prg.ai newsletter #17: All eyes on Czech AI projects
CTU made it to the finals of the DARPA SubT Challenge, the Czech Academy of Sciences triumphed with its magazine, and a healthcare startup Aireen got its AI tool certified. But that’s just a fragment of Czech AI achievements covered by media this September.
🏡 What’s new at prg.ai
Two interviews and a workshop
Artificial intelligence holds immense potential to improve our quality of life: both when it comes to mundane, day-to-day tasks and restructuring entire economies. That’s what our director Lenka Kučerová discusses in her latest interview for CzechCrunch, where she outlines the current state of AI in the Czech Republic and lays out our vision for the future.
Yet, that’s not all from prg.ai’s September media coverage: if you’re a Reportér magazine subscriber, you can read about our plans regarding the Czech version of the Elements of AI course. In short, we are working hard on a fundraising campaign to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from the programme and learn about the basics of artificial intelligence.
We have many big plans ahead. And until they come to fruition, we have been organising in-person workshops about the course’s topics for the Aspen Young Leaders Programme, led by Sara Polak and Tomáš Mikolov.
🎭 Events we are excited about
30 Sep, Brain & Breakfast: Ondřej Vlček
Few people can proudly present 25 years of cybersecurity experience on their resume. This event brings you an opportunity to grab breakfast with one of them while chatting about the latest developments in the field. Ondřej Vlček will discuss what makes a good CEO, how businesses impact society at large, and what inspires his important philanthropic family projects.
2 Oct, Humain Conference
Design, social sciences, art, and artificial intelligence will all come together during this upcoming multidisciplinary conference in Brno’s Industra Space. The event aims to function as a platform for discussion among experts as well as engaged members of the public.
5 – 6 Oct, Start-up World Cup & Summit
Startup World Cup & Summit is a European startup champion’s league: a 2-day event with both local V4 round and Continental Finale happening in Prague, Czech Republic, and streamed worldwide. Join to watch startups compete for the title of the European Champion, a ticket to the Global Finale in Silicon Valley, and a 500k USD investment prize. In addition, the event hosts famous speakers, mentors, and visionaries such as Steve Wozniak or Kyle Corbitt who will leave you feeling inspired.
26 – 27 Oct, Prague Data City Congress
We are partnering with the City of Prague to bring you the Prague Data City Congress, which will take place at CAMP and in the Emmaus Monastery in late October. The event will focus on data, urban planning, and municipal coordination in Prague, bringing in distinguished speakers by the likes of Zdeněk Hřib, Ján Pernecký, Caroline Goulard, and Rodrigo Menegat. Registrations will open next week — don’t miss your chance to book your spot.
4 Nov, CyberSec&AI Connected 2021
Avast’s CyberSec&AI is coming up again this year and opening up its platform in an effort to facilitate the exchange of insight and research in the fields of AI, machine learning, and cybersecurity. Most recently, they have shared their plans for both the conference and the workshop event: have a look through their website for more information on what you can look forward to.
23 Nov – 1 Dec, AI & Big Data Expo Europe
The AI & Big Data Expo Europe, the leading artificial intelligence and big data conference and exhibition event, will take place on-location in Amsterdam on 23 and 24 November and online between 30 November and 1 December. Attend to explore the latest innovations in the industry and network with data scientists and AI experts from across the continent.
👏 Members’ news that makes us proud
This month, we are extra proud of our hometown — and you should be too. Courtesy of the TimeOut Magazine, Prague has been voted the most beautiful city in the world, beating New York, Paris, and Chicago to the punch. Yet, it’s not all just about the pretty facade: Prague’s also booming with exciting science projects and events such as the VědaFest festival, which took place on 8 September. With this year’s event being all about the digital world, it inspired students and members of the general public to try their hand at various experiments incorporating new technologies. Makers’ Faire also showcased the creativity and ingenuity of Prague’s inhabitants earlier this September, featuring robots, vehicles, and ready-made tools created by CTU-backed talent.
The Czech Technical University is engaged in a host of other exciting projects, including its work alongside NATO and the Czech Republic’s armed forces on the development of quantum technologies set to safeguard international security and a new postgraduate program about the safety of nuclear systems. Researchers from across academic disciplines and institutions, including our Executive board member Václav Moravec, are developing a new, AI-based fact-checking tool alongside Czech Press Agency. And they are testing it on news coverage as well as politicians’ Twitter feeds.
CTU’s FEE has been particularly busy this fall. Their robotics team has recently welcomed a new humanoid robot named iCub into their growing ensemble, prompting researchers to explore the potential of algorithms inspired by the human brain. And that’s not all for Czech robotics this month: while neurobiology-inspired endeavours continue at home, the CTU’s competition team is busy with the DARPA Subterranean Challenge finals in Kentucky, USA. Czech representatives were looking forward to these ‘Robot Olympics’ with a good deal of anticipation, given their bronze medal for last year. In 2021, they placed 6th in the physical competition and 2nd in the virtual one, taking home $500 000 in prize money. They were invited to speak about their success on ČT1 during prime time – you can watch a recording of their interview here.
