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Artificial intelligence to come under the spotlight at BelTech 2017
15 February 2017

Belfast can become a centre of excellence for Artificial Intelligence if the industry plays to its strengths in sectors such as healthcare and cyber security, according to the curators of a major Belfast technology conference.

BelTech 2017, which takes place on April 6, aims to be the premier technology event for local software practitioners, business leaders, entrepreneurs and young people aspiring to break into the industry.

The event is curated by Northern Ireland-based digital solutions provider Kainos Software and will feature influential international speakers from the worlds of Software Engineering, Machine Learning, Connected Systems, Immersive Tech and Cyber Security.

Tom Gray, Group Chief Technology Officer at Kainos, said that the opportunities and challenges presented by the rapid rise of Artificial Intelligence are likely to run through all strands of the conference.

He said: “There’s a lot of work going on to position the UK tech sector and a certain amount of agreement that many of the major areas of tech in the years ahead will be supported by developments in artificial intelligence.

“If the UK is going to be a hub for AI, it’s inefficient to have all regions focusing on the same tech segments. So, I think it’s appropriate to talk about Northern Ireland being the centre of excellence for AI in areas such as cyber security and healthcare, sectors where we already have great skills and capabilities. To achieve that we must keep investing in fundamental research and make sure we have ongoing access to those skills.”

Mr Gray said that advances in Artificial Intelligence are likely to alter the jobs market, making some jobs obsolete and creating a need for new skills needed to work alongside these “intelligent agents”.

“I think we’re likely to see advances that augment the human workforce rather than just replace them. In healthcare, for example, a patient isn’t likely to be diagnosed solely by a machine any time soon. But a doctor could be helped by a machine that can instantly analyse the patient’s records, other similar cases, and current medical research, and offer options to the doctor in a timeframe no human could achieve.

“We are delighted to be sponsoring and curating BelTech 2017, bringing this and other very topical issues to the fore and playing our part in inspiring both the current and next generations of local technology leaders.”

During the two day conference, speakers from local and global high tech organisations will interact with attendees at a series of workshops and keynote presentations, while 400 post-primary students will have the opportunity to attend inspirational sessions about sustainable digital career paths.

Companies taking part in BelTech 2017 include California-based software company, Confluent.io, See.Sense and Big Motive. Speakers for BelTech 2017 will be announced over the coming weeks.

BelTech 2017 is supported by Kainos, PwC and Kernel Capital.

For more information please visit www.beltech2017.com. Conference passes are available for £90+VAT with a Company Pass for three delegates available at £199. Find BelTech on Twitter @Beltech2017 or #Beltech2017.