The Slovenia Times

World's top AI experts in Ljubljana for summer school

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The first European Summer School on Artificial Intelligence (ESSAI) opened in Ljubljana on 24 July, featuring courses and lectures by 60 world-renowned experts. The event aims to acquaint young researchers with the latest advances in the field and stimulate AI development in Slovenia.

Running at the Ljubljana Faculty of Computer and Information Science until 28 July, the event is featuring researchers, students, AI experts and representatives of leading global companies in this field.

Lecturers come from the universities of Stanford, Yale, Washington, Oxford, Cambridge, KU Leuven, TU Darmstadt, Italy's Sapienza, France's CNRS and from companies such as Google Deep Mind, Microsoft, and VMware Research.

According to the head of the local organising committee, Vida Groznik from the University of Ljubljana, the conference is being attended by more than 630 participants from all parts of Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia, or more than 40 countries.

All dimensions of AI covered

The public focus has recently been mainly on large language models such as Chat GPT, but the event in Ljubljana wants to present all the dimensions and versatility of AI. It will feature 36 various courses.

The courses will cover planning and investigation, automation of machine learning, large language models, reinforcement learning, robotics, impartiality, and fairness and privacy in AI.

One of the sections will be dedicated to the use of AI to discover new knowledge in science, including biology and genetics, Earth and life sciences, formalisation of knowledge, automation of scientific research and quantum machine learning.

Groznik says the summer school could have a significant impact on the development of AI in Slovenia, while attracting the attention of the broader international public, bringing many opportunities for cooperation and development.

Challenge to use AI's positive potential

Honorary sponsor of the event, President Nataša Pirc Musar addressed the opening ceremony, saying that a shortage of experts will be one of the challenges in AI.

"AI is being already used to a large degree, and demand for trained experts will continue to increase. Part of the solution are events such as this summer school," said Pirc Musar. She urged attracting more girls to STEM and creating the conditions to attract qualified workers to Europe.

The president noted Slovenia's incredible progress in AI, with its researchers contributing to algorithms, hosting important conferences and nurturing an environment of innovation.

Pirc Musar attended a lecture given by Data Science researcher Tijl De Bie, who said the greatest challenge in AI was how to use all of its positive potential, while not neglecting its negative implications.

"AI is related to an increasing number of areas in our life and our future," Sašo Džeroski, programme chair of the Advanced Course in AI, said at the opening. He believes the summer school is an excellent opportunity for transfer of know-how transfer, including to the young.

Aleksander Sadikov, head of the Slovenian Artificial Intelligence Society (SLAIS), is pleased that "the summer school is taking place in-person in this post-Covid period, that people came to Ljubljana, are socialising, making new friends and forging links".

He believes that for SLAIS and for AI in Slovenia, this is the greatest way to celebrate the association's 30th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the start of AI research in Slovenia, both marked in 2022.

The premiere edition of ESSAI is being held under the wing of the European Association for AI. It is organised by the University of Ljubljana, the Jožef Stefan Institute and the University of Primorska.

The event was established by merging the summer school which was organised in the last two years as part of the EU project TAILOR and the specialised AI course called the Advanced Course on AI.


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