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Collision Conference

by Dave Seidman, B-Reel Dev
May 24, 2017

Collision spun off from Web Summit a couple years ago.

Talks center mostly around AI, Robotics, Mobility as a Service, Wearables, Jobs of the future and the push for more women in tech - in fact the conference offered free admission for Women working in tech! There was also a big start-up element with hundreds of teeny tiny LLC's showing off their wares and ideas. One of the stages was basically an open mic for start-ups to pitch, be judged, and receive funding in real time in front of an audience. Somebody should make a tv show like that, right? 

In all we found the conference to be pretty rad (and totally worth the trip!), so we are sharing our top picks here:

- The design behind Cozmo, an adorable Toy robot whose developers went to Pixar-like lengths to give it a personality/soul. I’ve seen plenty of AI demos where they work really hard on the personality, but for a chat bot and on the other size, robots that are really impressive physically but have little personality. This was the first that really did both halves of the equation really well and the result was pretty amazing.

- A discussion on the future of humanity by Wolfram Alpha's Stephen Wolfram and Irwin Gotlieb that floated some pretty heavy ideas and sparked good debate.

Out of all the talks I’ve seen on AI, these guys did the best job of summarizing Generalized AI as the integration of thousands of individual expert vertical systems, ie. you have a bot that ‘s great at diagnosing car problems, another that helps with legal issues where repetitive judgements can be trained. If you integrate lots of these together you start to get something that resembles intelligence.

- A Quantum Computing Primer by Arnold Schwarzenegger (or at least a decent look-alike). Twenty minutes really wasn't enough to cover everything but suffice to say Google has purchased one of these massive machines and has began running code on it which is exciting.

- Closing talks from Reddit's cofounder, Alexis Ohanian about how they started from the bottom now they here, how reddit helped get a new the hijab emoji accepted into the next release of emoticons, and a few other cute little stories about Reddit's road to where they are now. The talk was extremely funny, and engaging and brought up lots of great millennial nostalgia-inducing visuals like the facebook homepage from 2004 and the twitter’s original logo:


- Plentiful swag, amazing music, powerful cocktails, incredible thunderstorms, and of course, the elusive blue-crab beignets.

It was a high-energy conference that will probably continue to gain momentum. They've found a good venue so I'd expect them to become more mainstream over the years, grow in numbers, so tech and n'ooooorleans I'd highly recommend!

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