Oualid.
🎭 Events we’re excited about
1st June, Lecture – The Ethics and Politics of AI
With the rapid development of ChatGPT and scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, it becomes abundantly clear that AI has a significant impact on society and many people are concerned about its ethical and political impact. During his upcoming lecture (and following book launch), philosopher of technology and ERA Chair at the Czech Academy of Sciences Mark Coeckelbergh gives an overview of some of the key ethical and political issues raised by AI, addressing questions of responsibility, manipulation, threats to democracy, and excessive anthropocentrism.
- Národní 3, Prague; Hall 206, 16:00 (free entry).
2nd – 4th June, Machine Learning Prague 2023
This year’s Machine Learning Prague Conference brings an excellent lineup of 45 international experts in ML and AI research as well as business to Prague for you to learn from and get inspired by! Speakers and panellists will prepare advanced practical talks, organise hands-on workshops, and other forms of interactive content you will not want to miss – and we’ll be there too, excited to meet you! Hurry to secure yourself the last couple tickets and don’t forget to use our discount code prgai15, which will decrease the cost of your Conference and Workshop ticket by 15%.
4th June, Robotics Day
This year’s edition of the Robotics Day will take place at the Prague Congress Centre, with our industrial member Valeo as one of the event’s main partners. The event promises an engaging programme full of fun challenges and competitions for you and your robotic creations: don’t hesitate to explore the competition roster and take part!
7th June, EDIH Course – Artificial intelligence for predictive maintenance
According to the International Society for Automation, businesses worldwide lose $647 billion annually due to downtime caused by machine failures. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help: thanks to various types of sensors and careful data analysis, AI helps remedy damage before it even occurs. In this course supported by the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI), developers will learn how to identify anomalies and failures in time series data, estimate the lifecycle of parts, and map anomalies to mechanical failures.
8th – 10th June, Science Festival
Science has no limits! The annual Czech Science Fair showcases the broad diversity of scientific phenomena and current research endeavours in a playful and interactive way. The Czech Academy of Sciences works to connect experts and professionals from academia and scientific institutions with the public and commercial industry, actively promoting interest in science and innovation among a growing number of visitors. Surpassing the 35,000 attendees mark in 2022, the Science Fair has become one of the fastest growing and most progressive fairs in Central Europe: you don’t want to miss this year’s edition.
8th June, Brno.AI Seminar – Generative AI in business and public administration
Are you ready to use AI to its full potential in your professional mission? The aim of this seminar and its subsequent networking session is to provide participants with a comprehensive view of the principles and possibilities of generative artificial intelligence systems (such as ChatGPT) and to introduce them to concrete examples of use-cases and practical tools. The seminar will offer you the opportunity to meet and consult AI experts including KROUPAHELÁN’s Ondřej Vykoukal.
8th June, Prague Computer Science Seminar – Talking to the brain in its own language: from simulations to cortical implants (Mgr. Ján Antolík, Ph.D.)
The 55th meeting of the Prague Computer Science Seminar will bring a talk by Mgr. Ján Antolík, Ph.D., an expert on the exciting research field of computational neuroscience. Catch this lecture starting at 16:15 at FEE CTU’s Zengerova poslouchárna to learn about how surveying how they perceive objects and their similarity (through eg. variational interpretable vector embeddings) can further fundamental goals of cognitive science.
20th June, Operitiv – AI: Helper, or existential threat?
Technological progress around artificial intelligence is changing the world and society fast, inspiring both interest and fear. ChatGPT and other AI systems have stirred up passionate debates among experts and the public. How will AI change the form of education or work? Which jobs are at risk of disappearing? How to keep up with the progress and use AI to your advantage (not only) at work? Ondřej Cihlář talks about this with 42 Prague’s Daria Hvížďalová and Jan Romportl.
17th – 23rd July, EuroPython Prague 2023
The 22nd annual EuroPython is set to take place in Prague this July, bringing the oldest and longest running volunteer-led Python programming conference to the Bohemian metropolis. The event promises “a feast of Python programmes and events”, including more than 120 curated sessions of fantastically diverse topics. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to mingle with the international open-source community!
👏 Members’ and partners’ news that makes us proud
Machine translation belongs among the fields of research where Czech AI scientists particularly excel. Their latest system named Elitr, developed in cooperation with international colleagues, can already simultaneously translate into more than 40 languages – and it continues improving and learning over time. Team leader and prg.ai board member Ondřej Bojar explains: “We have put together a three-year plan to develop systems which are able to monitor and translate the live speech of keynote speakers, using simultaneous interpreters as a backup, displaying the translation of the spoken word live from multiple sources”. The system promises to ease complex translation work at large international events and possibly even to automate note-taking in multiple languages.
