Top 20 Future Tech Conferences in 2020

Even with COVID-19 looming, there's events out there that Future Tech aficionados aren't going to want to miss, especially if they're closer to home. Here's John K. Waters' top picks for events to put on your calendars this year (plus he notes some of the ones you can meet him at!)

The list of technology conferences, summits, and trade shows canceled over concerns about the coronavirus continues to grow. The Open Compute Foundation just announced the cancellation of its Global Summit in Santa Clara due to "the risk of spread and impact of COVID-19." And Facebook has called off the "in-person component" of its F8 developer conference.

The decision to attend or pass on the tech events that aren't being canceled over the next few months (which is, so far, most of them), will depend on what we learn about the spread of COVID-19 over the next few weeks, and the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. It is clear that event organizers are doing everything they can to make these events as safe as possible.

While we're all making up our minds about this, I wanted to share my list of the top 20 events currently still scheduled that FutureTech360 readers should at least have on their calendars.

(BTW: The organizers of the OCP Global Summit are still planning to name the winner of the Future Technologies Symposium next week and "share all the amazing posters and innovations submitted, and award the $10,000 prize." And Facebook promised "to replace the in-person F8 event with locally hosted events, videos, and live-streamed content.")

TC Sessions: Robotics+AI 2020

March 3, Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley

This is a great event organized by the editors at TechCrunch. I attended last year and was blown away by the demos and on-stage conversations with many of the leading lights in the field of robotics and associated AI tech. I'll be there this year, viruses permitting.


March 13-22, Austin, TX

If you haven't heard of this one, you've been living under a soundproof rock. This massive, 10-day combination of tech, music, and film event is one of a kind. This event is massive and spread out in a number of venues. Like everyone else, they're doing their best to make it safe. Check out their COVID-19 attendee information page.

Strata Data & AI Conference

March 15-18, San Jose Convention Center

Organized by tech book publishing giant O'Reilly, this is on my must attend list. The speaker list isn't filled with celebs, but "innovative programmers, talented managers, and senior executives who are doing amazing things with data and AI." The people you want to hear from who are dealing with real-world problems. I'll be there, too. If you can't make this one, there another one in September 14-17, Javits Center, New York City.

AI & Big Data Expo

March 17-18, London, U.K.

Europe's leading conference focused on the next generation of technologies and strategies involving artificial intelligence and big data. The emphasis is on "practical and successful implementation of AI and big data in driving forward your business in 2020 and beyond." More than 300 exhibitors and over 500 speakers.

EmTech Digital 2020

March 23-25, Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, Calif.

Organized by MIT Technology Review, this conference focuses on "the technical, ethical, and strategic AI deployment issues facing organizations in 2020." Sessions led by world-class AI experts, pioneers, and technologists cover such topics as: road-mapping the latest in machine learning research, understanding the role of AI in our personal lives, the path to artificial general intelligence, AI's transformation of the workplace and workforce, and countering misinformation and bias. This one is on my must-attend list.

World Summit AI Americas

March 25-26, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Montreal, Canada

This event brings together major global influencers in AI from enterprise, big tech, startups, academia, law, government, and investment for two days of "mind-boggling innovation, heated discussions on AI policy, ethics and regulation, applied solutions for enterprise, hands-on workshops and the development of plans for advancing the application of AI in the coming year." My fav tagline: "The AI Brains are Coming."

Visual Studio Live, Austin

March 30-April 3, Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas

This is a developer training conference organized by the publishers of our sister pub, Visual Studio Magazine , and sponsored and supported by Microsoft. Tons of tracks, including an AI, Data, and Machine Learning track covering: Azure Cognitive Services, moving to Entity Framework Core 3, Microsoft Cosmos DB, building a modern data warehouse in Azure, and building data pipelines for a modern data warehouse with Spark and .NET in Azure. Killer keynotes. Hands-on labs. And if you can't make this one, make one of the many other U.S. locations throughout the year.

Open Data Science Conference East

April 13-17, Boston Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Mass.

I think the website pitch say it all: "ODSC is the best community data science event on the planet. There are other events that cover special topics, or industries, etc., but ODSC is comprehensive and totally community-focused: it's the conference to engage, to build, to develop, and to learn from the whole data science community." The speakers list includes some of the core contributors to many open source tools, libraries, and languages.

IoT Fuse

April 14-15, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn.

This event comprises two days of workshops with a conference on the final day. The workshops are IoT-centered ,educational, skill-building classes "designed to teach those interested in connectivity and hardware new skills by engaging hands-on with real-world technology." The workshops are taught by "company innovators that have experience in the IoT connective space." The organizers promise that attendees will "walk away with tangible skills from these technical classes and, as of 2020, new thought-focused strategic workshops.

