A.I. everywhere: How digital assistants will transform our lives

05 Jun 2018

Location: Rüschlikon/Zurich, Switzerland


Leading researchers, developers and thought leaders of artificial intelligence shared insights on how AI and digital assistants will transform our lives at a conference at the Centre for Global Dialogue in Rüschlikon.

See our coverage, including videos, a graphic recording ebook and key takeaways.


About the event

Digital assistants have the potential to be the bridge between smart homes, smart cars, smartphones, PCs, wearables and other devices that we use in our personal and professional lives. They could make our lives better organised, and our devices and services much easier to use. What are the promises and challenges of this brave new world of intelligence augmentation?

Swiss Re, the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI), and IBM Research which are at the forefront of artificial intelligence research, development and prediction, have joined forces to approach the topic from different points of view at this conference on digital assistants:

•    Business: Swiss Re illustrates the potential impact of digital assistants on the financial services sector.
•    Society: GDI, one of Switzerland’s leading think tanks for economics, society and consumption maps future concepts and ideas for uses of digital assistants.
•    Technology and innovation: As a pioneer in advancing artificial intelligence for business use, IBM Research explains the principles behind the technology and shows how domains such as the supply chain, Internet of Things and healthcare are poised for dramatic change.

The conference connected networks of artificial intelligence research and practice with thought leaders and decision makers from society, business and government.




Tuesday, 5 June 2018


Welcome coffee and registration


Setting the scene
How digital assistants will transform our lives


Florian Inhauser, Moderator, Swiss Radio and Television SRF


Panel discussion with
Rainer Baumann, Head Group Digital & Information Service,
Swiss Re
David Bosshart, CEO, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Costas Bekas, Distinguished Researcher & Manager, IBM Research Zurich


Opening keynote address
Nick Jennings, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Imperial College London


Multimodal interfaces and designing with voice: Past, present, future
Karen Kaushansky, Experience Design Leader, Robot Futures Consulting GmbH


How A.I. assistants will transform your business
Gabi Zodik, Director, CTO and Head of Development for Watson Assistant Solutions, IBM Research



What are digital assistants and how do they work?
Meet your future best friend


Voice enable all the things
Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist Alexa and Echo, Amazon


The Google Assistant and the conversational interface revolution
Tilke Judd, Product Manager, Google


Conversation with speakers


How the automotive industry utilises digital labor to transform the customer experience in the era of A.I.
Alex Dogariu, Manager Customer Management Strategy & A.I. Lead, Mercedes-Benz Consulting


Loving the alien: Empathy and the relationship between us and digital assistants
Wally Brill, Head of Conversation Design Advocacy & Education, Google


A.I. up close and personal: How your digital assistant understands your emotions and prevents your next heart attack
Yoram Levanon, Chief Scientific Officer, Beyond Verbal Communication


Conversation with speakers




How digital assistants are implemented in business today
Truly delivering bottom line impact or just another hype?


Parallel breakout sessions

Swiss Re 

This session will give you an idea about how AI and digital assistants are used in the insurance industry. Learn how you can connect directly with your customers through the power of smart messaging and AI, driving satisfaction and loyalty, and how data science and machine learning can be used to power services that give everyone access to tailored advice about their life and their risks.

Moderator: Gianluca Antonini, Head Machine Intelligence & Strategy, Swiss Re

How digital transformation creates a connected experience in the on-demand economy
Donna Peeples, Chief Customer Officer, Pypestream
Pypestream enables businesses to connect directly with their customers through the power of smart messaging and AI, driving satisfaction and loyalty.

Friction-free inspections utilizing the first 100% trustworthy image & video solution
Jeffrey McGregor, CEO, Truepic
Truepic is a digital notary for images & videos, creating the first 100% verified authentic photo. Truepic saves an image or video's metadata, geolocates and time stamps, runs multiple proprietary computer vision tests to ensure authenticity and registers a unique reference of the image to the blockchain.

Building the world’s smartest independent insurance adviser
David Vanek, CEO and Co-Founder, Anorak
Anorak uses data science and machine learning to power a service that gives everyone access to tailored advice about their life and their risks. The company heavily uses bank transaction data and open-banking.

The Swiss Re perspective
Pravina Ladva, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Swiss Re Life Capital

Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

The future of AI arrives in many shapes and forms. “Smartness” is not a single dimension. There are many modes of cognition, bundled in different systems. Some smart assistants will understand emotions, some will act autonomously, alone or together in a swarm of other intelligent agents. In this breakout session, we will discuss how emotional and autonomous AI work and how we will interact with, control and educate it.

Moderator: Florian Inhauser, Swiss Radio and Television SRF

Opening remarks
Karin Frick, Head of Think Tank and Member of the Executive Board, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

How to measure and predict happiness and other emotions
Marius Stein, Software Engineer, happimeter.org, MIT; Project Technical Lead, mycargorates.de

Digital assistants: Will we do as they say?
Jakub Samochowiec, Senior Researcher, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

IBM Research

A.I. assistants are already being used across many industries and in different forms. However, there exists tremendous untapped potential that is the subject of ongoing research. This session gives you a flavor of existing business applications and a taste of the future that is being shaped in our research labs. Our goal is to augment human intelligence and design a partnership between man and machine in a way that becomes essential for your organisation’s mission. We will also talk about how A.I. is changing the future of work and about our ethical framework for the future development of A.I. systems.

