prg.ai newsletter #26: Artificial intelligence knows no borders
And we’re back! After a two-month summer break, prg.ai newsletter is back in your inboxes, spanning even more news, opportunities and events than before. A double-load of local successes, AI-related insights, and reports from prg.ai’s endeavours is waiting for you below.
🏡 What’s new at prg.ai
The summer has been very eventful at prg.ai: we’ve said goodbye to Julie Kovaříková, a valued member of our team who is looking forward to her parental leave. Julie has been an important pillar of near-all prg.ai activities ever since its inception — many of our most successful educational programmes, projects and events owe their success to Julie’s hard work and dedication. We’ll miss her terribly!
With the new academic year well underway, the prg.ai team has also found a new base camp: we have now settled into our brand new offices at Kampus Hybernská, and are looking forward to integrating into its vibrant community. Our team is growing too: three new team members have joined our ranks, and more are to come. Petra Dovhunová is succeeding Julie and will be in charge of our educational activities at high schools and universities. Bára Pelcová shall be responsible for rolling out Elements of AI into universities and companies and also started playing an important role in our community building. Dominika Vykydalová has become part of our comms and events.
If you’d like to be the next addition to our team, listen up: we’re currently looking for an experienced Marketing Manager with a passion for innovation and technology to help super-charge our science communication and community-building. In case you’re interested or know someone who might be, you can find more details here.
Another instalment of AI Summer School sees success
Once again this year, we organised an AI summer school in collaboration with Jiří Materna’s ML College — and we invited a group of talented highschoolers as well as a group of engaged high school teachers to acquire the knowledge and skill to take on artificial intelligence. This year, highschool students and teachers from across the Czech Republic took part in the training, learning how to work with various fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning methods. If you would like to read more about the bi-annual project or learn more about Jiří Materna and his educational endeavours including the AI Academy, you can read our interview with Jirka published recently on prg.ai Journal.
A September full of events: prg.ai goes international
prg.ai has also taken part in multiple events in the past weeks. Together with Recombee, DNAI, Tovek and MAMA AI, we presented the Prague AI ecosystem to delegates from the Digital Transformation Office of Turkey and the Korean Ministry of Defence respectively. Representatives of Czech embassies from all over the world can now also benefit from prg.ai knowhow — Ondřej Vaněk from Blindspot Solutions provided them with insight into the world of AI while our executive director Lukáš Kačena shared information about local successes of the Prague AI scene when it comes to both academia and industry. We hope that with our help, they can promote Czech AI expertise to potential partners and audiences all around the world.
Thanks to Equilibre Technologies we had the honour to host a dinner with Richard Sutton, a distinguished research scientist at DeepMind and one of the founders of reinforcement learning. It was an intimate evening with representatives of our academic and industry members taking turns to pick Rich’s brain. We were very happy to host such a notable guest — and to enjoy an evening in lovely company!
Lukáš further also took part in AFI’s Annual Conference focused on emerging opportunities. Lukáš represented prg.ai as well as the broader innovation industry at a panel dedicated to uncovering the trends in 2022, 2023 and beyond. Along with Andrea Lauren (Rockaway Capital), Libuše Šmuclerová (CNC News) and Tomáš Budník (Thein), mainly the benefits and risks related to AI were discussed.
AI impact and its future implications were also discussed at the Czech-French AI Workshop, with Lukáš taking part in the panel dedicated to AI impact. In this panel, speakers from various sectors met and offered their perspective – whether focused on legal aspects, the impact in the healthcare sector or autonomous mobility. In case you’re interested in what was shared and discussed, watch a recording of the event on YouTube (includes only the second day of the workshop).
CEDMO squares up against disinformation
One of the most important events this autumn was the conference organised by CEDMO with the title “Europe Tackles Information Chaos”. This truly international two-day conference was opened with contributions from Vice-President of the European Commission Věra Jourová, Mayor Zdenek Hřib or Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková. In case you missed it, we’ve got good news: you can still catch many of the presentations on YouTube, including ‘Look Who’s Talking: Chinese and Russian Propaganda and Disinformation in Europe’, ‘Media Literacy in the Age of Global Crisis and Confrontations’, ‘Disinformation, Media Freedom and Journalism’, or the panel talk detailing the role of Technology and AI. And if you’re more of a reader, consider browsing through the CEDMO Annual Report for 2021 and 2022, which has been published to accompany the conference. There are many important insights to be gained, and we’re happy that Prague plays such a pivotal role in a worthy international research effort.
prg.ai Minor welcomes 15 new graduates
4 faculties, dozens of top lecturers, 1 inter-university programme — that’s our flagship prg.ai Minor in a nutshell. And in September, we welcomed a new cohort of 15 graduates who received their diplomas from the hands of the Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib in Prague’s historic Old Town City Hall. „Prague has the ambition of becoming a major global centre of technological innovation, and prg.ai Minor is an important pillar of the local innovation ecosystem. Nurturing young talent in the field of AI is absolutely crucial, and I am glad that Prague is supporting the future of the scientific, business, and academic world,” he said during the ceremony. Over 60 guests came to celebrate the alumni’s success, sharing their achievement with fellow students, academics, and families. If you’re interested in what our graduates are planning to do next or eyeing the application process for next year’s cohort, you can find more details on our website, on StartupJobs’ blog, or on prg.ai Minor’s website.
