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Alumnus In Conversation - Fergal Reid, VP of AI at Intercom (PhD 2013)

Alumnus In Conversation - Fergal Reid, VP of AI at Intercom (PhD 2013)

UCD CS PhD graduate (opens in a new window)Fergal Reid came back to UCD to talk to current PhD candidate (opens in a new window)Rian Dolphin. In their wide ranging and fascinating conversation (opens in a new window)Fergal talked about some skills he has found useful from his PhD studies, (opens in a new window)how Intercom is using ChatGPT to do summarizations and (opens in a new window)how AI will change the workplace among other topics. See our YouTube channel for (opens in a new window)the full video.

In the interview Fergal talks about how he first became interested in computer science and technology. After his degree he worked in software engineering before deciding to go back and do a PhD and he explains his thought process and whether he ever considered a career in academia. He covers how he came to start a company with one of his fellow PhDs, the mistakes he made and what he learned from them. He talks about ChatGPT and LLMs and their application in Intercom. In a particularly insightful segment, Fergal talks about developing and using product skills and balancing time between being “in the weeds of the programming” and the activities that come with leadership and product as well as the relationship between engineering skills and product management skills. They finish by discussing the future with AI, LLMs and reasoning and how AI might disrupt business and work.

About Intercom

Intercom offers automated and human customer service solutions to strengthen customer relationships for online businesses. It applies AI to customer service and customer support. Teams at more than 25,000 businesses use Intercom's complete customer service solution. Intercom was founded in 2011 and has offices in San Francisco, London, Chicago, Dublin and Sydney. https://www.intercom.com/

About Fergal

Fergal Reid is Vice President of AI at Intercom. He joined Intercom in 2017 to help the company build its R&D's Machine Learning function, then lead the ML team and was appointed VP of AI in October 2023. He has a PhD in machine learning applied to network analysis (co-authoring an early paper on Bitcoin, with >1000 citations). He subsequently founded Machine Learning startup Synference which was acquired by Optimizely (San Francisco).

Filming took place at UCD on 11 December 2023. Thanks to Rian and Fergal and Guy Robbins for the videography (guy@islanders.ie)

Published January 23rd 2024

UCD School of Computer Science

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