2022 Workshops for 2023 Topics

The Convergence Accelerator selected 11 topics to be further developed through workshops. Workshops are intended to develop and frame ideas to incorporate convergence research and encourage collaboration among stakeholders from various disciplines and with different forms of expertise from academic, industry, nonprofit, government, and other communities of practice. Topic submissions were gathered from the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF-22-021, focused on gathering convergence research topics for FY2023 and future years. The following workshops are funded by the Convergence Accelerator. The findings of these workshops assist NSF in developing the final convergence research track topics to be funded for the next year.

Ethical Design of AIs, led by University of Maryland, College Park,
PI: Louiqa Raschid, Award ID: 2232404

Researchers in AI and related disciplines have become increasingly concerned with the social and ethical dimensions of AI. The goal of the Ethical Design of AI, or ETAIs, workshop is to explore active, human-centered approaches to develop a framework that supports the integration of ethical considerations and constraints into the design of AIs, from the ground up, and starting from an early phase of requirements gathering and feature specification. The hope is that the human-centered active approach and the early consideration of ethical and social requirements will have a significant payoff in promoting human well-being. While there is much work on guidelines, they are often limited since principles are defined at a broad-brush level and typically lack the details that are crucial for implementation.

The desired outcomes of the ETAIs workshop are as follows:

  • Knowledge Representation: The development of methodology(ies) for the acquisition, validation, and representation of ethical information in a way that can be incorporated into system design
  • Design Guidelines: Strategies that incorporate human-centered design principles into the design of user interfaces, or UIs
  • Defining Objective Functions, Datasets and Metrics: Evaluate the success and limitations of prototype AI solutions in selected domains
  • Regulation and Compliance: How do you craft regulations that can be incorporated into the design of systems? How can you design to improve and ensure compliance?

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: September 29, October 6, and October 20, 2022 from 12  - 3:30 p.m. ET

Who should attend: Researchers with an interest in knowledge acquisition, human-centered design, and/or policy in the context of incorporating ethical design principles and needs at the inception stage of the design and implementation of AIs.

Website: go.umd.edu/EDAIs

Provably Safe and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence Workshop (PSBAI), led by University of California, Berkeley,
PI: Stuart Russell, Award ID: 2230996

The goal of the Provably Safe and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence, or PSBAI, workshop is to lead to the emergence of a new class of AI systems that are provably safe and beneficial, including the deployment through a secure digital ecosystem.

The workshop includes the following topic areas:

  • Considerations for provably safe and beneficial algorithmic media including information credibility, social harms, and countermeasures (e.g., “deepfake” detection)
  • Considerations for provably safe and beneficial human-robot interaction
  • Considerations regarding fair access once access controls are deployed
  • Fundamental topics for provably safe and beneficial AI systems: assistance games with humans, improperly specified objectives, inverse reinforcement learning, inverse reward design, obedience, social aggregation theory, and preference learning methods
  • Relevant technical considerations to enable a regulatory framework governing the deployment of powerful AI systems within a secure digital ecosystem

In-person workshop details:

Dates: October 7-9, 2022

Location: University of California, Berkeley

Workshop point of contacts: Mark NitzbergMartin Fukui, and J.P. Gonzales

Website: humancompatible.ai/psbai-workshop-2022/

Bio-inspired Design, led by Syracuse University,
PI: Lisa Manning, Award ID: 2232327

The vision of this Bio-inspired Design workshop is to bring together researchers across the bio-inspired design space to identify the highest value key challenges that are most approachable using bio-design, and to identify hurdles that are currently preventing ideas from being practicable.

