Placed in a large-scale perspective, recent progress in health and well-being has been nothing short of astounding. However, in light of modern research, health is being viewed not just through the
Digital transformation and artificial intelligence
The digital transition has been taking momentum in the last decades, with a game-changing acceleration in the last few years. Central to this conversation are the advancements in artificial intelligence, not only revolutionising industries and societies but also ushering in a transformation of pedagogy. The maturity of AI has reached a point where its integration into various facets of life and work is not just beneficial but often essential.The challenge facing academia is twofold: firstly, there is the ‘core AI’ research and teaching aimed at developing new algorithms and addressing issues such as explainable, frugal, and ethical AI. Secondly, there is the need for educators in other disciplines to become adept at using AI as a tool that serves broader scientific and societal goals.
To meet the needs related notably to the development of AI, the university has established AI and data infrastructure for training and research through the Mesocentre at Université Paris-Saclay, thereby equipping itself to navigate the computational demands of this transformative technology. This infrastructure also facilitates our efforts in ethical AI, allowing us to place training and research at the core of responsible AI development.
The research challenges concerning digital transformation and AI connect to many other research areas, ranging from fundamental physics (for the development of future quantum computers) to social sciences (to design responsible and ethical AI models), life sciences (with the recent successes of bioinformatics) or engineering sciences (e. g. for the design of future materials). This interdisciplinary reach underscores the complexity and breadth of the technological landscape, indicating that any attempt to understand or guide it will require concerted efforts across multiple domains of human knowledge.
Its development will not just shape but will be shaped by advancements in numerous other fields. Given this interconnectedness, a siloed approach to AI research and policy would be insufficient for capturing the full scope of its implications and opportunities. Instead, a wide-ranging, collaborative effort is needed to navigate the nuanced challenges and potentials that the digital age presents.
Université Paris-Saclay is remarkably positioned to address the cutting-edge areas of digital transformation and artificial intelligence:
- Teams at Université Paris-Saclay are actively engaged in tackling the major challenges of the digital transition:
- Protection of data, calculations, and exchanges: this includes cybersecurity measures, ensuring system reliability, and safeguarding privacy.
- Programming and Architectures for Distributed Systems and Quantum Computing: researchers are exploring the frontier of quantum computing as well as how to develop robust and efficient distributed systems.
- Applications in Health and Biology: from digital health solutions to advancements in bioinformatics, this area focuses on how digital technologies can revolutionise healthcare and biological research.
- Communication Networks of the Future and the Creation of a ‘Sustainable’ Digital World: sustainability is an emerging concern, encompassing the energy-efficient design of future communication networks as well as the broader environmental impact of digital technologies.
- Human-Machine Interaction and the Seamless Integration of Digital Technology into Systems: this entails designing intuitive and adaptive interfaces and ensuring that technology augments rather than disrupts human activities.
- Robotic System Design and Digital Twins: research here focuses on creating more efficient and intelligent robotic systems, as well as developing digital twins that can simulate and predict real-world behaviour.
- Signal and Image Processing: this area deals with improving the techniques for analysing and interpreting signals and images, critical in sectors ranging from healthcare to entertainment.
- Issues of Rights, Use, Health, and Equity in Tomorrow’s Digital Society: beyond the technological aspects, researchers are also delving into the ethical, legal, and social implications of digital transformation, seeking to ensure it is carried out in a way that is equitable and just.
- Paris-Saclay houses a comprehensive ecosystem of infrastructures:
- Research infrastructures like DATAIA, an interdisciplinary institute at Saclay focused on advancing data sciences and artificial intelligence across various sectors like healthcare, transport and energy, and Maison de la simulation, a research centre dedicated to fostering computational simulations in multiple scientific disciplines ranging from climate models to biological systems.
- Paris Saclay is involved in new training schemes as those developed in the simulation lab at the Faculty of Medicine (LabForSims). Students and professionals can acquire new skills thanks to various simulatory procedures, and a continuous training of the teachers is developed.
- We are engaging constantly with independent service entities geared towards societal engagement and innovation, like VEDECOM, IRT SystemX, and SATT Paris-Saclay.
- Our expansive multidisciplinary approach in the fields of digital transformation and artificial intelligence is effectively showcased in our publication records. The figure below details our areas of research pivotal for understanding the full scope of digital and AI advancements.
