Director Digital Humanities Lab
Conference : Do we have enough data about the past to create a Time Machine?
Prof Frederic Kaplan holds the Digital Humanities Chair at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and directs the EPFL Digital Humanities Lab. He conducts research projects combining archive digitisation, information modelling and museographic design. He is currently working on the « Venice Time Machine », an international project in collaboration with the Ca’Foscari University in Venice, aiming to model the evolution and history of Venice over a 1000 year period. Frederic Kaplan graduated as an engineer of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris and received a PhD degree in Artificial Intelligence from the University Paris VI. Before coming to Switzerland, he worked ten years as a researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratory contributing in particular to the AIBO robot. Then he worked six years at CRAFT, the EPFL pedagogical research laboratory. He published more than a hundred scientific papers, 6 books and about 10 patents. His inventions and devices have been exhibited in several museums including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Artin New York. He is also the founder and president of OZWE, a company that designs and produces innovative interfaces and consumer electronic products and of bookapp.com, a joint venture focusing on digital publications.
The European Time Machine consortium will define a detailed programme to design and implement innovative and advanced digitisation and artificial intelligence technologies with the aim of preserving and exploiting Europe's cultural heritage, transforming it into an open and intelligent information system. Ultimately, this infrastructure will provide a comprehensive mapping of Europe's social, cultural and geographical evolution. As Frédéric Kaplan, professor of digital humanities at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and coordinator of the Time Machine project, explains, “Time Machine is likely to become one of the most advanced Artificial Intelligence systems ever built, trained on data from wider geographical and temporal horizons”. The Time Machine will create advanced AI technologies to make sense of vast amounts of information from complex historical data sets. This will enable the transformation of fragmented data – with content ranging from medieval manuscripts and historical objects to smartphone and satellite images – into useable knowledge for industry. In essence, a large-scale computing and digitisation infrastructure will map Europe’s entire social, cultural and geographical evolution. Considering the unprecedented scale and complexity of the data, The Time Machine’s AI even has the potential to create a strong competitive advantage for Europe in the global AI race.