Dr. Virginia Dignum

By: Avery Daniels

Prior to receiving her Ph.D., Virginia Dignum worked for more than twelve years as a consultant and system developer in areas of expert systems and knowledge management; now she lives in the Netherlands as an active researcher.[1] After leaving her consulting position, Dr. Dignum then received her PhD in 2004 from Utrecht University (in the Netherlands) on her work with “A Model for Organizational Interaction”.[1] Since receiving her doctorate, Dr. Dignum has been very successful in her field. She is now a Professor of Computer Science at Umeå University in Sweden and is associated with the Faculty Technology Policy and Management at the Delft University of Technology, in which she leads cunning edge research at both.[2]

When it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning, Dr. Dignum is no novice. She leads a research group on Social and Ethical Artificial Intelligence at Umeå Univeristy.[2] She was awarded a very prestigious grant – the Veni grant – from a the Dutch organization, NWO, that funds scientific research focusing on ethical concerns with artificial intelligence.[2] On her website, she has three main research interests: responsible artificial intelligence, analysis and formalization of social interaction, and design and evaluation of human-agent teamwork.[2] When reading about her goals for each of these interests, it’s clear that she’s fascinated with moral and ethical issues in the rise of AI and how to regulate them, how AI will change social interaction (both with humans and AI), and studying social and organizational structure to better understand how implications of AI might affect this structure. Her work “ranges from the engineering of practical applications and simulations to the development of formal theories that integrate agency and organization and includes a

strong methodological design component”.[2] To sum up Dr. Dignum’s interests, “Her research on value-sensitive design of intelligent systems, in particular on the formalization of ethical and normative behaviors and social interactions”.


Dr. Dignum has definitely made her mark in the world of artificial intelligence. Statistics posted on google scholar has 339 publications with “Virginia Dignum” associated with them.[3] Her claim to fame in the world of AI came from her most cited work, “A model for organizational interaction: based on agents, founded in logic”, which happens to be her Ph.D. dissertation. Her dissertation discusses Knowledge Management (KM) and her proposed model that “makes the most of technology to support interaction and collaboration in ways that enrich the organization and take into account individual requirements and motivations”.[4] In a time where people had deemed KM near impossible, Dr. Dignum proposed a new model to bring the field back to light – this was her claim to fame with over 600 citations to date.

Nowadays, Dr. Dignum strongly advocates for ethically implementing artificial intelligence into society today, the reason why she received the Veni grant. Her blog suggests ways to combat these ethical problems seen in society today with artificial intelligence – such as her article “On Robots and Citizens”. Dr. Dignum advocates that artificial intelligence be implemented using the ART system, where AI systems are accountable, responsible, and transparent.[5] She believes that a system like this will allow for “beneficial and fair use of AI technologies”.[5] To hear more about her innovative ideas on the ethical and moral concerns pertaining to AI, and how to combat these issues, refer to reference number five (this is her blog and you should definitely take a look). In summary, Dr. Dignum is very accomplished in her field and is definitely a name to be known in the world of artificial intelligence.


Source: people.cs.umu.se


[1] Dr. M.V. (Virginia) Dignum. https://www.tudelft.nl/tbm/over-de- faculteit/afdelingen/engineering-systems-and-services/people/associate-professors/dr-mv- virginia-dignum/ (accessed Feb 5, 2019).

[2] Virginia Dignum. https://people.cs.umu.se/virginia/ (accessed Feb 5, 2019).

[3] Virginia Dignum. Google Scholar. https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=xJj3UN4AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao.

[4] Dignum, V. M. “A Model for Organizational Interaction: Based on Agents, Founded in Logic”. 2004.

[5] Virginia Dignum – Medium. https://medium.com/@virginiadignum (accessed Feb 5, 2019). 6. Virginia Dignum. https://www.edx.org/bio/virginia-dignum (accessed Feb 5, 2019).

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