Diversity is a concept as complex and hard as its definition. Here at the KnowDive group we know that very well, to the point that it is inside the name of our group. Despite the difficulty of the task, embracing and exploiting diversity can make us do better. In the past two decades, the Internet, globalization and the emergence of global digital platforms have transformed our lives and transcended geographical and cultural borders. Thanks to the Internet, the Web and social media, it is easy to connect to anybody in the world, living in a different culture, in a different social context, with different social norms, with different habits and speaking a different language. The amount of diversity we have access to has increased exponentially. Technology has provided us with an increasing access to diversity but failed short at providing the instruments for individuals and communities to cope with the social challenges that arise with diversity.
Having the issue of managing and exploiting diversity at the heart of our mission, the Knowdive group is proud to announce that it will act as a coordinator of a new project called WeNet, which will be funded by the H2020 FET proactive programme. The goal of the project is to provide a general solution to the limitations of the systems which exist today by introducing a technology able to empower richer and deeper social interactions through diversity-aware artificial intelligence. WeNet will be developed as an end-to-end people network (`The Internet of Us’), built on top of the Internet, which will be robust to the many forms of diversity and to the fact that most of them will be unexpected and unknown. The move from the Internet to WeNet is a move from a network of computers, which in turn may be connected to people, to a network of people, whose interactions are mediated and empowered by computers. WeNet will provide the technological infrastructure to set out a series of studies that will be carried within universities worldwide with diverse student populations, and with the final goal of improving students’ quality of life inside and outside the academic environment. Beyond universities, WeNet’s innovative paradigm impacts human interactions in general, especially those that may benefit from a collaborative approach (creative industries, medical diagnosis, …).
The WeNet project will involve 15 entities of different types (ten universities, three research centers and two SMEs) from 13 different countries. Knowdive (within the University of Trento) will act as coordinator, while Idiap will develop algorithms for diversity-aware routine mining from rich mobile data, and the Ben Gurion University has proven expertise in developing new AI techniques to advance human-computer decision making that are especially relevant to this proposal. The Open University of Cyprus has expertise in the design and analysis of computational models for learning and reasoning in open-ended environments. The CSIC’s Artificial Intelligence Research Institute has been a pioneer in the design and implementation of open multiagent systems. Aalborg University offers an extensive experience in organising participatory activities, workshops, and hackathons, which support design thinking, co-creation, value co-production negotiation and collaboration around shared solutions. The London School of Economics has an established leadership in the study of human behaviour using a multimethod approach. The IZEW brings on-board ethicists with a long track-record of cooperating with research-partners in ICT. MARTEL has been actively engaged in EC projects for more than 20 years, with consolidated experience in the communication and dissemination of projects’ results, contributing expert media communicators, digital graphic designers, content curators, and events’ moderators and organisers. uHopper has developed a set of proven methodologies and tools for supporting the transfer of knowledge from long-term R&D projects to commercial activities. Finally, there will be partners from outside of Europe, i.e., Paraguay (Universidad Católica “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción”), the National University of Mongolia, AMRITA from India, the Instituto Potosino de Investigación Cientifica i Tecnologica, and the Jilin University. They will provide valuable piloting sites, allowing the WeNet project to test diversity dimensions that would not be obtainable or comparable with European Universities. In addition, they represent the basis for building and expanding of the WeNet platform and the innovation infrastructure at a worldwide level.