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First SAILS Symposium 'The future of AI is human': a photo impression

On October 14, the first symposium of the university-wide initiative SAILS took place. Scientists from Leiden University and other Dutch universities came together to share their enthusiasm and expertise in the field of Artificial Intelligence in a festive symposium, in the atmospheric Museum of Ethnology.

Opening by interim dean Hubertus Irth

Interim dean Hubertus Irth opened the symposium with a speech in which he emphasized the inclusiveness of artificial intelligence in Leiden. ‘Artificial Intelligence affects all sides of science,' says Irth, 'and SAILS will play a leading role in promoting the sharing of knowledge and expertise'.


Annelien Bredenoord, Professor of Ethics and Biomedical Innovation in Utrecht and parliamentary leader of D66 in the Senate, begins the symposium with stressing the importance of ethics in the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence expert Guszti Eiben of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam poses the question whether robots can evolve, and whether robots should be allowed to reproduce in the same way as humans do. This is an interesting idea according to him. It should be investigated if centrally controlled reproduction can be realized.

‘Artificial intelligence can currently predict the outcome of a court case better than experts,' says the first appointed SAILS Professor Bart Custers. With his contribution, he provided insight into the use of Artificial Intelligence in the legal system and his research. ‘It is important to investigate who is responsible when Artificial Intelligence is involved, for example, in the case of self-driving cars,' he says.

In addition to the speakers mentioned above, Catholijn Jonker (Leiden University/TU Delft), Holger Hoos (Leiden University), Boudewijn Lelieveldt (LUMC/ TU Delft) and Roy de Kleijn (Leiden University) contributed to the afternoon. They inspired the audience with insights into Artificial Intelligence in biology, biomedical image processing, and hybrid intelligence.

Panel Discussion

The afternoon ended with a panel discussion in which Catholijn Jonker, Mike Preuss, Stephan Raaijmakers, Gerard van Westen and Iris Wuisman took their places. Pre-submitted questions by speakers, such as 'Is there room for AI in the boardroom?', were discussed in the first part of the panel. Subsequently, there was room for questions from the audience. This led to a lively discussion, in which it became clear that cooperation between the faculties would lead to the most constructive solutions.

Aske Plaat, Program Director of the SAILS project and scientific director of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, ended the inspiring afternoon with a word of thanks to all speakers and panel members.

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