The AI Event of the Year: NVIDIA GTC 2024


This year’s NVIDIA GTC event gave it’s over 300,000 combined online and in-person attendees a lot to talk about. Being the first live GTC in five years, the energy was palpable as the 16,000+ attendees onsite had a high impact meeting of the minds. The excitement was kicked off by a rousing two-hour, multi-media keynote by NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang—held not at the conference site but at the nearby SAP Center sports stadium. (Huang assured everyone they were at a developer’s conference, not a rock concert.) Do not be surprised if this conference is a catalyst that creates a noticeable blip in the industry, accelerating AI projects and more serious business use case adoption.

Despite being labelled a developer’s conference, the range of sessions was wide and varied, appealing to developers, data scientists, IT managers, CxOs, and everyone in between—with the 900+ sessions addressing code-level discussions all the way to the moral and cultural impact on society.

What is this an indication of? That we are on the cusp of some very big disruption, and much like the advent of the Internet, mobile, and social media, everyone will be touched by it.

While this may put fear in some people’s hearts, the dominant sentiment at the show was optimistic and positive, that while there can be a dark side to technology, the balance always tips towards the betterment of lives and our world.

Time will tell of course.

Here are a few highlights from the event:

The keynote by CEO Jensen Huang covered a range of announcements, including the headliner Blackwell chip that is powering earth’s digital twin and will make new medical and drug advancements possible on timelines we’ve never seen. Also announced was NIM, an NVIDIA Inference Microservice which, like most cloud-delivered microservices, will accelerate AI software outcomes for businesses by abstracting out complex logic that many companies can’t or would rather not do themselves. In other words, NIMs represent early steps towards democratizing enterprise-ready AI.

The Driving Enterprise Transformation: CIO Insights on Harnessing Generative AI’s Potential was a packed session showcasing leaders from NVIDIA, ServiceNow, LinkedIn, and SentinelOne. ServiceNow’s Chief Digital Information Officer, Chris Bedi, shared that ServiceNow has embedded GenAI into every single workflow that customers use, stating that, “this is absolutely a watershed moment in the tech industry.” Their initial goal is to “reduce the toil of the repetitive and mundane” to improve job satisfaction, speed, productivity, as well as effectiveness. ServiceNow is live on 20+ use cases with more on the horizon. And it’s working. They are seeing a 10% reduction in cases coming into internal teams including IT and HR, a 14% reduction in cases coming in from customers, and a 5% gain in developer productivity. They estimate GenAI is doing the work of 50 people. With only four months of AI being in production, they are expecting $10 million in annualized benefits.

The fireside chat with David Luan and Bryan Catanzaro for The Future of AI and the Path to AGI was a demonstration of two great minds sharing their vision, along with the “battle scars of stupid” and other learnings they’ve developed along the way. AGI, or artificial general intelligence, is the idea of executing general tasks as well or better than humans. Which leads to the question: “Where do humans belong in the AGI equation?” The speakers see humans as the supervisors of AI. It’s not about replacing, but augmenting how we work, and that there will always be a multi-dimensional human intelligence that is unique and valued.

Perhaps the most charming session was the standing room only Breathing Life into Disney’s Robotic Characters with Deep Reinforcement Learning. Disney is famous for pioneering animatronics. This session focused on a new generation of robots that are mobile, interactive, and realistic, all developed hand-in-hand with animators to make reactions innate and realistic through DRL. Not to mention, they’re 3D printed… While the talk was impressive, the robot demonstration stole the show.

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