ScotML 29.8.19 — Re-Cap
Last night (29.8.19) we had another super successful ScotML (how about that for some alliteration!), hosted by the lovely folk at Merkle Aquila in their swanky office in Edinburgh.
As always with ScotML, it was filled with high calibre talks but in a relaxed, informal and most importantly, welcoming environment.
If you couldn’t make it along, here is a quick re-cap of our speakers and what they covered, with one theme coming up again and again — adding value.
First up we had Steve Sinclair, Lead Data Scientist at Merkle Aquila. Steve gave a brief intro to Merkle, highlighted some of the awesome customers they have and went through a couple of case studies where they’ve added value by implementing data solutions for their clients. The first couple focused on oil & gas as Steve was feeling nostalgic on his days offshore, doing complex data work using nothing but a ropey modem and a laptop! With the last one focusing on work they did with a well-known airline to provide customer recommendations — easy right? As it turns out, doing it in super quick time proved a challenge.
All the way through Steve’s talk he mentioned that the solutions they implement could be more complex, fancier, use new & fancy tech/tools. However, at the heart of everything Merkle do is to fix a customer’s problem and make sure their solution works and can be used easily.
Next up we had Alastair Andrew, Co-Founder of Edinburgh start-up Airts who gave us a re-cap of how Airts came to be, what they do and why they exist. After noticing some pretty real issues when it came to scheduling in large consultancies, the Airts team decided to try solve that problem. A key take away here is that they didn’t develop a solution and try find a problem it could fix. They found a problem and developed a solution — novel right?!
In a very similar tone to Steve, Alastair mentioned on more than occasion that they are all about adding real business value to their customers and the whole reason they do what they do is to male people’s lives easier.
Following Alastair we had a short refreshment break, where I think we might have broken the record for eating 25 large pizzas …
Fed, watered and generally refreshed — we kicked back off with Amos Storkey, Chair of Machine Learning & AI at the School of Informatics and one of his Post Docs, Elliot Crowley. Amos & Elliot had a great mix of theory, technical and general musings on all things deep learning and neural networks. It was fascinating to get an insight into some of the work being done by the world-renowned School of Informatics! Amos spoke in depth about the differences of applying certain techniques on your nice, clean training data and real-world problems — which tied in nicely with the previous talks of adding real business value, which sometimes means not using the fanciest technique.
Last, but by no means least we had Katie Gibbs, Head of AI at BJSS — a leading tech consultancy working across the UK. This talk had a different feel to it, in that it wasn’t focused on technical approaches or tools. Instead, Katie came in with her business hat on, having spent her entire career working in large consultancies, delivering technical projects.
The main focus of Katie’s talk was around flipping the “Daily Mail” perception of AI being the end of the world as we know it, and instead shouting about how positive it could be, but more importantly, how critical the role of humans will be in the success of AI.
And that was that. A night jam packed with top class speakers, great content and lots of conversations sparked from each speaker — all we needed was a few more pizzas and it might have been a perfect night?!
A couple of big shout outs, namely to our speakers — Alastair, Steve, Katie and Amos, but also to our fantastic hosts, Merkle Aquila who were an unbelievable help and provided us with one of the best venues in Edinburgh for an event. Lastly to Cathcart Associates for sponsoring and indeed organising the event — and to our wonderful MC for the evening, Hamish Niven who is one of the Senior Consultants within the business, helping companies and data professionals come together.
We’ll see you in December for our next event — if you want to speak, sponsor or host, get in touch with either Liam or Hamish at Cathcart Associates.
Oh and follow us on Twitter — @Scot_ML