Newsflash: AI for efficient traffic ticket processing, and more...

Quick updates

At Utrecht University’s Faculty of Science, we are committed to keeping you informed about the latest developments, breakthroughs, and achievements that shape our academic landscape. In this newsflash, you will find quick, bite-sized updates on a range of topics that we wish to share with you in addition to the other, more extensive articles in our newsfeed.

Efficient traffic ticket processing with AI

Utrecht researchers have developed an AI system that helps lawyers prepare objection procedures against traffic violations. Governments are increasingly using algorithms to support or replace decision-making. AI systems are considered objective, consistent and efficient decision-makers, but they also make mistakes.

The AI system developed by the Utrecht computer scientists proved to be excellent at carrying out routine and administrative tasks in objection procedures – for example, for fines for speeding or parking violations – such as checking documents for formal requirements. This saves legal assistants a lot of time, which they can then spend on more complex tasks, according to the scientists in a recent publication in Big Data & Society.

According to the researchers, human control remains essential to guide the use of AI in the legal system.

At the same time, the research also showed that the system was not always able to predict the outcome of the objection procedure. Due to this lack of reliability and accuracy, human control remains essential, according to the researchers, to guide the use of AI in the legal system.

“A lot is being said and written about the use of AI in the judiciary, but practical experiments are scarce,” says computer scientist Daan Kolkman, one of the researchers. “With this research, we show that AI can be of added value, provided it is applied responsibly in a supporting role. Attempts to predict the outcomes of cases or to pass automated sentences on a large scale are doomed to failure.”

Toine Pieters appointed NIAS Golestan fellow

As of September 1, Toine Pieters will start as NIAS Golestan fellow at the KNAW. During this period he will work on his academic book on imaginaries of wonder drugs in medicine. In this book, Pieters investigates how ideas about magic bullet medicines – perfect drugs to cure a disease without danger or side effects – have influenced the research and development of medicines during the twentieth century. He focuses on cancer, infectious diseases and mental disorders.

Pieters argues that magic bullet visions of scientific and technological progress in Western medicine are not innocent, but can also have unintended consequences for the direction in which research develops. In earlier research, he has already shown that the way in which magic bullets are imagined can have an effect on drug research, development and use.

Pieters sees the NIAS Golestan fellowship as a valuable recognition of his research work. “It is also an extra motivation to finish my book project," he says.

KHMW prizes for Robert-Jan Wille and Dennis Dieks

Researchers Robert-Jan Wille and Dennis Dieks, both affiliated with the Freudenthal Institute, have received prizes from the KHMW. The prizes were awarded on 28 May and are a tribute to their contributions to the research field of History and Philosophy of Science.

De winnaars van de Langerhuizen Oeuvreprijs en Langerhuizen Bate samen met de jury
The winners of the KHMW prizes together with the jury.

Emeritus professor Dennis Dieks received the Langerhuizen Oeuvreprijs, which is awarded annually to a scientist who has done significant research in the natural sciences. During his academic career, Dieks focused on the philosophy of space and time, quantum mechanics and the exact sciences. Researcher Robert-Jan Wille received the KHMW Langerhuizen Bate, an annual prize to promote scientific research in the natural sciences. Wille researches the history of climate science, and the prize of 25,000 euros allows him, among other things, to conduct archival research in Sweden, Norway and Alaska.