AI + Impact Lightning talks

We are pleased to announce that we will be starting the series “AI + Impact - Lightning talks” with a very positive response on this thread.

Our first session details:
When: 03/24/17, 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Where: USF Room 450
Youtube Live/Recorded link:
Medium blog post

Rachel Thomas :
Jeremy Howard : Enlitic
Samar Haider : Improve NLP for low-resource languages using word embeddings. Forum link
Janardhan Shetty : Early Detection Tool for Autism using Computer Vision + NLP + Speech
Sahil Singla : Better agriculture lending and insurance models using satellite imagery. Forum link
Ljubomir Buturovic : Detecting breast cancer in digital mammograms, forum link
Sara Hooker : Cut Deforestation using audio signals
Sravya Tirukkovalur : Role of AI in Humanitarian response and resilience. Forum link

Some thoughts and FAQ on the series:
Why is it important to talk about applications of AI/DL?
There is little doubt that we all think AI and Deep learning in specific are powerful technologies. Like any powerful tool, it also has a great impact potential. But understanding technology and putting it to good use do not necessarily happen together unless we have an explicit intent and make steady progress in both these tracks. We are understanding the technology and applications through the course work, and this effort is to accelerate our progress in applications of Deep learning, the ones which especially have a good impact potential.

Why should you speak?
Mainly to get feedback on your ideas and potentially find collaborators. Additionally:

  • It will be a chance for you to practice your pitch. Do technical public speaking
  • And because it would be fun! :slight_smile:

What does impact mean?
It can be anything which has a positive effect on the world. Anything from making people’s lives a little better to saving lives. Most businesses have a net positive effect but it would be useful to think about impact potential explicitly like how we think of market size for profits so that we can optimize for impact as well.

How well developed should the ideas be?
This series is mainly to leverage the collective intelligence of this group and help each other in helping others. So please do not hesitate to talk about very early ideas, we never know what can come out of it.

Is there a format for the talk?
The talk would be capped at 5 minutes, to make sure we will be on schedule. But we will have lot more time for discussions and feedback. For format, really whatever works for you. But we encourage covering following things:

  1. Impact potential /why is it important to solve?
  2. Challenges: What challenges did you hit or you are concerned about.
  3. AI fit: How important is AI in the solution.
  4. Are there market incentives for the solution? Like can we make money? If so how sustainable is it? But of course, solutions which do not have market incentives are also welcome.
  5. Related work. Who are other players trying to solve the problem? Can we collaborate?
  6. How can this community help?

Will this be live streamed/recorded?
Yes, we will be live streaming and also be recording the sessions. We will be posting a youtube-live link closer to the date.

How can I get involved?

  1. Be a speaker. Sign up here
  2. Join the sessions and provide feedback for other speakers
  3. Collaborate or offer help to other speakers
  4. Help in organizing:
  • Making sure we have speakers lined up
  • Find a time and place which works for speakers and comfortable for in-person attendees in the bay area.
  • Send out announcements about the schedule
  • Handle video streaming and recording logistics
  • Follow up with project threads(speakers can do this)

Hope to see you all this Friday!


@jeremy Friendly reminder: Can you @ mention the group here as you said? :slight_smile:

@sravya8 I was waiting to see if we had 5 speakers - otherwise seems like we might want to put it back until we do. Especially since it’s not a lot of notice for people to prepare a lightning talk!

@jeremy That is true. Seems like it’s best to give it more time. Also, seems like we need some more time to figure out the logistics for video conferencing. Do you recommend deciding the time/place once we have at least about 10 speakers lined up?

