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An AI roundup ahead of Web Directions AI

This week we announced our keynote speakers for Web Directions Summit–a truly stellar lineup, and of course with a strong focus on how AI will impact the Web, and practices like engineering and design.

And with a week to go until our AI conference (full lineup here)–use the code ‘wdai’ to pay just $395, or get a free pass if you register a Web Directions Summit silver or gold ticket–my notebook keeps filling up with articles, courses, and podcasts focussed on this topic.

So here’s some really relevant ones I’ve come across this week.

A pizza style robotic cow in a field of robots
/imagine a robot cowboy rounding up a herd of robotic cattle. In a pixar style

Elements of AI from Helsinki University

Elements of AI is a free in-depth course from the University of Helsinki to help non experts in AI get a better understanding of the foundational concepts.

We want to encourage as broad a group of people as possible to learn what AI is, what can (and can’t) be done with AI, and how to start creating AI methods. The courses combine theory with practical exercises and can be completed at your own pace.

AI Engineering and Latent Space

Shawn Wang, who we just announced as one of our Summit keynote speakers is the co-founder of a community focussed on AI Engineering, Latent Space.

There’s a free newsletter on Subtack which already features dozens of articles and podcast episodes. If you are of an engineering background, I’d make this my very first first point of call in keeping up with developments in AI from a product engineering perspective (so specifically for folks working with large language models and so on, rather than working on those models).

Look just subscribe eh?

The rebirth of Conversational Design?

Around 2016 there was significant enthusiasm about chatbots–they seemed to be everywhere as did the new field of ‘conversational design’. But things didn’t quite pan out as promised (the underlying engines oversold their capabilities to say the least).

Now there’s renewed interest in conversational interfaces, driven by generative AI (turns out people really did want to chat with computers after all! )

Peter Isaacs is an Australian interaction designer who focusses a lot on this intersection of AI and design (another key focus at Summit by the way). While he’s enthusiastic about the positive impact of large language models on the capabilities of AI assistants, he believes good assistants need more than just LLMs. He’s also penned some thoughts on The future of conversational AI.

AI Safety versus AI ethics

We’ve been hearing a lot about the existential risk to human existence from various ‘godfathers’ and the like of AI recently (always male it seems). This piece, ‘Talking about a ‘schism’ is ahistorical‘ from Emily Bender is a powerful critique of ‘AI Doomers’ and recentering of a deeply experienced scholarly and thoughtful approach to AI ethics.

Don’t forget Web Directions AI, next Friday

If all this look valuable and important to you, don’t miss Web Directions AI–next Friday, July 21st in Sydney. Use the code ‘wdai’ to make it just $395, and it’ll be the best investment you’ll make this year.

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Thoroughly enjoyed Web Directions — met some great people, heard some inspiring presenters and added a whole bunch of things to my to-do list.

Joel Roberts Web Developer