Manchester Digital Member Conference highlights!

Data

It was my first time presenting and visiting our GlobalLogic Manchester office (believe it or not). A big thank you to Manchester Digital for the warm welcome!

Alongside presenting, I also had the opportunity to catch other speakers – so today, I’ll be sharing some conference highlights and insights.

The sessions were all really stimulating. Being very ranged, the talks spanned multiple technology topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer aided design, Education tech, green energy, automated attacks, and so on – but there were two stand out talks for me.

 

When AI goes wrong – Tom Liptrot (Freelance Data Scientist at Ortom)

One of the talks that stood out for me as a data scientist was obviously Ortom’s talk by Tom Liptrot on ‘When AI goes wrong!’

Artificial Intelligence

This was a thoughtful walkthrough and explanation of how the use of Machine Learning (ML) and AI can often be used in the wrong ways and require a lot of expertise and understanding to implement well, as well as times it does not necessarily need to be used.

Tom spoke about some instances where the client wanted AI to be able to predict something, which could be easily deduced from other indicators! He also discusses other instances in which the client had no grasp on what AI really meant or understanding the amount of data needed to train deep learning models!

Some of the stories that Tom told reminded me of many times I’ve been approached and asked for a very complex ML solution for a problem that simply didn’t require it – just to be able to say that ML was involved!

Tom highlighted that as the field of Data Science grows, companies are starting to realise the potential of ML across different industries and how it could be adopted to solve challenges. However, there is also often a push for ML at times without having an expert in to understand the context behind the technology.

This talk was an important reminder that although it sounds fancy, AI is still artificial and will not be able to solve all the problems you think it will without a data scientist who understands the problem and technology at hand!

Thankfully here at GlobalLogic, we have a wonderful 8-strong team of data science consultants in London from many different backgrounds, so if you’re reading this and have any ML needs feel free to reach out!

 

Making products and services more inclusive: a personal and practical explanation of web accessibility

Molly Watt (Keynote speaker & Accessibility and usability consultant at Nexer Digital) and Danny Lancaster (Accessibility Test Analyst at Nexer Digital)

The other talk that stood out to me was Molly Watt and Danny Lancasters’ talk on the importance of accessibility and usability in the technology we build and how we can make this more inclusive.

Molly highlighted their experiences through their own health and how technology has assisted in day-to-day activities, but also the gaps in some technologies and how they are often unhelpful in design or completely lacking.

Danny highlighted how, despite being a legal requirement, there is a massive gap in accessibility requirements even on the most popular websites on the internet and how they often miss the mark. After highlighting the importance of accessibility and the gap, they both also explained ways to solve it- like using free accessibility checking tools online to make sure your website is compliant, considering colour contrasting when creating graphs and illustrations- and making sure images have the correct and descriptive alt text to convey the same information a sighted reader would get when they look at the same picture.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) exist, but these are often forgotten during development, when it should be a focus throughout the design and development stage – these guidelines define how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Their talk really resonated with me as it taught me a lot of really important basic information that I can now apply to my work to help design more inclusive technology. Although I’m not often developing apps or website, there is complete lack of knowledge or focus on accessibility standards in terms of colour contrast or explainability in graphs or dashboards. This talk introduced me into many solutions that exist online that can quickly tell if you if your website is accessible or not – and even the problems that need to be resolved in order to get it there! I’d highly recommend following Molly and Danny to learn more about what you can do to be more accessible, as well as researching the WCAG and what they entail.

 

Paws for thought: Improving pet welfare with ML – Keith Hinde and Roger Zorlu

To finish off, our own GlobalLogic talk went quite well as myself and Keith highlighted some of the amazing work we have been doing to help tech4pets create standards in the online pet advertising and selling sphere worldwide using advanced technology.

Machine Learning

As our Data Science team has been growing and we have been expanding our Manchester base, we wanted to showcase some of the work that we do as a company including our important charitable projects and how the use of new technologies can help improve a wide range of modern problems such as unregulated internet advertising spheres.

We highlighted some amazing data science use cases in this sphere that we have developed, and how tech4pets uses data to help report and regulate animal sales and movement online over the years to help enforce law and reduce animal abuse. Some of the work we’ve been doing can even help detect the illegal cropping of ears from online photos and identify these problem pet sellers!

If you’d like to hear more about the talk with tech4pets check out my previous blog how ML is helping save lockdown pets which the talk was based on, and our initial use case.

Since the increase in the cost of living in 2022 alone, associations like Dogs Trust have had an 55% increase in people being unable to afford looking after their dogs anymore – meaning the work we’re doing to assist tech4pets is now even more important, to ensure animals are protected in these turbulent times.

We also highlighted some use cases in the pipeline which include interesting topics such as Graph Networks and Data Parallelism and Distributed Deep Learning at production scale.

A current use case in production is pushing ML to the edge – we have been developing an ML IoT (Internet of Things) solution to help tech4pets’ to scan animal adverts globally. We’re testing our technical chops on how we can keep our complex models small enough to run on the smallest raspberry pi! Keep an eye out for our next blog covering this use case to.

Please also check out my colleague Jonathan’s three-part blog about Data Parallelism and Distributed Deep Learning at production scale – this has been the framework for developing Computer Vision models for the tech4Pets Charity, which has allowed us to produce production-grade models at record-low development time and cost.

If you have any questions about our project with tech4pets or would like to learn more about the data science team here at GlobalLogic and how we can help you feel free to reach out to myself or Keith!

 

Closing thoughts

So, to round up – we were super excited to be invited to the Manchester Digital Member Conference! This was a great day, jam packed full of new insights and eye-opening talks. I especially enjoyed the ability to meet and connect with industry experts from different backgrounds, in the warm and supportive setting of Manchester Digital! (The beer and pizza went down quite well also!)

Again, we are super grateful to all to Kate Wilson and all of Manchester Digital for hosting us and the amazing people that put the day together – it was great to experience the vibrant tech community up in Manchester!

If you’re from Manchester yourself, make sure to check out Manchester Digital – they have some great events and initiatives such at the Manchester Digital Academy, inspiring more women into the tech industry.

Thanks for reading and until next time!

[ Image : Bella, Molly’s guide dog pictured sleeping on the Manchester Digital conference floor ]

Author

Machine Learning

Author

Roger Zorlu

Data Science Consultant

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