I’ll Be Back South West

By Kenda Macdonald | Speaking Events

Mar 06

Would you drink a cocktail made by an AI? 

So would you? Would you drink a cocktail that an Artificial Intelligence created? The correct answer is: you should at least give it a try because oddly, it was delicious.

I think that face says it all. 

A little while back I was invited by the lovely Richard Norton to speak at the 5th I’ll Be Back South West. It felt daunting to be invited such a techie event, but I grasped the challenge and went. I was so concerned that I wasn’t techie enough to be a worthy speaker. Here I am, a lowly marketing automation and buyer behaviour specialist, I didn’t have the know how to brush shoulders with some phenomenal AI creating overlords. I was certain I was going to be overwhelmed and not understand a damn thing. And I was completely wrong.

The name “I’ll be back” gives you that terminator feel - a vaguely sinister feeling. In reality, it was more like the later movies with a fluffier Arnie.

I found the whole event open, honest and approachable. The crowd was a mix of people from all walks of life and at many varying degrees of know how.

We saw talks covering using the Huwaei AI to avoid hitting cardboard cutout dogs with a Porche… To AI ethics… To how Tiny Giant and Sharpshooter Digital  taught a neural network to make cocktails... To creative AI… To AI and accessibility. I spoke on what AI creators should be looking at helping consumers do to fix the cognitive errors we make.

The talks were at varying levels of accessibility by experts in their fields. I came away with 8 pages of notes, and a much deeper understanding of where AI is going and it’s applications in the current world at large.

Insight 1 - The AI human Interface:

My main takeaway was that AI make mean cocktails.

I loved the way Tiny Giant and Sharpshooter approached this. By showing us what AI can learn how to do creatively, they showed us places that we can be using machine learning and neural networks in an innovative role. The I’ll be back before they had AI make weird and wonderful cupcakes.

What fascinated me about the process was the AI human interface. The lovely Derek has been working with Kerry and Norton to create these networks that create such lovely and odd things. They feed gathered and prepared information into the network, the network learns through a training process, and then they generate random output and choose the best recipes.

The AI didn’t take over, it didn’t ruin everyone’s jobs. People still trained it, it did some work, and then people took the raw material and fine-tuned it into a tasty recipe.

Although the Ai generated names were some of the best bits:

  • Succulent Sea Bala
  • Baklavery Birty Sea
  • Balterry Liquiri
  • AppleJack

They were super tasty though! 

Insight 2 - The Jobs for AI:

My next takeaway was simply on how the uses of AI are growing, and fast.

AI isn’t an abstract concept anymore. It’s being used to take better pictures, it’s being used to innovate creatively, it’s being used to generate super high-quality images and objects at the click of a button, it’s being used to understand and visualise what people are dreaming, it’s being used to augment reality, and it’s being used for better accessibility.

What fascinated me is that AI could really be an extension of who we are, rather the dystopian future some see it as. Not to mention that in teaching AI ethics, we could very well make ourselves better human beings.  

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable event, and we’ll be back for more I’ll be back.

What is I'll Be Back South West?

It's a monthly meetup for people interested in the impact of artificial intelligence on the creative process in the ad industry.

Each month we have four guest speakers from brands, startups, agencies and academia to share their perspective on creative AI.

If you're having thoughts like ‘Is content automation actually a thing?’ or ‘I wonder if I'll lose my job to a robot?’ or 'What the hell is a neural network?', then this is definitely the event for you.

The event was full to the brim with the most amazing mix of people across industries and disciplines.


Speaker recap: 

You can check out a little video we made at the event on what all the speakers were talking about.  Please excuse the potato quality sound, people were very noisily talking about all things AI 🙂


You can get hold of any of the speakers below:

Sam Taylor - Kerve

Ben Byford - EthicalByDesign

Roelof Pieters - creative.ai

Kenda Macdonald - Automation Ninjas

Kerry Harrison - Tiny Giant with Derek Ahmedzai - Sharpshooter Digital

Dom Sheppard-Baker - Design/Creative/Experience Director

And Cat Fraser who recorded a podcast with Kerry before the event 🙂

Thank you Tiny Giant!

I would love to thank the fabulous Kerry Harrison and Richard Norton for having us Ninjas there. We had a blast and will be back for future events. What’s more, we’ll be bringing people with us. This kind of knowledge sharing is the way of the future...

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, and you’re in the Bristol area, please do go along to the next ones. They are free and they are fascinating 🙂

Check out the next I’ll Be Back Events:





As well as a mega bus tour that they’ll be doing up to Bradford-Upon-Avon on May the 8th - with the best talks so far!



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