AI for Open Data or Open Data for AI? An invited talk for BBDU Development Program «Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development»🎤

Recently I was honored to contribute to Babu Banarasi Das University (BBDU, Department of Computer Science and Engineering) Development Program «Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development» with the talk entitled “Artificial Intelligence for Open Data or Open Data for Artificial Intelligence?”. More precisely, this series of workshops is organized for the industry, i.e. representatives of industry, who want to get an insight on the current advances in various topic-related areas (AI in the sustainability context) from people representing research and academia, which is organized by AI Research Centre, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Babu Banarasi Das University (India), ShodhGuru Research Labs, Soft Computing Research Society, IEEE UP Section, Computational Intelligence Society Chapter. My session, for instance, was attended by more than 130 attendees, which I consider to be a very good rate!


Regarding my talk, I was delighted to deliver in the last day of this event, being also a guest of honor for this event, when we speak about “Artificial Intelligence for Open Data or Open Data for Artificial Intelligence?” – in short, not OR but rather AND. In other words, AI for Open Data and Open Data for AI, where open data serves as a valuable asset for AI (of course, if a list of prerequisites is fulfilled), while AI defines new prerequisites for open data we should think of.

At the same time, although their combination is considered to play a transformational role in human society, and especially in prominent areas, as we discussed today, this “magic duo” is not always about “unicorns and ice creams“, where the current state-of-the-art suggests that open data my pose also certain risks.

Probably the most expressive example of such, I referred to, is an example, when based on easily obtainable open data on toxic molecules collected over the years, AI has managed to create 40,000 molecular associations potentially usable as biochemical weapons in just 6 hours. And while not all of them are actually usable, and the need to synthesize them still remains, some associations correspond to known chemical weapons with one even more toxic than the VX nerve gas, identified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

So here comes a very interesting dilemma between openness as a philosophy and making data open, and threats it may pose, if used by a malevolent actor.

We also briefly touched a topic of risks associated with AI (although both perspectives of so-called cyber-pessimists and cyber-optimists in this regard were considered), open data, and their combination, along with the long list of benefits they can bring, including their contribution to the sustainability being in line with the general idea of this event.
And, of course, we could not ignore the topic of green AI and a strong need to consider FATE principles (Fairness, Accountability, Transparency & Explainability).

All in all, it was a very nice experience and the audience so curious and passionate of topics elaborated on within this 6-days long event with speakers from both continents Asia, Africa, America and Europe (represented by me! 🤓🤓🤓). Exceptional audience with so relevant questions leading to a lively and fruitful discussion being of interest for both participants and speakers. Glad to be part of it and get this experience!

This is just in a few words, although at some point I plan to extend this post with more details and thoughts.

ONE Conference 2022: why to attend and how to meet me there?

The ONE Conference 2022 (Health, Environment, Society) – a four-day event happening in Brussels and online, is coming! Register and meet me there ️(Brussels & online, 21-24 June) as one of panelists of the “Turning open science into practice: causality as a showcase” thematic session as part of “ONE society” thematic track.

ONE Conference 2022 provides its attendees with a series of break-out sessions grouped in four thematic tracks – ONE Life, ONE Planet, ONE Society and MANY Ways. The sessions are complemented by side events and networking opportunities for both in-person and online participants, where some side events, in the form of workshops, will take place before the formal start of the conference.

The ONE Conference 2022 is co-organised by EFSA and its European sister agencies – the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC], the European Chemicals Agency [ECHA], the European Environment Agency [EEA] and the European Medicines Agency [EMA] and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), with the ambition of embracing a ONE Health and ONE Society approaches.

Briefly about the above mentioned thematic tracks:

