Why Everyone is Talking About Artificial Intelligence

When 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968, viewers around the world were incredibly fascinated by the potential of HAL, the on-board computer of the Discovery 1. Designed to be infallible, HAL commits its first mistake during the space mission, becoming suddenly unreliable. And it’s just when he discovers that the astronauts on board plan to disarm it that the Artificial Intelligence device begins to plan to eliminate the entire crew.

If Kubrik’s masterpiece was projected today, if 2001: A Space Odyssey suddenly became 2031: A Space Odyssey, the public’s reaction would be totally different.

Artificial Intelligence has become reality and has been recently the center of an intense debate involving important decision makers, scientists, philosophers, and innovators around themes such as ethics, progress, and (in the last instance) safeguard of the human race.

The debate about the consequences of this technology reignited last month when Facebook suddenly stopped an Artificial Intelligence experiment after discovering the robots had independently developed a brand-new language, unintelligible to humans. Researchers from the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR) had noticed that the machines were communicating in a totally unexpected way: an episode that emphasizes both the potentials and the most disturbing aspects of AI.

In spite of the incident, Zuckerberg is optimistic about AI, and in particular about the progress in basic research which, according to the CEO of Facebook, can improve systems in many different fields – from the diagnosis of illnesses to the use driverless-cars, from the improvement of virtual assistants to the optimization of search engines.

Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla, is not of the same opinion, and recently defined Artificial Intelligence as being more dangerous than North Korea. Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak have both repeatedly stressed how using this technology can lead to tragic and unexpected consequences.

In 2014, Stephen Hawking had already alerted the world and the scientific community on how AI could mean the end of mankind. Unlike man, which is limited by slow biological evolution, robots are able to reprogram and learn new languages at higher speeds, leading to the inevitable supremacy of machines, the scientist argued.

Google has also intervened several times in the public debate and has recently released a video highlighting the danger of using Artificial Intelligence in decision-making processes. According to the tech giant, computers find solutions by identifying patterns in large amounts of data, driving to think there is no bias in this operation. However, just because something is based on data doesn’t automatically make it neutral (read this article to learn more on the three categories of bias identified by Google).

The centrality of topics connected to Artificial Intelligence on the world agenda reflects the growing investments and commercial operations. In 2014, Google absorbed the startup DeepMind for a reported $400 million, one of the most significant acquisitions in the history of this industry. Spotify has also recently assimilated several companies with the goal of using technology to improve its content recommendations and advertisement targeting. Microsoft Ventures itself has launched a new investment fund for AI startups.

Artificial Intelligence has therefore become a central theme in any tech conference, festival or workshop. On November 9th and 10th, the most influential actors of emerging technologies will gather in Milan in a ‘two days’ of near future scenarios and practical demonstrations, sharing insights and solutions for the business of various industries, including retail, manufacturing, automotive, entertainment and media.

So the discussion around AI continues, and it will just become more intense.

What will make a difference is the ability (technical but especially strategic) of small startups (which are however likely to be acquired by tech giants) and large companies to control this technology and to quickly identify evolutions and applications that their competitors haven’t imagined yet.

General Assembly Will Help Startup Weekend DC "Flip the Ratio"

Last year, Startup Weekend DC organized its first ever Flip the Ratio event. Our goal was to proactively increase the female-to-male ratio in a tech industry where event attendees (and employees) are overwhelmingly male.

Most tech events have a male-female attendee ratio of 70-30. So, our goal for Flip the Ratio was to have a female-male attendee ratio of 70-30. We didn’t achieve it — instead, we hit a 90-10 female-male ratio.

This confirmed our belief that diversity in tech is not an academic abstract — it is a real need with proven demand.

Flip the Ratio 2014 saw great success in terms of attendance and team solutions. It was also a great learning experience for SW DC. We realized that we can — and should — provide ongoing education for attendees.

Startup Weekend is the best way for those interested in tech roles to learn more about the industry. It’s an awesome training ground for everyone who attends. But it is also only the beginning. Startup Weekend’s real success shows when ideas become businesses and attendees keep learning.

