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Department of Information Technology

News from the Department of Information Technology

Below we present news, activities and other information from the divisions and researchers at the Department of Information Technology.

New Beijer Laboratory in AI at the Department of IT
Will be updated.

Today we hosted an inauguration for a new Beijer Laboratory in AI at House 10. Thomas Schön at the Department of IT received funding from the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation.
Our Head of Department Lina von Sydow gave a speech about this new venture and we also got to hear speeches from Cecilia Wikström at the Beijer Foundation, Anders Wall who is the chairman of the Beijer Foundation, vice-rector Johan Tysk and professor Thomas Schön. We will post updates on what was said in the coming days.

A big congratulations to Thomas Schön and everyone involved.

Integrating AI into university courses and programmes
Expertise in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is in high demand and has broadened to take in more professions. The new national WASP-ED programme is now being launched to develop education in AI. “We will be scaling up our capacity to teach artificial intelligence,” says Anna Foka, senior lecturer at Uppsala University’s Department of Archives, Libraries and Museums (ALM).

In the world of research, artificial intelligence is often described as the new industrial revolution. AI is involved in everything from voice control and computer vision to collaborating robots, autonomous vehicles and advanced visualisation and interaction.

The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation is now launching a new development programme to increase the capability and capacity of Swedish universities to offer relevant, up-to-date courses and programmes in AI. Programme leader Professor Fredrik Heintz of Linköping University comments: “We now have the opportunity to work on a national level with education issues related to AI and other transformative technologies. Our goal is to support all education, not only engineering, to take a significant, qualitative step forward in their work with AI and what we call transformative technologies.”

More information

“And then what happens?” Promoting Children’s Verbal Creativity Using a Robot
Researchers from dept. of IT recently published an article about AI and how robots can promote children's verbal creativity. The article was published in ACM.

See a YouTube clip about their findings and project

While creativity has been previously studied in Child-Robot Interaction (cHRI), the effect of regulatory focus on creativity skills has not been investigated. This paper presents an exploratory study that, for the first time, uses the Regulatory Focus Theory (RFT) to assess children’s creativity skills in an educational context with a social robot.

We investigated whether two key emotional regulation techniques, promotion (approach)and prevention (avoidance), stimulate creativity during a story-telling activity between a child and a robot. We conducted a between-subjects field study with 69 children between the ages of 7 and 9 years old, divided between two study conditions:(1) promotion, where a social robot primes children for action by eliciting positive emotional states, and (2) prevention, where a social robot primes children for avoidance by evoking a state related to security and safety associated with blockage-oriented behaviors. To assess changes in creativity as a response to the priming interaction, children were asked to tell stories to the robot before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the priming interaction. We measured creativity levels by analyzing the verbal content of the stories. We coded verbal expressions related to creativity variables, including fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality.

Our results show that children in the promotion condition generated significantly more ideas, and their ideas were on average more original in the stories they created in the post-test rather than in the pre-test. We also modeled the process of creativity that emerges during storytelling in response to the robot’s verbal behavior. This paper enriches the scientific understanding of creativity emergence in child-robot collaborative interactions.

Link to the research paper at ACM:s website

UTN Pedagogical Prize 2021 goes to Elias Castegren at IT
Congratulations Elias!

The motivation is as follows:
Elias Castegren manages to engage the students and through pedagogical skills he manages to make teaching fun. He is greatly committed which is noticeable through quick response, a student writes "If you send an email with a question or thought, you can always be sure that he will try to help you until the problem is solved."

In addition to being keen to help his students, he exudes a willingness to get all students to learn and succeed. Elias receives good criticism and is always prepared to make changes to the course to make it better for the students during the course. In a course that students find difficult, they feel a special confidence in Elias who takes their mental health very seriously. He reminds students that they can always contact him to find individual adaptations and thinks that everyone should have a life outside of their studies.

As the cherry on top, Elias has managed to carry out the course Imperative and object-oriented programming methodology in an appreciated way while being course coordinator for the first time.

With his commitment and ability to make a theoretically heavy course both fun and easy to understand, where both students' learning and mental health has been in focus, Elias Castegren is awarded UTN's pedagogical prize 2021.

More knowledge is needed about how AI affects the work environment
Åsa Cajander at Vi2 has recently been involved in writing a collection of knowledge about AI, robotics and the work environment. The knowledge collection is written together with Bengt Sandblad and Magdalena Stadin who also do research at Vi2.

