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WeNet: diversity-aware algorithms to improve quality of life

WeNet is a multidisciplinary Project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program with the participation of the Instituto de Investigación en Inteligencia Artificial (IIIA-CSIC). An initiative that combines computer science, sociology and engineering. The kick-off meeting was held last January in Trento (Italy).

Team meeting in Trento (Italy)WeNet’s goal is to introduce a technology capable of fostering richer and deeper social interactions "through diversity-aware artificial intelligence", according to Nardine Osman, Main researcher of the project. The vision is to move from the Internet, a network of computers that can be connected to people, to the "Internet of us", a network of people whose interactions are mediated and enabled by computers. The goal is to find the right connections to help people address their daily needs, taking advantage of their diversity.

To achieve its objectives, WeNet will develop machine-learning algorithms based on behaviour to create user profiles. The profiles will gather diversity in gender, age or culture, among others, to connect the "right" people. The developed algorithms will focus on providing motivation mechanisms for people to help each other and raise communication barriers that originate with profile clutter, in ways that would not formerly have been possible.

Improving social connections through the "correct" matches

The project aims to improve social connections to find people who can support each other, creating new interactions. This means finding matches to, for example, create work groups in a university project, find roommates, find someone to practice sports with, etc. Algorithms would ensure finding motivated and balanced groups (taking into account gender balance, different personalities and backgrounds, etc.).

The algorithm would be in charge of eliminating the communication barriers caused by the diverse origins of people

The algorithm would also be in charge of eliminating the communication barriers caused by the diverse origins of people, such as clarifying that a delay in a response might be normal in a certain culture, or that a “yes” does not necessarily mean a “yes”. WeNet would solve people’s expectations after the analysis of their profiles and it would address communication gaps and obstacles by implementing diversity-aware tools.

The WeNet platform provides the technological infrastructure to set out a series of studies that will be carried within universities worldwide (the Smart University Pilots), by doing case-studies with the students through the WeNet app (Smart University App). The consortium is composed of 15 partners from Europe and Mongolia, India, Mexico, Paraguay, etc.

WeNet’s goal is to improve the quality of life and social inclusion of student populations inside and outside the academic environment, taking into consideration ethical and privacy guidelines. WeNet's innovative paradigm impacts human interactions in general, especially those that may benefit from a collaborative approach (creative industries, medical diagnosis, ...). The WeNet consortium will develop a research infrastructure that will allow the exploitation of the project results and strengthen the European innovation eco-system in a worldwide perspective.

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