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Researchers establish partnerships and receive suggestions from mentors during ICA 4

by Richard Meckien - published Nov 05, 2021 10:05 AM - - last modified Feb 02, 2022 04:40 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

Sessão da ICA 4 - Paris - Outubro de 2021
Session of the first phase of ICA 4, held at the Paris Institute for Advanced Study.

Three Brazilians were among the 19 young researchers participating in the first phase of the 4th Intercontinental Academia (ICA 4), held in Paris from October 18 to 27. The current edition addresses the theme "Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence" and the objective of the group is to explore fundamental interdisciplinary issues at the intersection of cognitive science, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.

Two Brazilian participants are professors at USP: André Fujita, from the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, who has been appointed by the IEA, and specialist in health technology assessment Patricia Coelho de Soárez, from the Medical School, which has supported her. The third Brazilian is Evandro Cunha, a professor of computational linguistics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

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Previous editions of the Intercontinental Academia

  • ICA 1 (2015-2016) - "Time"
  • ICA 2 (2016) - "Human Dignity"
  • ICA 3 (2018-2019) - "Laws: Rigidity and Dynamics

The ICA is an initiative of the international network of University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study (UBIAS). Each edition is organized by two IASs from different continents. In the case of ICA 4, the hosts are the Paris Institute for Advanced Study and UFMG's Institute of Advanced Transdisciplinary Studies. The second phase will be held in June 2022, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

During the eight days of seminars, several themes have been discussed in a comprehensive manner, according to Fujita and Soárez. The sessions were followed by meetings between participants and mentors, as well as by visits to universities in the French capital.

The Installation Theory, a new field dedicated to understanding, analyzing, and changing behavior has been one of the addressed topics, being discussed besides the concept of intelligence, philosophy of computing, ethical principles in AI, the future of AI and its challenges, relationships between humans and machines, consciousness and emotion, robots of the future, the impact of AI on economy, theoretical frameworks for the functioning of deep neural networks, and the issue of whether or not it is really necessary to develop intelligent machines that mimic humans and their usefulness.

André Fujita e Toshio Fukuda - ICA4 - 2021
André Fujita (left) and Toshio Fukuda during a meeting at the Paris-Saclay Normal School. Professor emeritus from Nagoya University, Fukuda is one of the world's leading authorities on robotics.

Fujita has held individual meetings with Xiao-Jing Wang, Toshio Fukuda, Marc Mézard, Zaven Paré, Saadi Lahlou, Simon Luck, and Olivier Bouin, all mentors (senior researchers) of the ICA 4. At these, he has been able to describe his research projects and areas of work, and asked for criticism and suggestions.

Wang, Fukuda, and Mézard have praised the innovative aspects of Fujita's research projects in network statistics and in the use of heart rate variability (HRV) in the construction of a heart-machine interface, according to the Brazilian. They have also presented suggestions for a greater scope of work. Luck and Bouin have discussed possibilities for research grants at IASs in France and opportunities for funding Fujita's work in Europe.

He has also established connections for possible cooperation with Deshen Moodley and Surange Kasturi, two of the junior researchers participating in ICA 4. While Moodley could possibly become someone to work with in the area of HRV, Kasturi will potentially meet Fujita in the first semester of 2022 in the United States, where he works with the use of AI in data analysis in the health area.

Soárez has highlighted the exhibitions "In AI We Trust - Power, Illusion, and Control of Predictive Algorithms," given by Helga Nowotny, professor emeritus from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and "Myths and Misunderstandings About Responsibility for the Unintended Impact of Artificial Intelligence," by Karen Yeung, a researcher of law, ethics, and informatics at the University of Birmingham. "Their speeches have sparked my interest in studying the economic, ethical, and social implications of the application of AI to health in the Brazilian context more deeply."

Laura Candiotto e Patricia Coelho Soárez - outubro/2021
Patricia Soárez (right) with Laura Candiotto, from the Center for Ethics as Study in Human Value at the University of Pardubice

Yeung was chosen by Soárez as her mentor during ICA 4. "She is actively involved in technology policy in the UK and has been dedicated to understanding the challenges associated with the regulation and governance of emerging technologies," said the Brazilian.

According to Soárez, Yeung's recent work is focused on the legal, ethical, and social implications of using these new technologies. "We have started a discussion on the development of a project tentatively named An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Cancerology: Clinical Effectiveness and Social Implications," she said.

As an offshoot of this initial collaboration and supported by Sue Gilligan, manager of interdisciplinary research projects at the University of Birmingham, Soárez is now working with a group of ICA 4 participants to organize a proposal for a mid-term meeting at the British institution in March 2022. The idea is to discuss individual projects before the second stage of ICA 4 in November.

Another initiative by the researchers, Fujita said, will be the production of an article about the different points of view regarding AI and what the field expects for the next 20 years.

It will be a kind of manifesto signed by everyone, he said. "To this end, we will meet virtually every two weeks. Initially, we are scheduling seminars so that each one can better understand the research projects carried out by the others. We will also read articles on AI chosen by each of us. It is worth noting that we are a very heterogeneous group, formed by specialists in computer science, engineering, biology, philosophy, economics, law, and neuroscience, among other areas. This will allow us to have a very broad idea on the subject."

For Soárez, participating in the ICA 4 has challenged her to inaugurate a new way of thinking, articulating, and doing her research: "The greatest learning have I gained was the awakening to the possibility of developing new research projects with an interdisciplinary approach. And the best product was the potential to establish a solid and diversified academic network of researchers around the world. I hope to experience the celebration of the excellence and impact of the research projects developed by this collaborative network in the near future."

She also highlights that the visits to the Paris-Saclay University, the Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, and the Paris-Saclay Normal School have expanded networking possibilities beyond the Paris Institute for Advanced Studies.

Photos: Paris Institute for Advanced Study