prg.ai newsletter #15: AI in the service of history, linguistics, and public transport
Drones assisting archaeologists, improved machine translation, new academic and entrepreneurial collaborations, and many exciting conferences are all awaiting your exploration — our July newsletter contains all things AI you shouldn’t miss this summer.
🏡 What’s new at prg.ai
Bringing AI to the front page
The future of AI in Czechia is still shrouded in many questions. Does Prague have what it takes to become a leading European AI hub? Can we attract top talent despite mounting competition from the ‘Silicon Valleys of the world’? May the ossification of the Czech education system cost us the next big opportunity? Do not worry: prg.ai is here to try to provide the answers. Our director Lenka Kučerová addressed all of the above and more in her Forbes cover interview published last week, touching upon the role of emerging technologies in business ecosystems as well as public life.
Reaching across borders
Good news spreads fast — and we are thrilled to hear our efforts echoing all the way across Central America. In her article for Mexico Business News, CzechTrade México director Tereza Vítková makes a case for the Czech Republic as an emerging AI hub, mentioning prg.ai as well as multiple of our members as stark examples of Prague’s potential. Undoubtedly, there are challenges ahead, but we are excited about this opportunity to seek new transatlantic partnerships.
Expanding highschoolers’ horizons
Together with Jiří Materna, founder of the Machine Learning College platform that offers ML study programmes for beginners and the City of Prague, we are bringing AI curricula into five pilot high schools this coming September. In preparation for this ambitious project, we will soon be running two events: a five-day summer school organised with the Smíchov Secondary Industrial School and a follow-up workshop with teachers from the selected schools providing deeper insight into the subject.
Bringing up the new Czech generation of interdisciplinary AI experts
prg.ai Minor, our unique interuniversity programme, is celebrating its very first batch of graduates this summer. While the official graduation ceremony will come on the 5 October, some graduates are already leaving their alma maters to continue their studies abroad — and so we had to say our goodbyes earlier. The first this year was Michal Bodický of Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, who received his certificate from our academic guarantor, professor Ladislav Krištoufek. If you would like to stay updated and connect with prg.ai Minor’s most recent graduates, follow the programme’s page on LinkedIn to keep up on the latest developments.
🎭 Events we’re excited about
12 Aug, Dronument
Experts from FEL at CTU have been busy with a unique project: as part of DRONUMENT, they have been exploring and documenting unique historical monuments all around Czechia using a team of unmanned aerial vehicles. They will be showcasing their drones as well as other endeavours of the Multi-robot Systems working group at a hybrid workshop this August. Do not miss this opportunity to see their incredible drones in action and to network with award-winning robotics experts. The team’s efforts to assist archaeologists in closely studying the landmark were captured by both ČT24 and iDnes.
14 – 18 Aug, KDD
The annual KDD conference is the premier interdisciplinary conference bringing together researchers and practitioners from data science, data mining, knowledge discovery, large-scale data analytics, and big data. Originally held in Singapore, it will take place digitally through a virtual conference platform this year, allowing you to attend without having to traverse the continent.
17 – 19 Aug, Ai4 2021
The Ai4 2021 conference gathers business executives and data practitioners to discuss the facilitation and adoption of artificial intelligence within various industries such as cybersecurity, healthcare, finance, retail, telecom, transportation, energy, and more. The conference experience allows the global AI business community to exchange shared best practices while providing intimate environments for each industry to explore the unique aspects of AI within their domain.
23 – 28 Aug, ECCV 2020
Collecting the top that Europe has to offer in the field of image analysis, the 16th European Conference on Computer Vision will take place virtually this year, offering an exciting opportunity to explore the best of computer vision on the continent from the comfort of your couch.
30 Aug – 1 Sep, Prague Stringology Conference
The Prague Stringology Conference has been running strong since 1996, and it is back for another instalment in 2021. Just as August meets September, you can look forward to lectures by foreign stringology experts brought to you by the Czech stringology club at FIT CTU.
- FIT CTU
4 – 11 Nov, CyberSec&AI Connected 2021
CyberSec&AI is back! This year, Avast has joined forces with The Private AI Collaborative Research Institute and Czech Technical University in Prague to create an engaging platform to facilitate the exchange of insight and research in the fields of AI, machine learning, and cybersecurity. Check out our community calls section for their call for speakers and abstracts — the deadline is around the corner.
👏 Members’ news that makes us proud
DataSentics recently published their new website, on which you can access information about their company culture, visions, solutions, and business verticals with unprecedented ease. You can check it out while reading their latest blog article, which will give you five handy examples of AI/ML innovations that bring tangible improvements to business automation. In case you’ll be craving some more machine learning inspiration, you can watch an on-demand recording of Datasentic’s latest webinar titled From Czech Republic to Silicon Valley, where Daniel Havíř shared his experience working for organisations as small as early startups and as large as Apple.
In the ever-evolving world of translation engines, it can be hard to find your footing. “Current translation tools translate similarly to humans, but without full understanding,” says Ondřej Bojar in a new article praising the Czech-developed machine translator CUBBITT, which fares well in the toughest of competitions. To help you orientate in the vast machine translation marketplace, Memsource has released its quarterly Machine Translation Report, compiling over 43 million datasets to assess the performance of language translation across different language combinations, compare different types of content, and observe the rate of improvement over time. To complement their report, Memsource is also currently partnering with CUNI’s MFF on a study assessing the impact of machine translation tools on the productivity of linguists.
