Civic AI Lab Launched
In the Civic AI Lab, five PhD students will conduct research on AI issues in the areas of education, welfare, the environment, mobility and health. Scientific director Sennay Ghebreab (UvA) says: “Working within these five topics, the lab will develop AI technology that highlights the inequality of opportunity in society and actively increases the prospect of equality of opportunity.” The lab will also serve as an information point for residents and businesses who have questions about new technologies and the ethical and inclusive use of them. The lab should make residents aware of both the opportunities and risks of AI.
A City-Wide Collaboration
The Mayor and Executive Board of the City of Amsterdam have approved a subsidy of €400,000 for the coming four years, while the VU will contribute €900,000 and the UvA €1.5 million. The lab is part of ICAI Amsterdam, based in the Amsterdam Science Park.
AI is playing an increasingly important role in our society. For example, businesses use AI to improve their production processes, to select job applicants and to analyse health data. However, there are also disadvantages to deploying AI. Image recognition systems, for example, have typically been trained using images of people with a lighter skin tone and have therefore proved less accurate in recognising people with darker skin tones. Insurers also use mathematical models to identify postcodes where there is an increased risk of burglary. The residents of these neighbourhoods then have to pay higher premiums, increasing inequality within a city.
With the Civic AI Lab, the City wants to examine examples of such friction so that in the future AI can be used to promote equality and provide fair opportunities, overcoming its negative side effects. Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani (Digital City) says: “It is the City of Amsterdam’s ambition to be a leader in the application of AI and its ethical implementation. Technology and AI have many benefits, but they can also put basic rights such as privacy, freedom of speech and legal equality under pressure. The City wants to protect these rights to the best of its ability and the Civic AI Lab should contribute to this.”
According to Deputy Mayor Victor Everhardt (Economic Affairs): “Work in the lab will include developing algorithms that responsibly bring together data flows about births and youth healthcare so that we can derive predictive factors from them. Models are also being developed to ensure a good and fair distribution of finances for pupils and schools. I view artificial intelligence as the science of the future, but it does carry certain risks. That is why it is so important that ethical issues are investigated in the lab.”
The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and Data Science Center (DSC) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) are joining forces in a new joint fellowship for (teams of) researchers interested in exploring the intersection of data science and other disciplines. The first fellow of the new program, Dr. Davide Ceolin, will start his fellowship at the IAS on June 17. Ceolin is currently affiliated with CWI.
Nanda Piersma, lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), has been appointed as a crown member of the Social and Economic Counsil (SER). This is the first time that a lecturer has been appointed as member of the SER. Nanda Piersma was approached because of her expertise in the field of digitisation.
The ADS Thesis Awards aim to promote excellence in Data Science and AI from students at BSc and Master level. The Awards are open to students from all Amsterdam-based knowledge institutes.