On June 6, SFI MediaFutures had the privilege of hosting Dipl.Ing. Dr.techn. Dominik Kowald from the Graz University of Technology for an insightful seminar on transparency, privacy, and fairness in recommender systems. Dr. Kowald is research area manager of the Fair AI at the Know-Center and a senior researcher and lecturer at ISDS (TU Graz).

Highlights from the Seminar

In the first presentation Kowald discussed the importance of trustworthiness of AI in general, and recommender systems in particular. Mainly three aspects are important here, which are also in line with the EU AI Act: transparency, privacy, and fairness.

“Trustworthiness is key, especially in domains like media and news, in which AI directly interacts with humans”, Kowald says.

In his second presentation, Dr. Kowald discussed the Know-Center’s approach to research and industry collaboration, sparking multiple discussions on ensuring trustworthiness and reproducibility of research results in industry settings.

Dr. Kowald explained how the Know-Center continuously reinvents itself to stay at the forefront of trustworthy AI:

First, our 6 research areas work on all aspects of trustworthy AI and therefore, also need to keep track of the current state-of-the-art by reading/reviewing papers, publishing papers, supervising students, giving lectures, and attending scientific conferences. Second, our business transformation team talks to companies and attend industrial network events in order to better understand their needs with respect to trustworthy AI. Third, our researchers and members of the business transformation team meet at least once a week to sync what is currently happening in the research areas and what are current needs of our industry partners. With this, we are always able to reinvent ourselves based on current research and industry needs.”

So, Active Research Areas, Industry Interaction and Weekly Sync Meetings are the key for a good functioning research center.

Future collaboration

Reflecting on Norway’s approach to innovation, Dr. Kowald remarked, “Norway is very innovative, particularly in trustworthy AI and media. However, MediaFutures, as a young applied research center, could benefit from the Know-Center’s extensive experience. This could further strengthen research collaborations between Norway and Austria, particularly in Bergen and Graz.”

As SFI MediaFutures and the Know-Center are similarly organised, Kowald and MediaFutures center director Christoph Trattner discussed further collaborations in form of publications. Additionally, they discussed the possibility to create a strategic partnership between MediaFutures in Norway and Know-Center in Austria as two applied research centers working on trustworthy AI.

“Besides writing papers, this could include co-supervising students, applying for research funding together or collaborating on applied research projects with industry partners.”, Kowald says.

Dr. Kowald’s visit marked a significant step towards enhancing the synergy between MediaFutures and the Know-Center. As MediaFutures continues to grow, such collaborations will be instrumental in driving innovation and ensuring the development of transparent, private, and fair AI systems.