Looking back on AI events in January 2018

Looking back on AI events in January 2018

At the end of January, hub: raum in Berlin hosted two great Telekom AI events: the AI Hackathon and the AI Industry Day. At both events, Deutsche Telekom focused on highlighting key aspects of the eLIZA project to generate new ideas and find talents who will be able to advise and support Deutsche Telekom developing their chatbot expertise and AI-based automation of customers interactions.

AI Hackathon, Berlin

In the run-up to the event, it became clear that the announcement of the AI Hackathon had already attracted a great deal of attention in the AI scene: in a period of only 6 weeks, around 270 registrations were received from interested parties. On January 29th to 30th, 81 programmers and hackers were invited to Berlin to demonstrate their skills on one of six different AI Challenges. Facebook and Nvidia supported two of the challenges as valuable partners and offered further prizes and the winners received 1,000 € in prize money per challenge – the best rated solution at the end of the two days was awarded with 4,000 €.


Challenge No. 1 was to use a pre-trained English language model and make it applicable to other languages with machine learning.

Challenge No. 2 dealt with the analysis of chat data collected on Facebook and Twitter from the service channel "Telekom hilft". The goal was to identify topics and keywords, reveal relationships between keywords and ultimately show how the information gained can be used to support account managers or users.

The task of Challenge No. 3 was to build a chatbot to simulate support agent interactions via a Facebook Messenger App.

Challenge No. 4 dealt with the automatic evaluation of customer's emotions during written communication between man and machine, e. g. in chatbot dialogs.

Challenge No. 5 dealt with the exciting topic of "image recognition". Participants were asked to find suitable descriptions for images of different categories in order to test the images on an unknown training dataset.

The aim of Challenge No. 6 was to create and implement a dialog system that uses the Telekom ontology as it’s domain model.

On the first day, all participants started the pre-chosen challenge full of verve. Already during the registration phase, some of the data provided for use could be viewed and important queries clarified. Each challenge was accompanied by a Challenge owner from Telekom and several mentors. In order to elaborate the ideas, the participants had only about 20 hours available on site - and so the teams settled in for an all nightery and programmed into the small hours.

At 10:30 am the next day, the jury announced the top 6 teams who made it to the semi-finals and were still in the race for overall victory. The following teams were able to assert themselves against the strong competition and win the respective Challenge:

# Winner of Challenge No. 1:   Über Language
# Winner of Challenge No. 2:   Eli5
# Winner of Challenge No. 3:   Awesome Chatbot
# Winner of Challenge No. 4:   XY
# Winner of Challenge No. 5:   AVA
# Winner of Challenge No. 6:   Ontobot

The best 6 teams then had until 3 pm tofinalize their solutions. The results were then presented to the jury and at 5 pm the overall winner of the AI Hackathon was announced. The team AVA (chatshopper. com) achieved the best overall result and was rewarded with a prize of 4,000 € at the end of the Hackathon.

Winners of the AI Hackathon: AVA

AI Industry Day, Berlin

Immediately after the AI Hackathon the AI Industry Day took place on January 30th. The event was taking place for the second time and brought together AI specialists, enthusiasts and visionaries from all over the world under one roof. Twelve start-ups from seven different countries (Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada) attended the event, which were selected in advance by members of the innovation project eLIZA and hub: raum. The focus was an open exchange about AI between eLIZA and the entrepreneurs. In addition, the representatives of the start-ups were given the opportunity to present their solutions and products and give an insight into current developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

The AI Industry Day was declared open by Jan Hofmann, who warmly welcomed the visitors and presented the prospect of an exciting day with numerous discussions and plenty of time for networking.

The start-ups were able to present their ideas/product. Three start-ups each pitching on products and services to support and enhance eLIZA’s Tribes; Smart Processes, Smart Decisioning, Smart Dialogues, as well as UX & Machine Learning.

The start-ups 5Analytics, CallDesk and Leverton presented their findings and solutions on the topic of "Smart Processes". The founders of Nethone, Rainbird and Uniqai dealt with the topic "Smart Decisioning". The companies Cognity, Speechmatics and Wysdom. ai proved their expertise in the field of "Smart Dialogue". And the start-ups Bloomsbury AI, Futurae and Mindfulmachines A. I. scored points with answers to key questions from the UX & Machine Learning sector.

During the subsequent panel discussion, which was also attended by representatives of the two Hackathon sponsors Facebook and Nvidia, the following questions were asked and hotly debated: 

  • Does automation free up time for employees or does it replace them?
  • Is Artificial Intelligence the future of customer care?
  • What are the limits to machine learning and what does it mean for big corporation?
  • Does AI benefit companies or consumers more?

The afternoon was free for networking, debating and exchanging open questions. The start-ups were given the opportunity to position themselves at their own booths to answer specific questions in one-on-one interviews and to establish direct contacts.

Around 5 pm the participants of both events gathered for the official announcement of the AI Hackathon's overall winner. Jan Hofmann thanked all participants, start-ups and of course the winners in his closing speech for their attendance and commitment. At 6:30 pm both events were declared over.


Two days full of exciting ideas, valuable realisations and new insights in a great atmosphere – both the AI Hackathon and the AI Industry Day fulfilled all expectations and fostered the lively exchange between the AI experts as well as networking between employees of the eLIZA project and external specialists.

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