AI Social Media Challenge | ISTF 2019

Social Connection in the Age of Virtual Reality

In recent years, AI has found its way into more and more areas of our lives. These days it’s in our homes, at our jobs, and in our pockets. In parallel, virtual reality has begun the transition from a pure gaming platform to the next generation of computing devices. Thanks to these and other advances, ten years from now it will be possible to put on a lightweight headset and dive into a highly realistic virtual world, where we work, play and socialize with nearby and far-away – real and virtual – friends. How will AI shape the relationships and social networks of the future? What new opportunities to connect will it create? What risks do these changes carry and, more importantly, how can we mitigate them.



Challengers | PhD Alex Locher, Software Engineer and PhD Manuel WerlbergerSoftware Engineer,




Alex grew up in Aargau, Switzerland. After his Master’s in Electrical Engineering, he started his PhD in Computer Vision at ETH Zurich in 2014. During his research he focused on on-the-fly 3D reconstruction of real-world objects by the use of consumer smartphones. Since 2018 he has been working at Oculus in Switzerland on mixed reality algorithms for the next generation of VR headsets.

Manuel, born 1982 in Austria, received his M.Sc. (2008) in Telematics (Computer Engineering) and his Ph.D. (2012) in Informatics from the Graz University of Technology, Austria. In July 2011 he was a guest researcher in the Computer Vision Group at the University of Freiburg, Germany. In 2012 Manuel Werlberger joined the ETH start-up company Dacuda AG as software engineer. From October 2014 to December 2015 he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich and was part of the founding team of the Zurich Eye project (Wyss Translational Center Zurich) in September 2015. From September 2016 on Manuel is a Software Engineer at Oculus Zurich.