New IT University cofounded pioneer centre to bolster Danish artificial intelligence research
The pioneer centre, established by the IT University and four other Danish universities, has received DKK 352,4 million in funding to conduct artificial intelligence research focussed on social issues, design, and ethics.
With DKK 352,4 million (approx. €47 million) of funding from the Danish National Research Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Villum Foundation and the Lundbeck Foundation, as well as participation from Aalborg University, Aarhus University, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the IT University, and the University of Copenhagen, the pioneer centre is the most ambitious investment in artificial intelligence research on Danish soil ever.
American star researcher to head centre
The centre will be headed by the University of Copenhagen and one of the field’s leading experts, Serge Belongie, an American researcher currently serving as a professor and vice dean at Cornell Tech in the United States. Serge Belongie will be brought on as a professor at the Department of Computer Science within the Faculty of Science.
- Denmark has fantastically well-organized data collection across public institutions that one would never come across in the United States. Data that makes it possible to harness the possibilities of artificial intelligence and, for example, predict the earlier stages of breast cancer, monitor endangered species or make urban planning smarter, says Professor Serge Belongie.
Disease and climate change prediction
Predicting and preventing disease, monitoring climate change and biodiversity, as well as energy and infrastructure, are three out of a total of 10 significant societal challenges the pioneer centre’s research will focus on.
Each of the ten focal areas will be approached by top researchers who, in collaboration with companies and public institutions, will use artificial intelligence over five to seven years to solve a wide range of societal challenges through research, innovation and spin-out companies.
Artificial intelligence research is essential
Along with colleagues at the University of Copenhagen and DTU, Dan Witzner, an associate professor at the IT University, helped conceptualize the pioneer centre. According to him, the goal is to secure researchers at the IT University and their work a higher degree of visibility potentially leading to more collaborative work with other leading researchers in the various fields of artificial intelligence.
- If we want to create something of lasting value for Denmark and the rest of the world, we need to focus on AI. It is an essential part of the current development and will continue to be so in the future. The pioneer centre will afford researchers at the IT University the opportunity to help shape the future of AI, says Dan Witzner, who spearheaded the IT University’s initial involvement in the centre alongside associate professor Barbara Plank, head of the Department of Computer Science Peter Sestoft, and pro-rector Jens Christian Godskesen.
Dan Witzner explains that the centre will be open to a wide array of researchers at the IT University:
- The centre is going to create a lot of new opportunities for everyone at the IT University, among other things because we tend to have a multidisciplinary approach to our work. The pioneer centre is based on collaboratories which is a way of categorising relatively open-ended fields such as extended reality or explainable AI. For instance, if I am studying eye information—meaning the information provided to us by our eyes—that area of study may fall under two categories, which means I can collaborate with leading researchers in Denmark and the rest of the world on, for instance, the ethical implications of my work. In short, we are going to be able to utilise our own experts here in Denmark to a far greater extent and benefit researchers at institutions like the IT University greatly by shining a light on niche research areas and extending research networks via the centre, says Dan Witzner.
Department head Peter Sestoft also believes that the centre will enable more joint research ventures among Danish universities, increase awareness about Danish artificial intelligence research abroad, and finally lead to more ethically sound artificial intelligence solutions in tune with the values and demands of Danish society. The five foundations funding the initiative and supporting the process have shown great vision:
- Gaining access to an organisation that spans the country’s universities will be of tremendous value to the IT University. It will integrate research and PhD studies to a greater extent while ensuring a direct line of communication to the various fields of study—medical science, social science, law, and the humanities—that all stand to be affected by artificial intelligence in the future, he says.
For more information, watch a video about the pioneer centre featuring associate professor at the IT University Barbara Plank via LinkedIn
Jari Kickbusch, phone 7218 5304, email firstname.lastname@example.org