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.

The Digital Ecosystem in Milan

Home to more than 6,000 foreign invested companies, the Lombardy region is the first recipient of foreign investors in Italy, and now, Milan is one of Italy’s largest hubs for innovation and technology since hosting the universal exposition in 2015.

Milan, the Italian Capital of Innovation

Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Deloitte and Gartner have their headquarters in Milan. About 1,500 startups have registered in Lombardy on the Italian Business Register, and almost 980 of these companies are situated in Milan. For this reason, Milan is the best place to find potential clients, investors, and like minded founders.

The vitality of new companies and their activities is in large part of the positive effect of Expo 2015.

In addition, there are the prestigious universities, the availability of capital, and the excellence of the food and fashion industry. This mix makes Milan a promising city.

High Technology Business Districts in Milan

In the Porta Nuova area, Samsung is employing more than 700 people. They also have their showrooms where people can test the Smart Home of the future. Not far from Samsung’s headquarters are Google’s office and the Unicredit building with its R&D unit.

Isola, one of Milan’s coolest districts, is also home to Rocket Fuel, an advanced technology company that has been here since 2013. Not far from the city centre, is Mikamai, the first Italian digital agency active on RoR development; Wemake is a Makerspace (i.e. a space with various production technologies and prototyping accessible to everyone), and Talent Garden’s Merano campus.

In the area of Porta Romana, there is the campus of Talent Garden Calabiana (with its 8,500sqm – the biggest co-working space in Italy) and Digital Magics, the Business Incubator of digital startups listed on the Italian Stock Exchange.

Nearby in via Tortona’s, there is the Italian branch of Uber and Lovli, an italian design store for up-and-coming designers. In the heart of Milan is the Boox accelerator and the Fab Lab, spaces for digital fabrication.

Access to Young and Educated Knowledge

In Milan, there are seven universities that host more than 10 percent of the Italian student population. These universities include Bocconi, IULM, Politecnico and Cattolica, which have helped Milan to secure the 24th position on the University World rankings, making Milan an excellent opportunity to connect young students, entrepreneurs, talent and researchers.

Co-Working in Milan

In recent years, a number of co-working spaces have opened in the Italian capital of innovation: Talent Garden has two campuses (Talent Garden Merano and Talent Garden Calabiana). Other co-working spaces include BASE Milano offering 2,000 mq. of work spaces and laboratories, Co-working Login, StartMiUp and Copernico.

There are also some digital incubators located throughout Milan, including Impact Hub Milano, which is part of an international network dedicated to innovation in relation to health, the environment, and society. FabriQ is another social innovation incubator established by Milano City Council.

Innovation and Startups

Milan’s startups are heavily active in areas like Artificial Intelligence, Fintech, and Tourism 2.0.

Alfabot, born in Milan in 2016, is focused on the development of chatbot technology. Today it is considered the app of the future.

Friendz, an app that lets you take a photo, post it, and receive benefits that you can spend online.

Musement is another app created in Milan that allows tourists to live every city as if it were their own, and has now reached more than 50 countries globally.

There is also some interesting news in the world of finance. Satispay allows users to send small amounts of cash to their phone contacts, while also allowing them to pay for goods in partner shops.

What about Talent Garden in Milan?

Talent Garden has two campuses in Milan. TAG Milano Calabiana which features a working and event space of over 8,500 mq. and is the largest campus of the TAG network, which is home to more than 400 taggers and where more than 300 events are hosted each year.

The second campus, TAG Milano Merano offers more than 1,500 mq. of working and collaboration spaces for its 120 taggers, while hosting almost 100 events per year.