ACTIVE FOCUS AREAS RELATED TO THIS CHALLENGE AT UNIVERSITÉ PARIS-SACLAY
Tackling social and ethical issues at the same pace as technological advances. The rapid pace of scientific and technological development in the digital sector in general, and in AI in particular, is raising a series of challenges to social, political and legal systems, which require the joint efforts of various disciplines as well as non-academic stakeholders. Such challenges revolve around three main topics. Firstly, ethical issues surrounding the development of AI, from concerns for biases and discrimination, to questions of explainability and safety are immense and require the combined expertise of AI specialists, legal scholars, political scientists and sociologists. Secondly, digital technologies raise the risk of growing inequalities both in terms of access and in terms of digital literacy, which need to be tackled now. Thirdly, new issues of privacy and protection of individuals rights are arising with the development of new applications and require fast regulation at the same time as we maintain space for experimentation and innovation. Université Paris-Saclay’s academic staff enable this combination of legal and technological expertise, as our teams’ work underscores the necessity for appropriate legal frameworks to manage the ethical, privacy, and societal implications of digital transition.
Developing as well as framing AI and data sciences. Université Paris-Saclay comprises multiple departments contributing to this innovative domain, known worldwide for their pioneering research in diverse areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, data science, big data management, and natural language processing. With the support of the DATAIA institute, Université Paris-Saclay aims to improve the state of the art in data science, preparing the emergence of innovative artificial intelligence services (from algorithms to proofs of concepts), and to join the human sciences and the digital revolution. This institute provides the links to foster the dialogue between the academic and the industrial communities and consolidate the international visibility and expertise of the Paris-Saclay AI community by hosting major scientific personalities. DATAIA brings together experts of the highest international standards in various disciplines: mathematics, computer science, physics, life sciences, economics and management, humanities and social sciences. This disciplinary breadth is an unparalleled opportunity in France, covering the entire spectrum of data science and artificial intelligence as well as societal issues.
Exploring the potential of quantum computing. The rise of quantum computing and communication, and the establishment of the qubit as a fundamental concept, offers new foundations for computer science as a science, as well as new research opportunities. Conversely, computer science plays an essential role in research into the quantum world. Université Paris-Saclay has a Quantum Centre to develop research on post-quantum cryptography, the design and verification of quantum programmes, and quantum simulation. The university itself is at the forefront of quantum communication technology, researching compact photon sources, stationary quantum states, and non-thermal phases of matter. These cutting-edge explorations seek to challenge existing scientific paradigms and instigate the genesis of novel quantum information concepts. By concentrating on quantum technology, we pave the way for breakthroughs in secure communication and ultra-high-speed computation. In this domain, fundamental research activities at the highest international level are matched by an important innovation and entrepreneurship effort - as represented in the case of Alain Aspect, Nobel Prize laureate in Physics and co-founder of the Quandela startup.
Improving health and well-being via digital advances. Université Paris-Saclay channels the digital transformation paradigm through the prism of health from clinical to public health. By advocating innovative research in large-scale health data analysis fused with computational sciences, they help develop artificial intelligence applications from theory to a safe and usable digital format to help healthcare systems. Our researchers also highlight the transformative power of AI in scientific research. By exploring the utilisation of machine learning, neural networks, and AI, this school emphasises the potential for AI to revolutionise every stage of the research process. From the inception of a hypothesisto its translation into real-world application, the work being done at Université Paris-Saclay showcases how AI can expedite and enhance public health research. On the side of medicine, imaging and biosensing for diagnosis and disease detection (particularly non-invasive) are a major research challenge. A great deal of translational research is associated with this area, particularly in terms of diagnostic tools, modulation of the microbiota and intervention coupled with clinical trials. The challenge is to make optimal use of the new digital technologies in a context of personalised medicine. Strong collaboration with mathematical and AI organisations is crucial.
Improving interfaces: human-machine interaction. Université Paris-Saclay regroups over a hundred researchers in the field of Human-Computer Interaction, which makes it a distinguished leader in this domain. Our research aims at building new adaptive interfaces using AI algorithms, developing the future of multimodal interactions, conversational systems and interactive robotics (from autonomous vehicles to exoskeletons and medical devices) and inventing the next generation of data visualisation. Our researchers lead the Equipex+ Continuum project, that aims aims to build a unique collaborative research infrastructure composed of 30 platforms located all over France, to develop new models for visualisation, interaction, perception, human cognition, immersion, and collaboration, in the context of virtual and augmented reality. All of our research is driven by the importance of human-centred computing, as we aim to transcend the limitations of current modalities and devise interfaces that are natural extensions of human intent. New uses of digital systems and AI push the limits of existing technology and force us to reconsider our fundamental assumptions about interaction design, to invent data-centric interactive systems and to understand how digital devices can help people in their everyday life. To address this challenge, our labs have long developed interdisciplinary research that combines human cognition and ergonomics with computer science and robotics.
THE “AUGMENTED OPERATING ROOM”: DIGITAL ADVANCES FOR SURGERY
Launched in January 2020, the Bloc Opératoire augmenté group accelerates the development of digital technologies, whether in development or already existing, which make it possible to increase the senses (sight, speech and touch) of the various staff in the operating room. These devices that help improve practices are tested in a space that includes a “mock operating room”.
Our transversal challenges for more impactful science
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