NL AIC status recognition for Utrecht consortium’s AI, Digital Culture & Media Lab

The AI, Digital Culture & Media lab, a collaboration between Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Media Perspectives and PublicSpaces, has recently been awarded the NL AIC Label by the Netherlands AI Coalition (NLAIC). The label is a formal acknowledgement of the quality of the lab’s activities, which are in line with the ambitions and strategic goals of the NLAIC. The lab generates and disseminates knowledge related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital culture, equips professionals with AI-based solutions, and builds a knowledge ecosystem that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of AI, digital culture and media. Getting this label will add momentum to research in these fields of AI in the Netherlands.

Organisations in the media sector, creative industry and cultural institutions make a powerful contribution to our digital culture. Many of them are increasingly using AI in their activities throughout the chain. That includes automated content creation for writing texts, Virtual and Augmented Reality applications, personalised recommendation systems for news and music, or AI that designs art on its own. Using these technologies presents ethical responsibilities with regard to the protection of public values, such as the right to privacy, access/inclusion, and diversity. For example, a personalised recommendation system must treat users’ data with care, and shouldn’t contribute to exacerbating polarisation, but rather serve as a tool for bursting ‘filter bubbles’.

AI, Digital Culture & Media lab

The AI, Digital Culture & Media Lab therefore focuses on how AI changes digital culture and looks for ways to positively enhance the impact of AI on digital culture. In the process, the lab explores practical solutions for human-oriented, ethical and healthy applications of technology within media and digital culture.

In the AI, Digital Culture & Media Lab, researchers combine their activities in the fields of fundamental and applied research with the knowledge and application of AI in the real world. The lab also aims to set up structural partnerships to bring together various perspectives to address shared problems and challenges, create and share knowledge, and innovate and validate research-based solutions.

The lab’s media partners are enthusiastic. According to Geert-Jan Bogaerts, chairperson of PublicSpaces Foundation, in AI research it is important to define public values that the research must abide by in an early phase. “AI has the potential to have an enormous impact on society. If you don’t stop to consider the possible implications now, then you run the risk of being left behind and developments will take their own course. For PublicSpaces, which advocates for public values in the digital domain, the NL AIC Label is confirmation of the importance of our mission.”

Remco Veltkamp, Professor of Information & Computing Sciences at Utrecht University and one of the driving forces behind the AI, Digital Culture & Media Lab: “Together we study the way AI influences digital culture, and we explore practical solutions for the ethical application of the technology. Especially in the media sector, creative industries like advertising, marketing and games, and cultural institutions like museums.”

Gerrita van der Veen, Director of Knowledge Centre Digital Business & Media at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, adds: “For the Utrecht region, which is already strong in the fields of media, technology and (digital) culture, the ELSA lab is a stimulus to build on a more durable partnership. One crucial aspect in that is the combination between fundamental and applied research, and the strong connection with the media and culture sector that makes it possible for our research to have a real impact on society.”

About NL AIC Labs

The NLAIC focuses on strengthening the Dutch AI landscape. To that end, it created ELSA Labs in late 2019. ELSA stands for Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects: activities that reinforce the Netherlands through research, education and innovation in and with AI. That includes solutions for social and commercial problems, with a focus on ethics, legality, security and especially confidentiality. The AI, Digital Culture & Media Lab is one of the labs that contributes to these goals and meets the NL AIC Label conditions.

For more information about the NL AIC Label, see the Netherlands AI Coalition website.