An Exploration into the Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence.
On February 14 and 15, AI Festival 2024 transforms the Allianz MiCo in Milan, Italy, into an international stage dedicated to Artificial Intelligence. AI Festival represents an extraordinary experience, a journey into the beating heart of Artificial Intelligence that aims to open us to new perspectives and trigger discussions destined to shape the future of this revolutionary technology.
We are excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to the visionaries behind all of this: Search On Media Group, the company that orchestrated the AI Festival. In particular, with the Founder and CEO of Search On Media Group, Cosmano Lombardo, and the creator of WMF - We Make Future, along with Giorgio Taverniti, Co-Founder of Search On Media Group and SEO & AI Tech Manager, together with Alessio Pomaro, Head of Artificial Intelligence at Search On Media Group, and Marco Quadrella, COO of the Consultancy Area at Search On Media Group.
The festival features a lineup of over 100 speakers and industry experts, along with 10 educational stages in addition to the Plenary, providing a comprehensive and in-depth perspective on Artificial Intelligence. It covers topics such as AI Transformation and AI For Business, with an analysis of AI applications in the fields of work & education, e-commerce, content, marketing, and finally, in ethical and social spheres.
Present were industry experts such as Alessio Pomaro, Head of Artificial Intelligence at Search On Media Group, Monica Orsino, Sn Learning and Development Manager at Microsoft, Sabrina Ricci, AI Ecosystem Manager at ESA Φ--lab and institutional representatives such as Roberto Viola, General Director DG Connect (Communications Networks, Content and Technology) of the European Commission, the Hon. Brando Benifei, MEP, rapporteur of the AI ​​Act, Guido Scorza, Member of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data and Layla Pavone, Head of the Board of Technological Innovation and Digital Transformation of the Municipality of Milan.
Among the interventions, there is that of the guest of honor Garry Kasparov, a Russian pro-democracy leader, called upon to share his vision on the developments of Artificial Intelligence. His interest in this topic originated from the iconic matches against the IBM Deep Blue supercomputer, which sparked public discussion on the competition and collaboration between humans and machines.
Ample space is also given to startups: in the final stage of the “AI for Future” Startup Competition, the six finalists are called to present their entrepreneurial project directly from the stage of the Plenary Hall, in front of a panel of experts and open innovation stakeholders. Among the selection criteria is the project’s inclination to propose AI applications capable of generating a positive impact on society and the environment.
The AI Festival is also a unique meeting and business platform for companies and startups involved in the event, offering them the opportunity to showcase innovative tools and software. It is a context where companies can share cutting-edge solutions and mutually inspire each other. In addition to numerous learning opportunities with the presence of the brightest minds in the industry, the event also provides a unique chance for connection and business with companies, startups, and stakeholders. Over 50 entities, including sponsors and exhibitors, have chosen to participate in the AI Festival.
“We Make Future,” the organizer of this extraordinary event, has a clear objective: to outline the current state and future developments of the technology that is revolutionizing the professional and personal lives of millions of individuals, also influencing global markets. The event not only highlights the present but also prompts crucial reflections on the social, educational, and ethical implications connected to the rapid advancement of AI.
Cosmano Lombardo
Founder and CEO of Search On Media Group, creator of events including WMF - We Make Future, AI Festival, Bologna Tech Week, and many others.
This festival represents an extraordinary opportunity to facilitate the sharing of ideas and expertise. Can we say that you are further accelerating the ongoing revolution? What are your expectations for the AI Festival?
For years, we have been striving to support the sustainable integration of AI into businesses, society, and both Italian and international realities. We are also working with an open innovation mindset, fostering connections between companies and startups that are seeking to use AI for the evolution of various solutions and business models. Additionally, we are delving into the uses of artificial intelligence in the political sphere, and throughout 2023, we have supported our country in various ways in this regard. Our ongoing collaboration with the WMF Community includes defining a collective labor agreement for the AI and Digital Tech market. The outlook for the AI Festival aligns with the same direction: to be beneficial to businesses and workers by enabling them to educate themselves, while also deepening the understanding of AI in various social contexts.​​​​​​​
Considering your experience since 2007 in the field of innovation and education related to innovation issues, which emerging trends in Artificial Intelligence do you consider particularly promising or surprising?
The areas are diverse, but among them, I’ll mention only a few:
Healthcare sector: AI is revolutionizing the healthcare sector, with applications ranging from advanced diagnostics to personalized medicine. AI models that can predict specific diseases for individuals or customize treatments hold promises for more effective and personalized healthcare. Soon, the market can benefit from such solutions, improving human health.
AI for the environment: The use of AI to address environmental issues is an emerging trend. From monitoring climate change to reducing carbon emissions in production processes, AI is proving to be a powerful tool to help solve some of the most pressing environmental challenges.
