London Tech Week - Worth the visit?
Earlier this month, Jumar participated in London Tech Week through our industry association techUK, which is a collective voice for the tech sector in the UK. During the event, techUK was represented by an impressive exhibition stand featuring several innovative UK companies, of which Jumar was one. The scale and popularity of this event was impressive. On Monday, as people queued to get into the QEII conference hall in Westminster, the organisers were surely starting to wish they’d chosen a bigger venue!
Talking to the exhibitors around the conference, it was clear that there were many international visitors and the conference had probably come at the right time, given the amount of interest in recent breakthroughs in AI tools and the societal changes provoked by the covid pandemic.
These changes have led to shifts in consumer and employee behaviour that demand new approaches from business as well as new ways to manage and visualise data. It was no surprise to see many of the startups at the conference showcasing tools based on systems like ChatGPT and Bard. I was particularly interested in understanding how these companies were pitching their services and hearing their perspective on the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming years as well as seeing those companies longer in the tooth such as IBM, promoting Watson and their new watsonx platform.
Later in the week I visited the AI Summit at Tobacco Dock, which had a particular focus on AI and how it will be used in future. Regulation, safety, diversity, and ethics were all high on the agenda, which is good to see – we may be on the nursery slopes when it comes to giving machines more agency in decision-making, but we can all see the direction of travel. People I spoke to at that event were certainly wary of investing too much time and effort in this technology without a clear understanding of how regulation might come into play in the future. Most were looking to the European Union, which in that week had passed the EU AI Act, to lead on this and provide some guidance to the industry, although the UK PM Rishi Sunak used an appearance at London Tech week to pitch the UK as a global centre for AI and associated regulation, an initiative that we will all be watching closely.
All in all, this was a valuable experience and highlighted how important the UK technology sector is, adding around £150bn to the UK economy, employing 1.7 million people and providing tools and services to a global audience. It was an opportunity to meet potential partners and do some enjoyable networking, and through techUK we got to expose our brand and our services to an extremely diverse audience. It’s already in the diary for next year!