Dalí, or Dall-E? AI makes waves in the art world
AI in art has been getting a lot of buzz lately: with new image generation systems released by OpenAI, Midjourney and others, the newfound ability of AI to generate jaw-dropping images has captured many hearts and minds. But how do these impressive systems actually work — and what implications do they carry for the art industry? You can read more about all of that and more in the latest article published by prg.ai Journal, written by our new content contributor David Slouka.
🎭 Events we’re excited about
3 Oct, Opening of the new academic year at Kampus Hybernská
In Kampus Hybernská, our colleagues Bára and Dominika will participate in the new academic year’s opening on October 3rd by presenting the Elements of AI online course and what AI can do workshop, respectively. Visitors will try out Midjourney and OpenAI apps, will hear about the history of AI in art briefly and will find out how picture generators work. The workshop will take place every hour from 11am (except 12pm) until 6pm at Kampus Hybernska. We look forward to seeing you there.
1 – 31 Oct, Safe Internet Festival
The National Cyber and Information Security Agency is dedicating the month of October to raising awareness for cybersecurity and other online safety practices. As part of European Cybersecurity Month, you will be able to attend seminars, events and activities designed to keep you safe online.
6 Oct, AI Jazz Concert at CTU’s FIT
What kind of music would artificial intelligence compose? You no longer have to wonder – instead, you can attend this afternoon concert in the gardens of CTU’s campuses at Thákurova 9. Aside from the music delivered by professional musicians affiliated with the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory, you will also be able to enjoy AI-generated artworks created specifically to compliment the music.
9 Oct, Prague Clockwork Cabaret
Prague Mechanical Cabaret is a spectacle created by machine, performed by man. This autumn in Prague, you have the unique opportunity to see real figures of Czech and world history in artificial situations, songs and dances, before they take off on their European tour. Don’t miss the world premiere of a unique performance at the border of technology and theater.
10 Oct, Innovation Week
Get ready for the 7th edition of the biggest event in the world of innovation! The Innovation Week at Cubex invites everyone interested in exciting innovations and a good dose of fascinating technologies to get inspired and learn. The packed programme will appeal to anyone who wants to innovate their business, likes a professional approach, or is simply a fan of all things progressive.
11 Oct, Disraptors Summit
Disraptors Summit (ex SWCSummit) is the major event in the tech & startup territory: and it’s taking place in Prague. Upon signing up, you can look forward to an event full of opportunities: apart from the clash of the regional startup champions, the summit will host titans of the business world, eager investors, and young entrepreneurs.
11 Oct, Navigating Complexity – How AI is transforming leadership in society
The Czech Transformative Tech Community invites you to their upcoming meetup in partnership with Deloitte, RedButton Edu and Sara Polak. The event will discuss leadership psychology, interdisciplinarity, and insights from applying tech to daily practice in business – and will include plenty of opportunities for interaction and insightful Q&As.
17 Oct, German Czech Economic Forum
If you’re interested in international opportunities in the field of technology and beyond, consider signing up for this economic conference organised by the German Czech Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) during the Czech presidency of the EU Council. R&D professionals as well as political representatives will discuss solutions and strategies for a successful adaptation in times of crisis and the chances of a sustainable transformation of the industry.
17 – 23 Oct, AI Days
This interactive artificial intelligence festival introduces you to artificial intelligence in an approachable way – and showcases its potential as a smart helper for everyday life. It will also show its wide-ranging use: for milking cows, voice identification, or improving forecasts on which various social activities depend. A broad coalition of partners from the Brno region collaborate on the event under the coordination of Brno.AI.
22 Oct, HUMAIN Conference
The annual HUMAIN Conference brings together the most interesting applications and dilemmas around AI across various fields and areas of interest, including humanities, arts, and design. This year, it focuses on AI & co-creation, wellbeing, and sustainability. If you’re working on any of these topics, don’t hesitate to sign up to attend this unique event at Brno’s Kumst.
26 Oct, Startup Night
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet young and passionate entrepreneurs looking to get their first business endeavour off the ground. The Startup Night provides a unique opportunity to learn from students across diverse university backgrounds about startups, innovation, and socially responsible business. Register to attend at the link 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!
