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ICAART Special session on Artificial Intelligence and Digital Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities (Malta, 23 February 2020)

2 March 2020

Six inspiring papers and one poster on the role of artificial intelligence in the domain of digital heritage and collections were presented in a special session held during the 12th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence (ICAART) in Malta on 23 February 2020. The meeting was very successful for the NWO/Creative Industries project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives. (see the announcement at the end).

International relevance

In recent years, libraries, archives and museums have started to apply machine learning and advanced knowledge bases to enrich texts, digitized objects, and audio-visual content with context information. The aim is to make the contents retrievable in novel ways. In doing so, institutions aim to increase the impact of their collections among a growing and diversifying audience. The special session Artificial Intelligence and Digital Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities (ARTIDIGH 2020) welcomed papers that reflected upon the technical and societal challenges that digital heritage professionals and researchers are facing. 

Special session

The aim to capitalize on the transformative power of artificial intelligence in the context of digital archives, images, and audio/visual collections is a real challenge. Owing to its highly focused character, the special session enabled a group of scholars from all over Europe to discuss how the heritage sector can profit from AI-powered services and tools. Hence, six presented papers  (digitally available) ranged from (1) the use of machine learning to geographically enrich digitized immigrant newspapers, to (2) the visual processing of historical herbaria,(3) ontology-based approaches of querying intangible cultural heritage,(4) the assessment of OCR quality on downstream NLP tasks, (5) a multiagent framework for querying distributed digital collections and (6)  the application of AI to support the engagement with and facilitate the reuse of digital AV content. ARTIDIGH also included the presentation of a poster on transfer learning for digital heritage collections.


“The special session is an enormous stimulus for the NWO research project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives”, says Andreas Weber (together with Marieke van Erp (Digital Humanities Lab, KNAW) and Maarten Heerlien (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) co-chairs of the special session). A direct follow-up to ARTIDIGH 2020, is the final conference of the NWO/Creative Industries project Making Sense of Illustrated Handwritten Archives. It will be organized by Weber and colleagues from Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS), Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) and the Rijksmuseum. The conference aims to bring archive and digital heritage professionals, data scientists, biologists and humanities scholars in a productive conversation. The Naturalis Biodiversity Center will host the activities from 22 to 24 November 2020. A call for papers for this international conference will be circulated soon.

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