Meanwhile at FIT CTU, the initial stage of the FETA project – ‘Analysis of encrypted traffic using network flows’ has already seen some promising results. Thanks to the cooperation of three teams (CESNET, FIT CTU and FIT VUT) led by Ing. Tomáš Čejka, Ph.D. from the Department of Digital Design at FIT CTU, the project managed to develop a unique and highly accurate method of IoT malware detection. The method has even been published in the IEEE IoT journal, one of the most prestigious impact journals concerned with the Internet of Things: read their report in full for more nitty gritty details about the project and its innovative solution for detecting security threats in encrypted communications.
How much money do political parties or presidential candidates have to spend on public campaigns? There is now a much simpler and more transparent way to find out, all thanks to open data! A new application developed at FIT CTU provides clear and detailed information about transactions registered on political actors’ transparent accounts, including notable details such as names of contributors, sums of income and expenses, as well as current balances. The application was created in the faculty’s OpenDataLab laboratory, which runs in collaboration with Profinit.
In May, CIIRC has registered a historic international recognition: its Professor Vladimír Kučera, famous for his work on control theory and the Youla-Kučera parameterization, has been chosen as a new member of the elite American Philosophical Society. The Society is currently made up of less than 1000 active members, and only 158 of them are foreigners. It recognises excellent research work in the domain of mathematics, physics, biology, social, behavioural sciences, art, humanities, and public affairs. Professor Kučera is only the 4th Czech national to be invited as a member of the Society, following presidents Masaryk, Beneš, and Havel. Congratulations!
CIIRC CTU has also hosted the representatives of 25 partners of the new technological network known as AI-MATTERS, made up of seven nodes and one satellite across 8 European countries, dispensing 60 million euros over five years. The main goal of the AI-MATTERS network is to support the development of the European manufacturing industry and the introduction of advanced technologies, thereby increasing its innovation capacity and global competitiveness. The Czech node of the AI-MATTERS network is headquartered at the CIIRC of the Czech Technical University, which serves as one of the main testing and experimental sites for industrial applications in the field of artificial intelligence and intelligent robotics.
Last but not least, the students at CIIRC CTU were also busy this May! The Alquist student team has made it onto the semifinals of the Amazon Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 5, continuing a streak of successes for conversational AI development at CTU. “Creating a socially adept AI is a hard problem,” said Reza Ghanadan, senior principal scientist with Alexa AI and head of Alexa Prize. “This is because human-like social conversation is remarkably delicate and complex, and the open domain nature of the SocialBot dialogues makes it extremely challenging.” We’re happy that Czech expertise was recognised once again, and look forward to the upcoming rounds of this year’s competition!
The multidisciplinary Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO) project gathers just about every group and institution that tackles media and digital security – and now it also enjoys the support of Google, which has become a partner and collaborator of the project. The collaboration was declared by Charles University on May 4th, 2023, and presented by the projects’ main coordinator Václav Moravec, lecturer at CUNI’s FSV and member of prg.ai’s executive board. Google’s support will secure 1 million euros toward expanding CEDMO’s research endeavours and improving the level of media literacy and digital skills in Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.
Artificial intelligence-powered travel is the future – or is it the present? AI-powered transportation and logistics are much less futuristic than they might sound at first. Our industrial member Citya has caused some media buzz with their shared commuter service in Říčany, which plans its routes to be fast and efficient with artificial intelligence. After their initial demo the company’s vans are now available in the whole region south-east of Prague, giving the inhabitants of Říčany a new sustainable yet personalised commuting option. And further expansion is already being planned, projecting as many as 60 independent commercial rides each day. If you’d like to read more about the future of local mobility and its use of AI and ML technologies, check out an article about Citya in Týdeník Euro or an interview with Citya’s CEO Dominik Janík in Info.cz.
Another one of our industrial members – Resistant AI, a company which specialises on detecting and preventing cybercrime and financial fraud – has made it onto Sifted rankings of top start-ups to watch in the field of financial crime prevention, compliance, and fintech. Congratulations on taking AI’s financial crime detection and prevention capabilities to new heights!
Did you know that until relatively recently, product matching between e-shop itineraries and internal catalogues of online marketplaces relied heavily on manual work? With tailored AI solutions, online shopping can reach new heights in terms of personalisation, precision, and efficiency. In their latest case study detailed on their website, DataSentics explain how they successfully automated product matching for Heureka Group, Europe’s largest price comparator and shopping advisor. Thanks to their custom-developed machine learning solution, the platform no longer needs to rely on an army of manual workers, allowing for higher precision, faster query processing, and more efficient labour organisation. Thanks to DataSentics’ excellence in developing innovative Data & AI-intensive products and solutions, the company was also chosen for the highest status of Elite partnership with Databricks, the leader in unified analytics.
