Network Institute VR at IDFA 2017

Take a look at this short impression of the VR display at the IDFA this year.

Tech Labs VR featured in Discovery Channel documentary

As most of you have probably seen in the Tech Labs Newsletters, the Tech Labs have been working on a virtual neighborhood for studying burglary. These studies are a collaboration between the NSCR (Jean-Louis van Gelder), the University of Porstmouth (Claire Nee) and the Network Institute’s Tech Labs (Marco Otte). The previous version of the Virtual Environment was used in several studies including one carried out in British prisons using actual criminals.

Discovery Channel made a short documentary of this study which features our virtual neighborhood.

At the moment we are working on the second version of the neighborhood featuring many more houses with different features offering an even more realistic environment to use in studies.

VU Regreening research exhibited at the Museon

The VU research on Regreening features in the new permanent exhibition of the Museon in The Hague. The exhibition interactively visualizes the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. As content partner of the Museon, the W4RA programme of VU has contributed ideas, visuals and texts for the exposition related to SDG No. 15, entitled Plant in het Zand – Regreening. [more…]

Web Science Trust celebrates 10 year anniversary

2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the academic discipline of Web Science.
The authors called for the new discipline of Web Science to be inherently interdisciplinary, to tackle research challenges around ownership and access to data, and to provide better understanding of the social and publicpolicy challenges that can determine the transformative value of the information available on the Web.

This volume celebrates Web Science in all its manifestation and the many directions in which it has developed over the 10 years of its existence. It highlights the events and institutions which continue to support its future development and, most importantly, the people of Web Science – from leading researchers to students around the world, with their hopes for the future. It celebrates the global network of WSTNet labs whose support has enabled Web Science to promote distinctive agendas – from Tsinghua in China to the Annenberg Network in California. It charts some of the key landmarks achieved in research, education, and thought leadership, and looks forward to what can be expected in the future from Web Science and its growing community.


Course High Performance Computing @VU

Is modelling on your pc taking longer than getting a cup of coffee? Take now this four day course on High Performance Computing from 3-20 October at the VU.

The objective of this course is to learn how to use High Performance Computing for research activities. High Performance Computing refers to the practice of aggregating computing power in a way that delivers much higher performance than one could get out of a typical desktop computer in order to solve big data analysis. In this course you will learn about tools and workflows that you can use in your research to manage big data and/or big computation tasks. After the course you will have a broader and deeper knowledge and hands-on experience with HPC and data analytics to use in your own research.

The course will combine lectures with hands-on workshops. Examples from daily practice will be used. You will learn to use Linux computers and supercomputers to deploy computationally intensive tasks. To use cloud systems and Apache Spark software on the Hadoop cluster to perform big data analyses.

The course is designed for PhD students and researchers that want to improve their data computing skills. No basic skills are required. The lectures are provided by VU researchers in cooperation with SURFsara. A similar course had very positive reactions by participants at the University of Amsterdam.

For more information and detailed course schedule see the HPC website.
Register here to this course.

International Symposium: Abstract Concepts: Debating Their Structure, Processing, and Modeling

Abstract Concepts: Debating Their Structure, Processing, and Modeling

On which dimensions of meaning do abstract and concrete concepts differ?
How does perceptual experience affect abstract concept processing and representation?
What is the role of language in shaping and indexing the content of concrete vs abstract concepts? How and in which contexts are abstract concepts understood through metaphors?

Abstract concepts are a controversial and widely debated topic, within the theoretical discussion about the embodied vs symbolic nature of language and meaning.
The aim of this project is to bring together current views about the structure, processing, and modeling of abstract concepts.

Eight eminent scholars have been invited to Amsterdam to discuss the nature, structure, processing, and modeling of abstract concepts in various disciplines.
During the symposium the panelists will present in turn their view and will receive structured comments (prepared in advance) from their peers. A general discussion among all panelists and the audience will follow.

Invited Keynote Speakers and Provisional titles

  • Prof. Friedemann Pulvermueller – Concrete mechanisms for abstract meaning
  • Prof. Gun Semin – The place of metaphors in the order of things
  • Prof. Piek Vossen – Granularity and identity of event descriptions
  • Dr. Diane Pecher – Curb your embodiment
  • Prof. Max Louwerse – Language statistics explain conceptual processing
  • Prof. Alessandro Lenci – The Emotions of Abstracts: A Distributional Semantic Analysis
  • Prof. Ken McRae – Situations, perceptual information and abstract concepts
  • Prof. Gabriella Vigliocco – Learning and processing abstract concepts: the role of language and the role of emotion

Call for Papers
Given the structure and program of the symposium, with 8 keynote speakers, submissions are welcome and encouraged for poster presentations. Posters will be displayed on the conference venue for the whole day, and the delegates will be able to comment and discuss the posters over the lunch break, which will take place at the conference venue.

Applicants are asked to submit (max) 250 words abstracts and register online through the symposium website:

Submission deadline: 15th September
Notification of acceptance: 30th September
Symposium date: 18th November

The event is organized by the COGVIM project team (EU Marie Curie IEF, awarded to Dr Marianna Bolognesi – n° 629076) and sponsored by ABC Amsterdam Brain and Cognition, Network Institute, and KNAW Dutch Royal Academy of Science.

Wereldprimeur: robots planten zich voort

Science fiction become reality: Professor Guszti Eiben (Vrije University Amsterdam, Artificial Intelligence) and his team have for the first time ever succeeded in creating robots that can procreate themselves.

This break-through is an important first step in Industrail Evolution and could play a major role in a future colonization of the planet Mars. On May 26, 2016 during the Campus Party at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, two of Eiben’s robots mated and the first robot baby was revealed.

Because of this method of reproduction the robots not only are able to evolve their brains, but also their bodies. The robot-parents search and choose a suitable partner with certain desirable characteristics to improve the intelligence and physical form in their offspring. They adapt to their surroundings and the tasks their have to fulfill. This ability to evolve makes these robots suitable for use in environments that are not clearly defined at the start, like under water mines or other planets.

[bron: VU]

Watch the video below are explore the links below to learn more about this project.

News article on Scientias (Dutch)
Full text on the VU web site (Dutch)
Prof Guszti Eiben’s web site with additional links


Science Research at UvA-VU: Applied Gaming Research Community

Scientists of the Network Institute (Vrije University Amsterdam, Tibor Bosse) and the Game Studies master program (UvA, Sander Bakkes) have create a new platform. A collaboration of scientists who are interested in Applied Gaming, or creating video games for purposes other than fun [read more… (in Dutch).

Bosse_tiborTibor Bosse

bakkes_sander_uvaSander Bakkes

Science Research UvA-VU: Logic and Language

Two totally different disciplines meet. Philisopher Arianna Betti and Computer Scientist Stefan Slobach are collaborating in scientific research. But how does such a collaboration work? Stefan Slobach gives a behind-the-scenes interview [more… (in Dutch)]

Stefan Slobach

Arianna Betti

Tech Labs Newsletter Spring 2016 is here!

For those not on the mailing list, the new Tech Labs Newsletter is out!
Just go to Tech Labs – Tech Labs Newsletters or download the PDF directly from here.

Enjoy reading about the latest and greatest projects running at the Tech Labs and get an idea of what the Tech Labs might be able to do for you!