Artificial intelligence is a headline issue these days: while some are cautioning against its unchecked use, others have already been using it for intelligent invitations, personalized event happenings or matchmaking.
rtificial intelligence (AI) could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization – or the worst", said Stephen Hawking in his welcome address at the 2017 Web Summit on November 6 in Lisbon.
The philosopher-physicist pointed out that we are unable to predict what will happen if we merge human intellect with AI, and he warned against developments leading to disruption of entire economies, the control over autonomous weapons or even providing an effective means of oppression. Nevertheless, Hawking also sees positive potential. He urged creators of AI to "employ best practice and effective management" to make sure AI is used to the benefit of all.
Frank Thelen, familiar to the German public as investor in the TV start-up format "Die Höhle der Löwen" [lion's den] is among those who see advantages above all for the event industry. "The keyword here is personalization. Participants will place much more emphasis on their needs and wishes and will presort available options with the help of intelligent services, also on the event-staging market", said Thelen. "Those unable to exactly meet participant requirements will be at a disadvantage and will subsequently lose participants and market shares." Artificial intelligence could be an efficient tool to better analyze user data in order to customize providers' product range with the help of intelligent algorithms. "To be able to do this, event organizers need to know exactly what their participants want, and that can be accomplished only with valid data."
Thelen has invested into the event-management-platform "Doo" based on AI.
"Doo enables businesses and tradeshows to precisely manage and understand their participants", he explained. Self-learning event-CRM brings together participant data and then interprets and segregates it with the help of machine-learning and artificial intelligence. "This approach automates the entire attendee journey, so that organizers not only get smarter, they become more efficient as well." For example by way of intelligent invitations, personalized event experiences or guided participant commitment. Other services and features may also be included, e.g. facial recognition at admission gates, the use of chatbots or intelligent matchmaking in networking.
Afraid to touch? Artificial intelligence on display at the Techcrunch Disrupt 2017. PHOTO: TECHCRUNCH
Michael Liebmann is founder and CEO of Doo. He earned a doctor's degree in the domain of artificial intelligence and machine-learning and is in charge of the platform's development and engineering of intelligent, self-learning algorithms. "The term artificial intelligence needs to be explained a bit", he said, referring to IBM's AI-experiment Watson. A few years ago, this machine beat the two best human champions on the television quiz show Jeopardy with a clear margin. Watson's real strength was not really an artificial intelligence, it was much more that it is able to access millions of websites in a few milliseconds.
This acquired skill is defined as machine-learning. "Only if and when machines will be capable of acting reliably and authoritatively to unanticipated situations they have not been educated for and in doing so reflect human nature will we be able to speak of artificial intelligence", Liebmann explained. "In the majority of cases we refer to scoring or machine-learning-algorithms making individual processes more intelligent." In his opinion, intelligent algorithms have long infiltrated the event market, but the potential hasn't been utilized anywhere near its genuine capacities. Investor Frank Thelen corroborates that opinion. He and the other members of the "Freigeist" investor network support Doo because the "founders are active on a very exciting market still providing ample space and options for innovations. In comparison with online marketing, event marketing still has a lot of catching up to do."
German police are testing computerized facial recognition at Berlin railway station. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Jean Noel Lau Keng Lun, Senior Director Product Marketing of the Expedia subsidiary Egencia specialized on corporate travel, is convinced that "messaging, bots and voice search, all driven by artificial intelligence, will fundamentally change search and booking routines." Business travelers anticipate quite a lot from these new technologies. Lau Keng Lun emphasized that 41% of these are convinced that AI will improve their booking processes. "This is where AI really shows its potential: it can analyze and process enormous data volumes and detects patterns to customize and design search results to meet personal requirements and wishes. For 2018, we see a need to further develop such technologies. We're still only scratching the surface of what AI is really capable of doing."
What artificial intelligence und chatbots can already do and which options are just about ready to be launched to the market was displayed at several sessions conducted at the VDR (German Business Travel Association) & GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) Conference staged at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center from November 28 to 30, 2017. Yvonne Moya, associate to bot provider Festive Road, is convinced that "Robots are the next level of automation". And Karen Hutchings, Global Travel, Meetings & Events Leader with Ernst & Young, believes robotics is mainstream. Meeting specialist Jessie States, manager of Professional Development with Meeting Professionals International (MPI), envisions a future with digital personal assistants plugged in your ear to translate from any language in real-time anything your dialogue partner says. In interaction with digital lenses, users may identify and address all approaching convention visitors. "Just imagine what that implies for the efficiency of conventions and meetings", she said. What all lecturers at the conference had in common was that they sought to dispel any concerns their listeners might have. "It's all about assigning standardized, repetitive tasks to machines", said Karen Hutchings of Ernst & Young. At least for the time being, nobody is talking about radically changing entire economies. CHRISTIAN FUNK