Author:
Reti Kokk

Estonian Academy of Sciences elected Birute Klaas-Lang and Meelis Kull as academy research professors

The board of the Estonian Academy of Sciences elected Birute Klaas-Lang, Professor of Estonian as Foreign Language, as the academy research professor in Estonian language and its teaching, and Meelis Kull, Associate Professor in Machine Learning, as the academy research professor in artificial intelligence.

Parents' attitudes towards the transition to Estonian-language teaching and study 

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Eesti keele (võõrkeelena) professor Birute Klaas-Lang
Birute Klaas-Lang, Professor of Estonian as Foreign Language (author: Andres Tennus)

Birute Klaas-Lang was also elected as the research professor in Estonian language and its teaching for the previous period, 2023–2024, when she started to study the language attitudes of Russian-dominant parents during the transition to Estonian-language education. Klaas-Lang plans to continue with the same topic now.

Her research so far shows that, although proficiency in Estonian is considered important, a large number of Russian-speaking parents have a distrustful attitude towards the transition to Estonian-language teaching and study. In the first stage of the study, Klaas-Lang compared the language attitudes of Russian-dominant parents in educational institutions in Ida-Viru County and Tartu that are transitioning to teaching in Estonian. As part of a follow-up project, she plans to study the language attitudes of parents in similar educational institutions in Tallinn. In this way, three different linguistic environments are included in the study: Estonian-majority Tartu, Russian-majority Narva and multilingual Tallinn. In addition, the project will enable the promotion of inclusive language policies and support parents in the transition to Estonian-language education.

Rewatch Birute Klaas-Lang's presentation (in Estonian) on 18 April at the event for candidate academy research professors.

Developing the credibility of artificial intelligence

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Masinõppe kaasprofessor Meelis Kull
Meelis Kull, Associate Professor in Machine Learning (author: Henry Narits)

Artificial intelligence systems are evolving rapidly, but the number of successful applications is limited by a lack of trustworthiness: users often have no way of knowing which parts of the output to trust and which to be critical about. For example, OpenAI's artificial intelligence system ChatGPT may erroneously output "There are six inflections in Estonian, I'm 100% sure".

The research team of Meelis Kull, Associate Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Tartu, aims to create a theory for measuring the uncertainty of artificial intelligence that can be used to develop reliable artificial intelligence systems. In the future, theory will help to identify the shortcomings of current methods and to create artificial intelligence systems that take into account different types of uncertainties. The research will provide valuable information to the Estonian Centre of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence, to applied scientists and, for example, to companies making decisions based on time series predictions. It will also allow the development of public services involving artificial intelligence.

Rewatch Meelis Kull's presentation (in Estonian) on 18 April at the event for candidate academy research professors.

Four researchers applied in the field of Estonian language and its teaching and five in the field of artificial intelligence. The research professor in Estonian language and its teaching was elected for two years (2024–2026) and the research professor in artificial intelligence for one year (2024–2025). The grant for each research professorship is 70,000 euros. The elected, the University of Tartu and the Estonian Academy of Sciences will sign tripartite agreements.

More information is available on the website of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.

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