I am a professor in Artificial Intelligence at the Cognitive Science & AI department at Tilburg University and at the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a joint initiative of Eindhoven University of Technology and Tilburg University.
My research focuses on pattern recognition in humans and machines. Although the term “pattern recognition” is not in vogue anymore, it does capture the human capability to perceive patterns in images, signals, and data in general. Nowadays, deep learning algorithms excel in pattern recognition on narrow domains.
Most of my scientific work addresses pattern-recognition tasks that can be performed by humans but also by machines.
For instance, the task of attributing artworks to their artists is a skill mastered by human connaisseurs but can also be performed by AI algorithms. What fascinates me is how AI algorithms differ in their performances from humans. AI algorithms are not hindered by biases about the economic consequences of attributions, whereas humans have a much richer understanding of the meaning and historical context of artworks.
Another, possibly less media-savvy example is the detection of exoplanets from light curves. Essentially, the task comes down to the detection of repeating dips in time series. Humans perform this task using their pattern recognition skills and understanding of stellar and planetary dynamics, whereas AI algorithms perform brute-force pattern recognition.
These examples illustrate the virtues and limitations of current AI algorithms: powerful tools that can exceed the human pattern-recognition capabilities, but require guidance by human domain experts that are aware of the strengths and limitations of AI.
How should society deal with AI?
Professor Postma’s essay (in Dutch / English), gives a gentle and down-to-earth overview of AI and describes how we should transform into a digital society. The essay is part of a bundle of essays published by NL DIGITAAL.