AI to the future

Supplier and ContractorsSimon ClaytonReftechchief ideas officer at RefTechsays AI may be the futurebut not for exhibitions.+-
code-stock-new-resized.jpg

Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech, says AI may be the future, but not for networking.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the stuff of sci-fi books for decades and is now finally making some interesting leaps in the consumer world. One opinion is that of Seth Shostak, director of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, who said: “within 20 years, you will have one computer that’s smarter than all humans put together."

 

AI is used to solve complex problems where there is no set pattern (analysing handwriting for example) so the computer has to ‘learn’ how to recognise a trait and respond accordingly.

 

The term ‘AI’ is often misused though (just like the term Big Data – but that’s another column). Proper AI is when a computer is constantly fed data enabling it to process the outcome of an action, and then apply that outcome to future actions - thus it ‘learns’ from each action it processes and adapts each time. You have to keep feeding it data so that it can continually learn and ‘evolve’ each time.

 

If a programme creates variable outcomes based on variable answers - for example ‘if X equals 3 then do this’, but ‘if X equals 4 then do this’, this is not AI, it is just standard programing. And there is a massive difference. Amazon does this well: when you buy something, it will helpfully suggest other things you may like to buy to complement your purchase such as a hardware product and the batteries it needs, or linking one film to another in the same genre.

 

AI has now reared its head in the events industry. According to the press, the world’s first AI event networking solution has been launched, which uses AI to match a visitor to another visitor or an exhibitor at an exhibition so they can network.

 

For AI to work in this situation, the programme would have to be fed a constant stream of data – not just a one off hit from a registration form. Visitors would have to collaborate and keep updating the app with feedback, saying whether or not they found the suggested meeting helpful. Events are ephemeral and most change from year to year (certainly around 30 percent of exhibitors change each year) so learnings from one year couldn’t be applied to the next. The process doesn’t take in to account contextual data or personal preferences or experiences either.

 

I’m now going to sound like a Luddite, but even if this could happen, isn’t this a step backwards? When hosted buyer events first became popular, exhibition organisers would match hosted buyers to their exhibitors and tell them which companies they should go and see – all based on their understanding of the visitors needs from forms they had filled in.

 

Being told who to go and see didn’t really go down that well with visitors and some very senior people in the industry complained (rather publically) about this antiquated practice. They stated, quite rightly, that they were grown up enough to decide themselves who they really wanted to spend their time with. Some industry people even said that they would prefer to fund their own trips rather than be forced to see companies they had no interest in. The matching system just didn’t work.

 

IMEX is the largest events industry exhibition in the world. The hosted buyer diary system that we created for them over ten years ago, and is the backbone of their two annual events, allows buyers to review exhibiting companies and then to choose who they want to spend their time with. IMEX trusts buyers to be in charge of their appointments, to know their event objectives and then let them decide who can help them.

 

IMEX buyers use the website’s search engine to search for exhibitors under a category (conference venues for example) and then manually go through that list, looking at their images, reading their information and then deciding who to meet.

 

Using AI to take this decision out of an educated person’s hand is ludicrous and a great example of using tech for tech’s sake. Or using a sledge hammer to crack a million nuts – most of which you don’t need.

 

I’m pretty sure it’s not real AI and they are just using exaggerated tech speak, but I would be happy to find out more and be proved wrong. If the developers are reading this, then please get in touch because I’d love to see a demo of your AI. Either way, it is going on my ‘ones to watch’ list. In a year’s time I will review it to see if it has actually made any impact on the industry and the way we network at events.

 

I’m not feeling very positive.

Simon Clayton
Posted by Simon Clayton
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Making Pharmaceuticals to move to Ricoh Arena

Pharmaceutical exhibition and conference Making Pharmaceuticals is moving to the Ricoh Arena this month, and is set to be the largest event of its kind to date.

ESSA to hold Brexit webinar

The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has announced it will be holding a webinar on Brexit, presented by Bank of England economist Dominic Swords, on 21 April.

Movers & Shakers 12/04/17

People moves at Manchester Central, UBM and Eventopedia and more.

Others on EN

I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Happy to help

Happy to help

Customer service can make or break a show, warns Media 10 event director Nathan Garnett.
Smoke and mirrors

Smoke and mirrors

James Moffat, head of event websites at LiveBuzz, shines a light on the smoke and mirrors surrounding SEO for websites.

CONFEX 2017 LIVE

Most Read Stories

I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.
Steve Monnington: The Dealmaker in March

Steve Monnington: The Dealmaker in March

Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies, runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.

Latest News

StocExpo Europe celebrates successful 2017 edition  

StocExpo Europe celebrates successful 2017 edition  

StocExpo Europe, the international event for the tank terminal industry, is celebrating an eight per cent rise in visitors following its 2017 Rotterdam edition.
Making Pharmaceuticals to move to Ricoh Arena

Making Pharmaceuticals to move to Ricoh Arena

Pharmaceutical exhibition and conference Making Pharmaceuticals is moving to the Ricoh Arena this month, and is set to be the largest event of its kind to date.
Somerset House opens up its largest event space  

Somerset House opens up its largest event space  

Somerset House has announced it will be throwing the doors open to its largest and most exclusive indoor space this autumn, previously used for exhibitions such as Valentino: Master of Couture and Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

Latest Features

My Working Life by David Chalmers

My Working Life by David Chalmers

The senior marketing director, Europe, at Cvent discusses how he got into the industry, his inspirational children and why he’s called The Doctor.
Feeding the five thousand

Feeding the five thousand

Exhibition catering and bars have undergone a transformation in recent years, and it’s not over yet.
A giant awakens

A giant awakens

From flying foxes to show launches, Ed Tranter tells the story of the unconventional world of MA Exhibitions.

Latest Galleries

EN Awards 2017

EN Awards 2017

The best of the exhibition industry were out in force on 30 March at ExCeL London for the 11th annual EN Awards.
Natural & Organic Products Europe 2017

Natural & Organic Products Europe 2017

The 2017 Natural & Organic Products Europe celebrated its 21st edition earlier this month (2-3 April) as well as attracting its biggest attendance yet to ExCeL London.
EN Awards 2017 Winners

EN Awards 2017 Winners

The EN Awards are over for another year. While achievements were recognised and awards were won, we managed to catch a glimpse of the moments the winners won their awards on the night of 30 March at ExCeL London. Let’s all have a look.