NAVER x LINE AI RUSH 2019 – My Experience of the Final Round

At the LINE DEVELOPER DAY 2018 conference held in Tokyo, LINE Corporation CTO Park Euivin announced “Next LINE” as LINE’s vision in the development of technology. In this vision, AI (Artificial Intelligence), blockchain, and fintech would play a pivotal role. “Connect” and “Mutually Beneficial Ecosystem” were touted as significant keywords that would lead the organization to achieve the value of “Next LINE,” continuing to evolve LINE services. 

To help promote AI development and provide a platform for the AI development community to gather around, LINE collaborated with NAVER to host AI RUSH 2019, an international development competition for engineers to show their skills in AI-related technologies.

Process of AI RUSH

AI RUSH was divided into two major parts, the elimination round and final round. The challenge theme for the preliminary round was “Image Classification.” Participants had to propose solutions for the challenge by August 13. The teams that stood out were sponsored to travel to Korea, where they would take part in the final round. After some fierce competition, a total of 30 teams were selected based on their placement scores from the preliminary round. I was glad that four teams from Taiwan had entered the final round. I accompanied these four teams from Incheon Airport to NAVER Connect One in Chuncheon, where the final rounds of AI RUSH would take place.

Final Round at NAVER Connect One

August 26: Everyone is here

It was already late in the evening when we arrived at Connect One on the first day. After dinner, many teams returned to their rooms to discuss their work assignments and make preparations needed for the day after tomorrow. It was apparent that every participating team was eager to win.

The venue was full of LINE developer-related stickers for participants to take freely. Of course, piles of stickers for AI RUSH 2019 were also waiting for the participants.

August 27: Let the games begin

“AI is the new black” was the slogan of AI RUSH 2019. The slogan was based on a quote from an article in MIT Technology Review 2017. It meant that AI was the most exciting and cutting edge technology in this era. It was also the concept AI RUSH wanted to convey to the participants.

The venue that would be used as the main location for the hackathon in the final round of AI RUSH was well-lit, comfortable, and awesome to discuss in. An endless supply of various desserts, drinks, and instant noodles were there for everyone even until the late hours of the night. This allowed the participants to concentrate on discussing and thinking about how to find the best algorithms. Many participants even said that they went hacking with everyone in the venue just because they craved for the food. In addition to looking for inspiration, participants could also connect with the other teams.

A little bit of fun

During the hackathon that lasted for two days and one night, every participating team was zoned in, staring at their computer screens very seriously. In order to make each participant have more discussions and interactions during the break, the event organizer arranged for some fun games throughout the day. The winners of the games received various prizes. In addition to allowing each participating team to relax a little bit, this quiz also attracted more participants to interact with other teams at the venue, making the whole event more lively and interesting.

A few rounds of rock–paper–scissors gave the hard-working participants a chance to stretch their bodies. The few players who managed to beat the host had the opportunity to receive prizes.

Some other interesting games played were “Spot the difference,” “Guess who?,” and quizzes about the “History of LINE.”

Treasure Hunting

For the treasure hunting game, the event organizers scattered small notes around the event venue. Participants that found the notes, could redeem gifts by the end of each day. This gave the many participating teams an incentive to be constantly searching for treasure around the venue when they needed a break from all the hacking. The contrast to the serious atmosphere of the hackathon was interesting.

August 28: Award ceremony

When the dust settled after some fierce competition among the many participating teams, a team from Japan won the first place prize. Second place honors went to a team from the University of Tokyo, and third place to a team from Korea. All three teams were happy to share how they analyze data and how they gained high scores by interpreting the information given to them.

August 29: Post-trip

The participants were given a one-day trip to cool off after the competition. The event staff arranged a railway bicycle tour that lasted for almost two hours. In addition to the beautiful scenery of the Korean countryside, the unique tunnels also left a lasting impression with all of us.

For lunch, we had the famous Chuncheon Roast Chicken and various Korean cuisine. Every participant had told me jokingly that whenever they weren’t busy hacking, they had been eating nonstop for the past three days. Whether it was the food from Connect One, the snacks, or the Chuncheon food they enjoyed on the last day, every participant expressed their gratitude towards the event organizers for making sure that all of them could focus on hacking with a full stomach.

Takeaways

After a whole month of competition, a diverse collection of 30 teams were selected. In addition to feeling the enthusiasm of each team, the intensive three-day finals revealed the blood, sweat, and tears each team spilled while finding the best data model. Regardless of the competition, every team ultimately hoped that they could come up with a better data model to help users solve issues by seeking the true meaning behind the data.

About the “LINE Developer Community Program”

LINE launched the “LINE Developer Community Program” in Taiwan at the beginning of this year. We host a wide range of online and offline events including community meetups, recruitment days, developer conferences for developers. More than 30 events are scheduled to be held. Readers are welcome to continue checking the latest status for events. For more details, we encourage you to follow the official account of the LINE Developer Community (@line_tw_dev) and check out the LINE Developer Community Program Calendar to receive the latest news on upcoming developer programs and meetups. (Both the account and calendar are provided in Traditional Chinese only)

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