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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.

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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…]

Finaniceel Dagblad – Shortlist Kunstmatige intelligentie: Groeiend ongemak

Het Financieel Dagblad (approx. the Dutch Financial Times) invites somebody every Saturday to describe 4 books on their area of expertise that they think everybody should read. The asked me to write this week’s column, so I choose 4 books on AI that everybody should read.
The column is below (it’s behind a paywall on the FD website). It’s in Dutch, but two of the books are available in English  (“To save everything, click here by” Evgeny Morozov, and “What do you think about machines that think”).

Shortlist Kunstmatige intelligentie

verbergenGroeiend ongemak
Privacy, het meest bedreigde mensenrecht. In hun boek Je hebt wél iets te verbergen laten onderzoeksjournalisten Maurits Martijn en Dimitri Tokmetzis zien wat je online aan informatie weggeeft en aan wie. En wat de gevolgen daarvan zijn. Hun boek is net verschenen en kwam gelijk met stip in de boekentop-10. De auteurs laten zien hoe moderne informatie technologie — waaronder AI en machine learning — ingrijpt op onze persoonlijke levenssfeer, en zelfs levensbedreigend zou kunnen worden. Ook onder wetenschappers begint het ongemak te groeien over de gevolgen van steeds intelligentere computers die steeds grotere hoeveelheden data analyseren, om steeds gedetailleerdere profielen te maken van klanten en gebruikers. Ook vanuit de wetenschap gaan er steeds meer stemmen op om daar verstandiger mee om te gaan.

Je hebt wél iets te verbergen: over het levensbelang van privacy, Maurits Martijn en Dimitri Tokmetzis, De Correspondent, 2016, €18,00

 

 

 

wereldtereddenNiet bestaande problemen
Om de wereld te redden klik hier is een briljant boek van een briljante wetenschapper aan Stanford University, in het hartje van Silicon Valley. Maar Evgeny Morozov is oh zo kritisch op het naïef optimistische wereldbeeld dat hier vaak heerst — en waar we ons in Nederland maar al te vaak op blind staren. Morozov schrijft over technologie, solutionisme en de drang om problemen op te lossen die niet bestaan. Hij bespreekt waarom totale transparantie helemaal niet zo goed is voor de democratie, waarom AI misschien niet de oplossing is voor misdaadbestrijding, en waarom algoritmes niet neutraal zijn. Reden voor wetenschappers om onderzoek te doen naar computertechnieken die gegarandeerd FACT zijn: fair (eerlijk), accurate (voldoende nauwkeurig), confidential (ze bewaren zo nodig vertrouwelijkheid) en transparent (het is ook voor leken inzichtelijk hoe ze werken).
Om de wereld te redden klik hier, de onzin van het technologische solutionisme, Evgeny Morozov, Ef & Ef Media, 2014, €24,95

 

 

 

thinkingmachinesZijn computers stom?
Jaarlijks stelt John Brockman, oprichter van het vermaarde discussieplatform Edge.org, een vraag aan een selectie van de 195 interessantste wetenschappers, auteurs en kunstenaars ter wereld. In 2015 was die vraag: hoe denk je over machines die denken? De beste filosofen (zoals de Amerikaan Daniel Dennett), de beste wetenschappers (waaronder Luc Steels, hoogleraar informatica en directeur van het Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Brussel) en de beste kunstenaars (onder meer muziekpionier Brian Eno) op twee pagina’s hun antwoord op die ene vraag. Een mooi voorbeeld is die van filsosoof Dennett: voorlopig is het grootste gevaar niet dat computers zo slim worden dat ze ons leven gaan beheersen, maar juist dat computers nog steeds zo ontzettend stom zijn, en toch ons leven al beheersen.

Machines die denken, invloedrijke denkers over de komst van kunstmatige intelligentie, Maven Publishing, 2016, €20,00

 

 

 

turingstangoSymbiose mens en computer
Turings Tango is een heerlijk en hype-vrij boek, iets wat lang niet vanzelfsprekend is als het over kunstmatige intelligentie gaat. Bennie Mols, wetenschapsjournalist, natuurkundige en filosoof, geeft een heldere beschrijving van de zoektocht naar kunstmatig intelligentie van de afgelopen veertig jaar, zonder zich te laten meeslepen in de gebruikelijke hyperbolen als het over AI gaat. Hij stelt met enig optimisme en met klein voorbehoud: robots maken de mens efficiënter, en niet volledig overbodig. Computers hebben artsen niet vervangen maar ze ondersteunen artsen, bijvoorbeeld bij het stellen van een diagnose. Evenzo zijn we sinds de winst van schaakcomputer Deep Blue tegen wereldkampioen Kasparov niet opgehouden met schaken, maar spelen we juist schaak tegen (en met) computers. Uiteindelijk zal de symbiose tussen mens en computer nuttiger (en prettiger, en winstgevender) blijken dan simpelweg het vervangen van mensen door computers.

Turings Tango, waarom de mens de computer de baas blijft, Bennie Mols, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2015, €18,95

 

 

Frank van Harmelen is hoogleraar Kunstmatige intelligentie aan de VU Amsterdam. Hij is lid van de Europese Academie van Wetenschappen.

 

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.

websciencetrust

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

Description
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.

Program
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: https://abstractconceptsnet.wordpress.com

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.

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