Leeds Digital Festival

April 20-May 1, Leeds, Northern U.K.

This is a huge festival "celebrating all things digital," with events throughout a community that bills itself as "the Digital Capital of the North." More than 100k people work in the tech sector in Leeds—or more specifically, the "creative digital sector." There's a focus at this year's event on tech solutions for climate change. The 2019 festival saw 25,000 attendees across 240 events with 750 speakers in 96 venues.

Digital Tech Summit

April 22-23, Dublin, Ireland

This is the premier tech event in Europe's fastest growing tech capital. The show "takes over" the city for two days, and it showcases everything the Dublin tech community has to offer. Keynote list includes presentations from Zoom, Space X, NASA. The event takes place at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS in all the literature), "Where 280 years of history meets 42 acres of sheer possibility right in heart of the exclusive embassy belt of Dublin city."

IBM Think 2020

May 4-7, Moscone Center and Other Nearby Venues, San Francisco, Calif.

IBM's annual biztech conference is a sprawling event. It's organizers say it offers attendees the ability to explore IBM's entire portfolio of offerings in a single place
"through interactive experiences and demos, expert conversations, inspiring keynotes, industry-critical labs and certifications, and 1,000+ technical breakout sessions." I'm personally looking forward to Think Academy, where you get to pick the brains of the experts.

Augmented World Expo (AWE)

May 27-29, Santa Clara Convention Center, Calif.

Organizers host four of these events annually (Munich, Asia, and Tel Aviv later in the year). They cover Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR) and "all enabling emerging technologies," such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), haptics, and 5G. It's billed as the epicenter of Spatial Computer, where the entire AR/VR industry gets together to catch up, benchmark, and do business." There's a great speaker lineup, lots of sessions, and many chances for networking. But I confess, I go for the killer product demos on the Expo floor. So cool!

Spark + AI Summit

June 22-25, Moscone Center West, San Francisco, Calif.

Sponsored by DataBricks, this event is billed as the largest data and machine learning conference, this event brings together more than 7,500 engineers, scientists, developers, and analysts from around the world annually. Hear from thought leaders and train on open-source technologies such as Apache Spark, Delta Lake, MLflow, Koalas, TensorFlow, and PyTorch. Check out the speakers list! (See you there.)

Black Hat USA

August 1-6, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

This is the quintessential hacker… uh… information security conference, four editions of which are scheduled around the world this year. Along with Las Vegas, there are events in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Now in its 23rd year, the conference provides attendees with the very latest in research, development, and trends. It opens with four days of technical training sessions, followed by the two-day main conference, which includes the not to be missed Black Hat Briefings, which covers risks and trends with security experts from around the world.

Ai4 2020

September 1-2, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

This promises to be an awesome event. Organizers apply a use-case-oriented approach to the content, with the goal of delivering actionable insights from "those working on the frontlines of AI in the enterprise." They provide "a common framework for thinking about what AI means to each industry and deliver content that progresses understanding at any stage of an organization's AI journey. (I'm already pushing for an expanded travel budget.)

Deep Learning Summit

October 15-16, Toronto, Canada

"Bridging the gap between the latest technological research advancements and real world applications in business and society." The event includes interactive discussions, practical workshops, and technical labs

AI DevWorld

October 27-29, San Jose Convention Center

Promoters are promising to provide the world's largest developer-focused artificial intelligence event, with tracks covering chatbots, machine learning, open source AI libraries, AI for the enterprise, and deep AI/neural networks. This conference targets software engineers and data scientists who are looking for an introduction to AI as well as AI development professionals looking for a landscape view on the newest AI technologies.

Artificial Intelligence Live!

November 15-20, Orlando, Fl.

From the same staff that brings you Visual Studio Live! (and, full disclosure, this Web site), this event is part of of Live! 360, where you attend multiple events for one price. The agenda for 2020 isn't released yet but last year it was packed with AI- and data-focused sessions, often with a Microsoft technology bent. Definitely an ideal event for working corporate developers who want to move into the AI and maching learning space.

The AI Summit

December 9, Javits Center, N.Y.

This AI-focused conference and expo boasts a long speaker list and a massive group of sponsors. The event is designed "to provide the platform to both turbocharge and safeguard your organizations' AI journey." It offers one-to-one engagement with AI pioneers, world-exclusive presentations from leading business strategists, and deep-dive workshops with the brightest minds in tech.

Have an event that covers 5G, AI, machine learning, robotics, quantum computing, edge computing or IoT that you think should have made this list? E-mail me at with the subject line "future tech conference" and I'll consider your confernece for the follow-up article: "20 More Top Future Tech Conferences." Also, if you see me at an event, be sure to say "Hi!"

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at