What Is Dent: AI, the Seattle Conference Promising Practical AI Business Strategies?

Dent to hold a one-day AI-centric conference in Seattle, Wash. on April 29, 2024. Image credit: Dent

Steve Broback has a penchant for bringing people together around pivotal technology moments. In the 1990s, he organized a conference largely focused on the World Wide Web, covering topics like web advertising, web marketing, and web design. He also convened a gathering around Photoshop, Javascript, and even Twitter. “We’ve tried to have our finger on the pulse of certain technologies,” he tells me. So it would come as no surprise to hear Broback launching another event called Dent: AI, this time centered on — you guessed it — artificial intelligence (AI).

Dent: AI: Schedule, Topics and Speakers

Held at the Town Hall venue in Seattle, Washington on April 29, this one-day event aims to provide attendees with practical and actionable insights on AI they can immediately execute upon returning to their office. Broback says Dent: AI will be light on philosophical discussions. Throughout the day, scheduled sessions include those focusing on AI’s legal and safety issues, the utilization of agents and automation services, data management, and its future.

An infographic from Nate Bek, an associate with VC firm Ascend, highlights the AI startups based in the Seattle, Washington area. Image credit: <a href=
An infographic from Nate Bek, an associate with VC firm Ascend, highlights the AI startups based in the Seattle, Washington area. Image credit: Nate Bek/LinkedIn

Although San Francisco is viewed by many as the epicenter of AI development, Broback claims the Emerald City has some advantages. Specifically, it’s an area where he and his co-founder Jason Preston have an extensive network, and it’s an underserved market for quality caliber AI conferences — unlike in San Francisco where these events are held frequently, like the Llama Lounge. And we mustn’t forget that it’s the home of Amazon and Microsoft, two significant players in the field.

Speakers lined up so far include creative strategist and product designer Kyle Kesterson, Exit83 CEO Matt Kowalczyk, musician and Sweet Spot Studios founder Felice LaZae, 3Lines Venture Capital’s Sumanth Channabasappa and Unsupervised founder Tyler Willis.

When asked how Dent: AI is curating session topics and ensuring speakers will provide advice attendees can immediately use, Broback cites the advice offered by Dent chairperson Stewart Ugelow. Described as “one of the most knowledgeable on the whole ‘AI for business’ scenario,” Ugelow has guided the organizers on topics to be careful of and what’s relevant today.

Conference organizers have spent time identifying topics to ensure the event answers the questions plaguing business leaders: “What [are we] seeing, hearing and feeling that [they] need to understand to make this transition into this new era, especially since it’s all changing so quickly?”

A list of some of the speakers who will be at the 2024 Dent:AI conference in Seattle, Wash. on April 29. Image credit: Dent:AI Screenshot
A list of some of the speakers who will be at the 2024 Dent: AI conference in Seattle, Wash. on April 29. Image credit: Dent: AI Screenshot

Moreover, Dent: AI has deliberately avoided having vendors be speakers. Though Broback acknowledges some speakers may fit into this domain, the goal is to have more practitioners and subject matter experts on stage.

Broback says this strategy is antithetical to the conferences in the 1990s when speakers would submit talks they wanted to present at conferences. “Our conference is a book, and each session is a chapter. We are slowly and methodically populating those sessions with great speakers,” he remarks.

More Focused vs. Flagship Conference

In 2013, Broback and his team launched Dent the Future, a “very diffuse” conference akin to TED. “Great speakers, interesting things,” he explains while saying attendees were “multidisciplinary folks who are ambitious, curious and are working to make a difference.”

Now in its 11th year, the Dent conference has generated a vast network of experts, an aspect Broback isn’t afraid to tap into for Dent: AI. The flagship event’s success has created a ripple effect, with editorial teams from the San Diego Comic-Con and others reaching out to ask for help with their programming.

And although there are elements of Dent the Future in Dent: AI, these are two separate conferences. The former, I’m told, is more about “big thoughts going into the future…more strategic, or even philosophical.” On the other hand, the latter is a blend of strategy and tactics: “What do I do? Everyone has this data reservoir, how do I prepare it? That’s one of our core topics — data everywhere, and what do I do with it? What tools work now and which tools are likely to work in the future? Which platforms offer the least risk and the most opportunity? What’s most compatible with what we’re doing now?”

Ultimately, the thinking is to give something to attendees that they can go back to the office and execute right now.

Another big differentiator: Dent the Future is only accessible by invitation. Dent: AI is open to anyone. “We’re going to let the market decide who’s going to attend,” Broback proclaims. He clarifies further: “The editorial does specifically lean toward larger company management, so we assume that’s going to be a significant chunk of the people that attend. But we…anticipate that there will be…startup entrepreneurial types building businesses that address these topics. And…anyone investing right now — they’re overwhelmingly looking for an AI play…I’m assuming we’ll see a significant quantity of those folks too.”

Tickets are now on sale for Dent: AI with discounts for Dent Passport Members.

A post-event reception is also scheduled at The Collective Seattle, but admission is limited and you must RSVP in advance. In addition to networking opportunities, organizers plan for demo tables to showcase select startups.

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