Sun, Sea, and Science

Dylan - Golden Gate Bridge

As part of ITL’s commitment to encouraging all of our employees to develop themselves personally and professionally throughout their time here. Dylan Sumner, a member of our Research Team travelled to sunny San Francisco to attend an industry conference.

As you may imagine, I was more than content to swap whatever passed for summer in the UK this year for a nice, little Californian holiday. The conference was centered on machine learning and data mining, and despite its idyllic location, it was a great opportunity to build up my knowledge in this area of Data Science.

I flew over in the second week of August and settled in for five days of Sun, Sea and Science at one of the most prestigious conferences in the field. The conference took place at the San Francisco Hilton and featured talks from a huge number of major players in the industry including Microsoft, Google, Uber, DeepMind and Amazon. In addition to speakers from the corporate world, there were guests from the world of academia, from such renowned institutions as the University of Oxford, Stanford University and MIT. This mix of academics and practitioners gave a well-rounded perspective on the topics discussed and actually opened my eyes to ways of thinking that I wouldn’t have previously been aware of.

The conference featured a big focus on the most recent cutting-edge algorithms and techniques in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, Statistics, and Mathematics. The great thing about attending a conference like this, is that you get to get to experience the unveiling of all these brand new concepts for the first time before anyone else.

Now you may be thinking “Dylan, how can these algorithms be interesting and relevant to a normal non-maths geek like myself?” Good question! These algorithms are crucial to exciting innovations such as Uber’s self-driving car and Amazon’s impending drone delivery army. Maybe it just appeals to my scientific side but it truly is fascinating to see how these technological advancements are developed. Not all the talks were so technical, there were various discussions on the impact of technology on society, and other ethical considerations.

For me, the aspect of the conference that was the most pleasant surprise was just being able to meet industry peers and chat about what they were up to. There were workshops and tutorial opportunities outside of the keynote speeches, where I was able to delve slightly more deeply into the subject areas that interested me and network with top industry figures.

It was a great experience to immerse myself in this area of research and I’m sure it will continue to provide benefits to my future career.

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