Montenegrin AI Association – MAIA: From Data Science to Practical Applications

Applications Our goal is to raise people’s awareness about artificial intelligence, and we are delighted to have seen a large number of AI enthusiasts at our MeetUps who want to learn, educate themselves, and advance in this field, or to inform themselves about ways in which they can improve their businesses. One of the most significant topics of today that is slowly but surely becoming an essential part of our lives is artificial intelligence. We spoke with representatives of the Montenegrin AI Association – MAIA, now an honorary member of the ICT cluster Cortex, Itana, and Nikola Bulatović, whose organization aims to research, promote, and implement artificial intelligence in everyday life. Artificial intelligence represents an inexhaustible source of possibilities for improving our world, and MAIA focuses on finding ways in which this technology can enhance people’s lives in our community. The members of this organization have established themselves as leaders in the field of artificial intelligence, and their innovative approach enables the creation of a new paradigm in this area. Learn about how MAIA was created, what their views on artificial intelligence are, what challenges they face, what impact artificial intelligence will have on our daily functioning and many other useful pieces of information related to this topic in the following text. From a spontaneous idea to concrete action When asked how they came up with the idea to establish an organization whose focus is on researching and implementing artificial intelligence, Nikola emphasizes that the initiative came about in a fairly spontaneous way: “Given that we are engaged in similar research topics, we came up with the idea of uniting the AI (artificial intelligence) community in Montenegro. Our acquaintances with colleagues who are very successful in artificial intelligence research contributed to this, and we decided to start by gathering a small number of people and founding an NGO whose topic would be the development of this field.“ According to our interlocutors, at the very beginning, they focused on building the AI community. Their Slack group gathered a significant number of members in a very short period, who engaged in artificial intelligence, which also contributed to the inclusion of people from different spheres who began to give numerous ideas and suggestions, which was essentially the goal: to unify the AI community under one roof. Artificial intelligence development: “a kind of magic” that has existed for over 40 years As for the concept of artificial intelligence itself, our interlocutors state that it does not represent “some kind of magic“, but that there are scientific research and methods that can be used to prove whether a particular AI system has provided a solution to a specific question. Artificial intelligence as a science has been developing for decades and is by no means a new field. According to them, the revolutionary advancement of AI is thanks to the long-term accelerated progress of electronic computer chips and computer hardware, as well as working environments with which we can easily experiment with algorithms for processing large amounts of data: “The current breakthrough of artificial intelligence has been built up over the past fifty years. The neural networks we use today were created in the 1990s, but could not be applied in practical applications because we did not have computers on which we could run an artificial intelligence system designed for widespread use. Due to the development of computer technology and the expansion of the large amount of data we generate on a daily basis, it was not until 2010 and later that conditions were created for artificial intelligence to become applicable. Only then do we have the opportunity to program artificial intelligence algorithms without having to use supercomputers. Thanks to all of the above, we now have tools that can process large amounts of information much faster, more efficiently, and meaningfully than we could before. Instead of processing a huge amount of data that someone had to analyze manually or using a computer, we can now replace the entire process with an AI algorithm that will analyze the data and extract useful information from it without the need for human intervention“, said Nikola. The concept of AI is not so complicated, as Itana explains, emphasizing that the entire concept of artificial intelligence can be defined simply as the science of data: “People who are typically engaged in this activity will simply say “data science“, which means the science of data, machine learning, or some other form of learning. The fact is that the mention of artificial intelligence opens up a variety of different debates. We can view this phenomenon as an umbrella, under which fall machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning, recommendation systems, and all other areas that can contribute with their data.” Focus on education and application of artificial intelligence In addition to wanting to gather people with similar interests and contribute to the development of the aforementioned phenomenon, Itana and Nikola particularly emphasize that in the near future, they will focus on organizing educational programs, MeetUps, and conferences that will be accessible and, as they believe, beneficial to the wider community. Additionally, one of the focuses of their future activities will also be on scientific research with specific projects as their topic: “None of us is an expert who knows everything absolutely, but we are here to learn from each other, which was ultimately one of our main goals. Of course, new focuses are added for the next period, such as expanding our community, organizing events of various types, research, and so on. Also, one of our priorities, which we cannot currently realize, but hope to achieve in a few years, is scientific research on concrete projects, where our engineers and scientists can work on practical applications. Primarily, we would like it to be in Montenegro, meaning that we would like to implement some of the AI solutions that would improve life in our community. Precisely because most of us come from the world of science, we would like to apply the knowledge