Actuaries Institute hosts Data Science Sydney Meetup: Chat GPT, pizza and more

After a three-year hiatus, the Data Science Sydney Meetups kicked-off their first in-person session with a bang as prominent speakers Eugene Dubosarsky (Founder of Data Science Sydney), Dimitri Semenovich (Head of Analytics at Cover Genius) and Sachin Abeywardana (Lead Machine Learning Engineer at Canva) shared their insights in a fully-booked out session! 

Bill Konstantinidis opening the Data Science Sydney Meetup

Who is Data Science Sydney?

Data Science Sydney is a community for those interested in extracting value from data, using advanced statistical, computational and analytical tools. Pre-COVID, we would meet monthly to hear from experts on their perspectives and experiences using data science. The meetups were an excellent place for learning, sharing, and networking and sadly these in-person meetups remained dormant during the pandemic – but not anymore!

Why is the Institute hosting Data Science Sydney?

Actuaries and Data Scientists have a huge amount in common. Some people may think that Actuaries and Data Scientists live in different worlds, with Actuaries focusing only on quantifying risk for insurance companies.

As important as that practice area is, for decades now the Actuaries Institute has had members who have been leading the charge on utilising and evolving data science & machine learning techniques within ‘traditional areas’  like insurance pricing, but also more broadly in other areas such as FMCG, banking and technology.

Some of Australia’s most trusted data science and data analytics consultancies like Quantium, Taylor Fry and Finity, have been founded by actuaries. You can also now specialise as a Data Science Actuary which includes the studying of data science subjects and both foundational and fellowship levels of qualification.

These sessions bring the two communities together to not only strengthens each other’s understanding but also to spark opportunities, networks, and the opportunity to have fun.

Event rundown

As with any great meetup, the event kicked-off with pizza, beverages and the opportunity to network.

Later MC and one of the event organisers, Bill Konstantinidis, started the session by taking liberty of humorously explaining what Actuaries do to the traditional Data Scientists in the room that was well received by actuaries in attendance: 

“Actuaries are good at maths… theoretically…” – Bill Konstantinidis

Dimitri Semenovich talking to the true source of Data Science; online advertising and A/B testing

The first speaker of the event was Dimitri Semenovich. Dimitri holds a PHD in Optimisation and Machine Learning and is the Head of Analytics at Cover Genius, a Series-d Insure Tech start-up. Dimitri traversed what has defined data science over the past decade; from online advertising, A/B testing, large experiments, and big data, to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and causal inference. He captivated the audience with his energy, enthusiasm, and creative Google trend graphs. Dimitri also spark a debate with audience members when claiming that big data had been solved before wrapping up his talk by briefly considering the new paradigm under Chat GPT and reminding the audience of our worth in comparison to the large language model.

“If you work as hard as you can for a year, you are only going to output $264 worth of tokens” – Dimitri quoted an anonymous source

Eugene Dubosarsky discussing the dangers and opportunities of Chat GPT-3

Following Dimitri was Eugene Dubosarsky PhD, the founder of Data Science Sydney and various other communities, ventures, and learning platforms. Eugene picked up where Dimitri left off on the discussion of Chat GPT. Much of the audience raised their hands when Eugene asked attendees if they use Chat GPT at work or home for programming, research, or content creation. Eugene discussed the dangers for low and high skilled professions as well as the profound opportunities for those with a clear vision and well-articulated prompts. Again, not all attendees agreed with the future Eugene painted but, everyone was listening attentively and considering their own future in the innovative, new world ahead.

The final speaker for this event was Sachin Abeywardana PhD, Lead Machine Learning Engineer at Canva. Sachin discussed stable diffusion and a technique called Dreambooth. In laymen terms, Sachin demonstrated the use of statistical techniques to fine tune a text to image model (similar to Open AI’s DALL-E). He managed to change the outcome of a search of his name ‘Sachin’ to show pictures that were more resemblant of him (on the right) rather than the famous Indian Cricket player (on the left).

Sachin Tendulkar on the left, (kind of) Sachin Abeywardena on the right

Sachin (Abeywardana, not Tendulkar) kindly provided a free link to one of his Udemy Courses. If you would like to learn how to deploy advanced machine-learning models, click here. Be sure to leave Sachin, a five-star review too! 

Wrap-up and Looking to the Future

All in all, this was an awesome event where our speakers were not only interesting but very passionate about the topics they discussed.

As the event was so successful, the Institute will look to host these meetups on monthly basis. Keep an eye out for event communications and join the Data Science Sydney Meetup Group to ensure that you don’t miss out as bookings fill up very quickly and you must be a member of the group to join!

If you are an Actuary looking to learn more about data science and the common toolkit we share, check out the Actuaries’ Analytical Cookbook. Created by hard-working Actuaries from the Young Actuaries Data Analytics Working Group, this resource is a GitHub repository that introduces how to undertake actuarial applications of data analytics in Python and R.

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