Artificial intelligence dominates massive Hackathon

Microsoft’s latest Hackathon has produced a hot idea that cleverly uses artificial intelligence (AI). And the judges are so excited, they are not talking about it publicly — at least for now.

“The project is a compelling and practical use of artificial intelligence that we think our customers will love,” said Jeff Ramos, who leads the Microsoft Garage, the team that runs the Hackathon at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond in the U.S. state of Washington. “It’s so compelling that we’ve decided to be discreet in the amount of details we want to share.”

The competition showed how quickly AI is becoming the fabric of how a new generation of technology services is delivered, with projects submitted for everything from self-driving wheelchairs to the prediction of traffic signal times.

Also read: Artificial Intelligence in Asia: Here, there and everywhere

The Hackathon this year attracted 18,304 registrants who came up with 4,760 projects, making it the biggest private event of its kind in the world, its organizers say.

The projects that emerged were representative of what’s happening –  both internally and within the industry as a whole. The event has come to showcase bold new ideas, many of which make it into the marketplace by influencing company products and sometimes even leading to entirely new services.

The biggest chunk of projects — 2,268 or 48 percent — was focused on AI. That’s up from 1,355 AI-related entries last year, or 35 percent, when the cloud got the most attention, and just 911, or 27 percent, the year before, when mobile apps were all the rage.

“That shows how employees are collaborating across organizations to fuel innovation in the AI domain,” said Rolly Seth, a program manager and leader of the robotics challenge at the Hackathon.

“AI is providing opportunities to make machine interactions with humans more personal, and that’s attracting employees to integrate AI as a core to their hack projects. The technology is catching up with people’s imaginations. The ‘wow-ness’ of things that can be created with AI is appealing to people.”

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