We began today at 9 am with a short bus ride over to the University of Nicosia, and we actually spent all of today at UNIC meeting with different people. The first presentation at UNIC was from Fleet Management Limited– a maritime company that offers management and surveillance services for vessels. We observed a presentation where we got an overview of the company. Their headquarters are in Hong Kong, but they have a main office in Cyprus because of its location as the crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The company manages around 625 vessels, and we learned about the different types of ships– some including bulk carriers, oil and chemical tankers, roros, and more. After listening to the CEO of the Cyprus branch speak, we then listened to a captain give us a workshop on the industry and quiz us on some facts. We learned about the top canals and ports in the world (the largest port being in Shanghai), and learned that one TEU container can fit 8,000 shoeboxes. After these presentations, we had lunch at The Block, which is UNIC’s equivalent to a dining hall. The food here was very similar to dining halls at Pitt, because we could choose a main course (from pasta to meat) and have a side of rice or vegetables.
After lunch, we returned inside to an auditorium to listen to other speakers for the rest of the day. We met with Mr. Antonis Polemitis, the CEO of UNIC, for a lecture on cryptocurrency. I had previously known very little about how cryptocurrency worked, just knowing that bitcoin was a form of digital currency. This presentation was fascinating, and I learned all about centralized versus decentralized databases: how cryptocurrency allows for databases to be managed by a network of many people, rather than having one person in charge. He used the example of Twitter, how Twitter may be a way of world communication but is managed by a private company that can decide who can and who can’t communicate on the app, thus being a centralized database. We also learned about NFTs, how they are items with specific numbers that can’t be replicated, their importance with CryptoPunks as an example, and their possible future applications (an example being items you can earn in a game that you can take to other games too). We finally learned a bit about the metaverse, and the possible future applications with augmented and virtual reality. Considering a future with all augmented reality is scary, but Mr. Polemitis provided an optimistic perspective for the future.
Our final lecture for the day was about data forecasting from Dr. Spyros Makridakis, who is the director of UNIC’s Institute for the Future, is one of the top data forecasters in the world, and was actually an olympic sailer for Greece. In this presentation, we learned all about how data forecasting is used by companies such as Walmart to predict the demand for certain products at certain times, and all about the M competitions. These competitions began in 1982 with M1, and were started by Professor Makridakis. They are competitions where any person can join and try to forecast data based on given information provided by outside sources (Walmart being an example of this). The goal of these competitions is to find the best way for financial forecasting and to find the connection between the forecasting accuracy and the return on investments. The two main aspects are measuring accuracy and uncertainty. There have been multiple of these competitions over the years, with the M6 competition currently going on. Professor Makridakis walked us through each competition’s findings on how to better forecast, and how the average of all forecasts is more accurate than an individual’s. Overall, today was an informative day and I feel much more knowledgeable on these topics that I knew very little about beforehand.