In an interview with Arbetsliv, Åsa talks about the need for more research in AI and robotics in how it affects us.

Read the interview with Åsa at his link (Swedish only)

New aggregate ranking is wind in Uppsala University’s sails
In a ranking that aggregates three of the world’s premier university rankings – QS, THE and ARWU – Uppsala University ranks at 96 as the best Swedish university. The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia is behind this aggregate ranking, which was launched three years ago.

“This is not a ranking using our own indicators, but simply an aggregate of the three top ranking systems that we usually follow and report indicators to, so it’s still quite interesting to see the effect of aggregating different ways of measuring,” says Emma Östlund, controller in the University Administration who has worked with reporting to ranking systems from the University.

Smart technology - the future of farming
Students Elsa Jerhamre and Carl Johan Casten Carlberg wrote a master thesis on smart farming that caught the eye of their reviewer, Dr Vera van Zoest.
Vera herself is doing research in data analysis and machine learning for smart cities and thought the thesis was deserving of being spread to a wider audience and turned into a published research article which is what this interview will be about.

The data collected in the master thesis consists of literature reviews and interview studies with 21 stakeholders consisting of farmers, cooperative employees, researchers and government representatives.

What is smart farming and why is it an interesting subject?
“Smart farming is the future for farming: increased yield, less workload and adaptation to climate change. Smart farming is a system of decision support tools, often based on large sets of data. For example, a network of sensors, also known as internet-of-things, can collect large amounts of data on the wellbeing of animals” – Vera van Zoest explains.

There are multiple benefits to smart farming that could aid both well-being of animals and our planet.

“Wearable devices can measure for example heat and hormone levels, and cameras can detect the physical wellbeing of the animals. In this way, the feed of the animals can be automatically adjusted to their individual needs.”

“At the same time, drone systems monitor large crop fields to detect illnesses and predict yield. By adjusting water resources, fertilizer and pesticides to the amounts actually needed, lots of waste can be avoided.”

What kind of challenges is facing farmers that want to utilize the technology available for smart farming?
Elsa, Carl Johan and Vera wanted to highlight that some of the most important hurdles are the expensive investments required and lack of financial support from external stakeholders, the lack of technical education amongst farmers, lack of connection between technical systems, difficulties understanding and acting on the data, unpredictable consumer markets and a lack of cybersecurity.

This shows that there are definitely some very challenging obstacles to overcome for farmers that want to explore smart farming technology.

On the other hand, there is a movement towards developing more smart farming tools, it is only a matter of how to overcome these challenges.

“Meanwhile, companies and cooperatives see smart farming as an opportunity for increased cooperation, involving end-users in the development process, streamlined logistics and a trend towards Software-as-a-Service.”

“The agricultural sector has been under development for decades, and the shift towards smart farming techniques and data-driven agriculture may be one of the greatest transitions. It is no longer a question if smart farming will continue to develop, but how the hurdles will be resolved and which stakeholders will benefit the most from its opportunities.”

Did anything that came up during your research catch you off guard?
The writers found that the data they collected during their research was more or less what they expected.

“The results of the interviews matched pretty well with what we had seen in literature, so many results did not come as a big surprise. For example, for many farmers, the investments in smart farming are too expensive, which increases the gap between richer and poorer farmers.”

But there were definitely some things that they did not foresee, like the primary reason why farmers were interested in smart farming.

“At the same time, we saw some novel results from the interviews as well. For example, it became clear that some farmers also just like the idea of being the first to try something new, “the amusement factor”. We also see a strong transition towards Software-as-a-Service, which saves large investment costs but allows farmers to make use of new technologies.”

What’s next for research into smart farming?
Vera explains that while the topic is relevant to her own research, she is first and foremost doing research on smart cities, but she does not completely rule out future research into the subject.

“Most of my research is focused on smart cities, but the countryside is often neglected in most research on internet-of-things and “smartness”. This research article has helped us to create an overview of the current state of smart farming, from which we have learned a lot.”

“In fact, many techniques are very similar between smart cities and smart farming but applied in a totally different way. It’s interesting to realize that the facial recognition cameras that are installed on the airport for automatic passport control are very similar to the techniques used to recognize individual cows for targeted feeding!”

“Meanwhile, there are still many open questions which would be interesting to look at in the future.”

