2019/06/18 CLAIRE 12 months in
Precisely 12 months ago, CLAIRE was launched officially, with an ambitious vision supported by 600 experts and stakeholders, and with major media coverage in the Netherlands and Germany. Shortly thereafter, CLAIRE had attracted more than 1000 individual supporters, along with media coverage in many European countries.
Today, CLAIRE has over 3000 individual supporters, as well as one of the world’s largest research networks in AI, with 284 member groups and institutions, covering jointly over 16000 employees in 33 countries. CLAIRE has also received official letters of support from the governments of five European countries, from practically all European AI associations, from EurAI, from ESA and from the AAAI.
With administrative offices in The Hague, Saarbrücken, Prague and Rome, and additional offices to open in the near future in Oslo, Paris and Zürich, CLAIRE operates across all of Europe. Within CLAIRE, 9 Informal Advisory Groups IAGS with 48 members from 18 countries cover all areas of AI, along with ethical, legal and social implications.
CLAIRE is providing input to the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI, and is liaising, on an ongoing basis, with other important organisations, including ELLIS, the HumanE AI consortium, the Big Data Value Association, euRobotics and AI4EU, as well as ESA. As recently communicated, CLAIRE also is actively coordinating community efforts in the context of the forthcoming EU ICT-48-2020 call “Towards a vibrant European network of AI excellence centres”.
Today, we are excited to announce four major developments that we expect to help us very substantially towards realising the bold vision of CLAIRE for European excellence in AI.
1) We are about to connect our research network, our supporters and other stakeholders in the European AI community by making available a communications platform based on Zulip. Initially, this will be hosted by Zulip, with the intention for CLAIRE to take over the hosting, on a server based in Europe, before the end of 2019. We are currently in the process of advanced internal testing and expect to gradually roll out the service to the CLAIRE research network, to all CLAIRE supporters and finally, to other stakeholders in the European AI ecosystem – this is part of CLAIRE’s efforts to help AI researchers and stakeholders in Europe communicate and collaborate effectively.
2) We are in the process of building an industry network, covering all sectors and companies ranging from large global players to startups, to complement our extensive research network. This is in line with CLAIRE’s commitment to foster close links between foundational, non-profit research in AI and impactful industrial applications. We expect to announce the initial industry network this summer, linking it to our research network via the Zulip-based communications platform and a series of theme development workshops.
3) ESA and CLAIRE are delighted to announce the formation of the World’s first AI Special Interest Group on Space. This Special Interest Group will help accelerate collaboration between these disciplines to generate new AI, space science, operations and engineering solutions, and to accelerate the adoption of AI in Europe’s space sector in general and the Earth observation sector in particular. See the press release here.
4) CLAIRE is now at the point where the informal organisation that has served us well so far (an overview of which can be found at https://claire-ai.org/claire-organigram-whole/) needs to transition into a non-profit legal entity. This will be done using an inclusive and transparent process that will be outlined in a separate message and provide ample opportunity for anyone who’d like to be involved to give input. The goal is to create an organisation that is well-positioned to operate on a stable, ongoing basis and to receive major funding to achieve its ambitious goals for excellence in AI within Europe and beyond.
It is amazing how far we have come within 12 months, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters who contributed to the success of CLAIRE so far. We are convinced that the next 12 months will be even more amazing!
2019/02/28 Second CLAIRE Symposium in Rome, Offices across Europe
On 27 February, the second CLAIRE symposium was held in Rome (Italy), generously supported by the National Resource Council of Italy (CNR) , the Italian AI Society (AIxIA), the European Space Agency (ESA), Leiden University, DFKI, OsloMet, Staatskanzlei Saarland, IOS Press, Certicon, Factorio Solutions, and Airbus. Attended by carefully selected 100 AI experts and stakeholders, the symposium was opened (and closed) with a series of statements by Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti (Vice-minister, Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research), Dr. Andrea Cioffi (State Secretary, Italian Ministry of Economic Development), Dr. Piero Poccianti (President, Artificial Intelligence Italian Association), Dr. Iarla Kilbane-Dawe (Head of Φ-lab, European Space Agency), Prof. Rita Cucchiara (Director, National CINI Laboratory on Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems), Prof. Giuseppe Valditara (Department of Higher Education and Research, Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research), Dr. Roberto Viola (Director-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission) and Prof. Holger Hoos (co-initiator of CLAIRE), and a major update on the progress achieved by CLAIRE since the first symposium in Brussels, in September 2018.
