AISS: The new Erasmus Joint Master’s programme in the School of Digital Technologies changes AI perception


The programme is designed together with three universities, Tallinn University, School of Digital Technologies, Tampere University, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences and Lusófona University, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technologies. The 2 years joint Master’s programme will be run fully in English.


AI is here and has been for a long time! But could we put aside all the excitement and joy for a second and take a look at all the risks and threats it brings to our society? In autumn 2024 Tallinn University School of Digital Technologies in cooperation with 2 other partner universities (Tampere, Finland and Lusófona, Portugal) will welcome its first students of the new Erasmus Joint Master’s programme “Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Societies”. AISS will be all about sustainable societies, artificial Intelligence solutions, participatory design and citizen engagement. In order to know more about the programme, study process and other important information we met with the programme's TLU coordinator, professor in Digital Transformation in the School of Digital Technologies Merja Bauters.


Merja, what is the main idea behind the new Erasmus Joint Master’s programme “Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Societies” ? 

Almost every country nowadays is struggling with the problem called the “Fall of Democracy”. Although technologies often come as help, in this situation they can have a negative effect on ongoing processes. There is a strong need to implement critical and respectful thinking of technologies and their usage. The struggle also applies to societal planning and enhancement of the environments condition taken as equal to us. This is what we will try to do under the new Erasmus Joint Master’s programme “Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Societies”.

To complete this mission Tallinn University partners with 2 other European Universities: Tampere, Finland and Lusófona, Portugal? Why exactly those 2 universities?

Each partner of AISS brings together with himself his own focus areas which are necessary for the program’s creation and development. For example, Tampere University focuses on Sustainable Societies which includes Human Well-Being, Environmental Well-Being. So it's a very complete approach to sustainable societies. They emphasize such qualities like inclusion, diversity, equity and equality in Design. Lusófona brings the technical component to the program, although it is a multidisciplinary University. With them we are working on artificial intelligence solutions and design. And the TLU side provides the area of citizen engagement and collaborations with local NGOs. We will be responsible for participatory design and will work together with our Human-Computer Interaction MA team and with the team of another MA we had Open Society Technologies.


With which NGOs are you cooperating in the frame of AISS?

Our partners are Biotoopia, Citizen OS, Lääne- Harju municipality, Inspirators from Estonia and Yle broadcasting company and Tampere City from Finland. They are very tightly included in the study process and are planning to run some courses together with us or even individually. 

What will the study process look like? 

AISS students will have the opportunity to visit each partner University and spend a semester there to have full experience. This kind of combined learning will help to gain main knowledge about the main idea behind AISS and choose upcoming topics for master’s theses. The students are obliged to visit two other countries of the program than the one they enroll in. Thus they see minimum three different cultures.

Who is the potential AISS student?

The ideal AISS student is curious, creative and bold! Although having a field related   educational background is a benefit for enrollment, there will be provided harmonization courses which will help candidates to get knowledge about specific areas before starting their studies.

Will there be any kind of scholarships provided for the programme?

Yes! At least two Erasmus Mobility, and Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s programme scholarships for full studies.

Why do we need professionals in this field? How can society benefit from it in the future?

If you follow the news nowadays, you know the answer! Environment needs power and help! We need people who can think critically and can build bridges between different disciplines and sectors. 

What is the biggest minus of technologies for society?  

There are a lot! One of the biggest minuses for the environment is energy consumption. For example AI is consuming a lot of natural energy for being able to produce its outcomes from the stored training data. Another minus that affects society is the lack of accessibility of governmental services for everyone. Each citizen can’t fit in the same persona and scenario, but the system is not taking that into account. There is no plan on how to catch  the  people who fall out of the scenario’s process, for instance, persons who are living a little bit different life than the majority of the population. So the more you are aware about different perspectives you can take, the more you become aware of potential risks. We can't avoid all of them, but we can at least know and work on a back up plan.

What are your expectations from the programme?

I would like to see a lot of professionals in this area who have enough courage to try to change the way of our being and living. And I believe AISS students will be the ones!


More specific information and detailed guidelines about new Erasmus Joint Master’s programme “Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Societies" will be available on TLÜ website in the beginning of January.



Source: Tallinn University webpage


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