That’s why Flip the Ratio 2015 is offering all attendees discounts to study at the world’s most innovative education startup.

General Assembly’s DC campus has joined SW DC as an official sponsor. They want all Flip the Ratio attendees to keep building their skill sets once the judges’ final ballots have been entered.

So, they are offering the following prizes:

  • All attendees will receive 10% off GA DC’s one-time workshops. Attendees can use this discount towards any workshop of their choice. This discount is valid for an entire calendar year;
  • All members of the winning team will receive $200 off GA DC’s part-time courses. This discount is valid for 3 months following Flip the Ratio.

Not sure which courses suit your interests? Attend GA DC’s Back to School Night on Friday, October 2. This free event will help you decide which courses will expand on Flip the Ratio.

GA DC is also hosting its Women in Tech breakfast this Thursday, September 17, from 9:15 – 11:15 am. SW DC’s own Lilibeth Gangas — an Open Innovation/Crowdsourcing Strategist at Booz Allen Hamilton — will speak on the panel and network with attendees.

We hope you’ll join us at GA DC this fall, and at Flip the Ratio from September 25-27. Register here to buy tickets!


Young bloods win big at #SWDub

54 hours later and it’s all over.

We’ve had ideas pitched, teams formed, brain dumped, customers developed, validations made, leads generated, sales made, revenue raised, mentorship recieved, and food consumed.



No doubt the judges had their jobs cut out for them but after all said and done here are the winners at Startup Weekend Dublin – July 2015 edition.

There was special mention to team FitMyBits for their solution to helping women get the right fit for bras. There were the only team to have made sales over the weekend to the tune of Euro 125.00 from 5 customers.




In 3rd place – Comrade, an app to help find friends in a new city




Runner up, PhotoCAD – a simple app helps you convert images taken with your smartphone camera into CAD files




And the winners of the July 2015 edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is….Book-E, a digital platform that enables users to bet on e-sports.



Perhaps more impressive is that the team was made up of really young members – 16 & 17 year old with the pitch presented by the former. The team won a trip to Berlin for a large hackathon courtesy of @WelcomeStartup – DCU Ryan Academy.


Congratulations to all the teams and it was really a close one and many thanks to all who made this happen – volunteers, organizer, mentors, judges, sponsors, facilitator, host, and guests.

Till next time.

Signing Out.

#SWDub takes a full swing with these 12 ideas

The votes are in and the top 12 ideas selected to be worked on over the weekend. In no particular order here the ideas to be turned into startups.

1. The Alpha Project – An ethnic minority youth empowerment initiative

2. FitMyBits.com – Online retail to help you get the best ‘bra’ fit

3. CliqCAD – Build Computer-aided drafting  (CAD) in seconds

4. SeeMyBuild – Go into the virtual reality world of architecture and construction

5. Comrade – Connecting people with similar outdoor interests. 

6. The Adventure Pack – Build groups to have amazing travel experiences

7. LunchBox – Pre-book your meal and pick them up. No queues.

8. FoodPlus – Discover restaurants closest to you with great deals

9. Freelancer – Connecting freelancers to clients

10. Appetizing – Book restaurants closest to you with meals you want

11. MingleConnect – Fixing the networking problem at conferences

12. Style Mix – Get customized fashion items result based on machine learning

There you have it. The teams will be going through the process of drain dump, and refining their ideas with help from mentors and coaches tomorrow, all to come up with an MVP to be pitched to the judges in the 54th hour.

Las tres T’s de la innovación: tecnologia, tolerancia y ¿huevos?

En realidad no dijo huevos, escribió sobre los “T”estículos.

El libro busca contestar una pregunta que a simple vista es sencilla pero muy compleja: ¿Será que estamos listos para enfrentar el futuro que se nos vino encima?

No estoy seguro. Lo que si se, es que si no empezamos a adaptarnos al cambio, a apoyar a los emprendedores y a generar las condiciones adecuadas para que los emprendedores puedan tirarse al agua, regionalmente nos seguiremos quedando en el olvido la innovación.

