Societal Impact of AI

Augmented humanity and society with artificial intelligence

Whether it be grocery shopping or dating, managing our work life, or streaming a show on Netflix—artificial intelligence (AI) has changed our daily lives tremendously, both on a personal and professional level. What does this mean, for individual citizens and society as a whole? What can we expect in the future and how can we use the potential of AI while keeping risks to a minimum?

This Erasmus Initiative aims for innovative and interdisciplinary research and education in AI that places people and society centre stage. Together with key stakeholders we set the expectations for implementations of AI benefiting society. Through setting the expectations we seek to engage the public with the rapidly evolving integration of AI in society.

AI in four domains

We focus on four key domains of our society, tackling cross-cutting hot topics such as urban AI, deep fake, climate change, digital placemaking and AI street art.

AI in arts and culture

The use of AI promises a transition to open and inclusive arts and sciences practices. The leading question in this programme line is how the use of AI in art can create new opportunities for individuals, organizations, and systems to unlock their full potential with AI.

We consider AI in arts and culture as an object of study as well as a living lab to foster creativity, engagement, and sympathy – all necessary to set the expectations for AI to benefit people and society.


AI in communication and change

The use of AI in media and communication promises unprecedented opportunities for social and behavioural change. Our leading question is how the benefits of digital media technology can be used optimally, while keeping potential risks at a minimum.

Focusing on strategic and popular communication, we investigate how ‘cognitive communication’ can contribute to a healthy, fulfilling, and sustainable lifestyle and living environment.

We consider AI as an object of study, as well as a tool for innovative research, education, and societal impact.

AI in healthcare policy and management

The use of AI in health promises the transition to a sustainable, empowered, and inclusive health system. Our research and teaching investigate the transition of healthcare with AI from a societal perspective.

    This programme line takes a reflective rather than an instrumental approach. We reflect on what is means to shift patient journeys and provider reward systems from managing the bad (disease) to managing the good (health).

      On the meso-level we reflect on what development of integrated public health that can provide personalised prevention entails. On the micro-level we reflect on how healthcare professionals develop new skills and new roles.

      AI in work and labour

      AI-based solutions are gaining importance in organisational life, dramatically changing work practices and relationships. On the macro-level this means, for example, data-driven decision making and services, while on the micro level, automation could enhance workplace safety.

        This thematic line takes a human-centred approach, focussing on the opportunities of close collaboration between humans and machines while mitigating the challenges.

          Our research and teaching will investigate new ways of organizing and new work practices that can enhance the safety and well-being of all employees. As such, this programme line aims to contribute to an inclusive future of work.


          We focus on ensuring human augmentation with AI – AI that works in a manner consistent with the expectations of individual citizens and society. We embrace a multidisciplinary and multimethod approach, including data science, citizen science and living labs. Moreover, we create new opportunities for citizens, students, scholars, and organisations to unlock their full potential with AI as co-worker and trusted advisor.


          Project-based  teaching programmes and challenge-based activities are in development in close collaboration with ErasmusX, Erasmus University Rotterdam radical educationial innovation unit.


          The Erasmus Initiative ‘Societal Impact of AI’ (AI-Pact) is embedded in the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA). We are building structural collaborations with Erasmus MC, TU Delft and the city of Rotterdam, for example, by linking to the initiatives Centre for Bold Cities, Cultuurcampus Rotterdam, Resilient Delta, Healthy Start, and Convergence for Health and Technology.

          Our experts

          Moniek Buijzen
          Moniek Buijzen
          Professor of digital communication and behavioural change
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          Claartje ter Hoeven
          Professor of organizational dynamics in the digital society
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          Gerrit Schipper
          Gerrit Schipper
          Executive director of Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA)
          Iris Wallenburg
          Iris Wallenburg
          Associate professor of health policy and management
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          Farshida Zafar
          Director of ErasmusX, Erasmus University Rotterdam radical educational innovation unit
          Liesbet van Zoonen
          Professor of sociology and academic director of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities
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