Julija Vaitonyte and Judita Rudokaite

Online talk series on Artificial Intelligence: 'It is a human issue'

Character 1 minuut Tineke Bennema

A little more than a year ago, PhD-students of the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences Julija Vaitonyte and Judita Rudokaite started an online talk series featuring many discussions in the field of Artificial Intelligence: AI Forward Forum. For this talk series they invite researchers, practitioners and artists from different disciplines and from all over the globe for crosstalk. And they have been able to invite many interesting guests.

Their aim? Vaitonyte: ‘We both agreed that there is a lot of hype around the field, but progress is often under-delivered, especially if we are talking about general-purpose AI/machines. When it comes to research and the human side of the story, there are still a lot of missing pieces. The field also still needs to figure out what is actually expected from AI and general-purpose machines. It can be hard to unpack what is real and what is not real for the general audience when it comes to AI.‘

When it comes to the human side of the story, there are still a lot of missing pieces

Rudokaite: ‘The goal of the AI Forward Forumis to provide a platform for people from different domains, the sciences, the humanities, and the arts to join in the discussions about AI. Designing and thinking about technology should not be the domain of the technologically inclined, it is a fundamentally human issue. At the same time we seek to form a network of people interested in creating a roadmap for developing machines that are basically social.‘ 

Revolutionary research

They have been very successful with the response from the relevant speakers. Vaitonyte: ‘We are thankful to all of them for their time and their great insights. A wonderful talk was given by Prof. Micheal Levin (Tufts University, USA). He elaborated on the remarkable plasticity of somatic (non-neural) cells and the way they communicate through bioelectrical signalling to produce different morphologies. His research is truly revolutionary.  

Our success lies in bringing the people and ideas together


We believe that our most successful editions are those during which unplanned, but very interesting things happen. For example, during one of the events Prof. Lee Cronin showed his entire lab and a variety of the machines that they are building there to all of us who were online – we couldn’t have asked for a more interesting tour.‘

Rudokaitė adds: ‘But we also consider that our success lies in bringing the people and ideas together. For example, we are aware of one instance when after the talk the speaker and one of the guests in the audience connected to start a potential collaboration. This is one of those moments that we know it’s worth it.‘

Read more about AI Forward Forum  and upcoming editions.

Date of publication: 6 October 2022