The metaverse may be the stuff of science fiction, but it’s going to make an appearance at a pretty serious tech event: Nvidia’s annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC), an online event happening November 8-11.
GTC expected to draw more than 200,000 attendees including innovators, researchers, thought leaders, and decision-makers. More than 500 sessions focus on deep learning, data science, HPC, robotics, data center/networking, and graphics. Speakers will discuss the latest breakthroughs in healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, retail, finance, telecoms, and more.
I’m moderating a session on the vision for the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. The panelists include Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games; Morgan McGuire, chief scientist at Roblox; Willim Cui, vice president of Tencent Games; Jinsoo Jeon, head of metaverse at SK Telecom; Rev Lebaredian, vice president of simulation technology and Omniverse engineering at Nvidia; Christina Heller, CEO of Metastage; and Patrick Cozzi, CEO of Cesium. (We’ll air the panel at our own GamesBeat Summit Next event on November 9-10.)
“It’s a different twist to have a metaverse session,” said Estes. “You know that the metaverse has become top of mind with so many other companies talking about it. Omniverse [the metaverse for engineers] is our product in that area. And so we’re, we’re clearly leaning into that, but Omniverse isn’t the only thing going on. And so we were welcoming and embracing other other conversations about that, because in typical Nvidia fashion, a lot of our success model is the fact that we are Switzerland. We’re a platform and a lot of companies are doing great work on our platform. ”
That’s the general spirit of a lot of the sessions at GTC, Estes said.
“GTC is is attendees can hear from innovators who are in the same general space, but they’re taking different approaches to things,” Estes said. “There are a lot of things about the metaverse that are complementary to the Omniverse.”
Other companies represented among the speakers include Amazon, Arm, AstraZeneca, Baidu, BMW, Domino’s, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Ford, Google, Kroger, Microsoft, MIT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, OpenAI, Palo Alto Networks, Red Hat, Rolls-Royce, Salesforce, Samsung, ServiceNow, Snap, Stanford University, Volvo, and Walmart.
And Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will announce new AI technologies and products in his keynote presentation, which will be livestreamed on Nov. 9 at 9 am Central European Time/4 pm China Standard Time/12 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. It will be rebroadcast at 8 am PST for viewers in the Americas.
“It’s fair to say that you can expect to hear product and technology announcements. From Jensen, you can expect to hear about new partnerships and lots of examples of actually implementing AI on the leading edge,” Estes said. “We’ll have a number of examples of lighthouse customers and end users and our ecosystem partners.”
It’s the second major GTC event of the year. Traditional, Nvidia held a big event in the spring and then a lot of smaller regional events. But with the pandemic, that has evolved into two major online events, said Greg Estes, vice president of corporate marketing and developer programs at Nvidia, in an interview with VentureBeat.
Because of the delta variant of COVID-19, Nvidia opted to do another online-only event for the fall GTC.
“As for going back to physical events, we’re hoping for the spring but it’s of course hard to say,” Estes said. “On the other hand, I can’t see us doing physical-only ever again. There will always be really solid digital components going forward. It’s just been too successful. People like it a lot. And we draw a lot more people. And also we can also get to some speakers that we couldn’t get to before.”
Nvidia will make sessions available for viewing after the event.
“We’re expecting more than 200,000 registrations, which is what we had in the spring,” Estes said. “It’s just a fantastic thing to have that much interest and that many connections. For our developer community, we take all the GTC session and we make them available in perpetuity for free. We archive these talks on Nvidia on demand.”
For social interaction, Nvidia is using a third-party app dubbed BrainDate to arrange meetings. But Estes note that due to the resurgence in COVID that the company wasn’t comfortable having a lot of in-person gatherings yet. Over time, he expects that virtual reality meetings, events, and collaborations will take off, as it can be more convenient than travel for a lot of people.
“AI technology is evolving so quickly that it makes sense to have more than one event a year,” Estes said.
Ilya Sutskever, chief scientist at OpenAI, will discuss the history of deep learning and what the future might hold. Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science at Stanford University, will discuss ambient intelligence (smart, sensor-based solutions) to illuminate the dark spaces of healthcare and take part in a Q&A with Kimberly Powell, Nvidia’s vice president of healthcare.
Bei Yang, vice president and technology studio executive at Disney Imagineering, will discuss how the company is using advanced technologies to “imagineer” the metaverse.
Shashi Bhushan, principal AI software and systems architect at Lockheed Martin, will describe how the company is using Nvidia Omniverse, the “metaverse for engineers,” to predict and fight wildfires.
Ross Krambergar, digital solutions for production planning at BMW, will describe how BMW is utilizing Nvidia Omniverse to realize their vision for a digital twin factory of the future to increase manufacturing flexibility.
Keith Perry, chief information officer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will explain how they used data science to advance treatments for life-threatening diseases in children. Nir Zuk, chief technology officer at Palo Alto Networks, will speak about AI for cybersecurity.
Anima Anandkumar, director of machine learning research at Nvidia and professor at Caltech, will speak in a panel on measuring and mitigating bias in AI models and run a session on advances in the convergence of AI and scientific computing.
Keith Strier, vice president of worldwide AI initiatives at Nvidia, and Mark Andrijanič, minister for digital transformation of Slovenia, will participate in a fireside chat to discuss how countries need to invest in AI, including infrastructure and data scientists.
