Web Summit Lisboa 2023: my experience

Tay Bencardino
5 min readNov 25, 2023
Photo by Dan Taylor on Unsplash

The Web Summit is an annual event destined for those who love technology. This year, I had the opportunity to participate as a developer attendee. First and foremost, taking advantage of everything the event offers is impossible — it’s a lot. In the 2023 edition, we had over 70,000 attendees and over 800 speakers.

Reasons to Attend Web Summit:

  • To learn something new: Attend informative sessions, workshops, and talks to acquire knowledge and stay updated on the latest industry trends.
  • To be inspired: Immerse yourself in the latest technological advancements and ideas that can spark creativity and innovation.
  • To network: Connect with professionals, entrepreneurs, and like-minded individuals, expanding your professional circle and potential opportunities.
  • To have fun: Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of social events and discover exciting aspects of technology in a more relaxed setting.
  • To visit Lisbon: Explore the beautiful city and its culture, adding a delightful travel experience to your professional development.
web summit map

This map illustrates how huge the area is, with numerous activities happening simultaneously, including roundtables, masterclasses, talks, stands, and start-ups. Planning is essential, as you must decide the day before which sessions to attend based on your interests. There are logistical challenges, like rushing between stages or pavilions, especially if one talk finishes at 11:00 and the next begins at 11:10 on a different stage. With a large crowd to navigate, ten minutes may not be enough, so it’s advisable to reserve at least 15 minutes between talks, particularly if they are in separate pavilions. Additionally, for high-demand sessions like masterclasses or roundtables, arriving at least 20 minutes early is crucial due to limited capacity and potential queues — it’s a first-come, first-served scenario.

As there are many different topics, I choose mainly those about AI.

In today’s tech world, things like AI, OpenAI, UBI, and Chat GPT are super important. But, we need to be smart and think about how their importance might change. It’s like looking ahead and guessing what benefits AI could bring. Also, AI should care about our curiosity and creativity. There’s this cool idea called “Regeneration Technology”, which is about using tech to fix, share, and look after our planet. It’s all about connecting back with our communities and culture. Another idea, “Technology of Interbeing,” says that tech is tied to our care and spirituality. So, tech isn’t just about machines; it’s about people and how we connect with each other and the world.

Regulation and Challenges:

Rules for AI and tech are tricky. If the rules are not right, they might cause more problems than having no rules at all. Right now, there aren’t clear laws to protect our data and control AI. So, we have to make some basic guidelines on how to use data until we get proper laws. Some politicians make things too simple, like saying no to crypto because they think only bad guys use it. But it’s not that straightforward, and we need smarter rules for tech.

Chat GPT:

👍 Chat GPT is a clever AI tool known for understanding and talking like a human. It’s great because it can be used for different things, like answering questions or writing in a natural way. It learns about many topics, making it useful for various tasks. Its ability to handle language quickly and effectively makes it handy for jobs involving understanding and generating text. Overall, Chat GPT’s proficiency in understanding and generating natural language contributes to its positive reputation and widespread use in the realm of conversational artificial intelligence.

👎 However, Chat GPT faces several challenges that warrant careful consideration. One notable challenge is the potential for bias and fairness issues, as the model may inadvertently perpetuate biases present in the training data, leading to biased responses. Additionally, the system may struggle with contextual understanding, occasionally generating responses that lack accuracy within a given context. The inability to verify information independently poses another challenge, as Chat GPT may produce factually incorrect or misleading responses. Sensitivity to input wording adds to its limitations, with slight variations in phrasing potentially yielding disparate responses. Also, the risk of misuse is a concern, as the technology could be exploited to generate harmful content or misinformation. As efforts continue to enhance Chat GPT, addressing these challenges is crucial to ensuring its responsible and ethical use in various applications.

The Impact of AI on Various Industries:

AI has changed the way many industries work. It’s like having a super-smart assistant that can do complex tasks quickly. But, it’s important to find a balance between what humans can do and what AI can do. Humans bring unique skills like creativity, emotions, and adaptability that machines don’t have. So, it’s about teamwork — humans and AI working together to make things better. Striking this balance is key to the success of many industries in our technologically advancing world.

The Uniqueness of Human Brains:

Human brains are special because they’re different from machines like computers. One key thing is our emotions and genuine feelings. Machines, including AI, can do amazing things, but they don’t really feel emotions like humans do. Emotions, like happiness or sadness, make humans unique. Machines might be super smart, but they don’t understand feelings the way we do.

“AI won’t take your job. It is somebody using AI that will take your job.” — Richard Baldwin

Do’s and Don’ts for Web Summit ☝️

Do’s:

  • Be aware of free tickets for developers. Keep an eye out for announcements regarding free tickets for developers. Subscribe early and share your GitHub for a chance to secure your spot.
  • Join the Women in Tech group. If you identify as a woman, consider joining the Women in Tech group for potential discounts on tickets and to connect with other women in the industry.
  • Eat! There are many things going on there, even during lunchtime, and we may forget to eat. The queues to buy food are insane! I recommend always bringing a snack bar or something easy. There is a developer lounge with free snacks and coffee!
  • Talk to people and share experiences! You will meet people from every part of the world. It is an amazing place to get to know different cultures!
  • Use comfortable shoes. I had an average of 11k steps and 7km walking daily.

Don’ts:

  • Think you can go to all the talks. You can’t! This is a bit frustrating, but it is what it is. Plan and try to find the best ones.
  • Carry hard things with you. You will walk a lot, and if you go to stands and talk to startups, you will win t-shirts, rubber ducks, eco bags, teddy bears, power banks, pens, mini notebooks, pins, keychains, socks, luggage scales, luggage tag, cap, grounded coffee, cookies, chocolates, and so on… After the day, you are just wishing for a massage.
This is me planning the talks and masterclasses to attend 😅

Remember to make the most of your Web Summit experience by balancing professional development with enjoyment and cultural exploration in Lisbon.

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