prg.ai newsletter #27: Prague AI scene swarms with new opportunities

October's prg.ai newsletter is filled with upcoming AI-related events you don't want to miss! You can look forward to practical workshops, international conferences, guest talks, educational programmes and networking opportunities to brighten up your autumn.

🏡 What’s new at prg.ai

prg.ai & PII Workshop: AI and its deployment in business

Are you considering implementing intelligent systems to improve your products or services, but don’t know where to start? On November 9th, we will be organising a workshop to help you employ artificial intelligence and take full advantage of the competitive advantage offered by automation. The upcoming event is organized by prg.ai alongside the Prague Innovation Institute in Kampus Hybernská, and is meant to help you free the hands of your employees and use technology to make your business more efficient and cost-effective. During the workshop, we will introduce you to the latest AI trends and demonstrate how the technology is used by specialised companies (such as Blindspot Solutions and Datamole) as well as known names from other industries (such as ČSOB or Zentiva). There will be space for a practical discussion, too – don’t hesitate to register here to have all your questions answered.

Join our upcoming workshop about deploying AI to improve your business ventures.
Join our upcoming workshop about deploying AI to improve your business ventures.

prg.ai plans a meetup with Michael Bowling

It is about time we gather the diverse Prague AI community in one place: and Michael Bowling‘s visit to Prague makes for an exciting occasion for a community meetup! On November 10th, we will host Professor Bowling and facilitate his guest talk on hindsight rationality, followed by a networking session over snacks and drinks. We’re already looking forward: yet space is limited and registration is mandatory, so sign up here if you’re interested in attending.

Seminar on AI & human rights alongside Czech Academy of Sciences

As part of a project titled ‘Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: risks, opportunities, and regulations’, we contributed to an interdisciplinary workshop which took place on Thursday 29 September at CTU’s CIIRC. The event aimed to investigate and analyse the risks AI poses for the enforcement of human rights, discussing the technology required as well as its existing and potential future regulation. The project gathers stakeholders in the AI life-cycle as well as representatives of public institutions, state actors, and human rights experts: prg.ai works alongside Ambis University, Czech Technical University, and Masaryk University.

CIIRC hosts the latest prg.ai Minor Industry talk

What are the robots in the Testbed for Industry 4.0 at CTU’s CIIRC capable of? And how does the 1968 film Space Odyssey relate to the development of today’s technologies? That and much more is what students found out at the last prg.ai Minor Industry Talk! We organise Industry Talks regularly to enrich prg.ai Minor students’ academic insights with hands-on experience and contact with industry leaders. We believe that close contact with successful practitioners ensures they are better prepared to delve into applying machine learning and artificial intelligence in practice.

Professor Jan Šedivý gave a guest talk about dialogue and AI to students of prg.ai Minor.
Professor Jan Šedivý gave a guest talk about dialogue and AI to students of prg.ai Minor.

We would like to thank Pavel Burget for his introduction to flexible distributed manufacturing, and robotic 3D printing, as well as showcasing how robots can play checkers or pour a pint of beer. We’re also grateful to Jan Šedivý for his engaging presentation on the background and techniques of natural language processing.  Alongside these interesting new insights, students could also enjoy great company over beer and pizza as part of our community building efforts. We are very happy that prg.ai Minor’s original founding faculties have also been joined by students from CTU’s Faculty of nuclear physics and CUNI’s Faculty of law. Here’s to interdisciplinarity!

prg.ai visited University of Western Bohemia and joined the Učitel IN Conference

As part of our educational activities, we visited Pilsen in October and organized a workshop for bachelor’s students in pedagogy at the University of West Bohemia. Students had the opportunity to try several AI applications which could assist them in the practical teaching of primary and secondary school curricula: they had the chance to try generating art with both Dall-E and Midjourney, and got their hands on the Plant Net as well as the THEaiTRobot demo. At the Učitel IN conference on October 15th, we presented our various educational activities, including the Elements of AI online course, the AI ​​Academy and Summer School, as well as our partner initiative AI Dětem and their brand new textbook.

TR AI Week presents international perspectives on AI innovation

It was a pleasure to participate in the TR AI Week 2022, organised by the Turkish AI Initiative and supported by the Czech Republic Embassy in Ankara. The event was truly an international endeavour: it lasted 5 days and gathered 130 diverse speakers from 11 different countries. prg.ai director Lukáš Kačena started the third day’s afternoon session by  presenting the Prague AI ecosystem to the events’ international audience and introducing other representatives of Czech AI companies, notably Recombee and LearnerOn who elaborated on their innovative business solutions.