Only nine months after CLAIRE was launched as a grassroots initiative, it has become a large, pan-European organisation, comprising over 250 AI research groups and institutes that jointly represent over 7500 AI experts and support staff. It is now supported by over 2700 individual AI experts and stakeholders across all of Europe, as well as by a large number of Europe’s leading organisations in AI research, including DFKI (Germany), the largest AI research institute in the world, as well as three of Europe’s largest research organizations with a major focus on AI; Fondazione Bruno Kessler (Italy), Inria (France) and TNO (Netherlands).
Recently, CLAIRE has received official letters of support from the governments of Italy, Belgium and the Czech Republic, in addition to being supported by all internationally active national AI associations in Europe, the European AI Association (EurAI), and, as of February 2019, the world’s premier organisation of AI researchers, the Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). CLAIRE’s representation on the European Commission’s high-level expert group on AI has increased to 10 members.
At the symposium, CLAIRE announced the opening of five administrative offices across Europe, to strengthen its organisation and to more effectively engage national governments as well as industry. The CLAIRE headquarters will be located in The Hague (Netherlands), and additional offices are opening in Oslo (Norway), Prague (Czech Republic), Rome (Italy) and Saarbrücken (Germany).
Encouraged by the European Commission, at the symposium in Rome, CLAIRE started a community-led process for determining criteria and possible locations for a European AI Hub, aiming to provide guidance to the European Commission, Council and Parliament. Furthermore, working groups made significant progress on a range of topics, including industry engagement and effective coordination with other initiatives, notably HumanE AI, which is strongly aligned with CLAIRE.
(See also 13 March Press Release “Major steps towards realising a bold vision for European Excellence in AI “ and status update slides at claire-ai.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CLAIRE-Symposium-slides.pdf)
2019/02/19 Open letter on cooperation with the UK
CLAIRE has released an open letter addressed to the political leadership of the European Union, its member states and affiliated countries, calling for a commitment to strong collaboration across all European nations, including the UK, on research and innovation in artificial intelligence, regardless of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
The letter, available online at claire-ai.org/eu-uk-letter, has been signed by more than 450 artificial intelligence experts and stakeholders from 24 European countries and beyond, including over 330 leading scientists.
(See also 19 February Press Release “450 Scientists from 33 Nations Urge EU and National Governments to Strongly Cooperate on Artificial Intelligence, Regardless of Brexit”)
2019/02/08 Support by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
CLAIRE is now officially supported by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), following a unanimous decision by AAAI’s Executive Council. AAAI is the world’s premier scientific society in the area of AI; it organises the “AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence”, which is considered to be one of the top conferences in the field, provides support to 14 journals and sponsors many conferences and symposia each year. In its early history, AAAI was presided over by notable figures in computer science, including Allen Newell, Edward Feigenbaum, Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy. CLAIRE is the only AI initiative to have received support by AAAI.
2019/02/01 Feedback on draft ethics guidelines for trustworthy artificial intelligence
In response to the official request for feedback on the draft ethics guidelines for trustworthy artificial intelligence prepared by the HLEG AI, over the last three weeks, CLAIRE has been running a carefully designed, open process aimed at providing the European Commission – and notably, the high-level expert group – with meaningful feedback.
CLAIRE’s IAG ELS, a group of 9 leading experts on ethical, legal and social issue has carefully analysed the draft guidelines and produced an official response of CLAIRE, which has been submitted via the AI Alliance platform as official input to the European Commission’s high-level expert group on artificial intelligence (HLEG AI). This document can be found at claire-ai.org/ethics-guidelines-response.
At the same time, the CLAIRE community at large has participated in a lively discussion, resulting in a large number of individual submissions of feedback via the AI Alliance.
With this response to the European Commission’s request for discussion and feedback, the AI community, as organised in CLAIRE, has demonstrated the degree to which it is motivated and fully capable to provide meaningful input to the commission’s processes regarding AI in a way that engages thousands of AI experts and stakeholders. Our hope is that our feedback with help the HLEG and the Commission to further improve the draft ethics guidelines, for the benefit of the European AI community and all its stakeholders, including the citizens of Europe, whose lives will be touched by the outcome of this process.