👏 Members’ news that makes us proud
Recombee, our industrial member specialising in AI and ML for recommendation and content personalisation, has recently released some insightful blog posts detailing their expertise. On their website, you can learn more about real-time content personalisation powered by AI, or explore the open-source RepSys tool for visual and interactive evaluation of recommender systems.
After major developments — including a new CEO Georg Ell and an investment round reaching as much as 15M euros, our industrial member Memsource has been re-born as Phase. The new name takes after a company acquired in 2021, signalling a new era for the joint venture and unveiling the new Phase Localisation Suite. We’re sure the new name will see many more exciting successes in the coming months!
We are delighted to see one of our industrial members, Resistant AI, in the final run-off for the Best AI & ML Provider in the Computing Technology Product Awards 2022. Their entry showcases how they supported Habito in increasing effective fraud detection by 30% thanks to AI document forensics. Voting is open until October 21st: you can show your support here! Resistant AI are undisputed experts in the field of fraud detection and AI-based transaction forensics, too: FINOM, a Netherlands-based fintech platform for small businesses, has recently chosen to partner with Resistant to bolster its anti-money laundering systems.
And that’s not all in terms of awards. G2, the world’s largest tech community for product assessments and reviews, named Rossum the Momentum Leader for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software for the second consecutive year. “These reviews acknowledge how we support and help drive customer success,” says Petr Baudiš, founder and CTO of Rossum. “Thanks to a unified cloud platform that leverages a foundation of AI and machine learning, we’re extending what’s possible in document processing.” And it’s paying off: Rossum has scored second place in Forbes’ Startup of the Year rankings. Congratulations!
Both Rossum and Resistant AI have recently been featured in the Technoverse Newsletter, published by E15. The text details their practical use of artificial intelligence, and notes that they have a good chance to ride the wave of AI innovation toward international success. “If they’re brave and at least a little bit lucky, they can put Czech Republic on the map just like Avast did when it comes to cybersecurity,” notes Filip Zelenka, author of the newsletter.
Together with Adastra Digital, Cyrkl, and Institut Cirkulární Ekonomiky, Blindspot Solutions aims to bring sustainability and the circular economy closer to everyone through diverse projects and awareness-raising events. Most recently, they held an insightful panel discussion about sustainability, and supported the premiere of Going circular, a documentary about new approaches to economics. “Many of the solutions we have developed positively impact the environment. However, data mining, AI and optimization are young technologies, so they are not yet widely deployed,” notes Ondřej Vaněk, CEO of Blindspot Solutions.
This summer saw a new milestone for Czech AI expertise: FEE CTU’s Professor Jiří Matas was recognised by Czech Republic’s Learned Society, receiving fellowship status during their 28th annual general assembly in May. He is the Learned Society’s first fellow specialising in artificial intelligence and computer vision, symbolising a new milestone for the field — and Czech Technical University — upon its ever-growing recognition.
Did you know you could put your Microsoft Office skills to the test on the world stage? This year, the MOS World Championship has a Czech winner! Ondřej Cach, a student affiliated with CTU’s FIT, became this year’s world champion in Excel at the global competition organised in California. Out of a million registered students from 60 countries across the globe, he made it to the finals and became a two-time world champion in Microsoft Office programs. He plans to continue to improve in MS programs and pass on his skills.
Technology knows no borders, and unites students from all around the world. This August, young people from Brazil, Mexico, the United States, South Korea, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Nigeria, Australia or a number of European countries gathered in Prague for the IEEE RAS Summer School of Multi-Robotic Systems. Inspired by the MRS Research Group and DARPA SubT Challenge successes, 170 students from a total of six continents came together to explore state of the art drones and robot technologies. The event was a resounding success: many of the participants are already looking forward to next year’s edition.
Charles University’s MFF recently hosted TAILOR, a European network of research excellence centres aiming to support the development of responsible AI systems. It brings together 55 partners and almost a hundred other members across Europe. More than 100 representatives of projects and academic members of the network met to discuss the direction of the consortium and get to know each other after a long pandemic break. From the Czech Republic, the consortium includes Charles University (MFF), and the Czech Technical University (CIIRC) is among the partners of the project.
Charles University has the potential to reach the forefront of international AI research: in August, its Professor Roman Barták received one of the highest distinctions in Europe. The European Artificial Intelligence Association has recognised Professor Barták as an EurAI Fellow, ranking him among the top 3% members of this prestigious international organisation. Professor Barták was rewarded for his excellent contributions to state-of-the-art AI research serving the European community.
📍 From the local AI scene
Idea of the Year: AI to assist doctors
Artificial intelligence as a doctor’s third eye? It’s becoming a reality — and winning awards, most recently dominating the Vodafone Idea of the Year. Carebot’s AI system helps medical professionals detect anomalies in x-ray images of the lungs, making sure that no alarming symptoms get missed, no matter how small. The idea has impressed multiple healthcare firms as well as Vodafone’s jury: aside from winning this year’s competition, Carebot has also scored the Profinit Technological project of the year award, and secured various valuable prizes to support their future endeavours.
