As this academic year comes to an end, we would like to reflect on some memorable moments and events. This year we continued our efforts to build a solid research foundation for our lab, and to communicate our labs identity and objectives to the broader public. In a series of lectures, presentations and discussions, we focused on civic engagement in the design, development, deployment of just AI.
Our PhD students had the opportunity to participate in great conferences and events such as the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM #FAccT) in Seoul. In line with the values of the ACM FAccT, our students also contributed to the course FACT-AI of IvI, short for ‘Fairness, Accountability, Confidentiality and Transparency in AI’ that was co-ordinated by Fernando P. Santos, assistant professor of the SIAS group. Master students who took the course won the Best Paper Award and two Outstanding Paper Awards in the Machine Learning Reproducibility Challenge 2021. Of the 43 accepted papers, 21 were IvI students.
Additionally, we had the opportunity to organize a number of conversations with inspiring people like Henriette Cramer (Head of Algorithmic Impact at Spotify and director of research) and Timnit Gebru (founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute DAIR).
We had a lively conversation, particularly with Timnit, about the necessity for interdisciplinarity and globally distributed AI research that will result in community empowerment. We exchanged common experiences on developing AI, and we discussed the importance of creating a research environment that prioritizes the health of its research members in order to bring about meaningful change in our academic field and in society. As #welbeing of our researchers is a pillar of our lab we dedicated multiple moments in the year to the exchange of best practices for establishing a healthy work-life balance. Read more about it in our blog AI-opener.
Furthermore, we had the opportunity to participate in The Wellbeing Summit for Social Change in Bilbao #TWBS22. As our scientific director Sennay Ghebreab postulated in his plenary talk: “ it is our duty to use AI technology to promote and propagate human virtues and values such as compassion, courage, wellbeing, love, equity”. Also, we had the opportunity to host a workshop on building healthy communities with (marginalised) people through music and AI, together with the MIT Professor Tod Machover.
Our lab aims to contribute to the development of AI that will empower people and communities. The funding of our Horizon Europe Program,"CommuniCity: Innovative Solutions Responding to the Needs of Cities & Communities” will bring us closer to this objective. The project, which will begin in September 2022 and last through September 2025, seeks to promote the socioeconomic and technological engagement of disadvantaged or excluded groups in society through co-creation that is human-centered and community-minded.
Our call for marginalized and underrepresented communities to have more control over future communities and societies through participation in the development of AI technologies is increasingly being heard and taken seriously. Including by #UNESCO, which recognized our lab as #top100 AI solutions for sustainable development for the benefit of humanity, and the Dutch government, which appointed our scientific director to the State Commission against Discrimination and Racism. We are looking forward to the coming year!