CogX19 & the progress of AI in Europe

by Scott Taylor
13th June 2019
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This week saw about 15,000 nerds (me included) descend upon Kings Cross, London for CogX ‘19.

Truth be told, this was my first CogX – so I don’t have any benchmark on whether this years was better or worse than previous years.

I did want to use the conference as a proxy to take the pulse of the European AI scene. What was being talked about, what startups were demo’ing and what big corporates were making a push to be more AI-first.

Glancing at the agenda, it’s all the stuff that you’d expect…

“AI and Government: Why Ethics Matter”
“AI, GDPR and the Limits of Automated Processing”
“The Future of Human Machine Interaction”
“AI Powering Asset Management”
“Turning an AI Strategy Into Practice”

(P.S. some of these are probably available to view on their YouTube channel)

Probably worth mentioning that there was strong representation from the usual folks; Google (interestingly their X brand, rather than DeepMind), Accenture, McKinsey, HSBC, and IBM.

As for other vendors, one interesting thing was the number of “AI consultancies” — boutiques that seemed to be focused on digital transformation, data cleaning, automated insights etc. I guess it’s encouraging as it shows the market is starting to understand what it takes to actually launch an AI product — 90% data sourcing, cleaning, engineering, and deploying. Building the model is actually only a small subset.

McKinsey also timed the launch of their latest research to coincide with the festival:

No country comes close to the United States and China, the world’s stand-out leaders on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, but the United Kingdom is one of Europe’s leaders.

Diffusion and adoption are still at relatively early stages, but there is already evidence on the ground of the transformational change—both within organizations and in the economy as a whole—that these technologies can bring. A concerted, joined-up, and forward-looking effort from businesses and the government can deliver the positive disruption for which the United Kingdom is relatively well positioned.

McKinsey

Overall great to see an event like this champion London (and the UK) as Europe’s most thriving place for AI talent.