How Important are Hackathons and Community in the AI World?

Have you thought about joining an AI community or enrolling in hackathons?

The phrase "teamwork makes the dream work" may sound like a corporate cliché, but it rings true when it comes to the AI world. With so much undiscovered potential hiding in Discord servers, online forums, and hackathons, the artificial intelligence community is growing stronger with each passing year.

You may feel it’s best to go it alone when you’re trying to build the next big machine learning solution. Hey, it’s understandable – eternal glory and getting sole credit for a life-changing piece of code?

It’s an appealing prospect indeed.

However, you’d be doing yourself a serious disservice if you refused to engage with experts and enthusiasts in the wider community before flying solo. Not only will foregoing any help extend the time it takes to reach that “Eureka!” moment, but you’ll be missing out on tips, tricks, and insights from fellow creators who may hold that elusive piece of information that you’ve been searching for.

My advice? Don’t count anyone out in the world of digitisation. With remote work becoming the norm, breaking into the tech world has never looked so appealing. So, you truly never know who you might meet out there.

If you want to learn more about how you can use the burgeoning AI community to your advantage, simply read ahead. In this handy article, I’ll explain how online communities drive innovation, why hackathons and Discord are gaining traction, and how the Smarter platform promises to make your side hustle commercially viable.

How Does a Community-Driven Approach Help Innovation?

Online AI Community

It opens doors and connects like-minded individuals

Going it alone in the AI world may feel like a bold and brave move, but mixing teamwork and intelligence is the best way to succeed in this burgeoning industry. With developers, data scientists, professional coders, and high-level CEOs all having to work together to solve business problems, closing yourself off from the AI community typically does more harm than good.

If you’re thinking “I don’t quite fit into any of the boxes you've just mentioned as I'm just starting!" – don't fret. You don't need to be a development whizz to level up in the AI community.

With low-code and no-code AI solutions becoming increasingly popular on the global stage, creators of all abilities are starting to take to the web to share their ideas.

In my opinion, therein lies the beauty of the growing AI community. It’s all about inclusivity, sharing knowledge, and improving your skills. 

No pretence - just progress.

As everyone is working towards a singular goal in the community, creating ensemble AI solutions is becoming increasingly common.

Say you’re extremely proficient in the machine learning department, but you’re utterly useless when it comes to the GUI stage. Sure, you may have created an extraordinary piece of code, but if it's not user-friendly and can’t be interpreted by businesses, you’re unlikely to make much cash from it.

By partnering with a GUI expert through the Smarter platform, you can easily create a seamless and comprehensive end-to-end solution that global businesses will be fighting over. Then, you can simply watch the money roll in.

It can bring about democratization and equal opportunity

With these clever partnerships comes an innate level of trust. 

Not only will businesses trust you to create solutions that work, but you’ll gradually create potentially lifelong partnerships with community experts that can take your current creations to the next level.

We can certainly strive for perfection, but it’s unlikely that anyone in the AI world is fully trained to master every part of the creation process. One can dream, but it’s simply unrealistic.

By opening doors to others, sharing ideas, and trusting fellow creators to elevate your work, the AI community naturally flourishes. 

The result? Empowered individuals who aren’t afraid to share their creations with businesses, corporations, and other creators. 

In time, this drives innovation and democratizes the industry at large, making it easier for businesses to solve their issues while raising the bar for future creators.

It’s the AI circle of life, and it truly does move us all.

Opening up the industry

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to join an AI community, it’s worth taking basic geography into account.

Since the start of the pandemic, the online space has become more crucial than ever before. Remote work has become commonplace in several spheres, and the acceleration of digital transformation across the globe during this period has been nothing short of incredible.

Not only have cities like Bangalore seen a 100% increase in internet traffic since the start of the pandemic,[1] but repeated lockdowns, organizational restructuring, and new setups have forced bandwidth improvements, a move to the cloud, and greater reliance on secure blockchain technology.

Combine these steps with a surge of individuals visiting communities like Coursera and Discord, and it’s easy to see how business problems can be solved far more efficiently through continuous learning and engagement.[2]

As data-driven innovation becomes increasingly important to large corporations (according to PwC, 52% of companies accelerated their AI adoption plans during the pandemic!), reaching out to the global community is a stellar idea for creators.

Driving down the cost of development

However, it’s not just improved access to the online marketplace that makes virtual communities so appealing – it’s the potential cost savings for businesses too.

It’s no secret that data scientists can be expensive, and there’s an immense global shortage of them at the moment. 

If you don’t believe me, you may be shocked to discover that there was a data scientist shortage of 250,000 individuals in 2020 alone. With 83% of companies investing in big data projects during the same year, it’s easy to see how this may be an issue that needs rectifying - stat![3]

While community-driven AI won’t reduce the potential salaries for AI creators, it does remove barriers to entry for junior machine learning enthusiasts who are studying at university, still at school, or are learning the ropes on platforms like GitHub.

These individuals find it extremely difficult to connect with businesses under normal circumstances. This makes online communities and connections an invaluable way to connect with experts without the added pressure of reaching out directly. With time and proper nurturing, these enthusiasts could become full-blown coding geniuses, relieving the pressure on businesses and existing data scientists alike.

With the presence of Web3, the blockchain, and the NFT marketplace only set to grow in the coming years, brainstorming and drawing knowledge from creators across the globe will boost innovation and form the future of work.

A recipe for success if you ask me.

The Power of Hackathons in the AI Community

Hackathon Community

Ah, hackathons – the glorious place where innovation, creativity, and prized business solutions are born.

These incredible gatherings draw together data scientists, coders, and developers by encouraging them to work towards a viable tech solution in a competitive yet supportive environment. Usually, challenges are hosted by a company that hopes to receive promising prototypes from bright and inquisitive young minds.

