Coming up: The National course on AI & Ethics

The National AI course will be continued! More than 300,000 people have been reached since its launch in 2018. This course explains the basics of artificial intelligence in an understandable way. A special course on AI and Ethics will be launched on May 27.

This new course focuses on topics such as algorithmic bias, combating disinformation, the power of tech companies and the importance of human rights in the digital world.

With experts from many walks of life the course wants to raise awareness around the pitfalls of digitization and stimulate the debate on human-centered AI. Experts include Sennay Ghebreab (ICAI), José van Dijck (Utrecht University), Mieke van Heesewijk (SIDN Fund), Merel Koning (Amnesty International), Quirine Eijkman (College for Human Rights) and Sander Duivestein (author of Echt Nep).

Upon completion of this free online program, the student will receive a certificate.

From May 27, 2022, the course can be found at https://ethiek.ai-cursus.nl.

TTT.AI Workshop: Setting up an AI Startup

On July 5th, 2022, The Thematic Technology Transfer – Artificial Intelligence (TTT.AI) will organize a two-hour workshop on setting up an AI startup.

TTT.AI offers a specialized venture-building program and investment fund for knowledge/research-based AI startups. During this two-hour workshop at the University of Amsterdam, you’ll get a clear understanding of the different aspects an AI startup will go through. Topics include technology development, product-market fits, team formation, customer relations, IP protection, the startup lifecycle, funding, and many more. During the workshop, the presenters will not only teach you some important tools, but will also use and experiment with them. To end the workshop, TTT.AI invited two successful startups to share their best practices and answer some of your questions.

Please send an email to Giulia Donker (g.donker@uva.nl) if you want to come to the workshop.

Registration for ICAI Day: AI Entrepreneurship is open!

On June 1st, 2022, ICAI organizes the ‘ICAI Day: AI Entrepreneurship – From the lab to the market.’ This hybrid event will take place on location in Amsterdam and online. Registration is now open for everybody interested.

During the first part, the Lunch Table Discussion, from 12:00 to 13:30 hrs, you will have the opportunity to talk to others in small table settings during a catered lunch. Each table revolves around one sector on “The life cycle of a Startup.” You can choose from five sectors: healthcare, service industry, robotics, public domain, and transportation/mobility. There is a maximum amount of seats available for this part, so sign up quickly.

The second of the ICAI Day, the Plenary Session from 13:30 to 17:30 hrs, will be a hybrid event moderated by Desiree Hoving. You can sign up for this plenary program both physically and online. Keynote speakers Chris Slootweg (UvA) and Hinda Haned (Civic AI lab, UvA) will share their insights on going from lab to market. There will be talks by TTT.AI, Venture Capital, and TechLeap.nl. We will end the event with a panel discussion and closing drinks.

Find the program here and register here.

Kick-off POP-AART lab

On Wednesday April 20, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, University of Amsterdam (UvA), and Elekta will officially launch their partnership for Online Personalized AI-driven Adaptive RT (POP-AART), one of ICAI’s newest labs. Within the POP-AART lab the partners collaborate on the development of new AI strategies for the further improvement of precision radiotherapy. This concerns the personalization of treatment by improving the quality of imaging used during treatment, predicting and accounting for changes in the patient’s anatomy over time, and automatically adapting radiation delivery each time a patient is treated.

During this kick-off there will be talks of prof. David Jaffray (Chief Technology and Digital Officer at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center), ir. Maurits Wolleswinkel (Chief Product Officer Elekta), prof. Mihaela van der Schaar (John Humphrey Plummer Professor of ML, AI and Medicine at University of Cambridge) and more.

Date: April 20, 2022
Time: 15:30 – 17:00 hrs
Location: Online

Find more info on the program here and sign up here.

ICAI Interview with Rianne Fijten: Tightening the relationship between medical clinics and commercial parties

In order to implement new AI technology in medical clinics in a sustainable way, close collaboration between the clinic and commercial parties is crucial, argues Rianne Fijten. ‘You need to make sure that if the grant money runs out, which it always does, the product that you built is not just lost.’

Rianne Fijten

Rianne Fijten is one of the scientific directors of Brightlands Smart Health Lab, assistant professor and senior scientist of clinical data science at Maastro clinic.