Brno’s AI Days showcase the power of automation

In October, notable members of the Czech AI community gathered in Brno’s KUMST to showcase the benefits artificial intelligence and automation can bring to businesses as well as the general public. As part of AI 4 Business, business leaders including AI Academy’s Jiří Materna, Datamole’s Tomáš Borovička, and DataSentics’ Tomáš Bouma presented various use-cases of AI in industry and entrepreneurship, highlighting the technology’s potential to make many daily processes faster and more efficient. If you missed the event but would still like to benefit from its insights, you can watch a recording of all AI 4 Business talks here. Yet Brno’s AI Days also presented AI 4 All: an inspiring yet accessible line-up of talks introducing the perks of AI to the general public, too. You can catch the recording here or consider the event from the perspective of an attendee as captured by Pavel Kovařík’s report from the conference.

🎭 Events we’re excited about

1 Nov, Stanislav Fořt – Out-of-Distribution Detection at Scale

Near out-of-distribution detection (OOD) poses a major challenge for deep neural networks. Large models trained on massive datasets have been performing exceptionally well on a host of performance measures, many of which they have not been explicitly trained for. The speakers will demonstrate that large-scale pre-trained transformers can significantly improve the state-of-the-art on a range of near OOD tasks across different data modalities, and discuss new avenues for promising research and application. 

3 Nov, AI in Context: Jan Hajič jr. – AI and music

The upcoming installment of CUNI MFF’s AI in Context lecture and seminar series will be led by Jan Hajič, focusing on the intersection of artificial intelligence and music. The session will delve into the ever-growing field of autonomously generated art, and will be followed by a seminar given by Jindřich Libovický. You can find more information (as well as the topics of upcoming lectures and seminars) on the AI in Context website below. 

3 – 4 Nov, EU Secure and Innovative Digital Future Conference

There is no doubt that ensuring cyber security of state and citizens is essential in today’s world. We need to know how to tackle new challenges and how to adapt promptly to new situations. Therefore, cyber security is the key political priority of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.  This two days conference is organised as one of the major events of the Presidency and is fully dedicated to crucial security issues of today.

3 – 4 Nov, SOLAIR Conference 2022

The international SOLAIR Conference combines Society, Law, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and is organized primarily by the Institute of State and Law of the Czech Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. The main purpose of the conference is to create an open space and platform for discussion of inspiring and innovative ideas related to law and artificial intelligence and to support discussions as well as partnership between the public and private spheres. If you’re interested, don’t forget to register below.

4 – 6 Nov, CASSINI Hackathon Czech Republic

Interested in EU space and emerging technologies? Eager to innovate the financial industry? You can explore your interest and let all your innovative ambitions loose during the brand new edition of the CASSINI Hackathons. Sign up to participate for a chance to win various prizes, including seed funding for your new project and 6 months of expert mentoring!

10 Nov, 50th meeting of the Prague computer science seminar: Didier Henrion on the Moment – SOS Hierarchy

The 50th meeting of the PSCS will focus on the polynomial optimization problem, a complex matter with many applications in fields such as statistics, signal processing, machine learning, computer vision, computational geometry, and control engineering. The Moment-SOS hierarchy presents an approach that allows us to solve it globally at the price of solving a family of convex optimization problems of increasing size. Didier Henrion’s lecture will introduce the approach, describe its main milestones during the last two decades, and applications in statistics, signal processing and control.

14 Nov, Artificial intelligence in service of doctors

Many see AI as driving the inescapable technological revolution of our time: while it is accepted enthusiastically in other areas, medical professionals are sometimes reluctant. In this discussion organised at Kampus Hybernská’s Hyb4City, you can learn about the current interplay between start-ups, research centres, hospitals, doctors, patients and large medical corporations, as well as explore its ethical and legal implications. To explore more of what AI has to bring to medical research and practice, register to attend below. 

16 Nov, Viliam Lisý (Avast): Standard roles of machine learning versus antivirus

This seminar series organised at CUNI’s MFF aims to uncover the beauty of mathematical matters to those who may have given up on mathematics some time ago. Viliam Lisý, a research scientist at Avast, will present the role machine learning techniques can play in improving our daily cybersecurity practices. 

21 – 23 Nov, European Big Data Value Forum

The flagship event of the European Big Data Value and Data-Driven AI Research and Innovation community is coming up! Under the auspices of the Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union, Prague will bring together industry professionals, business developers, researchers and policy-makers from all over Europe and other regions of the world to advance policy-making, industry and research in the areas of Data and AI. Our director Lukáš Kačena will lead the panel discussion addressing the need to ‘Strengthen data & AI synergies to improve smart cities’ services facing new climate and societal challenges’, where Prague will be represented by Ben Kotmel. 

22 – 23 Nov, MAMA AI ACADEMY

Do you want to acquire practical skills around new technologies, master artificial intelligence and build your own model right away? Are you eager to get your hands dirty and feel like you’ve created something useful? Sign up for 2 half-day academies to get a thorough introduction to artificial intelligence and explore its uses for voice recognition, document processing, and other business use-cases. Programming skills are not necessary to succeed, the academies can be followed by anyone with enough enthusiasm.