Users entering sites with vast offerings can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options to choose from. This is where machine learning has potential to markedly improve customer’s experience, as noted by DataSentics’ Petr Bednařík: algorithms may create an organised space where the user can find what they are looking for. To ensure premium services and the most accurate recommendations to a broader audience, Recombee can now be easily integrated through the Segment platform and work smoothly with this popular consumer data platform to supply personalised content or product recommendations.
AI Center FEE CTU is on a roll: from fighting disinformation to forming the future of city-bound air travel, they are busy with an exciting range of new high-profile projects. Last month, they signed a research contract with the US aerospace company Bell Textron Inc. to develop passenger decision models using both the existing ground transportation and the future air taxi transportation. They are also partnering with Charles University and other institutions to study disinformation in the newly established Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO).
Thanks to the collaboration between Goethe-Institut, RICAIP, and CIIRC CTU, artists Douna Lim and Théo Pesso from France and UK’s Lily McCraith will stay at CIIRC CTU for a month each in fall 2021, seeking for inspiration and working on their artistic works linked with AI.
The innovation marathon Nakopni Prahu announced its winners this month, awarding the FIT CTU alumni behind project Metacity a 50 000 CZK prize toward the realisation of their ambitious goal. Their project envisions an interoperable data processing and visualisation platform, which could ensure that citizens, developers, municipal offices, and other stakeholders have streamlined access to available urban data. CUNI students Martin Richter and Karolína Schubertová also celebrated success with their project named Aignos, which plans on introducing the basic principles of creative artificial intelligence to high- and primary school students, using an interactive web application they are developing, among other methods. You can watch the competition’s final pitches on YouTube.
A falcon in flight instead of an alien spaceship: that is what Denys Rozumnyi, researcher working across FEL CTU and ETH Zurich, was able to uncover between the blurred pixels of a suspected alien encounter video. His work across two of the leading computer vision institutions has enabled him to fuse two distinct fields — object detection and its 3D reconstruction — into one, enabling him to disprove a head-scratching mystery.
European AI networks and communities are constantly growing and extending their reach. The first ICT-48 Community Workshop was held at the end of June to identify opportunities for synergies and foster collaborations among the Networks of AI Excellence Centres. Aside from 100+ engaged participants, the event was also attended by stakeholders from the wider European AI community and major AI and robotics initiatives, such as AI4EU, ICT-49, ICT-38, ADRA, BDVA, CLAIRE, ELLIS, EurAI, and euRobotics. Around the same time, CLAIRE proved itself as a vehicle to create ambitious global visions for Europe and launched its Innovation Network. The 11 launch members also included two Czech companies — CertiCon and Trix Connections — ensuring that Czech expertise is well-represented.
The SPOT robotic dog we welcomed in our last issue has already become somewhat of a celebrity at FEL CTU. His latest venture took him deep among the slumbering bats into the underground cave system at Býčí skála. His team of robotics researchers from FEL CTU found that the cave terrain made the perfect training ground for the highly anticipated DARPA Subterranean Challenge, in which they will be competing in September.
📰 News you shouldn’t miss
- Navigating life and academia with two researcher-parents and their families (article, in Czech)
- Bourdain Documentary’s Use of AI to Mimic Voice Draws Questions (article)
- DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science (article)
- OpenAI’s Sam Altman on the AI Revolution, Trillionaires, and the Future of Political Power (podcast)
- Artificial intelligence needs regulation because of the risks. But the EU has no idea what AI actually is, says expert Jan Romportl (article, in Czech)
🧩 ML/AI sources we recommend
Papers with Code
A handy website highlighting trends in ML research and its implementation; a good source for trending papers and comparisons on benchmark tasks.
A reasonably beginner-friendly video series, which will lure anyone down a machine learning rabbit hole. A good place to set off your at-home learning journey or refresh some finicky details.
In case you are aiming higher, try this collection of open-source lectures, reading materials, exercises, and tests straight from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While not necessarily ML/AI-related, we are big fans of the Czech Academy of the Sciences’ Open Science projects, including this series of animated educational videos. If you have some curious future scientists running around your home, they may be interested.
📢 Community calls
The CyberSec&AI Connected Conference is still looking for abstracts to present during the November event. The 31 July deadline is fast approaching, so apply for a chance to share your knowledge and insight with our growing global community of cybersecurity experts and professionals.
EIT Manufacturing with its LEADERS competition aims to reach out to support the best women innovators, including professionals, researchers, and entrepreneurs, playing a leading role in developing solutions to manufacturing-related challenges with strong financial, environmental, or societal impact. If you think you fit the bill — or know of a wonderful lady who might — apply here until July 31.
Would you like to see your autonomous vehicles traverse American soil? The European project INTonomous is looking for small to medium entreprises with ambitions to venture into the United States, promising acceleration support and joint business missions. For more information, contact Adam Priechodsky at firstname.lastname@example.org — the deadline for applications is as soon as July 30.
💼 Open job positions
- Technical Support
- Backend Developer
- Infrastructure / Development Specialist
- Machine Learning Developer
- Business Development Representative
- People Ops Specialist with Czech / Slovak & English
- Python Developer
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