Kick-off of the TAISIG Talks

Successful kick-off of the TAISIG Talks

Published: 22nd February 2021 Last updated: 27th July 2023

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, more than 100 researchers, experts and students participated in the first edition of the TAISIG Talks. TAISIG is the Tilburg University Artificial Intelligence Special Interest Group: a research community committed to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2020, humanity faced a number of existential worries. A moderately dangerous pandemic was able to shut down daily life in most European countries almost overnight. It made us aware of the dangers of potential future zoonoses, the transmission of a virus from animals to humans, caused by mass-scale animal exploitation. In addition to that, many people are growing more concerned about the threats of AI and the key role it has come to play in individual and collective decision-making. Technology regulators seem to be struggling with the advantages offered by the products of big tech companies on the one hand, and the very real negative impact they have on different parts of our society on the other hand.


At Tilburg University, we recognize the urgency of these challenges. We place our confidence in the creativity and capability of scientists involved in solving partial problems that together can lead to substantial solutions. To facilitate collaboration among researchers from different AI related fields, in the TAISIG Talks series, we bring together AI experts from various domains to discuss their most recent findings. Each TAISIG talk features three scientists with different backgrounds and at different stages in their careers.

Extraterrestrial life

The first speaker during the kick-off, Professor Eric Postma, expert on computer vision and deep learning, demonstrated how convolutional neural networks can help detect exoplanets moving in front of stars. The pattern recognition abilities of AI automatically process huge amounts of data collected by the TESS telescope and recognize the dimming of brightness indicative of an exoplanet. Since exoplanets in a particular zone might contain water, AI research helps in the search for extraterrestrial life and the potential identification of habitable exoplanets.

Ethical issues

The second talk was presented by Esther Keymolen, Associate Professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society. Esther’s research concerns the intersection of law and ethics where she focuses on trust, trustworthiness and privacy in technological applications. Currently, most of our enterprise takes place online, and we are worried about how our personal data is being used for commercial purposes. It is important that developers of new technologies work together with end users and address potential ethical challenges related to the intended context of use.

Regain privacy

The final speaker of the evening was Chris Emmery, AI researcher specialized in the field of adversarial computational stylometry. He explained how in his scientific work, he first examines what kinds of personal information can be collected by mining our publicly available text data, for example, texts placed on social media. Subsequently, using style obfuscation with auto-encoders, he creates and employs open source tools that combat invasive author profiling and thus help us protect ourselves against attempts to compromise our personal identity.

Read more about TAISIG 


Preliminary Program TAISIG Talks


March 18th, 2021


Eva Vanmassenhove

Patricia Prüfer

Max Louwerse

April 22nd, 2021

Ronald Leenes

Lieke Gelderloos

Wouter De Baene

May 20th, 2021

Pieter Spronck

Afra Alishahi

Katrijn Van Deun   

June 17th, 2021

Anne Lafarre

Kenny Meesters

Yash Satsangi

July 8th, 2021

Maryam Alimardani

Emiel Krahmer

Colette Cuijpers