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A little blue robot car on a box.
The mBot, a new-generation educational robot designed for secondary schools. ©Thierry Geenen

An AI strategy to better address the societal challenges of the Brussels-Capital Region

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU to help the EU become stronger and more resilient from the crises of recent years. Following the digital transition objective of ‘NextGen Belgium’, the Brussels initiative FARI – AI Institute for the Common Good will use artificial intelligence to help address societal challenges in the areas of health, environment, mobility, resource optimisation, participatory society and energy.

Born as a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 2021, the FARI Institute crystallises the 40 years of experience of both universities in artificial intelligence (AI), aimed at studying, developing and making AI expertise more ethical and accessible to the people of Brussels, by focusing on the common good through their involvement.

Many examples on how AI can affect and improve our lives are already up and running: from using AI to improve medical diagnoses, to enhancing work safety in construction zones. Their mission is to build a trust environment towards technology through education and awareness, debunking (when needed) wrong assumptions while demonstrating that AI should complement and not replace human intelligence. Its overall ambition is to promote Brussels’ expertise in AI, data and robotics, and to make the Region a champion leader in human-centered technologies.

At this time, there is a growing momentum on the development and governance of intelligent systems by public administrations. Thus, the different branches of the Brussels-Capital Region have already committed to taking this ambitious project to a variety of areas where there is a possibility of tangible improvement, from sustainability to digital or educational challenges.

Indeed, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is a great opportunity for the Institute to put forward its agenda of making Brussels an even bigger tech capital. Many events are planned for promoting the exchange of good practices and knowledge, as AI is not a purely territorial question but crosses frontiers.

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