DeveloperWeek Europe 2021 DeveloperWeek Europe 2021
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FEATURED TALK: Machine Learning Sucks

Pieter Buteneers
Sinch, Director of Engineering in ML & AI

Pieter Buteneers is an industrial and ICT-electronics engineer. In 2008 he won the Baudouin Elleboudt Award for his master thesis on Epileptic Seizure Detection with Machine Learning. 
He started his career in academia, first as a PhD student and later as a postdoc, where he did research on Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Brain Computer Interfaces and Epilepsy. He won the first prize in the biggest Deep Learning competition of 2015 together with a team of machine learners from Ghent University: the National Data Science Bowl hosted on In the same year he gave a TEDx talk on Brain Computer Interfaces. 
In 2016, he finished his MBA at Flanders Business School. For a while he worked as a Data Strategy and Machine Learning Consultant. He trained managers and developers to build new strategies and implement Machine Learning algorithms with the aim to extract the most value from their data.
In 2019 he became the CTO of, a platform to build multilingual chatbots ‘who’ communicate on a human level. In 2020 was acquired by Sinch and now Pieter leads all Machine Learning efforts at Sinch as Director of Engineering in ML & AI.

Getting Machine Learning to work let alone turn it into a sustainable business is a real pain in the ass. It sucks really... But you can do amazing stuff with it!

As a Machine Learning consultant I trained a lot of people to build their own Machine Learning algorithms and turn them into a customer benefit. And although it is not that hard in and of itself, it is really easy to make mistakes, even for the best of us. In this talk I will highlight some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them. But if you think you will be able to stop making mistakes if you do everything right, you are wrong! Because Machine Learning sucks!