You may be concerned that you’re not an expert in your field, and therefore may not belong at a hackathon. However, these events aren’t about showboating. Instead, they’re designed to sharpen your skills, drive innovation, and provide an avenue for development alongside established faces in the tech world.

Not only do hackathons allow you to meet incredible people, but they may just be the secret ingredient that sets you on the course to greatness. 

By collaborating with a mixed bag of professionals and enthusiasts in your field, you can either lend a hand to someone desperate for your expertise or pick an expert’s brains for insight into your work-in-progress solution. Who knows, you may just find the missing piece for your languishing coding or development puzzle!

It's worth noting that over 80% of Fortune 100 companies use hackathons to drive innovation. So, if you’re looking to get your foot in the door at a leading corporation, we feel that it’s worth getting stuck in at a hackathon.

What’s more, these unique events allow you to stay at the forefront of rapid innovation cycles. This should keep you "in the know" when it comes to current consumer demands and exactly where corporations are focusing their R&D.

As collaborative innovation has never been easier, it’ll be tricky to come up with a viable excuse as to why you can’t get involved! We understand that it can be tough to put yourself out there, but it’ll be so worth it in the long run.[4]

The Importance of Online Communities in the AI World

AI Community Online

Although hackathons are one of the best events for mingling with other creators, you can also make use of dedicated online communities to boost your AI career.


The popular Reddit community r/MachineLearning currently has 2.4 million members, and you can ask simple questions, discuss your models, and get coding advice from experts all over the world. This approach is more informal than an in-person event, making it ideal for newer creators or those trying to build the confidence they need to share their knowledge with the world.


Sites like Quora are also filled with industry professionals who can answer personal and targeted questions about the tech sector. Whether you’re looking for career guidance or are trying to navigate a pesky roadblock during your coding process, there’s bound to be someone available to get you on the right track.


With over 1 million registered users, Kaggle is the world’s largest community of data scientists and machine learning experts.[5] With Kaggle, you’ll be able to build your skills on a welcoming platform that allows you to publish data sets, use GPU integrated notebooks, and solve challenges with other users.[6]


Although the above forums are excellent resources, Discord is leading the way when it comes to engaging with like-minded individuals and making genuine career progress, as it encourages users to interact, share projects, and find opportunities in their local area.

This is particularly prevalent in the NFT space, where members will inform other users when a valuable investment hits the marketplace. 

Additionally, communities like Learn AI Together are packed with knowledgeable AI enthusiasts that help newbies deconstruct complex theories and processes.

If you prefer to use the community as a sounding board for fresh ideas, you’ll be able to get professional input on the viability of new projects or learn how to rejuvenate unsuccessful endeavours from the past.

So, what are you waiting for? Seize the day and get registered!

Our Two Cents on Hackathons and the AI Community

As you can see, there’s plenty to love about community-driven AI in every form.

Whether you’d like to try your hand at hackathons or prefer the safety and anonymity of online communities, there are several ways to get stuck in with your fellow tech enthusiasts.

Although platforms like Kaggle, Discord, and Reddit are excellent resources, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – you’re unlikely to make much money from these platforms.

That’s where we come in, as we happen to have the largest community of commercially focused data scientists in the world. So, not only will you learn more about the AI community when you join the Smarter platform, but you’ll have a front-row seat that allows you to watch and learn from the best minds in the industry.

Our experts can give you practical advice on kickstarting a career in machine learning by teaching you how to formulate lucrative solutions that top global corporations are clamouring for.

We’re not saying that learning the ropes on Kaggle isn’t a valid way to spend your time, but if you’d like to improve a company’s bottom line while building a viable side hustle, then we’re the platform to set your sights on.

A final word from us at Smarter

At the end of the day, we truly value our creators.

Machine learning’s seemingly limitless potential will always make us feel actively excited because we never know what our wonderful creators will come up with next.

They might surprise us with a reusable model that can be seamlessly adopted by global corporations. Or perhaps it’ll be a basic no-code solution for struggling small businesses that can’t afford a resident data scientist.

Whatever it is, we adore watching fresh-faced creators tackling real-world issues with a spring in their step.

When you combine consistent and professional feedback from hackathons, active learning on Discord servers, and the commercial viability of the Smarter platform, you’ll have an iron-clad trifecta that will make you feel unstoppable.

They say that every journey begins with a single step, so why not take yours and join us?

[1] Rahul De, Neena Pandey, Abhipsa Pal, “Impact of digital surge during Covid-19 pandemic: A viewpoint on research and practice”, PubMed Central, published Jun 9, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7280123/#bib0235

[2] Beth Kowitt, “The rise of the MOOCs: How Coursera is retraining the American workforce for a post-COVID economy”, last modified November 16, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/11/16/coursera-reinvent-podcast-coronavirus-reskilling/

[3] KommandoTech, “30 Eye-Opening Big Data Statistics for 2020: Patterns Are Everywhere”, KommandoTech, last modified March 29, 2022, https://kommandotech.com/statistics/big-data-statistics/

[4] Dr. Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan, “10 Reasons Why Hackathons Are Important to Make You Industry-Ready”, last modified November 1, 2020, linkedin.com/pulse/10-reasons-why-hackathon-important-make-you-sathiyanarayanan/?trk=public_profile_article_view

[5] Abhresh Sugandhi, “How to Use Kaggle for Data Science”, KNOWLEDGEHUT last modified 4 March 2022, https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/data-science/how-to-use-kaggle-for-data-science

[6] Çağlar Uslu, “What is Kaggle?”, last modified March 16, 2022, DataCamp, https://www.datacamp.com/blog/what-is-kaggle


Fran Benincasa

Fran Benincasa

9 May 2022


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