TNO and CBS are joining forces on transparent and verifiable AI use

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
© Miriam van der Sangen
The public sector is increasingly experimenting and working on a modest scale with artificial intelligence (AI), for example in the field of mobility and health. To ensure that this work takes place in an honest and responsible way, the AI technology used must be transparent and verifiable. TNO and Statistics Netherlands (CBS) have joined forces in a Partnership for Trusted AI to stimulate transparent, honest and verifiable use of AI in the public sector, with a focus on ethical, legal and organisational conditions.


English subtitles available

Perhaps imperceptibly, Artificial Intelligence has started to have a major impact on our daily lives. AI is in our smartphone, helps us shop and contributes to scientific research. AI can offer great benefits. Recognition of speech, images and patterns, translation machines, robots and question-and-answer systems can improve convenience and our user experience. In healthcare, minor changes and differences in patients can be perceived much more accurately by AI than by a doctor. Complex operations can also be carried out using AI. In general, AI offers growing potential to find solutions for societal issues.

Societal issues

TNO and CBS are already working extensively together to address societal issues in the fields of healthcare, labour, security and crime, energy, climate and mobility. Both independent organisations are also developing AI knowledge and applications. With the unique data available to CBS, AI generates factual knowledge about the state of the Netherlands. This knowledge is used for policy, research and debate. CBS is increasingly using smart algorithms and advanced methods to access the source data in its processing operations. In addition to a wealth of substantive knowledge, TNO has state-of-the art expertise to securely share data and create algorithms to support decision-making. For these reasons, it is natural for TNO and CBS to join forces in the use of AI in the public sector.

TNO and CBS invite governments, businesses and research institutions to take part in a range of societal programmes linked to the government’s innovation policy

Energy transition

Director General Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi of CBS: ‘One of the themes on which we are already working together is energy transition. TNO and CBS are experimenting with AI jointly with the public sector and energy suppliers to highlight opportunities and risks in energy production and consumption. For example, we are investigating the availability of solar energy by using satellite photographs to survey solar panels from space.’ Other examples of AI use can be found in healthcare. People in the Netherlands are living longer lives, but healthcare costs are spiralling. Paul de Krom, CEO of TNO: ‘That requires a transformation of our health system, with lifestyle and personalised advice playing a crucial role. Digitisation and AI can make substantial contributions to this, for example in identifying health risks, by giving insight into the efficacy of treatments and in personalising prevention programmes and treatments. TNO already has extensive practical experience in the field of lifestyle medicine and is working on new technology to share such privacy-sensitive data in a responsible way.’

Connecting government and market participants

With their trusted, independent positions, TNO and CBS are well placed to connect government organisations and market participants. A number of targeted societal programmes are being established to deliver verifiable and transparent techniques for AI. Each of these programmes is linked to societal themes from the government’s innovation policy: energy transition, sustainability, security, health and care, agriculture, water and food. TNO and CBS invite governments, businesses and research institutions to participate in these programmes. The aim is for both government organisations and market participants to have access to AI knowledge and applications on the basis of reliable data and techniques, in order to safeguard the public interest.

If you would like to collaborate with TNO and CBS to develop transparent and verifiable techniques for the use of AI, please contact: info@tno.nl or samenwerking@cbs.nl for further information.