👏 Members’ news that makes us proud

Over the last few years, the Czech startup ecosystem has been bubbling with new projects and ideas, and we’re happy to report that multiple of our industrial members are working on some of the most exciting endeavours. This month, two have received international attention for their efforts of driving innovation in Czech Republic and beyond. Both Rossum and Resistant AI were included in Sifted’s 7 Czech Start-ups to Watch, as noted by five local venture funds and investors. Congratulations: we’re looking forward to what the future holds. 

If you’re interested in the use of artificial intelligence for content recommendation, keep an eye out for the blog posts written by Recombee’s experts on recommender systems. The latest one was recently published by Revium. If you’d like to delve deeper into Recombee’s services and explore what they can do when applying their technologies and expertise into something seemingly as simple as email marketing, you can also consult their case study with Ryzeo here. When it comes to practical case studies, you can also learn from DataSentics: recently, their founder Petr Bednařík shared the details of a successful implementation of their AI driven shelf monitoring, eliminating out-of-shelf for Nestle, Slovakia. 

Scientists are developing a system which could help identify early signs of Parkinson's disease from recordings of patients' speech.
Scientists are developing a system which could help identify early signs of Parkinson’s disease from recordings of patients’ speech.

Loss of spontaneous facial movements and difficulty in articulation are among the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Experts from CTU’s FEE worked with neurologists from CUNI’s First Medical Faculty to develop a machine-learning-powered automatic analysis of facial movements and speech, thanks to which they can detect Parkinson’s disease in its early stages. Their work was published in September by the prestigious scientific journal npj Digital Medicine from the Nature publishing house: you can read it here

Artificial intelligence is not only used in healthcare; it can also play an important role for security and military institutions active in the public sector. All these diverse AI use-cases were covered in the presentation of CTU’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the international exhibition Future Forces Forum, which took place from Wednesday 19 to Friday 21 October at the exhibition center in Prague’s Letňany. The conference presented the latest technologies and approaches to ensuring defense and security at the national and international level, and hosted several scientific groups from the Department of Computers and the Department of Measurement of CTU FEE.

What kind of music can artificial intelligence algorithms create? The outer limits of composing jazz music using generative artificial intelligence were tested at FIT CTU, and the fruits of the system’s efforts were performed at the AI Jazz concert which took place on October 6th. The composition generated by AI was then transcribed into sheet music by experts and performed by professional musicians, who rehearsed the piece like they would any human-made work. This offered a fascinating comparison between live performance and electronic playback, which is the usual means of experiencing AI-generated melodies. In case you missed the event, you can enjoy the recording here.

The AI jazz concert was accompanied by images generated to compliment the music.
The AI jazz concert was accompanied by images generated to compliment the music.

Speaking of recordings: FIT CTU can now benefit from some new recording infrastructure! The Faculty has responded to the challenges of online teaching with opening a state-of-the-art recording and streaming studio equipped with advanced technologies worth over 4 million crowns. The space is expected to enable better and more diverse opportunities for online learning and improve the format of science communication efforts happening all across Czech Technical University. 

In other CTU-related news, CIIRC was celebrating the international recognition and award received by one of its professors focusing on theory of linear systems, Vladimír Kučera. Professor Kučera received the IFAC System Structure and Control Lifetime Achievement Award 2022 at the joint SSSC – TDS – LPVS Conference in Montreal. Congratulations! And Charles University has a reason to be proud last month, too: its u4u Team of the Charles Translator for Ukraine has received the 2022 Steven Krauwer Award for Achievements. Their important work definitely deserves recognition within the field of automatic translation and beyond. 

How to prevent injuries to pedestrians, especially children, the elderly and people with disabilities, in complex urban road traffic? This was the focus of the IPA2x, a project aiming to develop an intelligent assistant to ensure safe pedestrian crossing at crosswalks without traffic lights, especially in front of schools or other public institutions. The project involved a working group from the Industrial Informatics Department of CIIRC led by Michal Sojka. You can read more about the project here

IPA2x aims to make the roads safer for pedestrians as well as car drivers.
IPA2x aims to make the roads safer for pedestrians as well as car drivers.

The IEEE SMC, International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, was organized by CIIRC CTU and took place in October. The IEEE SMC 2022 conference, headed by the chair Prof. Vladimir Mařík, Scientific Director of CIIRC CTU, focused primarily on technological innovation and engineering excellence in the fields of cybernetics, systems, human-machine interaction, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for the benefit of humanity.

Spot from Boston Dynamics is a robodog about which CTU’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering is rightly proud. The agile end-user robot has also recently starred in the feature film Common Failures, released in September 2022. Although Spot’s signature yellow and black features are not recognisable on screen thanks to his clever disguise, the work still highlights the unique connection between the cyber world and the art of filmmaking.

