Tessa Oomen reflects on her experiences in the SPATIAL project

Artificial Intelligence hands

Today, we publish an editorial of Tessa Oomen. Her research focuses on organizational communication practices related to developing trustworthy AI. In this blog, she talks about her experience in the SPATIAL project and how the project fits with her research. Funded by the European Union, SPATIAL is a consortium led by TU Delft, consisting of 12 partners from 8 EU member states.

Spoiler alert: working on a European project has been a rewarding experience so far!

This article was initially posted on the SPATIAL project website.

A challenging context

Doing a PhD tends to be a lonely process, but the project environment has allowed me to collaborate with colleagues, both within EUR and with partner organizations in SPATIAL. The project context can also be challenging, especially concerning time management. As a PhD candidate, I support EUR project management, participating in different project-related tasks, conducting research, and teaching in our university programs. It can be a lot to combine, but I work in a supportive team, and being involved in many activities also supports my professional development.

“It’s been great to be immersed in a consortium with many organizations from different European countries and experts in their respective fields.”


‘Behind the scenes’ of AI development.

The SPATIAL project started when there were still many restrictions due to the pandemic, so my favourite moment was the consortium meeting in Berlin in September 2022, where we finally got to meet most of our partners in person.

“What fascinates me most about this project and my research is seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of AI development.”

The potential risks and disadvantages of AI receive ample attention from political actors and in the news, but how these topics are addressed do not receive the same attention. At the same time, AI is being developed and is relatively invisible. We investigate how our partners approach AI development by visiting their locations, conducting in-person and digital interviews, and observing project meetings. We’ve received warm welcomes, and it’s been inspiring to hear the partners talk about their work, insights into trustworthy AI development, and the obstacles they sometimes face.


Technical know-how and social science insights

I look forward to bringing all these insights together and supporting the development of the educational module, one of the key project outcomes of SPATIAL. This module aims to share knowledge on trustworthy AI development with students and experienced developers, but it will also be available to anyone interested in AI. The module combines topics on technical know-how and social science insights to provide a well-rounded course. Our social science perspective on privacy, security, communication, and organizations, adds another layer to the technical expertise and insights of our partners in the project.

“The educational module highlights one of the many ways that research can have a tangible impact on individuals and society, and this is important to me.”

While working on an EU-funded project can be challenging, it provides experiences and opportunities for personal and professional development that are difficult to match.

Tessa Oomen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Media & Communication of the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. Her research focuses on organizational communication practices around digitalisation, cybersecurity, and AI. This work also connects to the EU-funded SPATIAL project (https://spatial-h2020.eu/). Tessa has worked on multiple EU-funded project and assists with the development of new research and grant proposals.

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