18 September 2018

A broad investment in artificial intelligence is now required in Europe, an investment that places people in the centre of the development. This demand has been made by more than 2,000 researchers, among them Fredrik Heintz, AI researcher at Linköping University.

Lights above operating table. Lights above operating table. Thor Balkhed

All round the world, not least in China and the US, billions are being invested in research and development in artificial intelligence, AI. The European research community is now eager to gather its forces in a network, called “CLAIRE” – the Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe.

“What we want is to achieve a broad investment in AI for everyone in Europe, not a limited investment that benefits a few large companies. Europe has the capacity required to cover the complete field of AI, and the opportunity to truly place people in the centre of development”, says Fredrik Heintz. He is not only a researcher in AI at LiU but also director of the graduate school at the Wallenberg AI Autonomous Systems and Software Program, WASP. He is also member of the EU Commission High Level Expert Group on AI and president of the Swedish AI Society.

Public sector 

The researchers who have signed the petition draw attention to increasing inequalities in Europe and the inability of welfare states to deliver the service that citizens expect. To address these challenges, artificial intelligence is an important part.

“The public sector is particularly important. Large-scale coordination of healthcare and medical care, for example, is too difficult for us: we can’t keep track of the enormous quantity of information, nor can we recognise all the relevant patterns in it. At the same time, AI has effective methods for this and these methods can also be used to predict likely future trends”, says Fredrik Heintz.

AI can provide means to facilitate both planning and collaboration between different parts of the care process that are currently compartmentalized.

“We must ensure that AI is seen as something positive and make people understand the advantages”, he says.

AI will influence all fields

Those who have signed the petition point out that a great deal of AI financing currently goes to machine learning, but this is only one part of AI research.
“AI will influence all fields, and research is needed to ensure that we get it right. It is also important to recognise that we need significant educational efforts and support during the implementation.”

The Swedish government has recently invested in continued and further education within AI, and a knowledge platform is now being established between seven institutions of higher education in Sweden.

“But we also need a platform here at LiU, where industry and the municipalities in the region can participate”, says Fredrik Heintz.

What do you see as LiU’s strengths?
“Image processing, natural languages, planning, knowledge presentation, visualisation, forecasting-decision support, and delegation”, he answers without hesitation.

“But there are other areas”, he continues. AI and services is one – how to design services that incorporate AI. The field of healthcare and medical care includes the Analytic Imaging Diagnostic Arena, AIDA, which is a national arena for research and innovation for AI within image analysis, where researchers, people from industry and medical personnel collaborate. AI in the public sector is another specialist field in which LiU researchers hold workshops together with companies, in order to discover what training they need and to contribute.

Social sciences and humanities

The huge WASP research programme, coordinated by LiU, includes by Swedish standards a large investment in AI. This also includes investment in computing infrastructure.

“But WASP is mainly focussed on technology, and we must also secure investment in the social sciences and humanities, since AI will affect all parts of society. This is why further investment is needed, on a significantly broader front”, says Fredrik Heintz.

The Claire petition has been sent to universities, organisations and individual researchers in Europe with the aim of causing European and national leaders to significantly increase the funding for research and innovation in artificial intelligence in Europe. At the time of writing, the petition has 2,119 signatures.

“We want politicians and leaders across Europe to dedicate funds in their budgets, and to include AI in their strategic plans. The petition also aims to strengthen ties between the researchers and networks that are currently active in AI in Europe”, says Fredrik Heintz.

The text of the Claire petition


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