Scientists at MIT, Amazon Web Services’ Sustainable Data Initiative, and Nvidia will explain how a group of public and private sector entities is providing climate data to scientists.
An expert panel will talk about the potential of Universal Scene Description (USD) for 3D creators in all industries. The panel includes Sebastian Grassia, project lead for USD at Pixar; Mohsen Rezayat, chief solutions architect at Siemens; Shawn Dunn, senior product manager at Epic Games; Simon Haegler, senior software developer at Esri R&D Center Zurich; Hilda Espinal, chief technology officer at CannonDesign; and Michael Kass, senior distinguished engineer at Nvidia.
Axel Gern, CTO at Daimler Trucks, will explain the strategy, challenges and opportunities of developing software-defined trucks for an autonomous future.
And Nvidia’s graphics wizards will reveal the technologies they used to create a virtual Jensen for the previous spring GTC keynote.
GTC will feature a series of sessions focused on business and technical topics in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Speakers from organizations and universities, such as the Kenya AI Center of Excellence, Ethiopian Motion Design and Visual Effects Community, Python Ghana, Nairobi Women in Machine Learning & Data Science, and Chile Inria Research Center, will describe how emerging market developers are using AI to address challenges.
“We have more international speakers, and more content that shifts towards Europe in the Middle East,” Estes said. “AI is the center of gravity, but it’s not the only thing we’re doing. One of the things people are talking about is conversational AI. It touches a lot of different industries, from chatbots for call centers to healthcare, where you have doctor who may have a patient where English isn’t their first language.”
A panel dubbed Bridging the Last Mile Gap with AI Education will feature cxperts and community leaders in Africa as they explain how they are democratizing AI and solving real-world challenges.
Latin American government, industry and academia will discuss the state of the AI ecosystem in Latin America and how to empower researchers and educators with GPUs and AI.
Experts will discuss natural language processing resources to build conversational AI for medium- and low-resource languages such as those in Africa, Arabia, and India.
Inception Venture Capital Alliance
Nvidia’s Inception AI program educates more than 8,500 companies that have potential for disruption. And Nvidia execs will talk about the company’s AI strategy and direction, focused on developers, startups, computing platforms, enterprise customers, and corporate development. More than 70 startups will share their business models involving conversational AI, drug discovery, autonomous systems, emerging markets, and other areas.
The panel will include Greg Estes, VP of corporate marketing and developer programs; Manuvir Das, head of enterprise computing; Shanker Trivedi, SVP of worldwide enterprise business; Vishal Bhagwati, head of corporate development; Mat Torgow, head of venture capital business development; and Kari Briski, VP of software product management for AI/HPC.
Ozzy Johnson, director of solutions architecture at Nvidia, will discuss technologies and key frameworks to accelerate a startup’s journey.
The pandemic has spurred investment and innovation in the healthcare and life sciences (HCLS) industry. Despite economic uncertainty, HCLS AI startups raised record funding. This panel will include the CEOs from startups Cyclica in biotech, IBEX in pathology, and Rayshape in ultrasound, moderated by Renee Yao, head of global healthcare AI startups at Nvidia, and cover AI in healthcare trends, challenges, and technical breakthroughs.
Diversity & Inclusion
GTC is structured as an open, all-access event available to virtually any community around the world. Sessions have been curated to inform and inspire developers, researchers, scientists, educators, professionals, and students from historically underrepresented groups.
Topics will include building better datasets and making AI more inclusive. Nvidia partners with organizations including LatinX in AI, Tech Career and W.AI in Israel, and Ewha Womans University of Korea to offer complimentary access to Nvidia Deep Learning Institute workshops for diverse communities.
“We’re doing a lot of educational programs and training with our Deep Learning Institute, and doing other initiatives with educators from historically black colleges and universities, and we’re doing things in Africa,” Estes said. “We’re doing things specifically targeting women in technology to try to bring these communities which have historically been underrepresented to train them better to avail them of the leading thinking to work with educators.”
Nvidia offers free teaching kits for educators to get children interested in AI and engineering.
“It’s important that we’re talking to the next generation coming up, helping both younger people and then mid-career professionals who want to learn new skills, ” Estes said.
One of the diversity sessions brings together academics, industry experts and the founder of W.AI to discuss how to help more women join the field of data science and AI through mentoring opportunities and supporting advanced degree enrollment.
Louis Stewart, head of strategic initiatives for Nvidia’s Developer Ecosystem, will speak with faculty and student researchers from the Africana Digital Ethnography Project on efforts to build new and unique datasets for better natural language understanding from all parts of the world.
An AI for Smart City session will talk about where AI has been deployed to solve urban challenges, ethical challenges associated with using AI in urban settings, and how it could address challenges stemming from urbanization, failing infrastructure, traffic management, population health difficulties, energy crises, and more.
The event will have regional speakers from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Israel, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and southern Asia Pacific.
“There are smart people everywhere. And that’s a really important theme,” Estes said. “There is no reason in the world why certain countries should have an advantage over others when it comes to the brainpower of people doing AI work. We’re putting energy into reaching out to those communities. Africa is the example I gave earlier, but certainly in Latin America, and all across Asia Pacific, there is good thinking and great work being done today. In Singapore, and Vietnam, and other areas like that. And for us to be able to kind of bring that together in one place is really cool.”