Bioinspired Design is an example of a convergence research area. Some examples of bio-inspired design solutions that are already being investigated and on the cusp of being useful to society include:

  • Autonomous robot swarms for construction and civil engineering
  • Hybrid biomaterials that interact seamlessly with the human body for wound healing and tissue engineering
  • Industrial-scale, climate-friendly manufacturing of proteins, cells, and artificial foods enabled by synthetic biology
  • Nanomaterials that mimic natural structures for enhanced strength, resilience, and enhanced optical properties
  • Programmable molecular robots for nanofabrication of high density multifunctional materials
  • Synthetic systems for energy harnessing and storage inspired by living systems

In-person workshop details:

Dates: October 3-4, 2022

Location: Wyss Institute, Cambridge, MA

Workshop point of contact: Lisa Manning

Website: bioinspired.syr.edu/nsf-convergence-accelerator-workshop-bioinspired-design

Chemical Sensing with an Olfaction Analogue: High-dimensional, Bio-inspired Sensing and Computation, led by Texas A&M University,
Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna, Award ID: 2231512

The Chemical Sensing with an Olfaction Analogue workshop will explore opportunities from emerging high-dimensional and bio-inspired artificial chemosensory systems that are ready for translation. Workshop stakeholders will identify application areas that can have the greatest societal impact. The workshop will be highly interactive, providing a variety of divergent and convergent thinking activities. The goal of the workshop is to create a comprehensive 3-year roadmap for NSF to create funding opportunities for translational research in chemical sensor systems.

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 7, 2022 from 8 – 10 a.m. CT, October 11, 2022 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT, October 13 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT, and October 14 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT.

Workshop point of contact: Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna

Website: psi.engr.tamu.edu/olfaction-workshop

Frontiers in Chemical Sensing: Synthetic, Neuromorphic and Cyborg Systems, led by Washington University,
Barani Raman, Award ID: 2231526

Miniaturized chemical sensing systems capable of recognizing target chemical species are an unmet need in a variety of domains including medical diagnosis, homeland security, environmental monitoring, climate change, and food and flavor industries. While the concept of artificial chemical sensing systems, popularly called ‘electronic noses’ or ‘e-noses’, have been proposed almost 40 years ago , there is currently no viable solution that meets the needs of the application domains mentioned above. 

The Frontiers in Chemical Sensing workshop is focusing on integrating perspectives from divergent fields and organizations to create a new generation of robust chemical detectors that not only function in the lab, but can be employed to solve real-world challenges and thereby make a societal impact.

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 18 from 1 – 3 p.m. ET and October 24, October 26 and October 28 from 1  - 5 p.m. ET

Workshop point of contacts: Barani Raman and Nicole Moore

Community Science and Resilience, led by American Geophysical Union or AGU,
Raj Pandya, Award ID: 2231692

Participate an share your ideas to help develop and guide a potential National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator convergence research track on community science, citizen science, and community resilience. 

Workshop topics include:

  • What are the kinds of themes the workshop and track should tackle?
  • Who needs to participate?
  • What challenges can the track address?
  • What kind of deliverables will it produce?
  • What are some examples of projects that this track might support?
  • How can the track welcome and fund people who aren’t historically participating in NSF proposals, but are critical to the success of this track?

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 7, 2022 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Workshop point of contacts: Liz Crocker and Laura Lyon

Website: resiliencethruscience.org

Building Resilience to Climate Driven Extreme Events with Computing Innovations, led by University of Colorado, Boulder,
PI Elizabeth Bradley, Award ID: 2232193

The goal of the Building Resilience to Climate Driven Extreme Events with Computing Innovations workshop is to identify the computing building blocks needed (e.g. sensing, digital intelligence, computing advances, automation technologies) to facilitate and expedite technological innovation for multiple impact areas (application domains) – as an alternative to the “silo-ed” approach being pursued today.

This workshop will explore four topic areas whose impacts on the climate can be reduced through computing solutions. These topic areas include agriculture, energy, transportation, and environmental justice.

Following this workshop, the workshop organizer will hold a larger virtual meeting on November 10, 2022 at 12 p.m. ET. This meeting will be open to researchers and practitioners to discuss the emerging themes developed during the in-person workshop, and to identify additional areas to explore. Breakout groups will help facilitate engagement from all interested parties. 

Hybrid workshop details:

Dates and times: October 27, 2022 at 12 p.m. MDT, October 28, 2022 at 1 p.m. MDT and November 10, 2022 from 12 – 3:15 p.m. EST.

