Recap of the 2017 Big Data Innovation Summit

I was a speaker at the Big Data Innovation Summit, held January 25 – 26, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was part of three co-located conferences: Big Data, Business Analytics, Supply Chain. I estimate there were a total of about 500 people at the event.

I’ve spoken at this event before. Not to be boastful, but I get more invitations to speak than I can accommodate. One of the reasons I like this event and accepted the invitation to speak is that attendees are a balanced mixture of industry, government, and academia. I learn a ton about what’s going on outside of my work silo.

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My talk was titled “Understanding Deep Neural Networks”. I explained exactly what DNNs are, described DNNs success in speech and image recognition and the associated rebirth of artificial intelligence, listed some limitations of DNNs, and pointed out some future directions for DNNs. My talk seemed to be very well received, at least based on feedback from the attendees and event organizers.

jamesspeakingat2017bigdataconference

I was also a part of a panel discussion where the topic was creating a Data Science and Machine Learning group within an organization. Before the discussion I was worried that the topic might not draw many people, but I was wrong – there were a lot of people there. The moral is that companies everywhere are creating Data Science teams, but the demand for experts in the field far, far exceeds the supply.

The panel members included me (Research at Microsoft, USC), Dr. Eric Daimler (Innovation Fellow at the U.S. Executive Branch White House, Carnegie Mellon), and Dr. Eric Daly (VP Sony Entertainment, UCLA). The audience asked all kinds of interesting questions that we did our best to answer. Here’s a picture of me and Eric:

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All in all, this was a very good conference. The main event organizer, Jake Hissitt, did a great job of getting good speakers and good topics. I learned a lot of things that will be useful for my company, I made some valuable personal connections, and I returned to work with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

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