Societal Challenges, Global Mental Health and Humane AI

At this year’s Dies Natalis of the University of Amsterdam, Professor dr. Vikram Patel (Harvard University) and Prof. dr. Chris Manning (Stanford University) will be awarded Honorary Doctorates. During this symposium, a panel of expert speakers will join our honorees to discuss pertinent topics within the fields of mental health and the use of artificial intelligence on a global scale.

While living in urban areas is often economically and socially attractive, cities bring their own challenges and stressors, which can lead to disproportionately high rates of mental health problems. With more people than ever living in urban environments, our understanding of how to intervene at individual, group, and societal levels to target mental health conditions, is crucial. It is important to create scalable interventions, many using digital techniques (such as app-based interventions, AI-enhanced chatbots, virtual reality), that can be implemented on a global scale, including among underserved populations in low- and middle-income countries.

This symposium is an event to accompany the celebration of Honorary Doctorates being awarded by the University of Amsterdam to Professor dr. Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Mental Health, at Harvard University, and Prof. dr. Chris Manning, Professor of Machine Learning, Linguistics and Computer Science, at Stanford University. Patel has worked extensively on understanding the burden of mental disease throughout the life course, its association with social disadvantage and the use of community resources for its prevention and treatment. Manning has dedicated his career to using software to intelligently process, understand and generate human language material. A panel of expert speakers will join the UvA honourees to discuss pertinent topics within the fields of mental health and the use of artificial intelligence on a global scale. We will also be joined by The Mental Elf, an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research.

About the speakers

Vikram Patel is Professor of Global Mental Health at Harvard University. Patel has worked extensively on understanding the burden of mental disease throughout the life course, its association with social disadvantage and the use of community resources for its prevention and treatment.

Christopher Manning is Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Machine Learning, Professor of Linguistics and of Computer Science at Stanford University. He is director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Co-director of the Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Institute. He is a pioneer of deep learning for natural language processing, and today the most cited author in Natural Language Processing worldwide.

Reinout Wiers is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, and (co)director of the Centre for Urban Mental Health.

Claudi Bockting is clinical psychologist/psychotherapist, Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at Amsterdam University Medical Center, and the (co)director of the Centre for Urban Mental Health, who explores in her research modifiable mechanisms that contribute to onset, maintenance and relapse of common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety; and the development of innovative interventions and treatments, based on state-of-the-art technology.

Barbara Schouten is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam. In her work she focuses on cross-cultural health communication and the use of new media technologies in (mental) health care communication.

Frank Cobelens is a physician epidemiologist specializing in infectious diseases, particularly in LMICs.

Daniëlle Zawadi is a spoken word artist.

Marietje Schaake (t.b.c) is International Policy Director at Stanford University Cyber Policy Center and International Policy Fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and former Member of European Parliament. She is a well-known speaker on technology and public policy in both the Netherlands, the EU at large, and the United States.

Jelle Zuidema is Associate Professor of Natural Language Processing, Explainable AI and Cognitive Modelling at the University of Amsterdam. He leads a National Research Agenda project, consisting of 5 universities and 9 companies and non-for-profits doing research on making deep learning models for text and sound more interpretable.


Programme overview

Part 1 – Global mental health

9:30      Opening by Prof. dr. Reinout Wiers

Talks by:

9:35      Prof. dr. Claudi Bockting

Using technology as well as the community to target mental health conditions in low- and middle-income countries

9:50      Dr. Barbara Schouten

MHealth4all: promoting access to mental healthcare services for low language proficient migrant citizens in Europe

10:05   Prof. dr. Vikram Patel

Scaling up psychosocial interventions to reach the last mile: lessons from global health

Commentary + Q&A by:

10:50   Prof. dr. Frank Cobelens

Spoken word performance by:

11:00   Daniëlle Zawadi


Part 2 – Humane AI

11:30   Opening by Prof. dr. Jelle Zuidema

Talks by:

11:40   Marietje Schaake (t.b.c)

Democracy in a Digital World

12:20   Prof. dr. Chris Manning

Natural Language Processing & Responsible AI

13:00 Closing by Prof. dr. Jelle Zuidema




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