Mobility and automotive sector: The application of AI in the automotive sector is exceptional. This world will be completely positively disrupted by this change.
Digital marketing: The work of every digital professional has already changed and will continue to do so. However, it will be crucial to understand how to optimize the associated implications in the best way.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) and AI: Research on brain-computer interfaces using AI to interpret neural signals is opening new frontiers in human-machine interaction, with applications ranging from assisting people with disabilities to enhancing human capabilities.
Quantum AI: The integration of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies is an emerging area that could lead to a significant leap in AI’s computing capabilities. Although still in its early stages, the potential to accelerate machine learning and solve complex problems is enormous.
These trends highlight how AI is not only a dynamic research field but also a rapidly evolving industry with the potential to transform societies and industries. The key to the future will be balancing innovation with ethical and security considerations, ensuring that the benefits of AI are accessible and advantageous for everyone.
Giorgio Taverniti
Co-Founder of Search On Media Group 
Head of SEO & AI Tech Consultant
Considering your experience in digital consulting and training, what are the main challenges that companies face in the transformation involving the use of artificial intelligence?
The greatest challenge we face today is undoubtedly of a human nature. Since the dawn of the Internet, we have never witnessed a revolution comparable to the one unleashed by Artificial Intelligence. This extraordinary phenomenon knows no limits or boundaries, permeating every industry, activity, and profession. We live in an era where, almost suddenly, a large part of humanity finds itself speaking a new technological language, a language that simultaneously unites and transforms. However, we cannot ignore a fundamental obstacle: our innate resistance to change. This tendency, deeply rooted in the human psyche, makes it extremely challenging to alter the thinking and behavior of so many people simultaneously. If Digital Transformation represented a significant turning point, the transformation induced by Artificial Intelligence completely eclipses it in terms of scope and impact. What truly defines this epochal challenge is our ability to adapt, to keep up with rapidly changing times. To do this, it is essential to cultivate an open and flexible mindset that embraces the new opportunities offered by AI. This transformation requires a shift in cultural and operational paradigms: we must learn to collaborate with machines, understand their potential, and integrate them into our lives. AI is not just a tool but a companion on this journey of growth and innovation.
The real challenge, therefore, is not so much technological as human: to evolve alongside Artificial Intelligence, accepting it not as a threat but as a valuable ally. In this context, the overarching goal is to ensure that every individual can actively participate in this transformation, understanding and harnessing it to improve their own lives and that of the community.

Your work explores profound conceptual dimensions, addressing complex themes. Do you believe that the intersection of technology and humanity can bring individuals to a deeper perception of time and the universe?
Absolutely. The convergence of technology and humanity, offers a profound avenue to explore and understand time, space, and our very existence. into my work, I aim to create immersive experiences that prompt viewers to reflect on their place in the universe.
This intersection encourages a deeper contemplation of our reality, challenging perceptions and inviting a more nuanced understanding of the world around us. Personal experience from my childhood – a near-death experience at the age of five, caused by drowning, became a wellspring of artistic inspiration.
Through the generative art that I found a voice to express this profound aspect of my past with the installation ‘Out of Body’. It’s a liberation of a long-held silence,  I was able to break the barrier of unspoken memories, transforming a personal ordeal into a universal exploration of life, death, and self-discovery.
The transition of ‘Out of Body’ into an NFT on SuperRare is a continuation of this journey. It represents the potential of blockchain technology to immortalize not just visual art, but also personal narratives and performances that are as ephemeral as they are profound.
In essence, technology became my canvas and my voice, enabling me to convey the nuances of an experience that had remained unspoken for years and connect with others.
Alessio Pomaro
Head of Artificial Intelligence at Search On Media Group
On February 14th, you will be the main speaker on the topic of Generative AI with the title “Generative Models, Between Giant Steps and ‘Missteps’”. Considering the current debate on copyright infringement in this context, do you have any advice to share with our readers who regularly create images or texts, both to protect themselves and to act in accordance with copyright laws?
To use a metaphor from Luciano Floridi, there are games we can only play if we know the rules, such as board games like Monopoly, while others are born by starting to play, perhaps by kicking a can; only later do we decide to put up a “goalpost” and that a certain dynamic becomes “offside.” In other words, the rules come later. Artificial intelligence, especially in the field of generative models, is a game of this kind. The reason is that the application of these systems has yielded such surprising results as to trigger an unprecedented technological acceleration, leaving little room for awareness and governance capabilities. Europe is currently taking action towards these goals with what is referred to as the AI Act, but it is not the only global initiative. These are the initial processes of awareness that will lead us, in the future, to clear and shared “rules of the game.” In the meantime, anyone can “kick the can,” accessing generative models with extreme ease.