📍 From the local AI scene

42 Prague recruits its first cohort during Piscine

A coding education, an opportunity to re-skill toward technical professions, a new vibrant community. 42 Prague provides all that and more to its first cohort, which is now in the making. The school has embarked upon its first Piscine, a four-week intensive recruiting camp to test whether candidates have the dedication, aptitude and profile to become a successful programmer. The diverse and international cohort is now enjoying their free and collaborative technical training, successfully bringing the innovative technical education which originated in Paris to the Czech capital. The next Piscine starts in November, and another in December: there is still time to apply.

Business leaders support state-of-the-art research through Neuron

The Neuron Endowment Fund is backed by notable names from among Czech Republic’s uppermost business elites, and pours its attention – and funding – into supporting state-of-the-art research across disciplines. Since its foundation in 2013, Neuron has donated over 110 million crowns, supporting new academic talent as well as known scientists by the likes of Tomáš Mikolov. In October, Neuron has awarded the annual Neuron Prize to outstanding researchers active across the fields of computer science, mathematics, medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, the social sciences, or business applications.

CelerisTx supported by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)

Celeris Therapeutics, supported by European Investment Fund (EIF) and i&i Prague, recently received the highly prestigious funding for startups from European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. Such international recognition signifies that Celeris’ AI-Driven drug discovery platform is indeed unique among other AI-driven projects. Its further development could potentially initiate a breakthrough change in the drug discovery field and shake up the pharmaceutical industry.

Upheal’s platform helps process patient data

Yet CelerisTX is not the only company convincing investors about the future of AI in medical science and healthcare. Upheal, a Czech-American start-up which develops a platform deploying AI to help medical professionals process patients’ data, has received a million-dollar pre-seed investment led by Kaya VC and joined by Credo and Calm/Storm investors. The tool is expected to help improve the work of mental health practitioners and therapists in particular, introducing the benefits of technology into a branch of healthcare which has been strained to its limits ever since the pandemic.

CzechInvest’s Technological prepares for its second round

Having concluded its first round of applications in recent months and assembled evaluation commissions full of industry experts, who are looking forward to evaluating the diverse range of applications and proposals CźechInvest has received. “The main criteria we will be looking at are primarily technological innovation and scalability,” notes Ivo Denemark, director of the responsible department at CzechInvest. Applications for funding across new domains and industries could open again as soon as November: look out for your opportunity!

📰 Stuff that interests us

🧩 ML/AI sources we recommend

Inovacast with Jan Šedivý & Ones and Zeroes with Marek Sušický

Jan Šedivý knows a thing or two about the intersection of science and business: he has been working at CTU’s CIIRC since 2016, where he leads the Big Data and Cloud Computing group. In the past, he has also made a career at Google and at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. In the latest edition of NCP4.0’s Inovacast, he discusses the challenges of ensuring a high quality of technical education and applying academic insights and skills to business. On Ones and Zeroes this month, you can learn all about the role of open data in public health and beyond. The podcast features Marek Sušický, co-founder of OpenDataLab and the ockovani.opendatalab.cz platform.

colah’s blog on Github

If you’re looking for a professional yet extraordinarily accessible source of information about various kinds of neural networks, the blog updated by Christopher Olah is the place to sink your time into. Having founded Anthropic, co-founded Distill, and worked at Google Brain and Open AI, Christopher is a trustworthy ML professional who puts an emphasis on effective science communication: and his blog posts are a delight!

📢 Community calls

On the hunt for upcoming Czech visionaries

Is your company or organization a successful innovator waiting to claim the spotlight? Or do you know of a particularly inspiring professional in your line of work? Then consider submitting an application or sending a nomination to Visionaries 2022. For the twelfth time this year, CzechInno alongside its partners will award promising Czech innovations whose projects promise significant technological, economic and social contribution. You can submit your application before November 11th and nominate someone by November 5th through this website.

International experts needed to evaluate MERIT proposals

The Central Bohemian Innovation Center is looking for international independent experts to assist with the evaluation of proposals for the programme MERIT (Central Bohemia Mobility Programme for Excellence in Research, Innovation and Technology). MERIT is a new regional programme for international incoming postdoctoral researchers selected for funding by the European Union (Horizon Europe MSCA-COFUND-2021) that will be implemented from 2023 to 2027. If you’re able to offer your evaluation expertise between August – November, 2023 and May – August, 2024, apply for the position here.

💼 Open job positions

Datamole

Computer Vision Scientist

Senior Data Scientist

Team Lead Data Scientist

Recombee

Typescript Frontend Developer

Infrastructure & Site Reliability Engineer

Technical Support

Sales Representative

Czexpats in Science

Director

Pražský inovační institut

Director

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