Brightlands Smart Health Lab is a collaboration between Maastricht University, Brightlands Institute for Smart Society, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Maastro Clinic, Maastricht UMC+, ilionx and Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organization.

Could you tell me about the research happening in the lab? What makes this research unique?

‘What is interesting about our lab, is that we really go from technology to the clinic. That’s a concept I’ve not seen anywhere else. Usually a research group focuses on a very specific part of a pipeline, problem or societal issue. Within the lab we have three pillars: data infrastructure, data science and clinical implementation. It is a pipeline from start to finish: we set up the infrastructures to get the data out of the hospitals, extract the data, build AI models and then implement it into the clinic.’

‘Another important thing is that we are close to business. Getting data science into a medical clinic is difficult, but getting it into the clinic without a commercial party involved, is even more difficult. To make sure that the new techniques are supported and maintained, it is crucial to connect the clinic to commercial parties, because researchers will not sustain it after their research is done. They have other research to do.’

What is your personal mission within this lab?

‘My main focus is on the last pillar. Since AI is booming business, so many AI-models have been built. But what you see in healthcare is that implementing those in the clinic is the difficult part. So we try to implement clinically relevant tools, but also find out why research doesn’t end up in the clinic, and what the problems and issues are in that process.’

What kind of clinical needs are you addressing?

‘A good example is a decision aid for prostate cancer patients that we built with the company Patient Plus. As every treatment has different side effects, this tool gives patients the option to find their personal risks of getting side effects, based on their personal characteristics. Prostate cancer is an interesting choice for a decision aid tool, because this disease has a very high survival rate, which makes it possible for patients to choose between different treatments. Patients answer questions like ‘what is your age?’, ‘do you smoke?’ or ‘are you a diabetic?’ Those are all risk factors for incontinence for example. At the end the patient will get a visualization of their personal risks and learns about the disease along the ride. For this tool we have set up a collaboration with urologists that we know very well. And we then offered it to a company, under certain conditions of course, so that they can make sure it will be used in the clinic in the future.’

The lab collaborates with seven different partners. What is it like to work with so many partners?

‘It gives us a lot of flexibility. Working with this big pool of collaborators allows us to set up different alliances that are suited to answer a specific question or solve a specific problem.’

All nine PhD students of the lab are located physically at the partners and mentored by senior scientists at the partners. Why did you choose that approach?

‘In order to keep the collaborations alive and to keep the relationships good, it is important to work together, even if you don’t have a specific project that you are working on that very moment. I think it is very important to establish long-term relationships and by working together in supervision of these PhD students you achieve that.’

What do you want to have achieved in four years?

‘If anything comes out of our ICAI lab, I hope that it is raising more awareness about closer collaboration with the clinics and industrial partners. What we see a lot within the projects is that at first the people at the clinic don’t really see the need for or are a bit anxious to involve industrial parties. I don’t know why, I think it’s the non-profit versus for-profit problem. I hope that with the projects we are going to do within the ICAI lab, that this is one of the take-home messages that we can deliver. We are currently forming the bridge, and hopefully in the future they can keep finding each other without our help.’

On April 21, 2022, the Brightlands Smart Health Lab will talk about their current work during the lunch Meetup of ‘ICAI: The Labs’ on AI for Radiation Treatment in the Netherlands. Want to join? Sign up!

Human(e) AI and Civic AI Lab launch call for proposals: AI democratisation

Humane AI is launching this seed funding call together with the Civic AI Lab as part of a broader UvA ambition to build communities and stimulate cross-faculty and interdisciplinary research on AI and democratisation. 

With this call, they would like to promote interdisciplinary research into the relationship between AI and democracy and provide a platform for early-career researchers and students to launch their own projects in topics such as countering misinformation and polarization, enabling civic engagement and co-creation, and empowering marginalized and vulnerable groups in society. 

The grants have a duration of max half a year, counting from the starting date. They are available to all postgraduate students (Masters and PhDs) as well as early-career researchers from PostDocs to Assistant Professors (up to 5 years from the PhD) at the UvA.

Deadline for applications is April 21, 2022.