In case you missed the initial opportunity, you can now watch a recording of the latest instalment of the RICAIP Seminar Series on Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities. The event discussed the future-focused smart transformation of both cities and regions but also touched upon timely topics by the likes of gender equity, personal development, or sustainability. Themes of sustainable development also loomed large over the recent SDG awards, which recognised CTU’s AI Center for its Civilsphere Project among the top three contenders in the Public Sphere category.
Overall, September was a month of recognising and rewarding achievements in science communication. FEE CTU AI Center’s new website achieved second place in the Gold Semicolon Awards, breathing down the back of Czech TV, whose educational website ČT edu managed to scrape the top spot this year. Yet, CTU wasn’t the only one of our members celebrating success during the festive ceremony: Czech Academy of Sciences’ AΩ / Věda pro každého magazine won its category and got recognised for its achievements in science popularisation.
Our industrial members have also recently published some insights that may interest you: Recombee’s blog includes a new article about linear methods and autoencoders in recommender systems, and DataSentics has been featured on Microsoft consumers’ blog with its use of Azure Machine learning for retail product recommendation. Hospodářské noviny interviewed Ondřej Vaněk, co-founder of Blindspot Solutions, who discussed his company’s unique know-how and outlined the different potential uses of AI/ML technologies for large-scale industrial production as well as smaller enterprises. Yet, there is still much more to learn from business. Jirka Koutný of DataSentics recently spoke on the Fuckups in IT podcast about the business of machine learning, overcrowded HR, and tips about navigating career progression in a rapidly shifting business landscape.
With the theatre season approaching once again, you can enrich your autumn evenings with an entirely AI-written theatre play titled AI: When a robot writes a play, which has multiple show dates scheduled between September and November in the Švandovo Theatre. In case you’re interested in the process of artworks created by artificial intelligence, a new exhibition centred around the intersection of AI and literature was recently unveiled at the Goethe-Institut. With a headline of Who is scared of artificial intelligence?, it focuses on artificial intelligence’s ability to work with language, meaning, and even to create works of art. In preparation for these cultural experiences, you can also listen to professor Jan Šedivý on the Voicebot Podcast, which details the current state-of-the-art when it comes to chatbots, voice technology, and machine-human interaction. You’ll be in good hands — as the most recent Amazon Alexa Prize winner, Jan is a leading authority in the field.
📍 From the local AI scene
Diagnosing diseases using retinal images
It’s official: the Czech Republic now has its first AI diagnostic tool certified for medical use. The team behind Aireen are hoping to extend the technology even further, eventually aiming toward the ability to diagnose multiple diseases with a single screen of the blood vessels in a patients’ eye. The project is backed by Tensor Ventures in collaboration with Neovize’s ophthalmology clinics.
Billions of euros for Central European startups
UNIQA has introduced a new mutual fund named Future Trends, planning to invest in Central Europe’s clean technologies, digitalisation, or fintech companies. And they’re not the only ones: Rockaway Capital is also launching a new fund set to distribute 100 million euros across startups with innovative, sustainable, and socially responsible business ideas.
📰 Stuff that interests us
- Avast: In data, we trust – The story of data poisoning and manipulation on the low level. (article)
- How Valencia crushed Covid with AI (article)
- The potential of open science may be bigger than it appears (article, in Czech)
- This AI could predict 10 years of scientific priorities—if we let it (article)
- The geography of AI: Which cities will drive the artificial intelligence revolution? (article)
- Michal Pěchouček: Future’s most desirable trait? Empathy toward both humans and machines (article, in Czech)
- United Kingdom’s National AI Strategy (article)
🧩 AI/ML sources we recommend
Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth Monitoring
An online course where you can explore how AI and ML technologies are helping to advance Earth monitoring. It is a comprehensive overview of the Copernicus Programme and the wealth of Earth Observation data it provides, as well as an opportunity to see how AI and ML are transforming the interpretation of Earth Observation data.
Don’t miss this insightful database of writings on machine learning, statistics, academic discussions, and other developments in the field. Features a newsletter.
Videolectures by Nanda de Freitase
Are you looking for a good introduction to machine learning for students, junior team members, or — really — anyone else? These classes present an overall refresher of various machine learning topics.
📢 Community calls
How to get involved in prg.ai’s future
Are you a student interested in IT, marketing, HR, or data analysis, and curiously eyeing a potential career in management consulting? 180 Degrees Consulting Prague is recruiting new team members for the winter semester — and thanks to one of our prg.ai Minor programme alumni, student consultants will get a chance to work with us during that time, too. If you’re interested in helping us prepare some of our most exciting future projects and learn about consulting strategies along the way, you can find more information here.
💼 Open job positions
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