Artificial intelligence has taken near-all domains of social activity by storm – and law is no exception. Continued deployment of generative AI solutions poses various different legal challenges to be considered when signing up for new generative AI tools, using them for commercial as well as personal purposes, and when using their outputs. The team of expert IT lawyers at our partner law firm KROUPAHELÁN have compiled a practical handbook which considers many of the legal challenges which could arise around generative AI. Whether you are a seasoned ChatGPT and Midjourney user or ‘just’ a curious beginner eager to explore a plethora of new tools, give the text a read to better understand the legal landscape around the most common generative AI services.
Data is an essential building block of insight, as well as the life-blood of many common machine learning methods and applications. How can firms secure state-of-the-art data science expertise and derive the best possible benefit from advanced analytics? In a new episode of the Data Talk podcast on Spotify, EY’s Michal Ambler details his journey with data science in a renowned consulting company, the role of machine learning, and the management of a great data science team. If you’re rather interested in the benefits and drawbacks of deploying AI in larger firms and international corporations, EY’s data scientist Tomáš Kozák details the key considerations in his text published on Visibility.
📍 From the local scene
CTU researchers contribute to AI fighting diseases of civilisation
It is well-known that different people often react differently to the same diet, yet the reasons for these differences are not understood. But now, CTU researchers are on the case – and they’re using specialised algorithms to understand the relation between diet patterns and diseases, intolerances or allergies. They’re working on this as part of CoDiet, which is an international project led by a Spanish research centre and backed by the EU’s Horizon Programme.
📰 Stuff that interests us
- A blueprint for building national computing capacity for artificial intelligence (OECD Report)
- A robotic dog and ChatGPT in one? Boston Dynamics’ engineers taught the Spot to speak (article, in Czech)
- Mind-reading machines are here: is it time to worry? (article & news explainer)
- “AI itself will not replace you, but someone who can use it well will”, says vice-dean Michaela Liegertová in a debate with a chatbot (article, in Czech)
- OpenAI’s Sam Altman urges AI regulation in US Senate hearing (article)
🧩 AI/ML sources we recommend
Many things are brewing in terms of AI regulation on the European continent, and it is at times challenging to keep up. This bi-monthly EuropeanAI newsletter is published by Dr. Charlotte Stix, affiliated with OpenAI and formerly also the Coordinator of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG). It is widely seen as the definitive resource for insights into developments in AI policy across the European Union, covering latest developments across AI research, regulation, and governance.
In the city, data is everywhere around us: and with a good dose of skill and curiosity, it can be used to generate new insights or inspire new innovative projects. If you haven’t already, don’t hesitate to explore the City of Prague’s Local Catalogue of Open Data. 364 open datasets are available for you to explore and put to use, spanning various categories such as budget and finance, traffic and public transport, housing, sport, and the environment.
📢 Community calls
CzechInvest’s Technological Incubation opens its second round
After a successful first round, the project is open for application again: early stage start-ups working in the field of artificial intelligence (as well as mobility, ecology, circular economy, or creative industries) can apply to tap into a dedicated endowment of 106 million Czech crowns to support their mission. With its second round, the project also introduces a new application portal as well as pre-incubation consultations: consult the website and submit your application file by June 18th.
AIRISE Open Call for AI in Manufacturing
Do you represent a small or medium enterprise which focuses on implementing AI in the field of industrial manufacturing, process monitoring, supply chain, or training? Listen up: CIIRC CTU partners with the international AIRISE Project and invites you to participate in the 1st Open Call. If successful, your company and project could receive funding of up to 40 000 euros to contribute toward implementing your proposal. Consult the website for further details and submit your proposal soon – the deadline is June 30th 2023.
2023 Formosa Leading Acceleration Super Hub Program is open for applications
Taiwan’s Startup Terrace happy to welcome international startups for a 3-week visit to Taiwan, planned between October 30th to November 17th, 2023. The agenda is packed full of exciting opportunities and provides a gateway to Taiwan and its market, business environment, local resources, and key contacts. International startups that have been established after 2015 are eligible, ideally active in fields such as greentech, AIoT, healthcare, and space technology. For more information on the programme, consult the program’s presentation and register your company before July 15th at this link.
💼 Open job positions
Various positions (including ML and Data Science)
Various positions (including ML and Data Science)
Various positions (including ML and Data Science)
FIT at Czech Technical University
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prg.ai newsletter #34: Czech artificial intelligence gears up for AI days 2023
With the anticipated AI days, big things are coming for the Czech AI community – and you don’t want to miss out on them! In addition to our exciting announcements, this edition also includes a calendar of events curated by prg.ai, shares latest developments on the local AI scene you can take part in, offers new AI resources that caught our eye, and lists open job positions in case you’re on the hunt.