1. La Tecnología

La tecnología es la primera de las tres T´s en la innovación. Es una herramienta fundamental y básica que nos ayuda a escalar negocios, generar colaboración y apalancar recursos. La tecnología acompañada de un buen uso, nos ayuda a expandir nuestros negocios y abrir el mundo entero como mercado potencial. La penetración de smartphones, acceso a internet y redes sociales han creado nuevos mercados para los emprendedores en vender sus productos y servicios.

La tecnología manejada inteligentemente logra sumar ideas, cerebros y recursos.

Las tres T’s de la innovacion

Cuando yo trabajaba en The Influence Andrés Hernández nos ayudaba como mentor y siempre nos decía…. Producto sobre tecnología. Si entiendes como empaquetar tus servicios tecnológicos en productos que cumplan las necesidades de tus clientes, podrás incrementar tus ventas mucho más rápido y utilizar estos nuevos medios de comunicación para llegarle a las masas.

2. La Tolerancia

De alguna u otra manera, el emprender todavía es un paradigma en muchos países Latinoamericanos. Cuando crecemos, nos enseñan a estudiar, trabajar, estudiar… y seguir trabajando. Desde pequeños no inculcan la cultura de tomar riesgos en nosotros. Como latinoamericanos, somos miedosos al riesgo.

Tenemos una aversión al riesgo y somos cautelosos.

Para un emprendedor, la tolerancia es un principio que lo ayuda a recorrer el camino de empezar nuevos negocios. Es una aventura con un camino incierto, muchas veces sin rumbo, donde los resultados no son necesariamente inmediatos y donde la posibilidad de fracasar está en su contra.

3. Los Testículos… o más bien unos buenos huevos

El emprendedor es una persona que no le tiene miedo al cambio. Alguien que le gusta tomar riesgos y está acostumbrado a manejar la incertidumbre. Un emprendedor ve el fracaso como parte de la aventura de empezar un negocio. Una forma de aprender y salir adelante. Entiende que está tomando un camino difícil pero donde los límites de lo posible están limitados por su imaginación.

El emprendedor tiene testículos, como diría Andrés Oppenheimer. Testículos para enfrentar el miedo.

El miedo al fracaso aniquila la innovación.

Es una persona que está dispuesta a tirarse al agua, entendiendo que muchas veces va a tener que nadar contra la corriente. Busca soluciones a problemas que otros ven como imposible de resolver. El emprendedor es alguien valiente, una persona quien vive el presente y tiene pasión en lo que hace.

4. Tiempo

TiempoEl tiempo no lo menciona Oppenheimer en su libro pero creo que es una característica necesaria para fomentar la innovación. Es una limitación que todo ser humano tiene.

Nuestro tiempo es algo que todos los emprendedores aprendemos a manejar. A entender que toda buena idea toma tiempo. Que los resultados no son inmediatos y que para llegar al éxito necesita uno tener un compromiso y visión de mediano y largo plazo.

La tecnología, la tolerancia, las agallas y el tiempo son cuatro aspectos claves que tiene que tener un emprendedor. Son características que ayudan a fomentar la innovación.

¿Será que los emprendedores esta listos para lo que se avecina en el futuro?

Creo que el futuro no es mañana. Es hoy. Está a nuestro alrededor y en el presente. El mundo está cambiando tan rápido que si no evolucionamos seguiremos quedándonos atrás de la vanguardia de la innovación. A seguir quejándonos y dejar que otros países nos coman el manando.

Es necesario implementar las tres T´s de la innovación para generar un cambio. Tenemos que fomentar el uso de la tecnología, generar comunidades basadas en los principios de la colaboración y tolerancia, ponernos unos grandes huevos y tomarnos el tiempo para emprender.

Personalmente, creo que ya no es una pregunta de si estamos listos o no. El cambio ya esta pasando. No innovar es seguir atrás y perder esta nuevo revolución tecnológica.


¿Será que como latinoamericanos estamos listos para adoptar y explotar la tecnología a nuestro favor; a ser más tolerantes los unos con los otros; a tener paciencia con nuestro tiempo; y a ponernos unos grandes huevos para comernos al mundo en los próximos 30 años con la innovación?

