Did you join our Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics Community Christmas Drinks?  

This week our data, AI, and Immersive tech community gathered together at Erasmus University Rotterdam to celebrate the highlights and learnings of the past year and look forward to the upcoming New Year in a festive atmosphere.  

It was a great occasion to connect and share our discoveries and inspirations – to spend time together and introduce our new colleagues. Our Deputy Executive Director, Marcel Van Oosterhout, shared the milestones and discussed the programs, events, and projects we have been working on this year.  

During this special time of winter holidays, we dived into the fascinating interactions between AI and theology.  

A few key takeaways from the presentations:  

Martijn de Jong introduced us to his new Expert Practice at ECDA: Catholic Advanced Analytics. 

▪ There are many great opportunities as well as challenges in the process of digital transformation inside the Catholic Church. 

▪ Desiderius Erasmus, as a Catholic Theologian and the patron of our university, is an inspiring symbol for understanding the data available in the church to foster change. 

▪ The current goals of Catholic Advanced Analytics are: to listen to the concerns of Catholics around the globe, collect a variety of data, and use Natural Language Processing and computer vision models to analyze the material and engage with the new generation to foster open (theological) dialogues via AI tools like chatbots, to understand their “big” questions and concerns. 

Jack Esselink from Studio Pulpit presented his fascinating approach to AI and theology - “a match made in heaven”. 

▪ Theology is full of miracles and magic – and so are the newest technologies, such as AI. 

▪ Tech doomerism is a new phenomenon, that links the apocalypse with the latest development of AI. 

▪ People create AI in their image, but it works both ways. Technology also reflects on humans, through robo-memorization, seen for example on the robotic faces of people and images generated by AI. 

We feel inspired after the event – and we are looking forward to the new innovative projects, academic research, and inspiring connections that the New Year will bring.