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ICEE Fest: UPGRADE 100 - See how it went!

Fri, 19 Jul 2019

1. Introduction

On June 13 and 14, 2019, our colleague Andronic Tudor, Software Developer at ASSIST Software, attended the 8th edition of the ICEE Fest, the largest digital and tech festival in Southeast Europe. This year was a special year for the festival because it changed its name to "UPGRADE 100" with the slogan Install the best version of you. The size of the event was quite large with over 3000 participants and over 200 representatives from companies around the world. The event took place at the Grand Cinema Digiplex, Bucharest.
 
This year the festival covered 11 trends and macro-trends: Disruptive Innovation, Advertising and Marcom, Creativity and VR/AR Experiential, AI and Robotics, ECommerce and Retail, Digital Content and Ad-Tech, Fintech and Emoney, EHealth and Medtech, Tech and Democracy, Startups and Investments, Video Gaming and Entertainment.

 

2. Event Agenda

2.1 Day one

The first day of the event focused on AI, robotics, cryptocurrency, and blockchain.
 
The event started in the "UPGRADE Stage 1" room with the arrival of the E-5CU robot, called Escu, which held a conversation with the presenter. Escu is an autonomous robot that is 1.60m tall and weighs 115kg. It is scheduled to work in crowded places in order to communicate with people and provide them with various information.
 
The first presentation of this event was hosted by Constantine Kamaras, co-founder of IAB Europe, who presented the conclusions of the AdEX study on the evolution and revenue from advertising in the digital environment in Europe. Digital advertising in Europe in 2018 amounted to 55.1 billion euros, up 13.9% from the previous year. Constantine Kamaras talked about how the use of mobile advertising rapidly increased in recent years, now accounting for 50% of total advertising spending.
 
Constantine Kamaras presenting some conclusions of the AdEX study on the evolution and revenue from advertising in the digital environment in Europe
 
The next presentation was called Key trends in 2019. What to expect in 2020 and beyond, which was delivered by Jannicka Bock (Director of Client Solutions Central Europe at Google), Louise Curtis (Product Manager at The Telegraph) and Marcus Shingles (CEO of XPRIZE). This presentation highlighted the latest AI evolution, the increasing popularity of virtual assistants such as Alexa, as well as the decentralization of information using blockchain technology.
 
Louise Curtis spoke about the evolution of intelligent homes and the use of machine learning algorithms to increase home security and to improve the use of resources in a home through statistics generated by these AI algorithms. Marcus Jannicka Bock talked about the evolution of AI in the automation of repetitive tasks, giving the example of the recent evolution of autonomous cars. He also mentioned that automation is not a danger to people.
 
He presented an example of an airplane accident where the pilot had to turn the autopilot mode off and control the aircraft manually. When he announced this to the passengers, it caused them fear because they were accustomed to the aircraft being on autopilot and the pilot only intervening in emergency situations. After discussing automation and AI, Marcus Shingles began discussing blockchain technology. He spoke about the impact of information decentralization and how this change will improve the security of IoT devices.
 
The next presentation was Artificial Intelligence for Everyone: The Google Approach by Dan Oros (Head of Marketing at Google Romania). This presentation began with a brief introduction to AI. After explaining what AI means, Dan described how users use Algorithm Interactions when using Google's services. Dan explained how a developer can use different APIs from Google to use AI algorithms in their own applications and how to develop these algorithms using the tools available on the Google Cloud web platform. The presentation concluded with the areas where machine learning algorithms can be used, as well as the improvements that can be made by using AI.
 
 
The next presentation was Made in Europe - how people and machines can #harmonAlze held by Nancy Nemes (Founder of Ms. AI). Nancy spent 20 years at Microsoft and Google leading new product developments and pioneering new technologies such as devices powered by artificial intelligence. She explained how our lives have been changed by AI and how automation with AI is influencing business models.
 
 
A very interesting presentation was called How Revolut Is Setting Up a Growth Machine in Europe & Beyond, which was presented by Irina Scarlat (Country Manager Romania at Revolut). The presentation began with a brief introduction to Revolut and the way in which the company evolved.
 
 
After this introduction, the presentation covered the main goals of the company and how Revolut wants to become a global bank. Irina spoke of how Revolut has become more and more popular and the marketing methods they use to attract as many users as possible. At the end of the presentation, the company’s Country Growth Structure was presented. The speaker also discussed how the number of active users is more important than the total number of users. 
Thomas Barthuel (Head of EMEA Strategy & New Markets Business Development at Waze) gave a presentation in which he described how this application helped to reduce traffic in big cities. Also, he introduced new updates of the app, which changed how ads are displayed on the app in order to inform users of local services.
 
A long-awaited presentation was called Facebook plans June 18th cryptocurrency debut. Here’s what you need to know, which was presented by Aviv Lichtigstein (CEO & Founder at 101 Blockchains). This presentation started with an introduction to the world of blockchain and the evolution of this technology.
 
 
After this introduction, Aviv talked about the currency that Facebook is about to launch, namely Libra Coin. This currency will be integrated into Facebook’s services so that users can trade it and use it to buy certain Facebook services.
 
 
At the end of the presentation, the presenter discussed Centralized vs Decentralized Internet. The Decentralized Internet offers a certain degree of privacy for users. The fact that information passes through a variety of points makes it impossible for entities to keep track of what people are doing online.
 
Another advantage of the Decentralized Internet is that the new architecture is not limited in terms of its scalability and it allows the workload to be distributed over multiple computer nodes, instead of concentrating it in one place.  
 

 

2.2 Day two

The second day of the event focused on the evolution of technology, virtual reality and augmented reality.
 
The first presentation was a discussion and Q&A with Salim Ismail (the Co-Founder of Singularity University) and Andreea Esca (Journalist) on Predictions on how the world is being redesigned by technology. Salim Ismail discussed how much computer power has grown over the past 110 years, and the evolution of technology in general. He also talked about innovation, saying that innovation often comes from small businesses or start-ups and not from big companies.
 
The presentation entitled Good vs. Malicious AI: Deep-Fakes, Shallow-Fakes and AI to help catch them given by Or Levi (Senior Data Scientist at AdVerif.ai) highlighted the issue of false news and how to create false news using AI.
He started the presentation by showing two videos and asking the audience which of the two was false. The audience could not identify which one was fake because they did not know what to look for. However, experts would be able to identify the fake video by considering voice tones and facial expressions. 
 
Or Levi gave an introduction on how such videos are produced. He explained that you just need to create a 15-second video in which the target says a few sentences. After that, a 3D model is generated and the movements of another person are mapped onto that model. AI can be used to identify fake images and videos so that they can be removed from websites and mobile applications.
 
 
The last few presentations of this event fit into the following theme: The spectacular World of VR/AR and experiential marketing. In these presentations, the evolution of VR and AR was discussed, as well as the differences between the two technologies. The presentations focused on how the two technologies have influenced different sectors.
 

 

3. Conclusion

When asked about the event, our colleague Andronic Tudor said, “For me, this was the biggest event of its kind that I have ever attended. Throughout the two-day event, I learned a lot about the latest technologies and I had the opportunity to meet new people. I can say that this event has had a strong impact on me and I came back home determined to learn new things about the topics that were discussed in the presentations I attended.”

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