Sígue a Splash Media en Facebook y Twitter, para más contenido online de emprendimiento.

Google I/O and Global Entrepreneurship

My eyes were glued to the Keynote presentation. I quickly scanned the room as Google made more announcements about their global Android expansion, most people appeared disengaged, waiting to hear more about products that would affect them immediately. Android One, a smart phone that would use less cell data with faster speeds for spotty third world networks struck an empty chord with the crowd. However, I grew excited about the possibilities this would bring to areas that lacked true access to the grid.

Mobile GrowthGoogle is truly trying to encroach their software and technology in developing countries to help inspire innovation, by providing as many assets as they can, so individuals can help themselves become entrepreneurs. Many pockets of the world have yet to reach their full potential, areas such as Indian, Indonesia, and the Philippines are experiencing intense mobile growth. Google is ready to take these regions by storm and help individuals modernize their countries with the help of their tech and software. Let’s start by examining Google’s strategy in these developing countries and how one person can become an entrepreneur with just a phone in their hand.

Over 1.2 Billion phones are expected to ship to developing countries within the next year, the majority of which will be Androids. Not surprising considering the cost of an Android is extraordinarily cheap compared to an iPhone. Possession of a smartphone is still considered a luxury in rural areas, where ten percent of a person’s income goes to the phone itself. The technological needs are so great in these areas there are reported businesses where individuals race over to nearby towns with electricity to simply charge phones.

Google’s release of Android One is but a stepping-stone, the software giant also announced changes to its features allowing Maps and Youtube to work offline. Thereby diminishing cell data usage for impoverished users, many of which still rely on SMS. Imagine poor farmers saving videos on agricultural upkeep without economic detriment, or refugees crossing foreign lands using offline Maps to safely guide them to their asylum. The kicker here is that Google and Android will go one step further and give the entrepreneur an online market place and the educational tools necessary to succeed in the global market.

Android Nano Degree, and the Cloud Test lab were also announced at Google I/O. The ramifications of which are enormous. Individuals who aspire to be developers can take a Nano Degree course for $200 dollars online and pursue scholarships if they lack the economic resources. This is an enormous push for online education especially in areas that lack access to human resources that can teach these valuable skills. While the Cloud Test lab allows full-fledged developers to test their apps, without having the device on hand or even phones allowed in the country! The costs in savings are enormous in resource strapped areas.

Google also announced the creation of Developer pages, were people can view apps by person, similar to a market place where people can walk around and see what is laid out virtually by stand. Well what about marketing? Have no fear. Google also announced the Universal App campaign that will automatize the marketing for home made apps. Imagine new developers across the globe creating apps for their people, because access has become easier and supportive. A girl in Indonesia can purchase an Android One phone, take the Nano Degree course online, and within a few months test her app idea in the Cloud Test Lab. If she is successful she can create her own Developer page and have Google market the app for her. Just within the course of a year, she can become an entrepreneur.

Android OneAs much as Silicon Valley continues to praise itself for innovation, very few companies have managed to create substantial change in developing worlds. Change has to come from within. You can create an amazing app in a first world country and transfer it over to a third world, but basic access, resource constraints, and cultural obstruction continue to hinder expansion. Android and Google will pave the way for more and more entrepreneurs across the world to enter the digital global arena in their own terms. If you are someone who lives in a developing country it is worth your time and money to invest in the Android/Google ecosystem. The technology, support, and resources are now available to use and implement. Go change the world. Your world.

The Roadblocks to Success

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After waiting an hour and a half in line for the Google I/O Keynote speech I managed to find a seat. I took a big bite out of the breakfast muffin I picked up on my way in when I noticed a man pointing at the empty seat next to me. My face light up and I smiled and nodded answering his implicit question. We exchanged pleasantries and he introduced himself as John Absmeier, Director of Delphi labs.

If you haven’t heard of Delphi, you will now. Delphi is an automotive supplier that builds safer, greener, and more connected automotive technology. You may have heard about the self-driving car that successfully drove from San Francisco to New York. That was Delphi, not Google, or Mercedes, nor even Tesla! We spoke in depth about the fears individuals had with self-driving cars.

