University of Copenhagen: The Danish Pioneer Centre for AI marks its official opening

On 28 March Denmark’s new Pioneer Centre for Artificial Intelligence marks its official opening with an event that will focus on how fundamental AI research can contribute to solving some of society’s greatest challenges and bring Denmark to the forefront of human-centered artificial intelligence.

The Pioneer Centre for AI is Denmark’s largest research centre for artificial intelligence, and the associated partners involved in the centre from Aalborg University, Aarhus University, DTU, the IT University of Copenhagen and the University of Copenhagen are ready to mark the start of the centre’s development of new platforms, methods, and practices within artificial intelligence in the coming years.

The centre was initiated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in collaboration with the Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the VILLUM FOUNDATION and the five universities. From the outset, the ambition has been to conduct fundamental research at the highest international level, with a focus on solving some of society’s greatest challenges.

– In many ways, artificial intelligence will help shape our society in the future. We must help to develop the technology and ensure that it is ethically responsible. This is the idea of the new pioneer centre. With Serge Belongie in charge, it gives Denmark a forward position within this extremely important area, says Jens Kehlet Nørskov, chairman of board at the Danish National Research Foundation.

Research with societal impact
Since the start of the centre in the autumn of 2021, several research projects have already been launched across the five universities. The projects aim to create social impact in areas such as health and biotech, energy, and infrastructure as well as climate and biodiversity.

Director of the centre, Professor Serge Belongie, hopes that the centre, with its focus on societal challenges, people and design, will challenge and change the way artificial intelligence creates value for Denmark.

– The unique character of the Pioneer Centre for AI comes through in the way in which we work with the grand challenges. The challenges we will confront are not merely a matter of big data and bigger models; rather, they are high-touch, messy, deeply human problems, for which tech is but one component, situated alongside vital contributions from social science, participatory design, journalism, public policy, and beyond, explains Professor and director in the Pioneer Centre for AI, Serge Belongie.

Human-centric AI
The opening event takes place on Monday 28 March in the afternoon and will be held in The Black Diamond at Søren Kierkegaard’s Square in Copenhagen. Participants will be presented the vision behind the centre and examples of how fundamental research can be used to help address some of society’s most important challenges.

According to Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, who will deliver the keynote speech at the opening event, the next frontier to the deployment at scale of AI for the benefit of humankind is not technological but societal and human, and with the new pioneer centre Denmark will play a leading role – both nationally and internationally – in developing human-centric artificial intelligence.

– We must build AI people can trust, and we must develop participatory AI governance so that AI can serve everyone. Denmark has a long tradition of trust in democratic institutions and is a world leader in human-centric design. These two superpowers put Denmark in an excellent position to help guide the design of human-centric AI, concludes Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Technical Fellow for AI at LinkedIn and keynote speaker at the opening event.



Facts
The Pioneer Centre for AI is the first of 2-3 pioneer centres in Denmark. The establishment of the Pioneer Centre for AI is an ambitious national initiative, which the Ministry of Higher Education and Science has initiated, and it is developed in close collaboration (and co-funding) between the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the VILLUM FOUNDATION, possibly other foundations, and Danish universities.

The Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen functions as host and administrator for the centre, while researchers from the Technical University of Denmark, the IT University of Copenhagen, Aalborg University and Aarhus University act as co-leads.

For now, the centre is located in Østerbro in Copenhagen, but during the autumn of 2022, it is expected that the University of Copenhagen’s observatory at Østervold in the centre of Copenhagen will be ready to house the Pioneer Centre for AI.

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