114 new projects in CzechInvest’s incubator
CzechInvest has now closed the application period for the first call of the Technological Incubation project: and received over 114 promising new applications. Startups focused on mobility, creative industries, ecology and circular economy or artificial intelligence were invited to apply in the first call. Almost half of the applicants come from the capital city of Prague, promising exciting new projects on the capital’s innovation scene.
AI leads a revolution in trading
Martin Schmid together with his colleague Matej Moravčík developed DeepStack, the world’s first artificial intelligence that can beat a person in poker. Now they’re off to a bigger game: they’re setting DeepStack up to take on the financial markets. During the Next Big Thing Conference, the duo detailed their plan to apply their artificial intelligence expertise and experience from DeepMind to the field of economics. Big things are yet to come: having raised the biggest seed round among new Czech companies, the founders are not settling for less.
Brno.AI maps the local innovation scene
Our Moravian colleagues over at Brno.AI have done a lot of work on laying out the landscape of local innovation. Their AI map was compiled based on a survey of the innovation ecosystem throughout the Brno region, which includes entities engaged in research, development and education, technical solution providers, as well as entities that have applied artificial intelligence-based solutions in their activities.
📰 Stuff that interests us
- Introducing Whisper, an open-source neural network which approaches human level accuracy on English speech recognition (article)
- According to Czech scientists, waste water could be cleaned by seaweed with the help of artificial intelligence (article, in Czech)
- OpenAI is reducing the price of GPT-3 API: here is why it matters (article)
- Of God and machines: the future of AI is neither utopian nor dystopian, it is much more interesting (article)
- UCLA, UCSD, Peking University & BIGAI have developed a new AI system able to explain its decision-making processes to users (article)
🧩 ML/AI sources we recommend
AI for Kids’ Machine Learning Textbook
It’s never too early to start exploring the fascinating world of machine learning technology. This simple, straight-forward, and practical textbook covers 13 handy examples which young learners can follow on their own to start understanding the basic principles of machine learning. The textbook also introduces readers to Scratch, and invites students to get their own hands on some code, too!
Machine Learning @ Berkeley Crash Course
This student-lead organisation at California’s UC Berkeley is dedicated to building and fostering a vibrant machine learning community. As part of that endeavour, they have compiled a broad range of resources covering various techniques of machine learning. Their Crash Course series guides students from the very basics to more advanced models, and is suitable if you’re looking for an online resource to get you started.
Podcasts: Karel Klouda, Tomáš Mikolov & Sara Polak
Are you on the lookout for new podcast episodes to keep you company on your commute? Do we have the right tip for you: leading figures of the Prague AI scene have recently released interesting new podcast episodes you may appreciate. Karel Klouda, chair of the Department of Applied Mathematics at CTU’s FIT, discusses the pivotal role of mathematics across various IT fields on Jedničky a Nuly. Additionally, on Finmag’s latest podcast episode, Tomáš Mikolov discusses the economic implications of AI.
📢 Community calls
Turkish TRAI Week 2022 invites international collaboration
Another yearly instalment of the TRAI Week, organised by the Turkish Artificial Intelligence Initiative, is rapidly approaching: and it offers a unique opportunity to present your company or project to an international audience! Between October 24 and 28, the online event will provide opportunities for training, panels, meetings, and project collaborations among Turkey’s leading companies, technology giants, local and foreign speakers, and diverse AI initiatives. If you’d like to count yours among them, don’t forget to sign up.
PwC is calling you to participate in their AI Act Survey
The EU is preparing the AI Act, a new legal framework to manage AI risks by regulating the way AI is produced, sold and used. The text of the law should be finalised in 2023. But how aware and ready are Czech organisations for the AI Act and how will it affect them? PwC has launched a survey to help us understand this and will use the survey results for a public report to understand the needs of companies on the ground. Answer this survey to be heard. If you provide your email address, you will also receive your answers benchmarked against other respondents to understand your relative position.
Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe offer grants to small and medium-sized companies
Within the framework of the European programs Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, small and medium-sized companies can easily obtain funds in the form of cascade financing grants. Grants are currently offered by nearly three dozen projects, and many of them involve Czech participants or other partners who offer free help with the processing of the project application. However, it is not at all complicated – it usually takes two to three days and reaches a subsidy in the range of 50 to 100 thousand euros for the implementation of your innovative plan, its experimental verification, and its launch on the market. AI plays a leading role and there are a number of projects with a specific or even implicit AI focus, including Change2Twin and EUHubs4Data. Don’t miss the fast-approaching deadlines!
💼 Open job positions
AI Center FEE CTU
Infrastructure / Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)
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