“You have to understand that when Apple was set to release the first smart-phone, people were not too keen on the idea. They asked why do we even need it?” John said. The iPhone revolutionized the world. It changed how we communicated with each other, how we worked, and how we viewed our own lives. Now we can’t imagine a world without our smartphone. The entire Google Keynote rested on the theme of a mobile world. He was right, most people can’t visual the need or necessity of a new technology without it existing first.

Thus, entrepreneurs are the rare birds that can visualize a new world and help bring their ideas from their inner world to the real world. However, the response most entrepreneurs hear is a two-letter word, “No.” The word itself creates dismay and can oftentimes destroy the spirit within. However, John was correct in saying that just because someone says no, it does not mean you should just stop the car. You are on to something; a good leader takes the critique and keeps improving their product until you hear the golden words, “Yes.”

Let’s use self-driving cars as an example, most people have initial fears with self-driving cars, but John takes those fears seriously and works to improve the process and design of his product to qualm any negative association with his work. Keep going until those no’s became yeses. If one can see the world John imagines and endeavors toward you would be just as excited as he was. No more drunk drivers taking innocent lives. Less traffic and more time spent on leisure. Older folk and disabled individuals reacquiring the freedom of the open road, no longer held to whim of their bodies. Less accidents on the road caused by sleep deprived individuals. A safer, efficient, and happier world.

People are always going to say no, if you are truly up to the task you can push past those obstacles and lead the world with your new creations. This is how success is accomplished, and how full grown companies such as Delphi continue to innovate and push towards a better tomorrow, despite the negative setbacks. Continue with your idea, even if the road ahead is tough. No does not mean stop.

#SWDub Mentor Series: We need more cyber security startups

Paul Watson is a full-stack web developer and current Chief Technology Officer at Storyful with 12 years of experience in the industry. His primary technical skills are in Ruby on Rails, SQL, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. 

On this second edition of the #SWDub Mentor Series, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, we reached out to him to tell us about his role at Startup Weekend as well as his expectations for the upcoming event.

Storyful’s Web Front-end Developer, Serena Fritsch and CTO, Paul Watson


Q. What are your thoughts on Startup Weekend and how have you participated?

I think this will be my fourth Startup Weekend, all in the mentor role, and each time I’m blown away not only by the ideas but by the people there. The organizers and other mentors are the best Ireland has and the teams are so diverse.

I have also come to see that the Startup Weekend is one of the few hackathon-type events that results in long term change, real businesses and ideas come out of the weekend, go on to secure funding, growth, and becoming success stories.


Q. What is one sector or space you’d like to see more ideas from during the Startup Weekend?

That will definitely be Security. This is because even since the last Startup Weekend in November there have been further breaches (Sony) and the industry is getting even more investment from all sizes of business.

The industry also needs novel ways of protecting data and systems, the established ways are not working and startups are great at bringing new thinking to an industry. Moreso, social media platforms are lagging when it comes to team based security. The password to your million-follower Twitter account is shared amongst your whole company? That’s crazy!


Q. What tip do you have for participants and area of expertise are you happy to help with?

Everyone in the team has to talk to potential customers, not just the designer and the business person. Everyone hears something different when a customer speaks and that all needs to be collected and discussed.

As to my area of expertise, I can help out on all matters technical including: front-end, back-end, infrastructure, but I always need product-context to give good
technical advice.

Use Ruby! Don’t use Ruby! It depends.

That’s it from Paul. You can catch him on twitter at @PaulMWatson. He’d also be around mentoring and coaching teams at the Startup Weekend Dublin. Do share and stay tuned for the next post in the #SWDub Mentor Series courtesy of our sponsor, Bank of Ireland.

Community Leader Spotlight: Deborah Chang

One-line bio

I am an educator and entrepreneur.

Find me in…

New York City

Find me on…

LinkedIn | Twitter | The Huffington Post

Favorite Twitter Hashtag


Day Job
Co-Founder, Nexus Works

One-liner, describing your work
I support early stage education companies entering the NYC market by consulting on their product, organization design, and business development strategy.

