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Published: 05 Nov, 2020

Researchers will study how AI affects human wellbeing

NEWS A new research group at Umeå University will study how artificial intelligence affects health and human wellbeing. The grant for the research is funded within the national research program WASP-HS.

Text: Mikael Hansson

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly important part of people's everyday lives. It's visible in the use of apps on mobile phones, how people maintain social contact, and not least health care and human wellbeing.

As the interconnection between humans and AI systems becomes increasingly strong, the need to monitor how this affects people's everyday lives also increases. A new five-year initiative at Umeå University will now follow the development, with special emphasis on how artificial intelligence can change care in everyday life and human wellbeing.

As a first step, an assistant professor and two doctoral students will be recruited to the new research group. Ingeborg Nilsson, Professor at the Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, is one of the responsible for the recruitment of the new researchers to the research group entitled "Human-centered AI for Health, Autonomy and Wellbeing".

“With an increased presence of AI systems in people’s everyday lives in general, and in the area of health, health care and care in particular, this research group will increase knowledge about the interconnected and interconnecting Human-AI relationship,” says Ingeborg Nilsson.

There is already a strong research at Umeå University on how future digital tools for preventing diseases, increase wellbeing, diagnose and treat different medical conditions will to large extent be based on new technology such as artificial intelligence. This research environment engages around 100 employees at the different faculties at Umeå University and Region Västerbotten. The new research group will be an additional supplement with an emphasis on artificial intelligence.

The grant for the new research comes from the national research program Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program - Humanities and Society (WASP-HS), a ten-year program in the humanities and social sciences for studies of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

The new investment will fund 11 research groups at 9 Swedish universities. Each funding package covers the recruitment of one assistant professor and one PhD student in order for the universities to create or strengthen research groups in the area. Recruitments will be open to international competition and will be handled by each university. Another PhD student or postdoc will be funded by the respective universities.

The 11 research groups span a number of areas such as art, music and games, democracy, media, social interaction with autonomous units, health issues, agent-based social simulation, forest industry, law and political communication.

“We are very happy to announce these positions which will provide a very important boost to the strengthening and extending Swedish excellence in humanities and the social sciences to research the impact of AI and autonomous systems on humanity and society,” says Virginia Dignum, WASP-HS Program Director and Professor of Responsible Artificial Intelligence at Umeå University.

“Working together across disciplines and across universities, these researchers will form a multidisciplinary team strengthening and developing research topics and education towards the development of a new generation of researchers well versed in the core topics of WASP-HS,” Virginia Dignum says.

Except Umeå University research groups will also start at Chalmers, University of Gothenburg, KTH, Lund University, Malmö University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Stockholm University, and Uppsala University.

Background WASP-HS

The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) is funded by Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and Marcus and Amalia Foundation.