Read more about the call and the application procedure here.

#20 with Maarten Sukel of Municipality of Amsterdam

In episode 20 of the Snoek op Zolder podcast, host Hennie Huijgens talks with Maarten Sukel, AI lead and member of the CTO Innovatieteam at the Municipality of Amsterdam. They talk about cameras on garbage trucks and ‘smart garbage containers’, edge computing as a solution to privacy issues, sensors that no longer store data. They also mention how the Municipality of Amsterdam is a popular organization for internships; the Algorithm Register, and life-long learning. (The podcast is in Dutch.)

UvA and Bosch extend collaboration with new ICAI research lab

The UvA and world-leading technology company Bosch have agreed to extend their established collaboration with the launch of a new public-private research lab. Delta Lab 2 – the follow-up to the successful collaboration Delta Lab 1 – will focus on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for applications in computer vision, generative models and causal learning. Delta Lab 2 will form part of ICAI, the national Innovation Center for AI, headquartered on the Amsterdam Science Park. The lab will be headed by the UvA’s Dr Jan-Willem van de Meent and Prof. Theo Gevers. Dr Eric Nalisnick will be the daily lab manager.

‘For Bosch, collaboration and close exchange with academic institutions is an essential component of our efforts in the development of safe, robust, and explainable AI. By expanding and realigning the previously successful collaboration in the UvA-Bosch Delta Lab, we are realizing our ambition of combining cutting-edge research with high application potential,’ says Michael Fausten, Senior Vice President and Head of the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence (BCAI).

In the Delta 2 lab, ten PhD students, one postdoc and one lab manager will work on projects over the next five years with a total budget of €5.2 million. aiming for new research on deep (causal and partial differential equation-based) generative models; certainty and causality in machine learning; and 3D computer vision.

Building on success

Gevers: ‘The collaboration between UvA and Bosch in Delta Lab 1 has been a great success. We want to build on that success with new fundamental research into machine learning and computer vision technologies. We are grateful to Bosch for continuing to invest in fundamental research. We also thank the previous directors and researchers for all their efforts, and we will continue to work enthusiastically on unexplored areas of AI.’

Van de Meent: ‘We are excited to continue our productive collaboration. Working with Bosch is a win win. It not only facilitates uptake of AI innovations in industry, but also provides a wealth of use cases that can inspire new innovations, such as incorporating physical knowledge into models, reasoning about their causal structure, and evaluating the level of confidence that can be attributed to predictions.’

More information can be found here.

#19 with Frans van Ette – the impact of AI and why AI is more trendy than blockchain

In episode 19 of the Snoek op Zolder podcast, host Hennie Huijgens talks with Frans van Ette, director of AI at TNO and chair of the Data Sharing working group of the Netherlands AI Coalition, about federated data versus data lakes, involving SMEs in AI developments, the impact of AI on society, the development towards plug-and-play solutions for AI, European Data Spaces, the future of data sovereignty, the Guide to interoperable data sharing for AI applications of the Data Sharing working group of the NL AIC, ELSA-Labs, why AI is more trendy than blockchain and tips for HBO students who want to use data. (The podcast is in Dutch.)

ICAI interview with Evy van Weelden: Finding your way in the PhD maze

Corona has made it more difficult for PhD students to find each other, while this group benefits a lot from being part of a community. Evy van Weelden started her PhD in 2020 and only saw her fellow PhD students half a year later in person. ICAI is now organizing its first PhD social meetup. Van Weelden: ‘A PhD is like a maze in which you have to find your way. I feel like I could learn a lot from PhD candidates that are in their third or fourth year.’

Evy van Weelden

Evy van Weelden is a PhD candidate within MasterMinds Lab.

MasterMinds Lab is a collaboration between Tilburg University, Fontys Hogescholen, ROC Tilburg, Actemium, CastLab, Interpolis, Marel, MultiSIM BV, Municipality of Tilburg, Port of Rotterdam, Royal Netherlands Air Force, SpaceBuzz, TimeAware and WPG Zwijsen.

The research reported in this study is funded by the MasterMinds project, part of the RegionDeal Mid- and West-Brabant, and is co-funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Municipality of Tilburg.

