CogX Festival: Day One

On Monday, the world’s most influential AI leaders and technologists descended on CogX Festival in London to discuss some of the most prominent opportunities and challenges facing industry, government and academia at the advent of the fourth industrial revolution.

Bringing together over 15,000 attendees and 500 speakers across 12 stages, CogX provided an ideal opportunity for members to network and establish commercial relationships with ground-breaking researchers, startups and policy makers active across the UK’s rapidly evolving AI ecosystem.

Talks explored a huge range of topics, from the rise of digital twins and affective computing to topics such as DNA gene editing, autonomous transportation, blockchain, IoT, VR and AR.

The festival kicked off with an address from the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who outlined a strategic vision for London as a globally competitive, citizen-centric hotbed for AI innovation and thought leadership. During the address, the London Mayor argued that there is an urgent need for decision-makers from across society to recognize AI as a critical catalyst for the UK economy. If harnessed correctly, the London Mayor argued, AI could supercharge a diverse array of sectors around the UK, driving wealth creation.

Building on this sentiment, Tabitha Goldstaub and Charlie Muirhead- co-founders of the CogX Festival- delivered a talk on the state of today, introducing emerging debates on the disruptive and transformative impacts of technology before discussing how AI could ultimately be harnessed as a force for good.

The pair rounded off with a call to action to attendees, making the case for greater collaboration on AI innovation and stressing the purpose of bringing great minds together- to interact with and learn from one another to promote economic growth and facilitate social transformation.

Following on from this introduction, a fantastic array of speakers from different cultural, industrial and disciplinary backgrounds delivered talks and held interactive sessions covering topics related to AI. techUK member organizations were well represented across the board and attendees had multiple opportunities to gain a greater understanding of the trajectory of the UK’s AI ecosystem.

For instance, in the morning, the parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, Oliver Dowden CBE MP, introduced a session which covered the use of AI across different government services, highlighting how digital transformation projects are set to change the way people are governed.

The event was supported by a subsequent discussion on some of the world’s most successful digital transformation projects, with thought leaders in the gov-tech space stressing the need for strategic, cross-sector partnerships and a re-writing of extant system architecture underpinning the delivery of government services.

Elsewhere, technologists covered the transformative impact of digital twin (DTw) technology, highlighting how AI could be used to de-risk the physical world, explore and optimize new possibilities, drive collaboration and communication between different stakeholders, enforce standards and cope with complexity on a national scale. This discussion was strongly related to the work techUK has already done to push forward the DTw agenda in the UK, which focuses on starting small and building the business case for a national DTw

Meanwhile, some of the world’s foremost thinkers and entrepreneurs came together to discuss the relationship between AI and innovation, investment and the broader economy. For instance, speakers from the world’s best universities presented ground-breaking analysis on the commercial power relationship between startups, SMEs and big tech, discussed the long-term impact of machine learning (ML) on the future of work and highlighted the potential for value creation enabled by investment into deep learning capabilities.

Additionally, attendees had a great opportunity to engage with global innovators, who offered a different perspective on how to build and sustain successful technology-oriented business ventures. For instance, co-founder of China’s most valuable startup, SenseTime, delivered a key note talk sharing their experience of how startups can pivot to the future and develop a global footprint by investing in the development of positive use cases for AI, enhancing trust in value creation and thus supporting the development of sustainable investment networks.

Overall, there were seemingly infinite opportunities to learn more about AI, with other talks covering key issues such as the impact of AI on health, international relations, ethical frameworks, the climate, engineering and quantum computing. As such, techUK looks forward to collaborating with CogX in the future and will continue to contribute to the debate on the UK’s future AI ecosystem today, by hosting a panel session at the future of work and education stage covering the relationship between AI and workers rights.

This session builds on the hard work techUK has already done to drive more substantial debate on how key decision-makers can put ethical principles and frameworks into practice.

If you would like any further information on the CogX Festival, or how techUK is engaging with the AI community, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and one of the team will be happy to assist. In the meantime, happy London Tech Week and we look forward to seeing those attending CogX over the coming days!

  • Tom Henderson

    Tom Henderson

    Programme Manager | Smart Cities and IoT
    T 020 7331 2043

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