For video-conferencing, with the nature of our distributed speakers and participants, we need support for streaming/multi-presenter/recording (optionally live chatting). Seems like none of the free options work for us. We have explored the following options:

  1. Youtube live: Allows streaming/recording but does not allow multiple presenters
  2. Hangouts: Supports multi presenters and streaming but does not allow recording. Also at most, we can have only 10 people join. Seems like “Hangouts on Air” allows for recording, but could not get it to work so far. Has anyone here tried it?
  3. Just started exploring OBS: Seems like Jeremy uses this for classes. I am new to this so, just figuring out. Not sure if it supports multiple presenters?
  4. Webex/Goto meeting: Seems like works for us but not free :slight_smile:

@janardhanp22 is also helping out figure this out. Thanks Janardhan! :slight_smile:

Any other ideas most welcome :slight_smile:

I’m just using this to stream to Youtube Live. I’m not aware of having multiple people join.

I tried Hangouts on Air and it worked OK for me. I didn’t use it because it was a CPU hog, but that wouldn’t matter for this.

10 would be great, but I think 5 would be enough to be interesting…

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Between Webex and GoToMeeting : GoToMeeting wins in terms of price and features.

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Thanks Jeremy. Your message gave me hope to persistently try hangouts on air option :slight_smile: I just resolved issues with it, turned out it was a problem with my browser. Tested with a friend and it seems like it works well for our use.

Thanks for trying out @janardhanp22 ! I just tested Hangouts on Air option with a friend and here is my experience.

  1. Lets utmost 8 people join. So we can have all presenters (utmost 8) join hangouts at a time.
  2. Auto streams and records the session, so can give remote participants(other than speakers) the youtube link.
  3. Youtube comments would be helpful for real time discussions and they will also be persisted.

Given that, shall we try out Google hangouts for our first session and see how that goes?

Sounds like a good plan.

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@sravya8 hangouts on air can be livestreamed at Youtube at the same time, so may be multiple people can discuss and stream it to record for future usage. I’m in a bit time shortage right now because of a midterm, but I’ll look into it more if needed later for sure!

Thanks @mayeesha . Yes, we are going with “Hangouts on Air”. Will let you know if that does not work for some reason.

As announced yesterday in the class, we are going to have the first session this Friday(03/24) 5:00 to 6:30 pm PST. Updating the top post with details.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the speakers, some of them are actually waking up at 5 in the morning to share their work/ideas with all of us. We really appreciate it immensely! Thanks again!

@sara.hooker13, @janardhanp22, @samar, @singlasahil14, @ljubomir, @rachel, @jeremy

Looking forward to the talks and collaborations!


@sravya8 what is a useful format for this talk? I have some slides I can use to talk about our projects at Delta but if we are keeping it unstructured I can also just chat some of the things we are really excited about.

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@sravya8 will there be a way to show slides?

@sara.hooker13 Some lighting talks I have attended had “Slides and fixed time per each slide” format, where the slides are auto transitioned for example 20 seconds per slide. Speaker will not have control in changing slides. It sounds intimating but I have seen it also gives a chance to laugh :slight_smile: Also, this is the most popular format.

I have also seen some lightning talks where speakers just have 4-5 slides and just focus on one/two key take away points.

And there are also unstructured talks with no slides, which are more story driven, which are also fun.

As this is the first time we are doing, I am curious which format works best for us. At this point, you should just choose whichever works best for you. I at least definitely want to hear what you are excited about :slight_smile:

Few things to note for our case:

  1. We will have a follow on forum thread per each talk. So there will be avenues to share more details and continue discussions.
  2. In “Youtube live” streamed through “Hangouts on air” (which we will be using today), at any point we can either screenshare (show slides) or show the speaker. There is no way (at least not that I know of) to overlay speaker window at the corner while we show slides (screenshare).

@jeremy Yes, we can screenshare. Hence, can show slides.

In my experience, whatever method we use, the most important thing is to ensure everyone stays exactly on time; it’s more interesting for everyone that way IMO. Like you said about auto-advancing slides, it sounds intimidating but the trick is to make it fun! Ensuring that the audience and speaker can see a countdown clock is one good way to keep people on time.


@jeremy Countdown clock sounds like a great idea!
Do you think we should give 2-3 minutes for questions after each talk or keep the questions to the end?