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RDT features UvA research groups to highlight the diversity and significance of work within the field of Responsible Digital Transformations. By showcasing these groups we aim to illustrate the varied contributions and impacts our theme has across the university. In this months' newsletter the spotlight is on the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation (ILLC), a research institute that delves into the complex interactions between logic, language, and computation.

Advances in digital technology of the last decades have already had enormous consequences for society. And many more changes are to be expected, given the ongoing adoption of existing technology and the development in, for instance, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Since its foundation in 1991, the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) has studied both the details of these technologies, their use in science and society, and their potential beneficial and detrimental effects.

For instance, a key area of study at ILLC is (computational) social choice theory, which studies how individual decisions lead to collective outcomes, and how the rules of interaction must be set to achieve desirable outcomes. ILLC’s work in this area is fundamental and mathematically complex, but the theory has applications in how to organize voting or markets, for instance those where computational agents need to work together to achieve an outcome.

Another key area of study is Natural Language Processing, which studies computational models of language, including the Large Language Models. Topics of interest include how to detect and avoid hateful or discriminatory content being generated by these models, as well how to use the technology to monitor hatespeech and polarization in social and tradition media. Other topics are how to make sure that chatbot engage in natural dialogues that allow end-users to reach their desired goals, and that speakers of so-called “low-resource languages” are equally well served.

A third key area is Explainable AI, which studies the ways in which the internal states of modern Artificial Intelligence system – often based on machine learning models trained on massive datasets – can be inspected for safety and robustness, and used to generate explanations for engineers as well as end-users. Applications of the techniques developed in this area exist across domains where AI has started to play a role, including text analysis and generation, machine vision, medicine, and finance.

ILLC is an interfaculty institute, that is part of both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities of the UvA. Its 75+ staff members and as many PhD students and postdocs do world-class research, on all aspects of how information is encoded, transmitted and comprehended, ranging from information retrieval, music cognition and epistemic logic, to philosophy of language, history of ideas and computational social science. Much of that work is highly relevant to Responsible Digital Transformations. 

On June 7th, from 1pm, ILLC holds an Open Day for all colleagues at UvA and contacts, members and alumni of the institute interested in its current research, at Lab42, Amsterdam Science Park