About the author:
Dr Vera van Zoest is a 29-year-old postdoctoral researcher in data analysis and machine learning for smart cities at the Department of IT at Uppsala University. She has been at the university and the department for 2.5 years.

Link to the article

“This is an overview article. Rather than presenting new methodology, it presents an overview of the state-of-the-art of smart farming through an extensive literature review and an interview study.”

Who will find the next billion-dollar math equation that will create the Google of the future?
David Sumpter, professor at the IT department, recently published an opinion article in the English newspaper The Guardian. In the Article, Sumpter is talking about different mathematical equations and ideas that have shaped the IT sector in one way or another, the biggest one might be Google (PageRank).

Which mathematical equation or theory will take us into the future of IT?

Read the complete article on The Guardian website

David Sumpter is a professor of Applied Mathematics at the Department of Information Technology in the Division of Systems and Control (DoCS)

Congratulations to the new professors at Dept. of IT
The pandemic put a temporary halt to the inaugural lectures for our new professors. But last week it was finally their turn to officially get to hold their lectures and we think it's a good time to celebrate their achievements once again.

Nataša Sladoje
Professor in Computerized Image Analysis

Elisabeth Larsson
Professor of Scientific Computing

Ginevra Castellano
Professor in Intelligent Interactive Systems

Big congratulations!

We want to make it easier to visualize scientific data
Ingela Nyström, professor in Visualization is the Uppsala University coordinator at the national research infrastructure programme called InfraVis.
InfraVis was recently started after receiving 160 million SEK from the Swedish Research Council to create a research infrastructure of national interest.

She explains what InfraVis is and what its contributions will be in an interview with Anneli Björkman.

You can read the interview with Ingela Nyström and more at the Teknat website

Two IT startups are among the 33 best Swedish tech startups in 2021
The two IT startups, Scaleout Systems and Stream Analyze Sweden, were recently included in the NyTeknik list on the 33 best tech startups in 2021. The startups that get included in this list typically has a combination of solid technical innovation and market potential.

Scaleout Systems: Decentralised ai
What they do: Frameworks and platforms for decentralised ai.

Founders: Daniel Zakrisson, Jens Frid, Morgan Ekmefjord, Andreas Hellander, Ola Spjuth and Salman Toor.

Stream Analyze Sweden
What they do: Stream Analyze has an infrastructure platform that makes it possible to create, distribute and run arbitrary ai models on any hardware without detailed programming.

Founders: Jan Nilsson, Tore Risch and Erik Zeitler.

Read the full article on the NyTeknik website for more information about these two startups and the 31 others (Swedish only).

Process control experiment by IT master students in the Testa Center
Professor Bengt Carlsson and his master students recently visited the Testa Center to perform a lab experiment on process control.

The laboratory experiment is part of the new course Process Regulation, the goal was to automatically control the oxygen levels in a Testa bioreactor.

Read more about the visit to Testa Center here

Humör och hunger styr våra beslut oftare än vi tror
The latest episode of the SR P1 program Filosofiska rummet is about Daniel Kahnemans book Brus and the IT department's Anders Arweström Jansson discusses the book together with Annika Wallin (associate professor of cognitive science) and Gustav Almqvist (PhD in business studies).
Both book and discussion members should make this a very interesting episode! Unfortunately, this show is only available in Swedish.

Listen to the episode: Humör och hunger styr våra beslut oftare än vi tror.

Partnership signed with NCC
In 2016, Uppsala University and NCC decided to investigate the possibilities for expanded collaboration, and since then several rewarding projects have taken place. Now an agreement for continued and developed broad cooperation between the parties has been signed.

- Our previous collaboration has been very positive and now we are taking it to the next level. The intention is to create a broad collaboration with the main focus on sustainability, digitization and innovation, says Johan Tysk, vice-rector in technology and science and partnership owner for Uppsala University.

Read more about the new partnership here (Swedish only)

Learning How to Separate Fake From Real News
Fake News has been a recurring issue in online media for many years now and recently the EU started a project to combat misinformation.

Learning how to differentiate Fake from Real News is one of the most important issues of our time. So this article by Mona Guath, Thomas Nygren and Carl-Anton Werner Axelsson comes at just the right time and has some very interesting findings on how their own intervention tool can help younger students identify Fake News.

Read their article in its entirety here.

Updated  2019-01-29 09:07:38 by Kajsa Örjavik.