Minds Mastering Machines, Cologne 2018

Day One

The event opened with a keynote from Oliver Bendel, a professor of machine ethics at University of St. Gallen. My first unexpected learning (for m3 being a machine learning conference…) was that ethics is a philosophical discipline and deals with moral. I’d just leave it at that, but after introducing machine ethics and machine morality, and their connection to artificial intelligence, Oliver took us on a tour-de-force of his work. As a trained computer scientist and philosopher, in the past he was researching rule sets for notoriously nice or lying chat bots, mused about the difficulties of transferring responsibility between humans and computers for autonomous driving, and even caught a massive wave of media attention for his reflections how much a sex robot for sadomasochistic practices is allowed to hurt their users… If any of that hits you, pun intended, he recommeded a book by Luis Pereira on Programming Machine Ethics.

Day Two

The second day of m3 started for me with a technical deep-dive into natural language processing. Gerhard Hausmann, the only knowledge system architect at insurance company Barmenia, first described the problem of extracting entities from medical bills and how business logic has to action on semi-standardised descriptions of treatments.

We need to make sure that the bias we face in our everyday lives doesn’t become a bias when training machine learning systems!

The keynote was followed by a double-feature of Zalando specialists. Their R&D in Berlin is a hotbed for machine learning innovation, as highlighted by their project page.

  1. All relevant data is curated and stored in an accessible manner.
  2. Management decisions are made solely on the basis of data.
  3. User experience is key and continously improved, A/B testing a standard tool.
  4. What can be automated and optimised will be.
  5. Data unlocks new customer-facing products.


The first German m3 conference was a success. It’s an event I’d definitely recommend to my colleagues. The mix of people was good, ranging from curious programmers to seasoned practitioners, and from IT consultants to enterprise data scientists. The bullshit factor was very small for a conference dealing with “AI” (a bit of handwaving here), and I’m sure there was something to be learned for everyone.



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Boris Adryan

Boris Adryan

Former group leader at @Cambridge_Uni. Founder of @thingslearn. Now #IoT and #analytics in industry. Occasional banter.