The 33rd Benelux Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the 30th Belgian-Dutch Conference on Machine Learning (BNAIC/BENELEARN 2021) were organized as a joint conference by the University of Luxembourg, under the auspices of the Interdisciplinary Lab for Intelligent and Adaptive Systems (ILIAS) at the Faculty of Science, Technology, and Medicine (FSTM), and the IT for Innovative Services (ITIS) research department of the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). The conference was part of the AI in Action joint event enjoying the generous support of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

BNAIC/BENELEARN 2021 was held on-site in Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette – under CovidCheck regulations –, as a three-day event: from Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 November. BNAIC/BENELEARN 2021 had four special tracks: AI&Law, AI&Ethics, AI&Art, and AI&Systems. The conference welcomed six invited speakers: Katie Atkinson (University of Liverpool), Julie Bernauer (NVIDIA), Fosca Giannotti (IST-CNR, Pisa), Manuela Naveau (Kunstuniversität, Linz), Carles Sierra (IIIA of CSIC, Spain), and Iris von der Tuin (Utrecht University). The BNVKI organized a FACt session this year too inviting three faculty members from the Benelux states to talk about the facts of AI: Gilles Louppe (University of Liege), Macq Benoit (Polytechnic School of UCLouvain), and Christoph Schommer (University of Luxembourg) gave short thought-provoking talks. Participants presented 104 academic and industrial research presentations, posters, and demonstrations – the conference provided ample opportunity for vivied interaction between academics and businesses bringing together more than 170 attendees on a live conference, first time after a long time. Additional programs included chess playing during the evening reception, a conference dinner with the award ceremony, and a European Cultural Capital event in the newly created Computational Creativity Hub at the Belval Campus, as Esch-sur-Alzette will hold the title in 2022.

The sponsors – offering an 500-euro prize in each case – and winners of awards at BNAIC/BENELEARN 2021:

  • Best Paper Award:
    • Organization: Dutch Foundation for Neural Networks (SNN) – Award Chair: Bert Kappen
    • Authors: Gaoyuan Liu, Joris De Winter, Bram Vanderborght, Ann Nowé, and Denis Steckelmacher
    • Title: MoveRL: To A Safer Robotic Reinforcement Learning Environment
  • Best Demo Award:
    • Organization: Foundation for Knowledge-Based Systems (SKBS) – Award Chair: Jaap van den Herik
    • Authors: Isel Grau, Luis Daniel Hernandez, Astrid Sierens, Simeon Michel, Nico Sergeyssels, Vicky Froyen, Catherine Middag, and Ann Nowé
    • Title: Talking to your Data: Interactive and interpretable data mining through a conversational agent
  • Best Thesis Award:
    • Organization: Benelux Association for AI (BNVKI) – Award Chair: Tibor Bosse
    • Authors: Songha Ban and Lee-Ling Sharon Ong
    • Title: Producing “Open-Style” Choreography for K-Pop Music with Deep Learning

We congratulate the winners and thank the sponsors! The organizers also thank FNR for the support. See you all in Antwerp in 2022!