Working on flight simulations with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and MultiSIM sounds exciting. What amazed you so far?

‘Before I started I had some experience with virtual reality (VR), but when I first tried the flight simulation I was very impressed with how realistic it was. The company MultiSIM models PC-7 aircrafts exactly how they are in real life. Some people are prone to simulator sickness, but I’m not, so it was very fun. You feel very present in that visual environment, which is very important for the motivation of learning. There are different levels why this simulation is so realistic: the sounds, the environment and if you put pressure on the stick or throttle, the response of the aircraft is exactly how it would be in real life.’

What exactly are you researching?

‘My project focuses on neurophysiological indicators of learning in VR flight simulations. I am currently looking at the difference between desktop flight simulators and a VR flight simulators. To what extent does the fidelity of the simulation – so the degree to which the flight simulation resembles a real flight – influence the subjective workload or flight performance of the user and their brain activity? This topic fits in several types of fields, but the main one is neuro-ergonomics. With ergonomics you look at how a person interacts with a system. But neuro-ergonomics is more specific: you’re actually looking in the brain while this person interacts with a system, computer or machine. Once we have established models of the brain activity during training, we can try to predict the learning curve in VR flight simulations. Eventually we want to give neuro-feedback to the user, in the hope that it would increase their learning curve.’

What is it like to do your research with two external partners?

‘There is a lot of communication involved, with the partners, and internally with my supervisors at Tilburg University. And there is a lot of brainstorming. Everyone is enthusiastic and proactive. The meetings with the people from the partners are fun and inspiring. They are intelligent and have a lot of content-related feedback.’

What does the collaboration look like in practice? Do you go there?

‘My past data collection took place at Mindlabs, but for the next studies I plan to use the pilot trainees. That will take place in Soesterberg where the Airforce and Multisim are settled or I go to Woensdrecht in Zeeland where the pilot training takes place.’

You started with a study in neuroscience. How did you get into AI?

‘During my masters I did an internship that considered brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), and after that I knew for sure I wanted to continue with this kind of research. In short, BCIs are AI-driven interfaces that translate brain activity into device commands. In other words, we use AI to make sense of the electrical signals that are measured from the brain. BCIs could be applied to find out whether a person could be cognitive overloaded, which can impact safety, attention, but also learning. Our research concerns learning. We hope that with the use of BCIs in VR, we can increase the learning curve of these pilot trainees. Although BCIs in the field of work are relatively new, a lot of research groups worldwide are working on it right now. But as far as I’m aware, no one is researching the impact of BCIs on the learning curve in VR flight training yet.’

Is a PhD something you have to discover along the way?

‘Yes, it always starts with an idea and then you have to find more information and advice. You have to find out whether your ideas are practical. It takes a long time before you can actually start a study or data collection. There are so many fields, so many devices, so many ideas.’

You started your PhD in the middle of Corona time. How was this?

‘Well, everyone was in the same boat of course. And there were a lot of online meetings. Also meetings where we could interact with other PhD candidates and sometimes even play games, which was nice. When the lockdowns were less restrictive we got to see each other in person and we could really interact. And then another lockdown came. Right now we are starting up again, but we will probably continue to work flexible.’

What role could ICAI play in this for you and other PhD students?

‘The last time I had an in-person meetup at ICAI, at the ICAI day in October, I was able to connect with a lot of people from different levels and fields. We were seated at tables with a certain topic, where we could brainstorm. I got a chance to talk to people from different universities, PhD candidates, postdocs and even professors. It was really nice to learn about other projects within ICAI. I learned as well that there are some projects that involve BCIs.’

Would you like to see more meetups specifically aimed at PhD students within ICAI?

‘Something PhD-specific is always nice to have. As a PhD candidate you have different needs than someone who is a postdoc or beyond. If you’re struggling with something in your project, data analysis for example, or the AI part of machine learning, other PhD students can think along with you and recommend something.’


On Friday, March 11, 2022, ICAI organizes the first Social Meetup for PhD students (invite only). Do you want to get to know your fellow ICAI PhD students? Sign up!

Save the date: The ICAI Day – 2022 Summer edition will take place on Wednesday June 1, 2022!