When you are fortunate enough to speak with Nuria Oliver, telecommunications engineer, doctor in Artificial Intelligence (AI) from MIT, and one of Spain’s most internationally recognised researchers in information technologies, it is impossible not to share her infectious passion for AI and understand why creating technology is akin to changing the world. Nuria puts it into perspective for us when she explains that “we live in a technological world, where AI is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in which we find ourselves immersed”. Her passion, talent and commitment have led her to create and direct the ELLIS Unit in Alicante, the only non-profit foundation in Spain dedicated to research into AI excellence centred on people, with a clear focus on achieving a positive socio-economic impact.
We co-exist with Artificial Intelligence whilst being almost unaware of it. It enriches our day-to-day life through contact and a relationship with a technology that learns, adapts and grows with us. AI represents a great opportunity for those that want to be at the cutting edge of today’s knowledge society. “Despite the strategic importance of Artificial Intelligence, Europe has taken a back seat behind North America and China in research, innovation, implementation and use of Artificial Intelligence in society”- explains Nuria – “ELLIS came about to address that situation, to create really competitive framework conditions in Europe that will enable European countries to attract and retain excellent research talent, at both junior and senior levels”.
At the Banco Sabadell Foundation, ever committed to promoting young talent, we have no hesitation in joining forces with the ELLIS Foundation Alicante. Our collaboration involves funding AI research at PhD level for four young researchers associated with the European ELLIS PhD programme run by the University of Alicante. Those researchers are Piera Riccio, Adrián Arnaiz, Aditya Gulati and Gergely Németh, four young people who, through their research, will undoubtedly change the world we live in.
Piera will base her PhD research on the social implications of the use of AI algorithms in social network platforms. It is fascinating to see how algorithms are defining the flow of information in our society and marking new paradigms for mass communication that we should keep a watchful eye on.
On the other hand, the focus of Adrián’s PhD research is algorithmic fairness and transparency. Specifically, he seeks to address the challenges posed by the ethical implications of decisions taken by Artificial Intelligence, embracing concepts such as privacy, transparency, responsibility, reliability, autonomy and equity.
For his part, Aditya will explore, through computational analysis and research, human behaviour resulting from our cognitive biases. The main objective of his research is to incorporate an understanding of those human biases in our Artificial Intelligence systems in order to design tools that will help us take better decisions.
Gergely’s PhD research is focused on the areas of federated learning and algorithmic fairness. Equity or fairness in Artificial Intelligence is also an area that has become increasingly relevant in recent years and is producing a need for an analysis of conscience. In the intersection of the two fields we can find new solutions for existing problems in centralised automatic learning, but also for new problems that are exclusively to do with the training architectures for federated learning.
Here at the Foundation, we will keep watch over the progress of these research projects and the career path of these four young people who, through their talent, will help us all to progress as a society.
Now we understand the alias of the ELLIS Foundation Alicante: “Artificial Intelligence Institute focused on Humanity”, as the projects undertaken aim to research and develop technical solutions through AI by and for the people. “With ELLIS Alicante we have a unique opportunity in our city, region and country to contribute to making AI our best ally” explains Nuria. And for us, the Foundation, it is a privilege to collaborate with ELLIS Alicante given its unique nature and its commitment to young research excellence in Artificial Intelligence by and for the people.