Professor Claes de Vreese has been appointed university professor of Artificial Intelligence and Society by the Executive Board of the UvA. This appointment takes the number of university professors in the field of AI at the UvA to five. The appointment will take effect on 1 June 2021.
De Vreese will focus on the ever-increasing role that automated decision-making and artificial intelligence play in our digital society, bringing together various sub-areas, including politics, media and democracy.
Information technology, and AI in particular, is rapidly changing the world. The use of AI and automated decision-making processes is leading to all kinds of new questions and concerns. For example, what does the use of AI mean for the media and democracy? How does the personalisation of news affect citizens' agendas and perceptions of social issues? What are the consequences of using AI for inclusion / exclusion and empowerment / disempowerment? One of the main challenges is understanding and tackling the (un)intended consequences of the use of algorithms and AI in society. The answer lies in ‘responsible AI’, technology that is verifiable and transparent. Information technology should be free from bias in decision-making and outcomes must be explainable by identifying the parameters on which the decisions are based. Responsible AI is also important for trust in AI technology in general, among citizens and in society as a whole.
As a university professor, De Vreese will work across the boundaries of disciplines and research groups, and bring together experts from across the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FMG). He will support and set up initiatives to strengthen research and education about AI and society. He will be the FMG’s link to his four fellow university professors of AI: Tobias Blanke (Humanities and AI), Natali Helberger (Law and Digital Technology), Ivana Išgum (AI and Medical Imaging) and Maarten de Rijke (AI and Information Retrieval). Together, they will work on an interdisciplinary and university-wide approach to AI research and education at the UvA.
De Vreese (1974) has been professor of Political Communication at the UvA since 2005. In addition, he has been distinguished research professor of Artificial Intelligence, Data and Democracy at the FMG since 2019. He chairs the Political Communication & Journalism programme group at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research. Together with Natali Helberger, De Vreese leads the UvA platform Information, Communication and the Data Society (ICDS) (ICDS), which includes research priority areas Communication and Human(e) AI. De Vreese is one of the partners in the recently established AI, Media & Democracy Lab, in which researchers from the UvA, AUAS and CWI collaborate with media partners, social partners and the municipality of Amsterdam. He is founder of the Center for Politics and Communication and current president of the International Communication Association. In addition, De Vreese is an affiliated professor at the University of Southern Denmark and a member of the Danish Institute of Advanced Studies. He is a member of the KNAW and KHMW and former chairman of the SSH Council.
The appointment of De Vreese brings the total number of university professors at the UvA to eight. In addition to the four other AI university professors, these are: Robbert Dijkgraaf, Rick van der Ploeg and Patti Valkenburg. University professors are expected to give impulse to scientific developments that transcend the traditional disciplines and thus make an important contribution to the profile of the university.