  • the ONE Society sessions will put the societal dimension of food safety and its ecosystem in the spotlight: from the role of society in policy making, to collaboration and partnerships right through to bringing research closer to policy. Dolors Montserrat from the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee will speak on the panel addressing citizens’ participation in EU decision-making, while former Dutch Minister Gerda Verburg from the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement features in the session on collaboration among actors in the food safety field. Michael Catchpole, Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), will moderate the discussion on how ENVI agencies can work together to support research and bridge the gap between research and policy. Meanwhile, Shani Evenstein Sigalov, member of the Wikimedia Foundation and lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv, will share her views on opening up regulatory science.
  • the ONE Life sessions will focus on the questions on how to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food, where Francesco Branca (Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of the World Health Organization (WHO)) will share his views on how to define healthy diets within sustainability boundaries as part of a session on sustainability and food security. Matias Zurbrigen (Head of the Institute of Synthetic Biology of the University of Dusseldorf) will consider safety aspects relating to new food production approaches such as synthetic biology as part of a session on innovative foods. Meanwhile, Ilaria Capua from the University of Florida, will focus on the post-pandemic environment and the concept of Circular Health as part of a discussion on improving our understanding of infectious diseases. How to ensure safety assessments keep pace with the emergence of new diseases will also be discussed. Luisa Peixe, professor at the University of Porto and member of EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards, will discuss the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focussing on the link to food-producing environments.
  • the ONE Planet sessions will focus on the environmental dimension of food safety and sustainability, where Serenella Sala from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is among the experts who will share their views on how to develop a framework for sustainability assessments to measure progress made towards environmental goals. Annette Aldrich from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), an expert in ecotoxicology and member of EFSA’s Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues, will explain why a paradigm shift is needed in the environmental risk assessment of pesticides. Helen Elizabeth Roy from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will feature in discussions on plant protection in the face of globalisation, particularly how global trade and climate change will affect plant pests, invasive species and diseases. Meanwhile, Linda Keeling, professor of Animal Welfare at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), will speak about the links between animal welfare and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a session dedicated to improving animal welfare and reducing environmental impacts in relation to animal-sourced food.
  • the MANY WAYS sessions will cover topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to new approach methodologies (NAMs), where Raluca Crisan, founder and CTO of the testing platform ETIQ AI, will speak in the session related to integrating AI technology and big data in food safety. Chris Gennings, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will discuss how the risk assessment of combined exposure to multiple chemicals can be developed. The session on new approach methodologies (NAMs) moderated by Maurice Whelan, head of the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), will explore opportunities for moving beyond animal testing to in vitro and in silico approaches. The session on Endocrine Disruptors (EDs) will feature Andreas Kortenkamp, professor at Brunel University, who will deliver a talk on the science behind the identification of endocrine disruptors for humans and non-target organisms. The session will also look at benefits of shifting to a more integrated assessment for chemicals as a whole. Sangeeta Khare from the National Center for Toxicological Research of the US Food and Drug Administration will address risk assessment criteria for gastrointestinal toxicity induced by xenobiotics as part of a session on the microbiome. The session will examine the evidence base connecting the microbiome, chemicals and human health.
  • the closing plenary to wrap up the four-day programme will reflect on the outcomes of the thematic (break-out) sessions. The discussion will also address how the One Health principles could help advance food safety assessments, and how more integrated, cross-sectoral and collaborative health assessments could inform policies shaping the transition towards more sustainable food systems. Sandra Gallina, the European Commission’s Director-General for Health and Food Safety, will outline the EU’s policy vision for the transition towards more sustainable and resilient food systems. Bernhard Url, EFSA’s Executive Director, will bring the conference to a close with some concluding remarks.

But let’s take a step back to the session “ONE society” thematic track I emphasized before and Turning open science into practice: causality as a showcase thematic session, in which I am involved as one of four panelists, invited to share my experience on the data quality, open science and open data questions in both academia and industry with the reference to the European Open Science Cloud I represent (Task Force “FAIR metrics and data quality”) and my previous experience working as IT-expert at the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, BBMRI-ERIC Latvian National Node. This session is devoted to the open science movement resulted in the demand for transparent and accessible-to-all scientific processes. Open science promotes and supports research collaboration and co-creation, including public participation in the scientific process via crowdsourcing data, methods, computational capacity and scientific knowledge. The adoption of a more participatory approach offers new opportunities to regulatory science organizations. It helps them extend the pool of data, expertise and knowledge from which to draw, thus accelerating their preparedness to address complex questions. It can also help in enhancing the public understanding of science, and in finally reducing citizens’ scepticism. An open science approach also poses challenges, including the need to monitor the accuracy and reliability of open data as well as their possible misuse. The session will offer an opportunity for sharing experiences on obstacles, benefits and the feasibility of adopting open science approaches in the context of regulatory science. The showcase example will focus on causality, i.e. the relationship between a cause and an effect. With larger availability of open access data, including those gathered using high-throughput techniques, unprecedented options for deeper insights into causality have emerged. Using causality as an illustrative example, the session intends to advance the discussion on how the principles of open science can be routinely implemented in the scientific activities performed by the European institutions. The guiding questions are: Can institutions benefit from open data and the open science movement, and if so, how? can participatory science accelerate finding solutions to quantitatively integrate heterogeneous sources to address causality? In other words, Whether and how open data currently available can be used to address the assessment of causal association between an agent and an effect in the regulatory domain? What are possible benefits and challenges from their use? How to guarantee that data and knowledge generated by an open science approach are accurate and reliable enough for use by regulatory science organisations? Which concrete actions need to be put in place to implement open science principles in the context of regulatory science? How to revise the legal framework to address new challenges related to personal data protection and intellectual property right? Although I am sure we will define many more questions to be asked and answered – hopefully answered 🙂

To sum up, this thematic session intends to advance the discussion on how the principles of open science can be routinely implemented in the scientific activities performed by the European Agencies/Institutions. Causality will be discussed as a case study topic, which, in fact, is among the most challenging questions which EU institutions are required to answer. 

All in all, it seems that the session should be incredibly interesting with many perspectives covered by its participants, with the coordinator of this session – Laura Martino, session contributors – Federica Barrucci, Claudia Cascio, Laura Ciccolallo, Marios Georgiadis, Giovanni Iacono, Yannick Spill both representing European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and panelists – me – Anastasija Nikiforova representing both the EOSC European Open Science Cloud Task Force ‘FAIR metrics and data quality’ and University of Tartu, Institute of Computer Science, Leonie Dendler from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Sven Schade representing Joint Research Centre (JRC), Foteini Zampati.


Read more about the event here.

Looking forward this event, fruitful discussions, great talks and decisions on how to make this world better!!!