‘Artificial Intelligence is going to drastically change the conference industry’
CM135 Rondvraag Artifical Intelligence

‘AI is going to drastically change the conference industry’

Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic in many industries. Not surprisingly, because this technology is seen as the next major step in today’s information society. How important is this development for the conference world? Is AI going to turn our industry upside down, or do we stick to the old ways of doing things?

Hanan Salam, researcher and co-founder of the non-profit organization Women in AI, Paris

“There are tremendous possibilities”

Hanan Salam“I couldn’t agree more. AI plays an important role in the transformation of most industries in our world and the conference world is no exception. In fact, there are tremendous possibilities, although the implementation is still tricky. There are also a number of things that need to be done in order to take advantage of these opportunities, from funding to development and testing.”

“With the help of Artificial Intelligence, it will be possible to improve the organization of conferences as well as to increase the number of participants.”

“I like to refer to SMART Events. AI makes it possible to have true insight into the degree of involvement and satisfaction of the participants. This can help to improve the experience of visitors for upcoming events as well as the content of these events.”

“Chatbots, for example, or applications based on AI can be handy tools to create involvement with visitors. You can use them in group sessions or create interaction between visitors and speakers.”

“Moreover, AI can automate recommendations for planners and visitors, such as speakers and matchmaking. We can also imagine compelling experiences during conferences, both in the presentation of content and the way you do your networking. Thanks to AI, it will also be possible to set up targeted social media campaigns.”

“For a panel discussion at the World AI Summit for Women in AI, we used the ‘Inspired Minds’ application. This worked pretty well to bring about meetings between different visitors.”

“I don’t think the smart conference industry is mature enough yet, but there is a great need to develop innovative ideas, by men and women.”

“Because the female perspective is often missing in the development of datasets, AI applications and systems – it’s a real man’s world – I co-founded the organization Women in AI two years ago; a network of female professionals and people interested in Artificial Intelligence. Today, we have over 2,500 members in 80 countries.


Tim Groot, CEO of networking app Grip, London

“Developments are gaining momentum”

Tim Groot“In 2014, we launched the Grip app to make networking easier during events. This matchmaking solution based on Artificial Intelligence gives visitors personal recommendations. It’s already being used a lot. As with so many things, change is first very slow and then suddenly speeds up.”

“We’re picking up the pace at the moment. This is mainly because organizers realize that conferences and other events have to deliver more and more value in order to attract people. The time you would simply put visitors in a room to talk about a subject is over. You will have to offer a much more structured idea and create opportunities to make doing business easier.”

“With our matchmaking app, organizers can make the right connections between visitors and make smart recommendations regarding sessions or programme components that are of interest to them. I expect that the deployment of these will increase rapidly in the coming years.”

“We already work with about five hundred events a year in different countries, and notice that Grip generally has a large, positive impact. For example, with a networking area that is set up for meetings lasting 15 to 20 minutes that can be booked via our platform. If you can have four or five more connections than you would normally have at a conference, this will of course have major impact.”

“I think Northern Europe is doing well when it comes to the extent to which AI is already being used. Many innovative organizers are already on top of it. Of course, there are always organizations that still fear the new, but if we can explain the tools we offer and how we can best express them in technology to make success a reality, the developments will go even faster.”


Prof. Arnold Smeulders, Intelligence Systems Lab, University of Amsterdam

“The digital world barely influences conferences”

Arnold Smeulders“No, I don’t see that happening. Artificial Intelligence will only be able to bring about change in this world to a limited extent, because conferences are mainly driven by people who want to see and groom each other. And I do not mean the latter cynically, but it is the foundation for a congress or conference. That is the main reason to meet each other and that will always remain.”
“The digital world has hardly any influence on this. A far-reaching digital world only increases the basic human need to meet each other.”
“Face recognition, voice recognition and others are technological gadgets. What now takes a minute may take 30 seconds in a while. That doesn’t change the nature of a conference, a world that has a very different need, namely enabling people to meet each other.”
“What might change, however, is the selection of people attending a conference, something AI could be used for. I can imagine that the result would be a slightly different composition. That does not change the essence of a conference. This industry has a very different need and that is that people can meet each other. For example, the type of recommendation algorithms used to select advertisements for Facebook.”
“In short, I don’t expect Artificial Intelligence to ever grow big the conference world. Recommendations will, however.”


Corbin Ball, Meeting Technology Professional in Washington

“There is a lot you can filter in advance with AI”

Corbin Ball“Artificial Intelligence is a very interesting focus area because we are on the verge of huge developments. As an analyst and consultant who helps clients worldwide to make their business more productive with technology, I am constantly looking at all aspects. In my opinion, AI is going to bring about a fundamental shift. Later on, when we look back, we will see that the invention of AI will bring about a revolution similar to the advent of the mobile phone or the introduction of the Internet. A lot is happening in the industry, all over the world.”

“Many companies and organizations will benefit from this; there is a wide range of useful applications.”

“Think of voice and/or face recognition, which can be a useful tool in the conference world. Face recognition is, for instance, used to register visitors. Organizations can filter a lot in advance using Artificial Intellengence. For example, you can use AI to specifically filter per age, gender, interests, or you can use AI to send personal newsletters based on interests. The list goes on and on.”

“Some Futurists speak of a threat when they talk about Al. It can be frightening for people to know that with facial recognition you can pick people from a row, for example. Privacy is an aspect that needs to be handled carefully. This is one of the challenges for the future. It is also important to keep explaining things: Al is sometimes difficult to understand.”

“I’m optimistic about a future with AI because it can make a lot of things easier. Still, we’re just getting started. I think that over the next five years we will certainly see changes in society as a result of AI-marketing, -communication and -research: it will affect many aspects of our lives in general.”


Eve Logunova, Ambassador Women in AI

“Maybe one day there will be robots on stage giving a lecture”

Eve Logunova“Yes, I’m sure AI will make it happen, and in my opinion, the change will be drastic, too. But in the meantime, much remains to be done.”

“I don’t see that happening in the next few years. Changes resulting from the use of Artificial Intelligence will gradually make their entrance. Think of applications in schematic blocks or programmes with speakers. This concerns software and technology that is easy to apply and can take over various tasks.”

“But in the end, AI will have to understand which topics are hot, who the speakers are, but also who makes the difference in this industry. The development of data science and machines will make this all happen. For all new functions, algorithms will be developed.”

“Maybe one day there will be robots on stage giving a lecture, or you will get your answer from the computer.”

“What we’re looking at right now is a simplification of network connections and tasks to speed up the process and make it more efficient. Making content personal is also an important aspect of this.”

“In the end, you want to create an event that makes sense to everyone, that’s true efficiency. Every visitor is different, so is their reaction and emotion. Are visitors happy or do they appear bored? Soon we’ll be able to recognize those emotions too. That’s the beauty of technology.”

“Again, this will take time. I think we can spend another 30 years on this. We are still in the preparation phase and need to optimize the capacity first. Only then can we speak of true Al.”