Jan Danckaert, interim rector and vice-rector of Education and Student Policy, said, “The proposed academic bachelor’s programme will be the first in the Belgian and therefore also the Flemish university landscape to meet a real need in the labour market. VUB has repeatedly played a pioneering role in establishing new programmes and now wants to do the same in the field of AI and its social and economic applications. This programme has the potential to attract a broad intake of students thanks to its unique mix of STEM (maths, computer science) and humanities subjects (cognition, linguistics, law and ethics).”
Broad and interdisciplinary
The curriculum contains a broad range of basic subjects that are fundamental for the field of AI: algorithms and data structures, search processes, neural networks and other machine learning techniques, knowledge representation and reasoning, mathematics and scientific methods.
In addition, there are four cross-disciplinary themes throughout the curriculum: ethics, human intelligence, artificial intelligence and scientific methods. These themes are explored by means of examples, applications and assignments.
Bart De Boer, chair of the Programme Board, said, “In this programme, we study intelligence from different angles: we see how intelligence works in humans, how natural language works and why this is important for intelligence, how a group can sometimes be more intelligent than the individuals, how we can create intelligent systems ourselves, but also how we can use computer models to learn things about human intelligence. In addition, there is a lot of focus on the role of AI in society, such as ethical and legal issues.
From the second year, through a system of profiles – cognition/psychology, linguistics, computer science and intelligent systems – we offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the direction that interests them most, with a view to the various transfer possibilities.”
VUB: Pioneering in AI
VUB is a pioneer in research and education in AI and related fields: the university established the first computer science programme in Flanders 40 years ago, last year it launched the bachelor programme in mathematics and data science, and this new bachelor in AI is also unique in Belgium. It also builds on a strong research tradition in AI: the first interdisciplinary AI Lab on the European continent was created in VUB’s Science Faculty. Today, VUB continues to play a leading role in this innovative sector, particularly in the areas of AI, machine learning and software languages. Research groups with an international reputation in the field of law and ethics in relation to AI are also active at VUB.
Professor Ann Nowé, head of the AI Lab
Contact via VUB press office
The Artificial Intelligence Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel was founded in 1983 by Prof Luc Steels and is now headed by Prof Dr Ann Nowé. The lab’s research is organised around two major research lines: the evolution of language and communication systems and multi-agent reinforcement learning, data mining and computational biology. These techniques are applied in a wide range of domains, including telecoms, health, mobility, media and energy. In addition, the lab investigates other AI techniques such as computational creativity and knowledge representation.
AI Experience Centre
The AI Experience Centre is a joint project between four major VUB research groups: the Artificial Intelligence Lab, Brubotics, SMIT and ETRO, and is located on VUB’s Etterbeek campus. It is a high-tech testing, demonstration and meeting environment where companies, technology entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers and the general public can experiment with AI and collaborate to develop and produce technological solutions. The goal is to build an internationally renowned innovation centre for artificial intelligence, data and robotics. The AI Experience Centre is a first step in this process.
FARI AI Institute for the Common Good
FARI is an independent AI initiative founded by VUB and ULB, part of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience. This initiative helps citizens, politicians and businesses, as well as non-profit organisations, to solve local challenges using AI. FARI’s projects and activities will actively engage citizens and strengthen education about AI and its impact in the region. FARI will also help to build bridges between experts, citizens, businesses and local organisations.