Using AI to help people live better, healthier lives

The City of Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have teamed up to create the Civic AI Lab (CAIL). The lab, which will be part of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) at Amsterdam Science Park, will host five researchers.

Working together, the researchers will study how artificial intelligence can be used to improve education, welfare, mobility, health and the environment while pursuing their PhDs. At the same time, they will also focus on overcoming some of the biases and issues associated with AI.

Working to avoid the problems AI can cause

For example, insurance companies sometimes use AI to determine which neighbourhoods are hotspots for burglary. Unfortunately, this typically results in costlier premiums for residents of these areas, increasing inequality. When AI is used to scan faces, it often struggles with analysing those of people with darker skin tones, as training is often done exclusively on pictures of people with light complexions.

The team at CAIL works to avoid negative side effects like these while finding ways to support equality and fair access to opportunities with AI. In a press release, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor for economic affairs Victor Everhardt, said: “I view artificial intelligence as the science of the future, but it does carry certain risks. That is why it is so important that ethical issues are investigated in the lab.”

An international hub for AI technology

Amsterdam has a growing artificial intelligence sector. In December 2019, a group of academic, medical and other organisations in Amsterdam launched of AI Technology for the People, an initiative that aims to help the city create and use responsible AI tech. It aims to help those working in the fields of business innovation, citizen support and health and will see at least €1 billion in funds committed to the field.

The local startup ecosystem includes many AI-centred businesses as well. Many of these companies centre on medicine, including HealthTech startup Pacmed, which uses machine learning to determine the best treatment for patients by analysing large quantities of data. Even flying may become safer thanks to AI businesses like Aiir Innovations, which is using AI to help automate visual airplane inspections.

Read more startup news from around Amsterdam.