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More than 10 million euros for Human Centric AI research in ELSA Labs

NWO and the Netherlands AI Coalition have launched the call NWA call ‘Human centred AI for an inclusive society – towards an ecosystem of trust’. After an assessment by an independent NWO assessment committee, five projects have been awarded funding. In ELSA labs, researchers from knowledge institutions and public and private organisations will contribute to knowledge about the development and application of reliable, human centric AI. In total, the projects have been awarded more than 10.9 million euros in funding.

The research will be realised in co-creative environments. These so-called ELSA Labs (‘Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects’) are places where research into technological developments is carried out that incorporates ethical, legal, societal and economic developments. The research within the NWA call ‘Human centred AI for an inclusive society – towards an ecosystem of trust’ must support the development of technological innovations that safeguard public values and constitutional rights, respect human rights – and strengthen these where possible – and that can count on public support. The research will therefore encourage the development of an ecosystem of trust.

The projects have a duration of five to six years. The grants awarded are distributed across four categories: Defence, Justice and Security, Culture and Media, and other societal challenges. All projects fall under the overarching theme ‘Economy and Local Government’. These projects will jointly submit a proposal for a network project in June 2022. The aim of this network project is to generalise the research results, and to scale up the solutions from the various ELSA Labs to generate a learning community and to produce a blueprint for an ELSA Lab.

Emile Aarts, chair of the Human Centric AI working group of the NL AIC: “We cordially congratulate these ELSA Labs with the awarded funding and wish them every success in starting or further developing their labs. We look forward to working with them and the other ELSA Labs in the learning community to exchange valuable knowledge and experiences in order to realise a rapid learning curve with the deployment of ELSA Labs.” 

The initiators of the call are the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

The following projects have been awarded funding:

Category 1: Economy, Local Government, Defence

ELSA Lab Defence
Dr J. van Diggelen, TNO The Hague

Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a crucial role within the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide safety and security. Examples are enabling high-speed processing of big data, and intelligent, unmanned robots. The introduction of AI technology in defence also raises a host of ethical, legal, and societal concerns, including how to keep AI-powered systems under meaningful human control, and how to maintain human dignity when giving autonomy to machines. The ELSA Lab Defence addresses this question by developing a future-proof, independent and consultative ecosystem that enables the responsible use of AI in defence.

Partners: TU Delft, Leiden University, T.M.C. Asser Institute (University of Amsterdam), The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands Defence Academy, Ministry of Defence, HCSS, HSD

Category 2: Economy, Local Government, Justice and Security

AI for Multi-Agency Public Safety issues (AI-MAPS)
Dr G. Jacobs, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Public Safety is vital for the functioning of societies: Without safety, there is no freedom, no happiness, and no prosperity. The public good of safety matters to all of us and therefore needs to be jointly shaped and maintained by all societal partners. Data generated by multiple agents play an increasingly important role in preventing, preparing for and mitigating harm or disaster. The development of an ecosystem of trust regarding AI-assisted public safety promotion is central to this ELSA Lab application. In a variety of use cases, benefits and safeguards are analysed against the private-public-machine agency backdrop.

Consortium: Erasmus University Rotterdam, TU Delft, TNO, Leiden University, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Willem de Kooning Academy, Dutch National Police, Rotterdam Arts & Science Lab (RASL), Civic AI Lab, Deloitte, Google, SynthO, Oditty.ai, SIDN, Nokia, National Police Lab AI, UbiOps, Rathenau Institute, PublicSonar, Woonstad Rotterdam, Dutch Police Academy, CENTRIC, HSD, Impact Coalition Safety and Security, Axis Communication, Lanner.

Category 3: Economy, Local Government, Culture and Media

The AI, Media & Democracy Lab
Prof. N. Helberger, University of Amsterdam

The AI, Media and Democracy ELSA Lab researches the impact of AI on the democratic functioning of the media. Together with journalists, media professionals, designers, citizens, researchers and public and societal partners, the Lab develops and tests value-driven, human centred AI applications and ethical and legal frameworks for responsible use of AI. The aim of the Lab is to stimulate innovation of AI applications that strengthen the democratic function of media.

Consortium: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, CWI, RTL, DPG Media, the Dutch Foundation for Public Broadcasting (NPO), the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Media Perspectives, NEMO Kennislink, Waag Society, City of Amsterdam, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Dutch Media Authority, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht University, Cultural AI Lab, KB National Library of the Netherlands, BBC, Bayrischer Rundfunk AI Lab.

Categorie 4: Other societal challenges

Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Food Systems: the AI4SFS Laboratory
dr. V. Blok MBA, Wageningen University

This proposal develops responsible and trustworthy AI in sustainable food systems through the development of an Ethical, Legal, Social Aspects (ELSA) lab. We will (a) develop insights into the ELSA challenges and opportunities related to AI applications for sustainable food systems, (b) design an ELSA lab methodology (including tools, (ethical and legal) guidelines and engagement strategies) for responsible AI for the agri-food sector, and (c) conduct multiple case studies where we will integrate ELSA aspects in AI (re)design. After the project, we will develop the ELSA lab into an independent hub for responsible AI for sustainable food systems.

Consortium: Wageningen University & Research, Aeres Hogeschool,Provincie Gelderland, Oost NL, Regio FoodValley, AI Hub Oost NL, FME, OnePlanet, ZLTO, FarmResult BV, ICT Campus Regio Foodvalley, Noldus Information Technology BV, VicarVision, ConnectedCare.

ELSA AI lab Northern Netherlands (ELSA-NN)
dr. M. Plantinga, Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen

The ELSA AI lab Northern Netherlands (ELSA-NN) is committed to the promotion of healthy living, working and ageing. By investigating cultural, ethical, legal, socio-political, and psychological aspects of the use of AI in different decision-making contexts and integrating this knowledge into an online ELSA AI tool, ELSA-NN aims to contribute to knowledge about trustworthy human centric AI and development and implementation of health technology innovations, including AI, in the Northern region. The specific focus will be on investigating low socioeconomic status (SES) perspectives, since health disparities between high and low SES groups are growing worldwide, also in the Northern region.

Consortium: University Medical Center Groningen – DASH, University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, SterkuitArmoede, Zorgbelang Groningen, Zorgbelang Drenthe, Science LinX, Artistic Research Community in the North, Aimed, Municipality of Groningen, ZorgpleinNoord, Personalised & Connected Health (PCH) Ecosystem, Privacy1, 8Dgames, Syntho, Dhealth, Evidencio, Life Cooperative, AI hub Northern Netherlands, HANNN, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, SPRINT.

About Human Centric AI

NWO and the Netherlands AI Coalition have, as part of the Dutch Research Agenda, launched the programme ‘Artificial Intelligence: Human centred AI for an inclusive society – towards an ecosystem of trust’. The programme facilitates the development and application of reliable, human centred AI and is partly funded by the kick-start funds that were made available by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

In this public-private partnership, the government, industry, education and research institutions, and societal organisations, work together to accelerate national AI developments and to connect existing initiatives with each other. This NWA research programme connects AI as a key enabling technology with AI research for an inclusive society. In doing so, the national research agenda AIREA-NL as well as societal and policy issues play an important role.

About the Dutch Research Agenda

NWO has funded research in the context of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The aim of the NWA is to utilise knowledge to make a positive, structural contribution to the society of tomorrow, by building bridges today and jointly ensuring scientific and societal impact. This is given substance, among other things, through thematic programming in collaboration with government authorities. The aim of the thematic NWA programs is to find answers to current social questions. All research is interdisciplinary and involves the entire breadth of the knowledge chain as well as relevant social partners.

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