Funding granted to 16 projects in AI and autonomous systems

Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation has granted SEK 96 million to be shared by 16 research projects studying the impact of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems on our society and our behaviour.

Press release in Swedish

The 16 projects seek to answer a number of questions relating to ethics, society and behaviour in the technology shift that society is facing. Examples of these questions include: How does the labour market change when robots take over certain jobs? What does the growing use of facial and voice recognition technology entail? How is human behaviour affected by the increasing use of drones? What happens in the retail sector when AI is increasingly controlling consumer choice? Is it possible for digital assistants to counteract ill-health due to stress? Who determines which ethical choices an AI should make?

“It is incredibly important for Sweden to keep up with the technology shift that is happening right now. It is a matter, on the one hand, of being part of developing and implementing the technology and, on the other, of users accepting and feeling comfortable using it. It is therefore important to study both the positive and negative effects, both on the individual and on society as a whole. By looking at the benefits and the risks, we can adopt a safer approach to the new,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, chair of Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

The 16 projects are distributed across nine universities and institutions around Sweden.

The projects are part of the national research programme WASP-HS, where the abbreviation HS stands for humanities and society. The research programme was initiated by Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation and encompasses a total of SEK 660 million over ten years. The programme will primarily analyse the ethical, economic, social, legal and labour market aspects that may be entailed by the ongoing technological shift in society.

“In order to ensure that artificial intelligence is beneficial to all of humanity, we must understand its consequences. The projects that are now starting can contribute to making sure that AI and autonomous systems are in line with humanitarian values and ethical principles. That is why this research programme is so important,” says Virginia Dignum, Professor at Umeå University and Scientific Director of WASP-HS.

WASP-HS will also have a national graduate school with up to 70 doctoral students, at least ten new research groups, twelve visiting professors and a number of research projects.

Through the research programme Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP), Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has already invested SEK 3 billion in basic research on software, autonomous systems and AI. The two programmes are independent of each other, but collaborate on graduate school among other things.

List of project grants:
Read more about each project: in English, in Swedish

Project: ”The rise of social drones: A constructive design research agenda”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Morten Fjeld, Chalmers University of Technology

Project: ”Professional trust and autonomous systems”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Jonas Ivarsson, University of Gothenburg

Project: ”Gothenburg research initiative for politically emergent systems (GRIPES)”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Dr. Asad Sayeed, University of Gothenburg

Project: ”Predicting the diffusion of AI-applications”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Associate Professor Pontus Strimling, Institute for Futures Studies
Read more about the project: in English, in Swedish

Project: ”Bias and methods of AI technology studying political behavior”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Dr. Annika Fredén, Karlstad University

Project: ”Ethics as enacted through movement – shaping and being shaped by autonomous systems”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Kristina Höök, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Project: ”The emergence of complex intelligent systems and the future of management”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Nicolette Lakemond, Linköping University

Project: ”The ethics and social consequences of AI & caring robots. Learning trust, empathy and accountability”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Ericka Johnson, Linköping University

Project: ”The imperfect creator creating the perfect: Ethics for autonomous systems/AI”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Christian Balkenius, Lund University

Project: ”Quantum law: The legal significance of quantum computing”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Dr. Valentin Jeutner, Lund University

Project: ”AI transparency and consumer trust”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Associate Professor Stefan Larsson, Lund University

Project: ”Digital companions as social actors: Employing socially intelligent systems for managing stress and improving emotional wellbeing”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Helena Lindgren, Umeå University

Project: ”BioMe: Existential challenges and ethical imperatives of biometric AI in everyday lifeworlds”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Associate Professor Amanda Lagerkvist, Uppsala University

Project: ”Artificial Intelligence, democracy and human dignity”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Anna-Sara Lind, Uppsala University

Project: ”The labor-market impact of firm-level adoption of AI and autonomous systems”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Professor Oskar Nordström Skans, Uppsala University

Project: ”The new scientific revolution? AI and big data in biomedicine”
Grant: SEK 6 million over five years
Principal investigator: Associate Professor Francis Lee, Uppsala University

Contact
Virginia Dignum, Professor and Scientific Director of WASP-HS, Umeå University
Tel: 0720-85 08 90
E-mail: virginia.dignum@umu.se

Kerstin Sahlin, Professor and board member of WASP-HS, Uppsala University
Tel: 070-425 07 98
E-mail: kerstin.sahlin@fek.uu.se

Anna-Sara Lind appointed to WASP-HS Management team

 

Anna-Sara Lind is Professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Law of Uppsala University has been appointed to the management team of WASP-HS.

Her research focuses on public law, EU law and fundamental rights and on how EU law and international law interacts in the fields of Medical law and welfare state law in a complex constitutional reality. She is associated to the Centre for research ethics and bioethics and to the Faculty of Theology.

For more information on Prof. Lind see her webpage.

