Facebook Data & Analytics Event

I have been super lucky to get invited a couple of weeks ago to this amazing event on Tuesday at Facebook’s London HQ. Of course, I couldn’t say no. It was a mix of interesting talks and informal networking around data and analytics.

Also at this event, the Geekettes had their official re-launch, introducing their new London group leaders. Geekettes is a global organisation for women in technology, founded by Jess Erickson and Denise Philipp in Berlin. With 9 hubs around the world, I am very proud to have joined them as a member after this event.

The four talks of the evening revolved around the ways in which Facebook is handling its large amount of data for advertising, product quality and research.

Manohar Paluri, researcher at Facebook AI, offered a great talk about how they use AI to achieve the company’s mission – connecting everyone. He focused on computer vision and what role it plays in enhancing accessibility. For instance, blind users can benefit from great voice overs describing what a photo their friends have shared looks like. Recent research even goes into segmentation of images or videos, allowing users to hover over parts of the image and find out what is in that area: a lake, the sky, a person, a dog, anything! Last month, The Verge published an article exactly on these latest developments.

Another great project he talked about was identifying where people are in the world by using AI on satellite images. Wired wrote an article about it earlier this year. I particularly liked his view on AI, which concluded his presentation – the aim is to “provide super powers to humans with the help of AI”. It is amazing to realise that things we usually take for granted like our sight, voice or our hearing, represent for others super powers. And AI is great at doing that! This reminded me of another brilliant initiative a developer from Microsoft London, with whom I had the pleasure to work, had of using AI to help blind people understand their environment.

Serhad Bolukcu then discussed about bringing analytical discipline to marketing, as he is managing the department dedicated to empowering Facebook pages of small and medium businesses. He presented the way they use AI to help them analyse the vast amount of data they gather and what tools and algorithms they use.

I also really like Maya Bruhis’ talk on moving fast with stability, an analogy to Facebook’s mantra “move fast and break things”. As the Product Quality lead in Analytics, she is very much responsible for making sure the platform is working properly, the daily code releases don’t break anything crucial and they are preventing as much as possible any incidents (I had no idea people started calling the police when Facebook was down #facebookdown).

She briefly explained how they are achieving these goals and what are the data sources they use as signals. She compared really nicely the work that they do as making sure that Facebook’s “heart rate” is in a healthy condition at all times.

I’ll leave you with some photos I took during the event.

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