Tech at the Gap Decoded: A Look at Maryland’s “Best-Kept Secret” Technology Conference

Oct 23, 2023 1:38:19 PM

Every year, technology enthusiasts and industry leaders gather at the serene Rocky Gap in Western Maryland for Tech at the Gap, an event that has earned the reputation of being one of the hidden gems of Maryland's tech conference scene. This year, the conference's theme, "Decoding Intelligence," promised to unveil the mysteries behind artificial intelligence and its transformative potential. With an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and breakout presenters, the event did not disappoint.

Powerful Keynotes Highlighted the Stage

Theresa Payton, a renowned expert in cybersecurity, kicked off the event. Theresa's illustrious career as a veteran cybercrime fighter and entrepreneur made her the perfect choice to discuss the impact of AI on the cyber landscape. Her engaging talk highlighted the duality of AI's potential, emphasizing the power it gives us to revolutionize our lives and work. She drew fascinating parallels, from AI’s use on the NBA court to debugging code, while also cautioning about the risks associated with AI in the wrong hands.

Payton's message was clear – AI can be harnessed to enhance our safety and security, but we must also remain vigilant to prevent its weaponization. Her insights left the audience with a deep appreciation for the opportunities and challenges that AI brings to the cybersecurity world.

Todd Marks, the founder and CEO of Mindgrub Technologies, also provided a captivating presentation on "AI in Action." Todd's experience as a two-time EY Entrepreneur of the Year nominee and his work with clients ranging from NASA to The Economist made him the ideal speaker to showcase AI's practical applications.

He delved into real-world examples and case studies demonstrating how AI is reshaping various industries, including IT, health care, education, utilities, manufacturing, cybersecurity, retail, hospitality, and government. His insights on how AI boosts operational efficiency, automates tasks, reduces costs, and enhances decision-making resonated with the audience. Todd's talk underscored how AI is paving the way for a brighter, more innovative future across diverse sectors.

Breaking Out the Technology Innovations

I personally had the pleasure of presenting our own research at this year’s event, helping businesses understand the value of cyber threat intelligence while also educating and inspiring students who are currently studying to become the next generation of cyber defenders.

In addition to my presentation, attendees had multiple tracks available including cybersecurity, data & AI, and innovation. Topics in the breakout sessions included the stress and burnout experienced by the cybersecurity workforce, the promising but cautious future of generative AI, high-performance and low-code applications, best practices for microservices development, and even the concept of “acoustic intelligence” being used to monitor and protect the mechanical integrity of infrastructure. Regardless of skillset specialization or where someone is in their career, from student to seasoned professional, the breakout sessions had something for everyone.

Closing Remarks and Looking to the Future

The conference's final keynote speaker was Michael Rogers, a bestselling author and futurist who's been at the forefront of technological advancements. Rogers took the audience on a journey into the world of cognitive computing, with special mention of ChatGPT.

He emphasized that AI is the future and that cognitive computing tools, like ChatGPT, can change the very nature of work. He highlighted how AI, because it's "cloud-based," is accessible to organizations of all sizes, promising new efficiencies and intelligent services that challenge us to identify the skills that remain uniquely human. Rogers left the audience contemplating the immense impact that AI will have on our lives and work.

Tech at the Gap, with its compelling keynotes and diverse topics, provided attendees with a comprehensive look at the ever-evolving world of artificial intelligence. With a record number of sponsors and exhibitors at this year’s event, the conference continues to live up to its reputation as a hidden gem in Maryland, offering valuable insights and fostering meaningful discussions about the role of AI in shaping our future. With each passing year, this event solidifies its position as a must-attend for tech enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Keep an eye out for next year’s Tech at the Gap, which will undoubtedly provide just as much powerful knowledge and information.

Ken Buckler

Written by Ken Buckler

Kenneth Buckler, CASP, is a research director of information security/risk and compliance management for Enterprise Management Associates, a leading industry analyst and consulting firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. Before EMA, he supported a Federal agency’s Enterprise Visibility program, providing security insights and compliance trending for the agency’s national network of computers and devices. He has also served in technical hands-on roles across multiple agencies in the Federal cyber security space and has published three Cyber Security books. Ken holds multiple technical certifications, including CompTIA’s Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification.

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