The inaugural European Summer School on Artificial Intelligence (ESSAI) made its debut in Ljubljana from July 24 to July 28, drawing participants from over 40 countries across Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia, Slovenia Times reports. The event, hosted at the Ljubljana Faculty of Computer and Information Science, featured a distinguished faculty of 60 world-renowned experts, including scholars from prestigious universities like Stanford, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, and KU Leuven, as well as representatives from leading global companies like Google DeepMind, Microsoft, and VMware Research.
A Comprehensive AI Summer School
With the primary goal of introducing young researchers to cutting-edge advancements in AI and fostering AI development in Slovenia, ESSAI presented a comprehensive array of 36 courses spanning various dimensions of artificial intelligence. While the spotlight in the public domain has recently centered on large language models like ChatGPT, the summer school aimed to showcase the versatility of AI by covering topics such as planning and investigation, automation of machine learning, reinforcement learning, robotics, impartiality, fairness, and privacy in AI.
One crucial section of the program focused on AI’s application in discovering new knowledge in scientific fields, including biology, genetics, Earth and life sciences, formalization of knowledge, automation of scientific research, and quantum machine learning.
ESSAI is here to stay.
President Nataša Pirc Musar, the honorary sponsor of the event, emphasized that addressing the shortage of AI experts remains a significant challenge. Events like the summer school play a vital role in cultivating expertise in this rapidly growing field. She encouraged efforts to attract more women to STEM fields and create conditions conducive to drawing qualified professionals to Europe.
During the opening ceremony, Data Science researcher Tijl De Bie highlighted the challenge of harnessing AI’s positive potential while mitigating its negative implications. Sašo Džeroski, the programme chair of the Advanced Course in AI, expressed optimism about the transfer of knowledge and expertise to the younger generation through the summer school.
The head of the Slovenian Artificial Intelligence Society (SLAIS), Aleksander Sadikov, expressed delight at the summer school’s in-person format after the post-Covid period, enabling people to connect, build friendships, and form new collaborations.
The premiere edition of ESSAI was organized under the auspices of the European Association for AI and was jointly conducted by the University of Ljubljana, the Jožef Stefan Institute, and the University of Primorska. This significant event celebrated the 30th anniversary of SLAIS and the 50th anniversary of AI research in Slovenia, both of which were marked in 2022.
The merging of the previous summer school, organized as part of the EU project TAILOR, with the specialized AI course, the Advanced Course on AI, culminated in the successful establishment of ESSAI, aiming to become an annual highlight in the AI community.