Tonight was a big night for the Santa Cruz tech community. The respected 4,000 members strong Santa Cruz Tech Meetup celebrated its tenth year anniversary with a special event at the Boardwalk’s Cocoanut Grove. While new and old members packed the hall, the excitement was palatable as Doug Erickson, the meetup organizer and one of the founders and an inspiration to many, introduced the tech event program.
The theme for the evening was “artificial intelligence” — and the rising development of computer systems meant to replace humans in performing tasks.
Women in Tech – Yeah!
The special fireside chat was hosted by Guy Kawasaki, tech evangelist and Marilyn Walker, a UC Santa Cruz computer scientist and professor with tenure. The two discussed the development of voice-enabled technologies, namely, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri, and the way voice-activation is used in vehicles, for better and worse. Best quote of the evening goes to Kawasaki, who referred to Microsoft’s Cortana,” as the worse name for a program.”
Featured speakers included Economist Chris Thornberg who presented his “State of Santa Cruz Tech” report, sponsored by the Santa Cruz Workforce Development Board. Thornberg emphasized the importance of tackling the housing crisis in California and directly linked the crisis to obstructing the economic growth.
Tech with a Mission
CEO and Founder Ryan McVicker of Vocasso, an Emeryville startup made a passionate presentation about its app and headset which use artificial intelligence to translate the mouthing of words with or without sounds into speech, greatly helping individuals with speech impairments or other speech-relation impediments.
Well-aligned with Santa Cruz’s commitment to recycling, and upcycling and sense of community, Jonathan Lo of Seattle-based Better Finds, introduced its online marketplace for people looking to sell unused belongings and donate the earnings to a charitable institution and get a tax receipt, and if they wish to, deduct it from their income tax.
Other presenters included Sam Lessin, founder of San Francisco-based startup Fin, a personal assistant to help humans be more productive who introduced the concept of Mixed Intelligence -human and machine intelligence working together-, and guess what? “It’s hard to do right, ” said Lessin. Newcomers UCSC grads Simba Khadder and Ryan Brounley of San Francisco-based startup Triton, which uses artificial intelligence to make products recommendations based on your habits presented their projects and finally Thomas “Elvis” Jones of Amazon who lightly touched on how Amazon relies more and more on Artificial Intelligence for its business.
Finally, The Scope Weekly would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Doug for his commitment to the Santa Cruz tech community.
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