Five professors appointed at Information and Computing Sciences

Boost for artificial intelligence

Utrecht University has appointed five professors at the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. Each of the professorships involves an internal candidate. The appointments are part of a growth programme with extra attention to diversity. The same programme included the recent appointment of Massimo Poesio as Professor of Natural Language Understanding. The professorships will start on May 1, 2023.

The position of Professor of Data-Driven Interaction has been assigned to Egon L. van den Broek. Within this chair, data is collected and analyzed from various devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches and cars. The goal is to derive patterns that can help with medical issues. For example, data from sports watches can help research heart rhythm disorders and their prediction. Possible loneliness can be recognized with, among others, smartphone data on the number of contacts a person has. And a combination of data from video, speech, and other sources can teach artificial intelligence to recognize and respond to feelings. In doing so, it learns to act empathically, which in turn has all sorts of applications, including artificial intelligence as a therapist. Ethical issues, including data management and privacy are central to this research.

Evolving software development

Fabiano Dalpiaz will hold the position of Professor of Software Production. Theories for software development are outdated, and important innovations are more often originating from companies and organizations than from academic research. Within this chair, in close cooperation with industry, these theories are investigated and evolved. How are large-scale software products developed? what factors determine software quality? which techniques are effective? And how to ethically develop software that embeds artificial intelligence? Ultimately, the goal is to help analysts and developers build modern, reliable software products.

Models for language generation (such as ChatGPT)

Albert Gatt has been appointed Professor of Natural Language Generation. Natural language generation (NLG) refers to software that produces natural language. A well-known example of such software is ChatGPT. NLG technology is also a part of translation and summarisation systems. An important area of focus of the research will be the relationship between language and vision. In other words, Gatt will be working on computer models that accurately translate videos and images into natural language. A second important area of focus is multilingualism. Gatt will look at how we can include other languages in NLG software, so that technologies enhance linguistic and cultural diversity.

Decomposing music

Anja Volk has been appointed Professor of Music Information Computing. This field has gained tremendous momentum over the past thirty years due to the extensive digitization of musical data and the corresponding availability of digitized music collections. The goal of this field is to decompose music using computer models, in order to learn how people experience music. This has a variety of applications. For example, innovative music technology can improve the role music plays in therapeutic treatments and education. But it also helps improve streaming platforms by ensuring, for example, that satisfactory suggestions can be made toward users.

Trustworthy AI

Pınar Yolum is an Associate Professor of Intelligent Systems and appointed Professor of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. The research focuses on the development of artificial intelligence systems that operate lawfully and ethically, for example by taking into account our standards and expectations of privacy. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the chair works closely with other disciplines, including law, humanities, social sciences, software development and interaction technology.