What you like to do for fun?
This weekend, I went rock climbing, read a book about dragons, and went on a scavenger hunt. Basically, the more adventurous the activity, the better. I also have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Reddit.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?
Nihal ElRayess organized an Idea Competition for Teach For America corps members and alumni. The winners were sponsored to attend a Startup Weekend Education in the Bay Area. Because of her, my startup idea partner, Jamie Lonie, and I were able to pitch and lead a team at that Startup Weekend Education. I think that experience for completely changing my life and giving me an opportunity to meet my first mentors in the education innovation space.

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?
I’m a three-time Organizer of Startup Weekend NYCEDU. Join us if you can on March 27th for the fourth annual event!

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?
I feel the pressure to ensure that each event is as well-organized as it possibly can be.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?
I know that I’m changing lives every time I organize an event. It’s a fantastic feeling.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build community?
Find good people, establish common purpose, and do excellent work. Community is but the sum of the micro interactions that come from these three things.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?
Solve for a real pain point. It’s the big problems that need solutions. So find a problem worth solving and the team capable of solving it, and you’ll be 90% of the way there.

What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in the education space?
I’d like to look back and see a thriving education community that believes in “give before you get,” children first, and collaborative problem solving. 

What’s your favorite edtech company or innovative school, and why?
I started my teaching career at KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas. It is a school filled with people who are simply exemplary human beings, and their love for the children in their care permeates every interaction. The belief I have in the power of education to change the world comes directly from my experience in the halls and classrooms of KIPP Academy.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
…be accessible to every child so that he or she can make the most of his or her inborn potential.

What are the resources or events that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?
Check out the Nexus Works Professional Development Board to see our recommend readings and videos. Principles from these books form the core of what we do!

Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re someone who’s looking to move into education technology, take the leap! There are all sorts of ways to get involved, from within the classroom to outside. While this post — Help! I’m a Teacher…How Do I Get Into Education Technology? — was written for teachers, it can be just as applicable to you. Take a look, and, good luck!


More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.

After 54 hours at #SWDub, the winners are…

After 54 hours of brainstorming, building teams, talking to mentors and coaches, listening in speakers, munching Domino pizza, and gulping cans of Red Bull, 10 teams took the stage to showcase their ideas and MVPs.

SEE: 10 tips from mentors at the #SWDub

The teams sure didn’t make the jobs easy for the Judges as the ideas and pitches were nothing short of amazing, especially looking at the fact that all transpired in one weekend. Every team was a winner and the journey only begins but for now here are those that went home with accolades.

Alicia had not plan to pitch at Startup Weekend but got on the stage in the last minute to pitch her idea. Against all odds she came off the most entrepreneurial participant as selected by the judges.


In 3rd place was BeHabit – an app that looks to help parent turn their kid’s good behaviour into positive habit. Not only was the team led by one of the yougest participants at the weekend, it gave an impressive pitch that had the judges nodding and applauding.


Perhaps the people’s choice, Baffle came in 2nd place. The platform is one that allows users sell items but in a raffle-type setup.


Ladies and gentlemen, the team the wears the crown as winners of the November edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is Gift Me! Not only was the team lead by a female entrepreneur, it was one of the 3 startups ideas to actually make a sale and generate revenue.


There you have it folks. Dublin has a new champion but the road doesn’t end here. Go forth and do exploit – building connections, validating ideas, acquiring customers, and changing the world.

Missed out on any of the action? Check out the daily recaps here and here. Don’t forget to check out the Global Startup Battle, Startup Hiking‘s next day out, and the Christmas party for Startups – SUXMAS.

Many thanks to our global and local sponsors, Google for Entrepreneurs, DotCo, Amazon Web Service, Bank of Ireland, Holvi, Tom Crean’s, Dominos Pizza, Burritos & Blues, Red Bull, and FCR Media. Also grateful for our mentors, speakers, coaches, volunteers, and the ever amazing attendees.

It’s been an awesome experience for me and hope it’s been nothing less for you too.

@NubiKay signing out.