First and foremost, it is crucial to systematically read the usage policy of services based on these models: it may seem trivial, but enthusiasm often takes over. The main advice I would like to give to those using these systems is to understand how they work before using them: at this historical moment, this awareness is crucial because it immediately clarifies the advantages and risks. When we use models, let’s try to give extremely precise instructions and provide the model with a broad context that we control. This will allow us to obtain high-quality outputs without risks. Lastly, let’s remember that we are the chef at the pass, checking the dishes before they go out, not the algorithm.

In the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the common difficulty in anticipating short-term developments occasionally raises concerns. As a connoisseur of machine learning models, what is your perception of this crucial moment in human history?
Over the past 3 years, roughly from 2020 (the release year of GPT-3) to the end of 2023, we have experienced an impressive growth, where even keeping up with updates requires a considerable effort. In 2024, it will certainly be another year of growth, but also oriented towards efficiency, not just performance in terms of output quality. Moreover, from my perspective, 2024 will be a year of significant revelations, addressing doubts that are beginning to emerge. Will the algorithmic architectures we know today allow us to take the next step in the development of more advanced systems? How will governance evolve concerning artificial intelligence? For the first point, there are already noteworthy technological ideas moving towards neuro-symbolic systems, combining neural network-based architectures with symbolic systems. The goal? Striving for fast, scalable AI capable of abstraction while also being robust in representing facts and reasoning. An example of such development is Google DeepMind’s AlphaGeometry, an algorithm that has solved complex geometry problems at a level approaching a gold medal at the Mathematical Olympiads.
Regarding the second question about governance, I hope that Europe not only focuses on regulation but also actively engages (that’s how credibility is established) and shares strategies to attract talent in technology development. I conclude with a final concept: it is crucial, today, to develop a general culture about AI because society is increasingly built on digital platforms and algorithms. Understanding the pillars that support us is essential.
Marco Quadrella
COO Consultancy Area at Search On Media Group
Considering that we live in an era of rapid change for consumers, who have access to new models of interaction with online technology and new entertainment channels, do you believe that the relationship of companies in communicating with consumers will undergo a gradual and natural evolution, or do you fear that this period could lead to a situation where many may find themselves unprepared for such rapid transformation?
AI is revolutionizing both the consumer experience in seeking a product and the means through which companies can promote themselves. Whether consciously or not, consumers use AI to gather more information about products and guide their decision-making paths. Some, more consciously, use a conversational system to seek advice on which drill to buy or how many days make sense to visit Milan. Others, unconsciously, perform searches on platforms like Amazon, Google, TikTok, Microsoft Bing, etc., with no idea of the extent to which AI determines which products they see.
On the other side are companies using platforms heavily centered on AI. They start with data and business goals, generating creatives, targeting audiences, and optimizing spending. Of course, these companies must accept a gradual loss of control and, at the same time, learn to manage their data and goals much better than they were accustomed to doing until a few years ago. These are bold steps that require technologies and skills.

A word of caution: the platforms used to promote products through AI are the same ones mentioned above, those used by consumers to choose what to buy. Will these platforms be able to maintain balance and not favor products from companies that pay more? Will consumers be able to discern where their digital assistant’s suggestion ends and the promotion begins?

You are already looking towards the future, considering that in June you will be organizing the twelfth edition of WMF - We Make Future, scheduled from June 13 to 15, 2024, at BolognaFiere. Following the success of the previous year with over 60,000 participants from 89 countries, over 1,000 speakers and guests from around the world, and 2,000 startups and investors, the expectations for the event in 2023 are even more extraordinary.
In the context of Artificial Intelligence, do you foresee significant innovations for this year? Is there anything specific that you would like to preview for us and innovation enthusiasts?
The edition of WMF - We Make Future on June 13, 14, and 15, 2024, will mark the first time the event takes place in Bologna, a city that is asserting its role as a hub for innovation in AI & digital-tech on an international scale. WMF aims to enhance this ecosystem, positioning itself as a global platform for connection and an accelerator of innovation, education, and culture across all digital and new technology themes, with a particular focus on AI.
In the field of artificial intelligence, the 2024 edition will be a natural continuation and enhancement of all activities undertaken since 2016 through initiatives under WMF for AI and those previewed at the AI Festival. Within the certified international fair, there will be an entire vertical event dedicated to artificial intelligence, the AI Global Summit, featuring speakers and experts from around the world, professional training, as well as companies, startups, and an exhibition area dedicated to showcasing technological prototypes, advanced robotics, tools, software, and much more.
The event will also feature panel discussions with institutions addressing AI regulation, as well as numerous applications in health, work, business, and more. It’s an unmissable opportunity for industry professionals, stakeholders, and enthusiasts to take stock of the evolution of this technology and its prospects for the future.
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