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Technology and society - who's leading who?

The conference hall sounded like a beehive as 650 participants gathered for the biggest Lindholmen Software Development Day to date. And busy bees they were, not only gathering new knowledge, but also sharing insights in an open network - which is key to the new digital industrial revolution.

This year's topic was "The Software Society." How will the digital transformation and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning reshape society? And how will our changing behaviour and increasing demands drive the advancement of these technologies? 

lindholmensoftwareday_32_niclas_nygren.jpgFirst out was Niclas Nygren, Senior Director of Strategy & Concept, Electronics and Chassis at Volvo Cars, who opened by saying that Volvo Cars is up for a real challenge because things are moving so fast. But with an agile movement, it seems like the brand is ready to take on the challenge as society moves from buying and owning a car to renting, sharing or subscribing to a mobility service.

"A massive amount of computing power is needed to handle these changes. We are moving towards a car-like computer, and software needs to be flexible and adaptable.
Convenience and user experience are important selling factors, and a car needs to be updated as fast as your iPhone,
" said Niclas.

Another company with a long history, that is also facing the challenges and opportunities oflindholmensoftwareday_67_petra_sundstrom.jpg the new industrial revolution, is Husqvarna. Petra Sundström, Director Idea and Innovation Management, shared their approach. 

"We have 1,600 products, so we need to prioritize and find the best path when connecting our products. We have to understand the needs of our customers - both our dealers and our end users. Then we can start small and scale in the right direction."

Artificial intelligence - the new electricity
The increase in computing power and available data over the last decade are two reasons why deep learning (a technique for implementing machine learning) is now driving the explosion of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

lindholmensoftwareday_50_devdatt_dubhashi.jpgDevdatt Dubhashi, Professor at the Computing Science division at Chalmers, calls AI the "new electricity" and claims it will completely transform the industry. Why?

"AI has so many applications and lends itself to such a wide range of products - everyday products and services. It also has a wide scope of elaboration," said Devdatt. "No industry will remain untouched by AI; AI is driving progress," he added.

To learn even more about AI and how it can be used in products lindholmensoftwareday_150_maya_weinstein.jpgand services, a majority of the 650 participants attended Maya Weinstein's presentation on Artificial Intelligence in Services. Maya works as Senior Designer of Watson Implementations at IBM, and TV viewers may be familiar with supercomputer Watson that won the quiz show Jeopardy.

Watson is a cognitive computing system that takes in data, and can then understand, reason and learn to interact in a more personalized way.

"One example of how successful the Watson technology can be is when it concluded the correct cancer diagnosis for a patient with a rare form of leukaemia. By cross-referencing and analyzing data from tens of millions of oncology papers all over the world, treatment options could be suggested," said Maya.

lindholmensoftwareday_175_julien_simon.jpgFor anyone wanting to get more technical, deep learning was demonstrated by Julien Simon from Amazon Web Services. He used python programming to showcase different models for image-recognition with amazing accuracy after just a few minutes of training.  

The virtual reality/augmented reality and gaming track attracted many participants. A lot of them also took the opportunity to experience different techniques, including a Volvo Trucks simulator using VR.

Oliver Palm from Vehicle Functions at Volvo Trucks was operating the simulator.
 "Our ambition is to use this virtual tool in our development environment and shorten lead times, development time, for projects. The idea is that when you specify a function you can test it and run a demo. Visualizing it for the team and the customer makes it very clear," said Oliver.

Justin Salér, systems engineer at Volvo Cars, was amazed by the simulator and felt inspired by the day.
"This was the first time I have ever tried VR, and after a while it actually felt like I was driving! I've seen some really cool inventions here today and everything has been on a high level. After today, it feels like I've got a good picture of where we are going and I am motivated and want  to be part of that movement."
Cross-industry knowledge sharing was a recurring theme throughout the conference, as well as how large and small firms can support each other. This underlines the importance of an event like the Lindholmen Software Development Day, which always aims to provide a neutral arena for knowledge sharing in software development. Next year's conference on May 29 will bring a new take on the event and no doubt continue to inspire new innovations and collaborations.