Workshop point of contact: Catherine Gill

In-Person workshop: cra.org/ccc/events/building-resilience-to-climate-driven-extreme-events-with-computing-innovations-a-convergence-accelerator-workshop

Virtual event: cra.org/ccc/events/building-resilience-to-climate-driven-extreme-events-with-computing-innovations-a-virtual-convergence-accelerator-workshop

Personalized Adventures in Learning: The Future of AI in Education, led by University of Massachusetts,
Beverly Woolf, Award ID: 2230697

The Personalized Adventures in Learning or PAL workshop will create smart, integrated, connected, and open ecosystems (e.g., platforms, devices and processes) for education technology. The pandemic brought an inevitable transformation towards virtual education. The ensuing need for scalable, personalized learning systems has led to an unprecedented demand for understanding the role played by AI and large-scale data in online instruction.

The workshop will focus on practical applications that optimize every point in the education process, from understanding students’ needs, to organizing what and how they learn, to learning to better impart and integrate that knowledge. The workshop will develop rich new AI models and inference methods; explore analytical methods to infer key student factors from data; establish a framework for new AI theory and methods; and promote learning science and real-world education practices (pedagogies).

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: Three afternoons between the dates of October 10 – 21, 2022 from 1 – 5. p.m. ET

Workshop point of contacts: Burt Woolf

Transforming Educational Technology Through Convergence, led by the University of Pennsylvania,
PI: Ryan Baker, Award ID: 2231524

The Transforming Educational Technology Through Convergence workshop is convening researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders to discuss multidisciplinary methods for improving educational technology. This workshop will explore edtech learning tool solutions in the areas of:

  • Course-embedded assessments that enable learning rather than simply evaluating it;
  • Middle school mathematics, as a critical stage of learning; and
  • Data science education bringing together learning science, data science and edtech to create research-based materials and curricula.

The goal of the workshop is to make recommendations for ideas that could be developed and implemented over the next two to three years that make a large societal impact.

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 3, 2022 from 1-3 p.m. ET, November 4, 2022 from 1-3 p.m. ET and mid-late October meeting scheduled by each sub-group

Workshop point of contact: Malia Sieve

Website: www.the-learning-agency.com/nsf-convergence-accelerator-virtual-conference-2022

Managing Water for a Changing Planet , led by Oregon State University,
Pamela L. Sullivan, Award ID: 2231723

Fresh water is vital to life – for people and the ecosystems we rely on – yet supplies of freshwater are increasingly challenged. Climate change, population growth, inequities in water supply, and land cover changes are impacting the amount and quality of fresh water. Continued access to fresh water will be one of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century.

The goal of the Managing Water for a Changing Planet workshop is to co-develop a roadmap for the next generation of tools and solutions that can address water challenges within the next five years.

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 25, 2022, October 31, 2022 and November 4, 2022

Workshop point of contact: Pamela L. Sullivan

Website: sites.google.com/oregonstate.edu/managing-water-nsf-ca

Climate Resilience and Managing Water Resources , led by the Indiana University,
Benjamin Kravitz, Award ID: 2231916

Water sits at the nexus of every human activity. Water quantity and quality are not consistently distributed around the planet, causing water inequities, which are only getting worse with ongoing climate change. If we are going to improve resilience to climate change, we need to improve water resource access, management, and equity. Because water needs are ubiquitous and pervasive, there are no one-size-fits-all answers.

The Climate Resilience and Managing Water Resources workshop is bringing together stakeholders and experts to discuss topics and priorities for the next few years of water resources research. To achieve success, we propose the following aims:

  • Add multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary contexts to water discussions.
  • Activate awareness of and sharpen focus on the real issues in terms of water quantity and quality under a variety of future scenarios of climate change.
  • Leverage the collective knowledge represented at the Workshop to identify and disaggregate seemingly complex strategies that require action of multiple partners or stakeholders.
  • To shape a set of discrete activities and priorities for the next phase of water resource efforts.

Virtual workshop details:

Dates and times: October 13, 2022 from 1 – 3 p.m. ET and October 17, 19, and 21, 2022 from 1 – 5 p .m. ET

Workshop point of contact: Benjamin Kravitz

Website: earth.indiana.edu/research/workshops/water-resources