Hello, Khabrovites! My name is Julia, I am an online master student AI Talent Hub is a joint project of ITMO University and Napoleon IT. This year I attended a cool international conference for the first time OpenTalks AI and I want to share my experience.
About the conference
OpenTalks.AI is the leading independent open conference on artificial intelligence. The previous five years the conference was held in Russia, but in 2023 the organizers chose the wonderful city of Yerevan as the venue for the event, combining it with a social mission – to become a gathering point for the Russian-speaking community on artificial intelligence.
From the pleasant – the dates of the conference were floating, and this year they fell on March 6-7. Therefore, by a lucky chance, I stayed for a day in Yerevan and celebrated March 8 in Armenia.
The conference officially started on March 6th. However, listeners and speakers were advised to arrive a day earlier in order to calmly settle in, sleep, and go to a welcome meeting in the evening. Remote work and the online format made it possible to appreciate face-to-face events more. So, in Yerevan, I met my colleagues, met new people from the industry and even discussed couples with classmates.
There are three ways to join the conference:
Connect to the online broadcast and be a free listener,
Buy a participant’s entrance ticket and come in person,
Make a presentation as a speaker and participate for free.
Maybe in a couple of years I will come to the conference with a report, but this time I was a simple participant with an entrance ticket. For students, the price is purely symbolic, 2,000 rubles – you just need to confirm the status by sending a student photo. For the rest, the price started from 5,000 rubles and grew over time to 19,000 rubles.
The conference was held at the American University of Armenia. It is within walking distance from the city center, about 15-20 minutes, and by taxi about 7 minutes. I decided for myself that it is better to take accommodation away from the center, but closer to the conference venue, so that you can sleep longer and not waste time on the road in the morning . I lived 400 meters from the university, very convenient.
It is worth noting that the metro in Yerevan is well developed (by the standards of Russian regions), and if desired, it was possible to get to the venue by it. But the city is small and the weather is great, many preferred to walk.
Volunteers met us at the entrance to the university, so there was no chance to go in the wrong place. We were immediately handed out paper programs of the conference. And since I broke my phone on the first day in Yerevan at registration, I was happy with the paper schedule.
The conference did not have many partners. There were only three generals:
The third opinion is a developer of services for medical institutions based on artificial intelligence technologies. Actually, thanks to this sponsor, there was a separate track on medicine. A rather specific area, but I just work a lot with medical images, so I was interested.
Yandex is a transnational company in the information technology industry. I don’t think he needs much introduction.
Kaspersky Lab is an international company specializing in the development of protection systems against computer viruses, spam, hacker attacks and other cyber threats.
After registration on March 5, there was a welcome meeting with Armenian wine from the organizers. The next day there was a Computer Vision and Reinforcement Learning track – general performances for all participants, and then parallel sessions of 2-3 streams.
On March 7th there were NLP and Hardware tracks. The program is similar to the previous day: general presentations and parallel sessions. And in honor of the closing of the conference there was a party with cover bands.
On March 8, excursions were held for those who wished for an additional fee. It was possible to go on a sightseeing tour in the morning for a couple of hours, go in the afternoon to the Noi and Ararat factories with a tasting (6000 rubles) or both there and there.
I work mainly in computer image processing and began to dive into generative and diffusion models, so I chose reports based on my preferences.
What we liked:
A large number of review articles for 2022 with a focus on individuality and the pros and cons of each approach. It is useful and broadens one’s horizons.
Master class on the basics of diffusion models. Rarely where are fundamental definitions of such complex things. I went to MK with pleasure, it was useful!
Good organization, excellent presentations by online speakers, there were subtitles in Russian or English, depending on the language of the speech.
OpenTalks speakers include well-known industry representatives, CEOs of large companies, successful entrepreneurs, marketing and sales experts, and technical specialists. Speaking of brands, the speakers were from Google, Yandex, Kaspersky Lab, Skoltech, Sber, AIRIDeepPavlov and other companies.
The medical section charged me! Coincidentally, the topic of one of the reports was very similar to my project from the university. I was interested in the approach of the speakers to solving the problem, and after the presentation, I contacted the team to share my knowledge. We even implemented a part by the current point in time – we will soon tell you what happened.
In addition, OpenTalks provides an opportunity for networking and sharing experiences with other conference participants. This can be useful for developing your network of contacts and finding new business opportunities.
Well, in conclusion, I will note this important aspect 🙂 I think that good food in sufficient quantities is the key to the success of any event. There were no problems with this, coffee breaks every 1.5 hours, a delicious lunch. Although they wrote that there would be a lunch box, I expected much less. It was possible to take soup, salad, hot food to choose from 2-3 positions for lunch, and, despite the fact that it was in iron containers, it was really hot. And also Armenian lavash and compote according to a local recipe.
Also in the public domain there was always bottled water with and without gas, fresh fruits and berries were pleased in large quantities.
In general, it was tasty and satisfying. Kudos to the food organizers!
So, OpenTalks is a great opportunity to gain new knowledge, find inspiration, develop networking with colleagues from different industries. Conference speakers share their insights and experience to help participants become successful and effective in their work.
I thank the organizers of the conference and the online magistracy AI Talent Hub for the opportunity to visit OpenTalks.