A Look Into ODSC West 2020

A Conference Held During Pandemic

When we stayed up on New Year’s eve wishing our dear and near ones a wonderful year ahead, we never expected the home quarantine part and suffocation from wearing masks. Coronavirus did bring our lives to a standstill. Before we even realized, classrooms were replaced with google classrooms, and “ among us “ and “ Netflix party “ became the new way to socialize. And with this came virtual conferences. Open Data Science Conference is an annual conference held in San Francisco and is the largest and ONLY applied data science training conference in the world, unfortunately, due to the sudden blow of Covid19 ODSC West was also made virtual. The Scholarship included 2 days free pass to attend the event. This event was well organized and there was a virtual career fair, virtual auditoriums, games, tasks, and a chatroom to network with all those innovative minds who are creating wonders in the field of Data Science and AI.

The academic pass which I received was for the 29th and 30th of October from 9 am to 6 pm (PDT). Attending an international event conducted halfway across the world had its drawback of staying up from 9.30 pm to 5 am (IST). But to be frank, I was too excited to fall asleep. The event started with a keynote session. The first keynote session was on the topic, Data for good, talking about the life cycle of data and how, with the advancement of the internet, we are generating data every moment for third-party users. This session gave tips on how to make maximum use of available data to bring out beneficial outcomes and briefed about causal inference and how finding all the confounders can improve the performance. The second keynote session was even better and astonished us with the power of GPT3 which has 175 billion neurons while a human brain has only 85 billion neurons. But even such an advanced model like GPT3 having an unrestrained capability for image completion, image captioning results in catastrophic failures at times prompting us to rethink if AI can “really” predict?

Training sessions and workshops covered basics to advanced topics and introduced many opensource resources like DeepPavlov-an opensource conversational AI framework, an end to end tutorial on building ml pipelines using BERT models, and so on. There was this gripping session on how to take advantage of the High Missing Data scenario rather than dropping the entire row.

In addition to these, there were many more informative sessions on “How to build a resume” and “Am I ready for a Data Science Job?”.The Center of attention of this conference was the career fair that was open on the last day. It was a huge opportunity to network with innovative minds and to get a sneak peek into AI applications across major industries. Some hidden challenges were also present to earn points and to gain prizes. I did manage to secure the 26th position and got an Amazon gift card for completing the scavenger hunt.

Attending ODSC West 2020 was a memorable experience, hats off to the entire team that collaborated to provide such a marvelous virtual treat.