Centre d’innovació i Tecnologia BARCELONATECH

THE RECERCAIXA PROGRAMME RECOGNISES THE LINDAFIX PROJECT FOR FIGHTING POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION

The LinDaFIX (Linked Data for Fighting Inequality in Complex Societies) project, by María Ribera Sancho, a researcher at inLab FIB UPC, and Maria Cristina Marinescu, a researcher from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center-Centro Nacional de Supercomputación has been selected for the 2017 call of the RecerCaixa programme.

 

On 21 February at CosmoCaixa in Barcelona, Àngel Font, director of the Research and Strategy Area of the ‘La Caixa’ Foundation; Josep A. Planell, president of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP); and Josep Joan Moreso, director of the RecerCaixa programme and president of the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU); accompanied by Francesc Subirada, Director General for Research of the Secretariat for Universities and Research, Ministry of Business and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia presented the 20 new grants awarded to projects selected in the 2017 call for the RecerCaixa programme, whose aim is to promote and drive research of excellence in Catalonia, increase social and economic progress, and improve people’s well-being.


The project selected in the area of public policies was LinDaFIX (Linked Data for Fighting Inequality in Complex Societies) by María Ribera SanchoErnest Teniente, both of whom are researchers at inLab FIB UPC, and Maria Cristina Marinescu, from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center-Centro Nacional de Supercomputación. The project received close to 82 thousand euros. 

It seeks to tackle the increasing number of cases of poverty and social exclusion and its main aims are to correctly identify at-risk individuals, to discover patterns that predict inequality, and to develop a set of indicators of vulnerability. The proposed approach is based on semantic technologies, automated reasoning, machine learning, and natural language processing techniques to cross the data and discover relationships that could indicate which individuals are at risk. In the short term, the aim of the project is to help detect hidden cases of vulnerability and, at a deeper level, help change the way society sees individuals who are affected by poverty and exclusion.

A Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) project entitled ‘Ethics for the robots who care for us’ was also selected to receive grants from the RecerCaixa programme. This project is undertaken by a team led by the researcher Miquel Domènech, from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Participants include a researcher from the Automatic Control Department at the UPC, Cecilio Angulo, as well as the participation of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Università degli Studi di Sassari (Italy). The project comes under the area of humanities and culture and has received a grant of close to 75.5 thousand euros.

The project is designed to provide an ethical framework for the design and use of social robots in the area of care and health. Beyond industrial robotics, current robotics research promises the progressive incorporation of robots into daily life to carry out a wide range of tasks, including looking after people. In this context, new forms of interaction arise between humans and machines that highlight the need to reflect on the ethical model associated with this technological development. The project investigates, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the opportunities and risks that these new forms of relationship could involve. To identify and avoid undesirable futures, and promote desirable futures, a process of reflection on the ethical dimension of this process should be initiated from an empirical, contextualised perspective that incorporates relevant groups and social stakeholders.

The total amount received by the new projects was 1.6 million euros. This year’s call, which is the eighth edition, received a total of 283 project proposals, 28% of which were studies in the area of humanities and culture; 23%, in public policies; 28% education, and 21% on social inclusion.

The RecerCaixa programme
This “la Caixa” Foundation programme was launched in 2010 to boost the best projects of Catalan groups and researchers from public and private universities and research centres and, in particular, to give impetus to social sciences research, an area in which RecerCaixa has become consolidated as a leading programme. The programme also aims to strengthen the leading position of Catalonia in research of excellence. It is based on the idea that research is of strategic importance to promote economic progress, transform reality and lead to improvements that contribute to increasing social well-being.