Amsterdam opens lab to explore fair use of Artificial Intelligence

As part of a collaborative effort between the municipality of Amsterdam and two universities

  • July 11, 2020 20:00
  • Author Aseniya Dimitrova
Medium amsterdam science park by night
Source: City of Amsterdam

A new research facility will explore the fair uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in Amsterdam, the municipality announced on Tuesday. Five researchers will be studying the application of artificial intelligence in the fields of education, welfare, the environment, mobility and health in a new lab at Amsterdam Science Park.

Towards a more equal and ethical city, thanks to AI

AI, a collective name for technological applications capable of recognising patterns, following algorithms, learning and problem-solving, has proven its immeasurable benefits for citizens, business and governments. From improving traffic and safety to preventing accidents, crimes, or the progress of diseases – the list of spheres where AI can potentially outperform human intelligence is long.

However, like with every revolutionary technology, AI can also be exploited with bad intentions, it can be biased or can simply make errors in its “assumptions.” For example, facial recognition systems can be at fault in distinguishing people with different skin colours, which can lead to unequal treatment, while self-driving cars have shown difficulties in recognising danger on the road.

Addressing these disadvantages of artificial intelligence and mobilising them for the benefit of the city is what motivated the Dutch capital to investigate the topic further and in particular, to explore the upsides and downsides of AI in the fields of education, welfare, environment, mobility and health. To do this, Amsterdam opens the Civic Al Lab together with the Vrije Universiteit (VU) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The new research space, part of the Innovation Centre for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) at the Science Park, will welcome 5 researchers striving to earn their PhD degrees. “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”, its scientific director Sennay Ghebreab (UvA) was quoted saying.

The lab will also provide information to the residents and businesses about new technologies and their ethical and inclusive use. Ultimately, the lab should make residents of Amsterdam aware of both the opportunities and risks of AI.

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