Presenting the Global Top 100 outstanding projects: Collective Learning

Published on May 23, 2023

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After a thorough scientific, ethical, and entrepreneurial review of all projects submitted to the 2022 IRCAI Global Top 100 call, IRCAI has deemed ten submissions as “outstanding” based on their AI integrity, potential impact on the SDGs, business sustainability, and ethical design. Among these ten outstanding projects was the EPOS project “Collective Learning: Human-Machine Collective Intelligence at Smart City Scale”. At our STI Forum side event in early May, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Evangelos Pournaras (University of Leeds), the main coordinator, who gave a presentation about the project.

Coordination deficits

What do power outages, traffic congestion and overcrowded parking lots have in common? They are all manifestations of a coordination deficit within a system. They all result from a lack of effective coordination and planning. Power outages occur when electricity supply and demand are not adequately coordinated. Traffic congestion is the result of inadequate coordination between transportation infrastructure and individual driver behavior. Overcrowded parking lots result from a lack of coordination in providing sufficient parking relative to the number of vehicles. In search of an effective coordination mechanism, Evangelos and his partners in the EPOS project developed a novel AI-based decision support system to help citizens improve their coordination capability through what Evangelos calls “collective learning.”

Improving coordination within entire communities

Suppose that in a household of four students, decisions are made regularly to improve coordination. While the first student prepares dinner, the second and third students take on other tasks such as doing laundry and washing dishes. In this way, the workload is distributed more equitably and students can ensure a clean and organized living space. However, with their AI-powered decision support system, Evangelos and his team want to leverage this coordination capability on a larger scale. “What if we could extend this coordination capability to larger communities, like entire cities?” he says. “What if there was a scalable and automated way for citizens to exchange timely information and discover a collective arrangement of their actions?”

An unsupervised, decentralized and privacy-preserving approach

system that helps citizens make complex sustainable choices” he explains. Running on connected personal devices, such as smartphones, participating citizens can receive decision-support feedback calculated as a result of decentralized learning interactions between devices. Unlike traditional supervised AI solutions, Evangelos notes that his decision support system relies on peer-to-peer interactions rather than data-intensive training, making it more privacy-friendly and potentially easier to scale. The system is also essentially unsupervised, as collective learning emerges from the agents’ interactions, rather than from a single controlling entity.

More information about the EPOS project and their work on decentralized combinatorial optimization for self-managed distributed systems can be found on their website. Evangelos is also (co-)author of several publications on collective learning, including this ACM article and this IEEE article. The underlying software code of this project is freely available on GitHub (link, link).


Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the digital innovation profile for Georgia, a document analysing digital innovation ecosystem in Georgia, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The document had been prepared with the collaboration of IRCAI experts.

Highlights from the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference

Educators and professionals from across Europe and Asia gathered in the picturesque city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, from November 12-15, 2023, for the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference. Hosted by the International Research Centre on AI under the Auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, this annual event was a success: it brought teachers together, facilitated the creation of new partnerships, answered some questions about AI in education and uncovered many new and important ones.

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

The NAIXUS project (Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs) convened a significant meeting during the Deep Learning Indaba 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress of the project, share insights, and plan future actions to strengthen the network’s impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through artificial intelligence (AI) research.

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and its core members in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development hosted a meeting amd a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.


International Research Centre
on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI)
under the auspices of UNESCO 

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


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