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Data Scientist, Elvia

Tell us about your first encounter with artificial intelligence (AI)?
Definitely the year 2015: I discovered the Andrew Ng Coursera online course and in parallel, I got a tip from a colleague about this crazy architecture that manage to segment medical images better than anything else (the U-Net paper).

What is your competence within the field of AI?
I would believe that my competence lies in the capability to translate an industrial use case into a data-centric problem and then, if necessary, further translate it into an ML/AI solution. Assessing the feasibility of use cases needs a combination of high-level understanding of the methods and an almost irritating necessity to understand all the details of the underlying data.

Why did you develop an interest in AI?
I would believe that brain and math lead me to be interested in AI. I have been working with neuroimaging and reading Koch, Tononi, Dehaene about theory of consciousness for a long time. In parallel, I have to admit that I find the mathematical foundations of neural nets beautiful.

Can you recommend a relevant book or film about AI?
Not one but two. “The Deep Learning Revolution” of Terrence Sejnowski, and “La Plus Belle Histoire de l'intelligence”, a fantastic discussion between Yann LeCun and Stanislas Dehaene about the brain, AI and so much more.

Why should we, or should we not, be afraid of AI?

I see two sides to this question. Ethics perspective in AI is a must-have for our technological dependent society, so an AI without the right level of policies and ethics is somehow on a dangerous slope, and therefore a potential scary AI. We must be conscious and critical about how the narrow AI is (mis)used .

On the other hand, narrow AI is not AGI (artificial general intelligence), the type of AI I think people like to refer to as scary. Narrow AI is not continuous to AGI. To cite the recent paper of Melanie Mitchell where she describes the “first-step fallacy” : "It was like claiming that the first monkey that climbed a tree was making progress towards landing on the moon"

Which field, in your opinion, has the most to benefit from AI – and why?
Agriculture. Just everything can be automatized and optimized, and is not today. Will lead to less or no pesticides used, optimized cultures depending on the soil and weather you have.

Why should participants tune in on your presentation during AI+?

If you are interested in seeing how a traditional utility company like Elvia is being challenged and how ML&AI could help to solve some of these challenges, tune in to the talk ! Talk certified free of any cat&dog !

Christopher Coello is a speaker at the AI+ virtual conference 2021.