HECTOR School Alumni Meeting IBM Watson Center Munich 2021

First Hybrid Alumni Meeting
Insights and Outlooks into AI, Hybrid Cloud, and Sustainability

The Alumni Meeting 2021 focused on the hot topics of today’s high-tech world: AI, hybrid cloud, and sustainability. 
Arvid Ottenberg, Stefany Santos-Greiner (both ISEM Intake 2019), and Leonard Dabow (POM Intake 2020) invited us to the first hybrid Alumni Meeting in HECTOR School history to the IBM Watson Center Munich. Due to the ongoing pandemic, only 25 Alumni were allowed to join the meeting at the Center in Munich on-site – and more than 20 watched the speeches online.

Opening Keynote Ethical AI

Andrea Martin, Leader IBM Watson Center Munich, EMEA Client Centers & Member AI Advisory Board Bavaria & IBM Distinguished Engineer presented the IBM Watson Center Munich as a living and breathing ecosystem of innovation. She explained IBM‘s way of working: From Inspiring, Building up to Scaling.

The 21st floor Anna Brotzer, KIT
The 21st floor
HECTOR School welcome Anna Brotzer, KIT
HECTOR School welcome
Think different Anna Brotzer, KIT
"We need to think differently about technology."
trustworthy AI Anna Brotzer, KIT
Will we be able to create trustworthy AI?
sustainable solutions Anna Brotzer, KIT
Sustainable solutions
Coffee break Anna Brotzer, KIT
Coffee break
get-together Anna Brotzer, KIT
Outdoor Dinner Anna Brotzer, KIT
Outdoor Dinner
Enjoying outdoor activities Anna Brotzer, KIT
Enjoying outdoor activities
Thinking AI as Augmented Intelligence

Andrea Martin highlighted the top trends for Artificial Intelligence (AI): from robotic process automation and the intersection of IOT with AI over quantum AI and AI in forecasting and healthcare up to natural language processing and reinforced learning. Overall she notices an increased demand for ethical AI and trustworthiness; illustrated by examples from facial recognition and interactive polls in which alumni rated the trust of AI.
Interesting was the understanding of AI rather as augmented intelligence than artificial intelligence focusing on how AI can help to make work better.

Expert Talk Explainable AI

In the spirit of XAI, Jan Mikolon, Advisory Data Scientist & Managing Consultant, brought us some illustrative examples to make AI more understandable. 
The opening question was: How does AI identify if a picture shows a dog or a wolf? Ideas where: Attributes like tooth’s, mouth or background of the nature assists in recognizing – and it turned out, that the computer learned by the background whether the picture shows a dog or a wolf.
Furthermore, we learned that the goal of explainable AI is the explaining of predictions/classifications by using local and global approaches – and that local XAI focuses on a single input data instance to generate explanation by utilizing data features. Global XAI on the other hand utilizes an array of inputs to summarize the overall model behavior. The example given here was built by SHAP. The created model identified the authenticity of stamps and signatures. The XAI approach showed us if the algorithm focused on the right things (to avoid that the identification happens based on the wrong characteristics (compare the example of the dog and wolf).

Keynote Hybrid Multi-Cloud Followed by Expert Talk “AI on Red Hat Openshift”

Thanks to Marius Merkel, Manager IBM Technology Enterprise & Brand Sales for Strategic Accounts DACH, and Maximilian Wurzer, Senior Application Consultant, we enjoyed a deep look into the topic of hybrid multi-cloud and kubernetes.
Initially we were provided with some statistical data to build a basic understanding of the material at hand. We learned that 97% of the people interviewed desire greater operational agility and intelligence and a corresponding 75% find modernizing IT / data architectures a primary inhibiting factor. Very surprising was that still 90% of enterprise data goes unanalyzed.

Big Evolution in a Very Short Time

Marius took us into a brief history of cloud: He started at the time when everyone was asking for public clouds. Then private clouds trended. Then Hybrid Clouds and Kubernetes. Nowadays 94% use multiple clouds and data platforms.
Three trends that will become visible were presented:
1.    IT will become decentralized, open, secure
2.    Automation will fuel the future of work
3.    Winners will scale the value of data with AI

With a deeper insight into the (strategic) architecture, technology, and solutions of IBM and Red Hat hybrid Cloud Platform, we learned that Openshift is so much more than just kubernetes.

Keynote IBM Responsible Computing Framework

Svenja Laing, Solution Architect IBM Technology Garage & Member of the Technical Expert Council DACH started here keynote with the statement:
We need to start thinking differently about technology
This involves also thinking about the impact on the environment and how it will react on e.g. the rising demand for water for the infrastructure. Ideally, companies not only consider their impact on the environment but also take the opportunity to have a responsible and positive impact on the environment.
Quite surprisingly were the answer to the first survey. At the question, on which dimension is your company at least advanced in responsible computing, the most votes were on “data usage”. Especially considering that data protection has been an issue for several years.
The response to the further survey was encouraging: “Sustainability” and “security/privacy” were the most voted on, on the question: Which of the cross-cutting themes you think is the most important in your community /organization?
Another look at the statistics revealed an interesting finding. According to this 82% of Germans are worried about inappropriate usage of their data. And 36% of Germans decide not to use a service if extensive data usage approval is mandatory. This shows the possibility of a competitive advantage in the German market if one is responsible and transparent.

Expert Talk Sustainability

The last panel of the day was all about sustainability. Francis Powlesland, Senior Consultant and Global Solution Architect @IBM Global Client Centers showed how IBM has been positioning itself on the topic of sustainability for several years.

Show, don't tell!

In line with his credo, "Show, don't tell", he provided a series of  examples of methods to prevent climate change from becoming a climate breakdown. For example, commits IBM to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. As companies have a major impact on climate change and we are all part of a company – it is us who must get active - also in our professional life. 
In the discussion that followed, alumni also pointed out what their companies are doing in the direction of sustainability. We are pleased that the topic is of great importance to the business community. 

Perfect Atmosphere and Weather at Outdoor Dinner

A great get-together was celebrated with over 50 alumni in the restaurant nearby with a BBQ buffet in the outdoor area. 

Perfect Ending in the Countryside at the Sunny Lake

The following Saturday, more than 30 alumni met at the Feringa Lake to relax on the lawn, enjoy outdoor activities, or cool off in the water.
We are happy that so many alumni participated and thank you for the cheerful atmosphere and sharing many stories! See you at one of the next Stammtische this  year - or again at the next two-day Alumni Meeting in two years!