Moderator: Karin Vey, Executive Innovation Consultant, IBM ThinkLab at IBM Research

Priyanka Deva, Senior Technical Staff Member-Cognitive Solutions; Global Leader Smarter Supply Chain Analytics-CoC, IBM

Gabi Zodik, Director, CTO and Head of Development for Watson Assistant Solutions, IBM Research





An outlook
When man and machine start to merge


Artificial Angel of Death or Bodhisattva-AI? Practical and ethical implications of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
Thomas Metzinger, German philosopher and Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz


The next frontier: When thoughts control machines
Claude Clément, Chief Technology Officer, Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering


The renaissance of our species
Neil Harbisson, Cyborg and Transpecies Activist


Rainer Baumann, Head Group Digital & Information Service,
Swiss Re  


Networking reception


End of event

This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Institute’s internal and external websites and in printed materials.








Market stands: Exhibition and demos








Photos by: Valeriano Di Domenico


Market stands

Conference attendees will have the chance to visit the following five market stands between 8:00 and 17:15 when the conference is not in session:

CYBATHLON's BrainRunners – Brain-Computer Interface Race: Control your avatar with the power of your own mind

The CYBATHLON is a unique championship for people with disabilities competing in six disciplines, using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies to solve everyday tasks.

On 8th October 2016, the CYBATHLON was carried out for the first time in the SWISS Arena in Kloten near Zurich. The event impressively demonstrated how assistive technologies can help people with disabilities to tackle the challenges of everyday life and that there still is a huge potential. That’s why the gates will be opened for the continuation of the CYBATHLON at the SWISS Arena in Kloten near Zurich from 2–3 May 2020. Prepare yourself for an arena charged with passion and an emotion-filled audience that is inspired by the exciting races and challenging tasks.

You will have the chance to experience one of the six CYBATHLON disciplines: In the BrainRunners computer game you have the chance to test the power of your thoughts. Using a brain-computer interface (BCI) you control your avatar with your thoughts alone.

CYBATHLON’s BrainRunners was developed through a joint collaboration between ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Do you have the mental focus to will your avatar to the finish line? Stop by and play the game to see how well technology can in effect, read your mind.

Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering

What visitors can expect:

Reveal hidden neurotechnology in a bionic body by scanning augmented reality markers with a specialised app. Find out more about the implantable neurotech being developed to help people with nervous system disorders.

Take a fantastic voyage through the brain with an immersive VR experience. This demo is a new way of visualizing very high resolution microscopy images. The Wyss Center’s lightsheet microscope was used to create the high res brain images.

Put on VR goggles and build you own flexible electrodes in the virtual Campus Biotech cleanroom. As visitors are rarely allowed into the Campus Biotech cleanroom, this demo was developed to allow people to not only ‘visit’ the cleanroom but also to build their own flexible brain probes. (The VR needs 2m high mounting points for two cameras).

Pick up and touch real implantable devices. We will bring a selection of both prototype and existing devices from our collection.

Swissquote's Robo Advisor

A true frontrunner in terms of new technologies, Swissquote was created in 1996 and rapidly became the No. 1 financial and online trading services provider in Switzerland. The group works with over 300,000 private investors and institutional clients.

In 2010 Swissquote launched its digital wealth management platform ePrivate Banking. In the past, the only options for people looking to grow their wealth were to entrust their money to a fund manager or to opt for direct trading. The Robo Advisory solution provides an innovative alternative to traditional wealth management. You define your risk profile and preferred investment universe. The Robo Advisor then proposes an optimal investment strategy that is perfectly adapted to the risk profile defined and your preferences. As no emotions are involved, this wealth manager ensures compliance with the risk profile and investment preferences, and makes any necessary reallocations in order to maintain the optimal direction of your portfolio.

Embark on the digital revolution and try out our Robo Advisory demo at our booth.

ContactOne, SwissRe's internal customer service, is moving towards the digital age of the customer by optimising and digitising opportunities how services such as IT, HR, Logistics, etc. are offered and supported for our employees.

Last year we introduced a cognitive assistant based on IBM Watson technology for our service desk agents so they can better serve our customers in a three step approach:

1. Understanding the customer context with all relevant customer information
2. Finding the best solution to a customer inquiry or issue across a variety of knowledge sources
3. Efficiently documenting and classifying tickets based on suggestions provided with machine learning capabilities

This year we are piloting a chatbot for ContactOne: a virtual agent, which enables better, easier and more effective self-service for Swiss Re employees.

Join us to experience our agent assistant as well as our chatbot and learn about our experiences, successes and lessons learned along the way!

IBM's digital assistants everywhere: in everyday business and everyday life, from down-to-earth to high-in-the-sky

IBM Research is presenting a gallery of examples that show how digital assistants are being used across various industries and for a broad spectrum of tasks, as well as the technologies that power them. Come meet Alvi, CIMON, Connie, EVA, Gwyn, IVIE, Josie, Lucy, MERA, Rachel, Rocky, Olli, Sepp, Sophie and see what they can do.


How happy are you?

You have the opportunity to participate in an experiment on happiness conducted by researchers from MIT and the University of Cologne. They will measure and predict your happiness and other emotions based on data collected by the sensors of a smartwatch. They will show you when and with whom you were happy or stressed during the conference. To participate, pick up one of thirty smartwatches which we will have ready for you at the registration desk right before the conference (first come, first served), download an app on your iPhone or Android, and start automatically tracking your mood. More information can be found at happimeter.org.