The past few days have been consumed by a flurry of meetups, conferences and other engagements.
I attended the inaugural PyLondinium conference at the Bloomberg office in London. Lots of interesting speakers. Some went over my head but overall I was pleased at how much was accessible. It has been a while since I’ve done much Python coding, but apparently it hasn’t been completely forgotten. The day before the conference started I did a day-long hackathon with Trans*Code, an organisation that sets up these kinds of events in support of trans community issues in the UK.
Much of Tuesday was spent at CogX, a conference devoted to all things AI. There was a strong emphasis on the commercial application, and it had a distinctly different feeling to PyLondinium a couple of days earlier. Everywhere you looked at CogX, people were pitching, networking or sitting on the sidelines making pitch slide decks on their laptops, it seemed. I went to some great talks:
- Haiyan Zhang talking about innovation at Microsoft’s Research lab in Cambridge
- Sarah Gold talking about safety and accountability in ‘learned systems’
- Zavain Dar got philosophical and talked about how AI and machine learning breakthroughs were reconfiguring how we talk and think about empiricism
- a really great panel on the intersection between AI and education, with a memorable set of contributions from Priya Lakhani.
There were many others. Then I wandered over to the ExCel exhibition centre for TechXLR8 which was quite disappointing.
(This week is Tech Week in London, if you haven’t noticed, so there are many more events and meetups than normal, it seems).
In the evening I went to see the Belcea Quartet perform Mozart’s String Quintet (K515), Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet and Brahms’ Second String Quintet. I haven’t heard the Belcea Quartet before, but they’re really something. The lead violinist and cellist have a great rapport, and judging from the sound seem to be playing really wonderful sonorous instruments. It was a warmingly affirmative reminder — after all the talk of machines and technology — that humans still have something to contribute.