World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival reviewed

Guest review by our roving reporter who attended the Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival. Kirstie Affleck is based in West Cork, Ireland. A sheep farmer and BSc Biological and Medical Chemistry.

There was a great buzz at the opening of the World AI Cannes Festival as global experts from industry and academia swarmed to the city for the event. The second edition of the festival kicked off with a panel discussion on how AI can be used for good. Hosted by Lisa Thee, CEO and Co-founder of Minor Guard, an AI software company focused on cyber safety of children, and panellists Fred Werner, creator of the AI for Good Global Summit, and others, discussed how AI is used as a tool in healthcare, creativity, lowering energy consumption, and mobility. Bryn Balcombe, Oxbotica talked about how it can be used to improve traffic mobility by making it more sustainable, accessible and safe. 

World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival reviewed

Using AI as a tool and not a solution was a theme that continued throughout the conference. Luc Julia of Renault used the analogy of a hammer and how it could be used the right or wrong way, but is ultimately in the hands of the user. His talk centred around climate and how AI could be used to help solve the problem of energy usage by data centres. 

Another topic was the fear that AI would replace jobs. Yann LeCun, Meta, addressed this by saying that there would be some job displacement, for example how cameras have replaced portrait painters, but that we will adjust. In his opinion there will still be artists and composers only they will be working with different mediums. His presentation discussed the benefits and limitations of AI and how it has accelerated the progression of science, and how it may solve the issue of climate change. 

One of the benefits remarked on was that Meta has been able to increase the removal of hate speech from Facebook (95%). Also, the ability to be creative by someone who doesn’t have the skills is possible with AI systems like Dall-E 2. LJ Rich of BBC Click also mentioned using AI for this purpose. Her example was that a non-musician may have a piece of music in their head that can be drawn out with AI. Yann LeCun talked about how AI is useful for equations and translations and mentioned the No Language Left Behind project.

He compared current machine learning to humans and stated that it sucks! He gave the example of how a human teen can learn to drive a car in 20 hours but that a car can’t do this. Machines can’t reason, plan, or have common sense. To get to this stage he said they need hierarchical planning capabilities and believes that human level AI is coming but has no idea when. 

Professor Stuart Russel, University of California, brought up not trusting results from text bots like Chat GPT.  Michaela Schutt, Siemans, also talked about the need to be cautious with using AI for job matching. AI doesn’t have the human element of empathy, and bias needs to be considered very strongly. AI has a ‘black box’ model and no one knows why it decides a candidate is the most suitable for a given job. She believes AI won’t replace humans, at least not on a decision making level, but will free up time. 

Regulation and data sharing were also topics up for discussion. Thomas Wolf of Hugging Face, an open source platform, talked about how Large Language Models were originally worked on in academia but now they are mostly owned by private companies. Maria A. Zuluaga, Eurecom, stated that AI is becoming very important in healthcare but that accessing data is difficult.

Luc Julia made the comment that regulation is needed because engineers are often inventing things because they can.  There was a huge focus on trustworthiness, transparency, ethics, safety, political policies, and laws to govern Al at WAICF 2023. 

On top of the varied and interesting talks and panel discussions from both industry and academia, there were also workshops, start up pitches, and a very full exhibition hall. Sophia, the humanoid robot created by Hanson Robotics was a celebrity in her own right and also made an appearance at the Cannes Neurons Awards. The Awards Ceremony included runners up Unitree whose robot dogs were entertaining the public on the exhibition hall floor, and Hypertunnel , a company that uses thousands of swarm robots to bore tunnels instead of huge boring machines.

I would recommend a visit to WAICF 2024 for anyone with an interest in the field of AI as many of these very important discussions will be ongoing and evolving, and there is something for everybody.

Kirstie Affleck is a Sheep farmer, based in West Cork, Ireland. She is passionate about wool crafts including spinning and knitting, and sells handcrafted products locally. BSc Biological and Medical Chemistry, Exeter, UK.  Instagram: @capeclearsheep Twitter: @CapeClearSheep. See her website here.

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