UiB coordinates efforts on artificial intelligence

The University of Bergen has some of the country's leading research groups in artificial intelligence (AI). The subject has long traditions at UiB, and now the broad research and educational efforts within AI will be highlighted through the launch of «UiB AI».

Grafisk element UiB AI
UiB AI is a coordination and collection of what is going on in research and teaching on artificial intelligence at UiB.

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In addition to strong research environments, the University of Bergen offers several bachelors- and masters programs on different faculties dealing with artificial intelligence.  Through UiB AI, the university wish to coordinate and highlight the wide array of research in basic and applied artificial intelligence which is taking place at the university.

“Artificial intelligence is about developing and using systems that can automate tasks which requires intelligence, especially when it comes to interpreting and drawing conclusions from large amounts of data”, says vice-rector at UiB and leader of the advisory committee for UiB AI, Pinar Heggernes.

The basic components in AI are machine learning, machine-resonating, and computer science. This is competence that research, management, and business are increasingly dependent on.

“Our goal is that the launch of UiB AI will lead to new collaborations, both internally at the university, and between the institution and external partners", says Heggernes.

Strong research envrionments

The University of Bergen has built up the professional environment artificial intelligence (AI) for many years at several faculties. Basic research on development of methods on AI is happening at several strong research groups at three faculties. These research environments have collectively received six grants from the European Research Council (ERC) up until now.

“This width of strong basic research on AI is exceptional in Norway”, the vice-rector states.

The University of Bergen has a long history with artificial intelligence. Machine learning and AI has been taught for over 20 years, and the institution was the first in Norway to offer a bachelors program in artificial intelligence and computer science as well as a master’s program in machine learning.

The University also offers training in machine learning targeting working life. The use of artificial intelligence in research is widely used in professional environments at the university. UiB is one of the founders of NORA - Norwegian AI Research Consortium, which will within a few years be known as a national authority that the government will listen to and seek advise from.

“We also have very strong professional environments which works with applied research and innovation within AI. At the Center of Excellent Science (SFF) CCBIO used AI with their research on cancer. The two centers for research-based innovation (SFI) MediaFutures and Smart Oceans are largely based on AI-methods”.

Grants to UiB

Recently, two out of seven national projects on enabling technologies from the Norwegian Research Council were granted to UiB; one awarded to the medical faculty and the other to the mathematical-scientific faculty.

“Artificial Intelligence is a central aspect in both projects. This shows the strength we have in this field”, Heggernes says.

Read the story: Combining fields in innovative projects

Based on a desire from different professional environments to highlight the AI-field at UiB, the university management constituted an interdisciplinary working group in 2021 which handed over a report in June of 2021 recommending a coordinated effort on AI. UiB AI was established the fall of 2021 through an advisory committee and a secretary following this recommendation and will work to coordinate and highlight the research, innovation and education on AI done at UiB. The goal is to show the rest of the country as well as internationally, that UiB and Bergen is a power center for the study and research on AI.

“With UiB AI we wish to consolidate the strong position UiB has on AI both nationally and internationally. This, together with UiB’s partnerships with NORA and the Norwegian Cognitive Center, will contribute to an increased access to competence and qualified labor in Norway, especially in Bergen and western Norway”, Heggernes says.

Through the new websites uib.no/ai, an overview of the different professional environments which conducts research, education and innovation on AI can be found. Here, the results and planned activities can also be seen. In addition, UiB AI has started a series of seminars which will happen at the university aula and will create a common meeting place for AI. This initiative will be available for everyone at or outside of UiB. The first seminar will take place on 24 February.

Wishes to raise AI’s research leader of the future

The advisory committee for UiB AI started their work last fall with a mapping out of planned activity within AI in different research fields. Through this, it was revealed that five faculties and the University Museum planned to announce a total of 28 post-doctorate positions linked to AI during 2023-2024.

To apply for additional support to these professional environments and post docs, UiB recently submitted an application to the EU career- and mobility-programme LEAD AI. The 28 post docs will be employed in different professional environments and will be experts in different disciplines; some will be experts on AI while others will strengthen their competence on AI.

The goal of the application is to be able to offer all 28 post docs a coordinated and interdisciplinary training arena where they can evolve towards being the future research- and technology leaders on AI, regardless of their discipline competence.   

Center for Excellent Science

During the last call for proposals for the Center for Excellent Science (SFF) from the Norwegian Research Council, there were 7 SFF-applications from UiB which advanced to the final round. Most of the center-applications contain central components of artificial intelligence.

One of the applications, Center for Social Algorithms, aims to research how human concepts such as justice, impartiality, impartiality, and discrimination can be formalized and coded in the algorithms so that solutions that come from automated systems contribute to a better society.

Another application, Center of Digital Narrative, wishes to research the interaction between man and machine and how this results in new ways of communicating and interacting. The list includes three centers for medical research; all of these have artificial intelligence integrated into their research methodology.

Important AI-infrastructure

During the last national allocation for infrastructural projects from the Norwegian Research Council NAIC – Norwegian AI Cloud was awarded.  The goal of NAIC is to offer a world-class e-infrastructure for computations based on AI.

“This is a national project and UiB is leading one of the work packages in the project. Quite concretely, the IT-department at UiB will contribute with the training of the researchers in the use of the national infrastructure. The access of this infrastructure combined with the training offered to the researchers, will involve a large technological lift for our professional environments. As you can see, there are really big things happening at the University of Bergen in the field of artificial intelligence, and we are at the forefront of this topic nationally”, says Pinar Heggernes.

Read more about Norwegian AI Cloud.