First national research agenda for Artificial Intelligence

21 November 2019

The Netherlands is facing a choice: will we allow Artificial Intelligence (AI) to happen, or will we play a role in shaping this revolution? With the AI Research Agenda for the Netherlands (AIREA-NL), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has opted for the second option. AI is developing rapidly, and will be a crucial factor for the future welfare of the Netherlands. It also brings major technological and social scientific challenges. Worldwide, large-scale AI research programmes are developed at high speed. A solid and coherent AI knowledge base is required if the Netherlands wants to remain a significant global player in the field of AI and play a role in shaping the AI revolution.

On Thursday 14 November, the agenda was presented to the president of NWO Stan Gielen by Natali Helberger, Inald Lagendijk, and Maarten de Rijke.On Thursday 14 November, the agenda was presented to the president of NWO Stan Gielen by Natali Helberger, Inald Lagendijk, and Maarten de Rijke.

With this research agenda, NWO wants to create focus and connectivity in the Dutch AI research field, and strengthen it. AIREA-NL encompasses the full breadth of the AI science field. This AI research agenda is organised around grand challenges related to different facets of the life cycle of an AI algorithm. Each grand challenge recognises how technological and societal aspects of AI are inherently intertwined and mutually influence each other. The agenda is focused on the four stages of an AI algorithm, and on common multi-disciplinary themes. In a nut shell:

  • Creating AI components
    This involves research into new AI algorithms, embedding the relevant performance, human, societal and cross-cutting factors.
  • Creating AI systems
    Here, the focus is on getting systems built and used, systematic methodologies, the interaction of different AI components, the predictability of the overall behaviour of the system within a particular usage context, and the access to data and knowledge.
  • AI systems and humans
    This facet addresses how “AI systems and humans” can learn from each other and optimally collaborate, including aspects particular to the Netherlands such as language.
  • AI systems and society
    This is focused on the question how the transformative force of AI and society interact and shape each other.

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) is proud to present AIREA-NL: the AI Research Agenda for the Netherlands. Artificial intelligence (AI) offers many new possibilities and opportunities, and its economic and social impact continues to grow. At the same time, a number of fundamental issues have so far remained unresolved. All over the world, large-scale AI research programmes and strategies are being developed at a rapid pace. A solid and coherent AI knowledge base is needed in order to reap the benefits of this technology in the Netherlands as well. NWO’s aim is to use this new research agenda to further strengthen the AI research field in the Netherlands, and to connect different parties and focus their efforts.

AIREA-NL encompasses the entire AI research field in the Netherlands. The agenda is built around the four stages of AI algorithm development and five intersecting themes. For each of these stages and themes, all the relevant technological and social aspects have been taken into account.

About the development of the agenda

AIREA-NL is initiated by NWO.  This agenda is an integral component of the course set by the Dutch government and the Dutch AI Coalition. As such, both the governmental action plan for AI (SAPAI) and the AI Coalition’s action agenda refer to AIREA-NL in their individual AI research agendas.

AIREA-NL was developed in phases under the joint supervision of the chair of the agenda’s writing committee, Prof. Inald Lagendijk, and NWO. The first step was to solicit advice from a group of 29 AI researchers who provided feedback on the existing Dutch AI Manifesto. This manifesto was drawn up by the Netherlands ICT Research Platform’s (IPN) AI Special Interest Group. Based on the researchers’ feedback, the writing committee jointly prepared a first draft of the agenda, which was then distributed among representatives of 25 organizations – in the Netherlands and abroad – for another round of feedback. This feedback is incorporated in the final version of agenda.

Members of the writing committee:

Antal van den Bosch, KNAW Meertens
José van Dijck, Utrecht University
Natali Helberger, University of Amsterdam
Dirk Heylen, University of Twente
Koen Hindriks, VU Amsterdam
Holger Hoos, Leiden University
Inald Lagendijk, Delft University of Technology
Wiro Niessen, Erasmus MC/Delft University of Technology
Maarten de Rijke, University of Amsterdam
Bart Verheij, University of Groningen
Piek Vossen, VU Amsterdam
Aimee van Wynsberghe, Delft University of Technology


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Source: NWO