2018/12/18 Establishing the CLAIRE Network
Precisely six months after launching the CLAIRE initiative for European excellence in human-centred artificial intelligence, we have now begun establishing the actual Confederation of Laboratories for AI Research in Europe (CLAIRE). Over the last 7 days, 117 academic research groups and institutions from 19 European countries have joined the CLAIRE Network, covering all areas of AI and comprising a total of over 3000 people (see claire-ai.org/network). The members of the CLAIRE Network are committed to working together with other members, towards the realisation of our primary goal: European excellence across all of AI, for all of Europe, with a human-centred focus. We expect many more groups to join in the near future and will update our official list at claire-ai.org/network regularly. Other components of the CLAIRE vision, notably the Centres of Excellence and the CLAIRE Hub, will be further developed and refined over the next few months – stay tuned!
Furthermore, an initial number of Informal Advisory Groups (IAGs) have been formed, to create a conduit between CLAIRE and the topically organised communities within the broad field of AI, and to allow for better connections between the different research areas. The IAGs (claire-ai.org/IAGs) have been formed with key supporters that have proactively and consistently worked with us to make CLAIRE a success, in a way that captures geographic diversity within Europe, and with a focus on well-connected and highly respected researchers.
2018/12/13 Videos from the CLAIRE Symposium
If you haven’t yet seen our new videos (released over the last 10 days), check them out on our YouTube channel at https://goo.gl/JFzdc6, or on our website at claire-ai.org/videos. In those short clips, prominent European AI researchers and participants of the CLAIRE Symposium in Brussels share their views on the significance of AI, the need for a broad and ambitious European vision for excellence in AI and their enthusiasm for CLAIRE.
2018/09/21 Great Momentum and Energy at the CLAIRE Symposium
The day-long symposium was held at Norway House in Brussels, on 7 September. It brought together 100 carefully selected participants from academia, industry and public administration, including 35 world-leading AI researchers. The event was opened by Oda Helen Sletnes, the Norwegian Ambassador to the European Union; Juha Heikkilä, who is leading the European Commission’s work on artificial intelligence; and François Sillion, France’s new national coordinator on AI. The goal of the symposium was to elaborate a common European strategy for excellence in artificial intelligence, and to provide guidance to European and national decision makers on the major investments in AI needed to ensure a leadership role for Europe in AI research and innovation. Read more about the CLAIRE symposium at claire-ai.org/symposium and in our 10 September Press Release: “CLAIRE: We Need to Take Bold Steps to Keep Europe Competitive in Artificial Intelligence”.
The symposium was organised by the initiators of CLAIRE: Holger Hoos from Leiden University (The Netherlands), Morten Irgens from Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway), and Philipp Slusallek from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI, Germany). Generous support for the event was provided by Arvato CRM Solutions, the Norwegian Research Council, the Norwegian Mission to the EU, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI, Germany), Leiden University (The Netherlands) and Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway).
2018/08/17 CLAIRE Symposium, 7 September 2018
Hosted by the Norwegian Mission to the EU, the CLAIRE initiative is organising a symposium on 7 September 2018 in Brussels, bringing together top AI researchers, experts and policy makers to discuss and further develop the main components of a Confederation of Laboratories for AI Research in Europe (CLAIRE). More information can be found at claire-ai.org/symposium.
2018/06/27 Cooperation with ELLIS, Participation in EU High-Level Expert Group
Ongoing conversations with supporters of ELLIS have resulted in an agreement to jointly push for common infrastructure, including compute resources “at Google scale”. Such infrastructure is critical for cutting-edge research in many areas of AI, including machine learning, automated reasoning, multi-agent systems and robotics. There is now substantial overlap in the group of supporters of the ELLIS and CLAIRE initiatives, which share key goals, including the support of young researchers and those on their way to becoming the next generation of excellent AI researchers. We see much value in the ELLIS proposal for supporting excellence in machine learning and fields directly impacted by machine learning in Europe, and we are pleased to be working with supporters of the ELLIS initiative towards realising our common goals.
Today, the EU high-level expert group on artificial intelligence (HLG-AI) had its first meeting in Brussels. Six key supporters of CLAIRE are members of the HLG-AI. While HLG-AI has a broad agenda, part of its mission can be achieved by our proposal for strengthening and integrating AI research and innovation in Europe, and we look forward to working with the HLG-AI towards helping them reach that goal. For CLAIRE, participation in the HLG-AI is an important component of working with representatives of the European Union and the European Commission, and we are very pleased to see this work getting underway.