 

Christian Balkenius appointed Graduate School Director

Christian Balkenius, Professor of Cognitive Science at Lund University has been appointed director of WASP-HS graduate school.

His research interest is to understand cognitive development, which he investigates by designing computational models based on neurophysiological data that are subsequently used to control humanoid robots. His multidiciplinary approach combines techniques from many different areas ranging from psychology and neuroscience to computer science and robot engineering.

For more information on Prof. Balkenius see his webpage

Wallenberg Foundations Launch Initiative for Humanistic and Social Scientific Research in AI and Autonomous Systems

“Among other things, we will be examining methods and tools for ensuring that AI and autonomous systems are designed so they don’t clash with human values and ethical principles,” says Professor Dignum, who researches on societal, ethical and cultural implications of AI at Umeå University. From left to right: Kerstin Sahlin, Professor and Chair, WASP-HS, Uppsala University, and Virginia Dignum, Professor and scientific director, WASP-HS, Umeå University.

AI, machine learning, robotization… the ongoing technological transition will impact our society and our behaviors in diverse ways. The Wallenberg Foundations are now investing up to SEK 660 million in the WASP-HS research program, whose purpose is to study the changes resulting from the technological transition.

“HS” stands for humanities and society. First and foremost, the program will analyze potential ethical, economic, labor market, social and legal aspects of the transition.

“Knut och Alice Wallenberg Foundation has already invested SEK 3 billion in basic research under the auspices of WASP – the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program. But we must not forget that new technology also changes the daily lives of many people, and society at large,” comments Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

Against this background, Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, which primarily funds research in the social sciences, and Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation, which mainly funds research in the humanities, are launching a joint initiative to support WASP-HS – a ten-year research program.

The program will be hosted by Umeå University.

“We’re delighted that overall responsibility for this initiative has been placed in our hands. It’s an important field offering huge potential. The transition towards a society in which artificial intelligence and autonomous systems permeate our lives is still in its infancy,” says Hans Adolfsson, vice chancellor of Umeå University.

Internationally Pre-eminent AI Researchers

One of the main reasons for basing the program in Umeå is Professor Virginia Dignum. She was one of the first professors recruited to Sweden as part of the WASP AI initiative, and she will be the research director of WASP-HS.

“Among other things, we will be examining methods and tools for ensuring that AI and autonomous systems are designed so they don’t clash with human values and ethical principles,” says Professor Dignum, who researches on societal, ethical and cultural implications of AI at Umeå University.

The program is interdisciplinary, combining humanities and social sciences with technological research.

Will recruit research expertise

“WASP-HS will run a large graduate school, with up to 70 PhD students, and will recruit at least ten new research teams and twelve visiting professors. One of the primary aims of WASP-HS is to strengthen Swedish research expertise in the field, with doctoral courses and recruitment of young researchers and visiting researchers,” says Professor Kerstin Sahlin, scientific director.
of WASP-HS.

WASP-HS is independent of WASP but the two programs are run in close collaboration.

“This means that WASP-HS will be conducting independent studies of the impact of technology on entrepreneurship and society, and will also collaborate with WASP on the doctoral program, among other things,” Dignum explains.

A central feature of the program is international collaboration in the form of partnership, visiting researchers, and postdoc positions abroad.

WASP

The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP), is Sweden’s largest private research initiative ever. The aim is to put Sweden at the international forefront in the field of software, autonomous systems and AI. The Foundation’s financial commitment totals SEK till 3 billion to 2026. Together with co-funding from the universities involved and Swedish industrial concerns, the entire initiative is worth SEK 4 billion.

Virginia Dignum

Virginia is a Professor of Social and Ethical Artificial Intelligence, and an internationally respected researcher in AI. She plays an active part in a number of international initiatives to develop political and strategic guidelines for AI research and applications. Among other things, she is one of 52 experts appointed to present guidelines and recommendations for Europe’s AI strategy, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Council on AI.

Kerstin Sahlin

Kerstin is Professor of Public Management at Uppsala University. During 2013–2018 she was deputy vice chancellor of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Swedish Research Council. From 2006 to 2011 she was Deputy vice chancellor of Uppsala University. She is currently vice president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Contact persons

Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair of Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation
Tel: +46 (0)8 545 01780
E-mail: mmw@wfab.se

Virginia Dignum, Professor and scientific director, WASP-HS, Umeå University
Tel: +46 (0)720 850890
E-mail: virginia.dignum@umu.se

Kerstin Sahlin, Professor and Chair, WASP-HS, Uppsala University
Tel: +46 (0)70 4250798
E-mail: kerstin.sahlin@fek.uu.se

Wallenberg Foundations

Wallenberg Foundations is the umbrella name for the charitable foundations formed by members of the Wallenberg family.

The Foundations fund pre-eminent researchers and research projects for the benefit of Sweden, and have awarded grants totaling approximately SEK 33 billion since 1917, of which almost SEK 10 billion has been awarded over the past five years.