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GARR Conference 2024: Three Days of Dialogue on Digital Complexity in Brescia

Pubblicato il 04 June 2024

The annual GARR conference concluded successfully in Brescia from 29ᵗʰ to 31ˢᵗ May 2024, addressing crucial topics such as digital infrastructure and skills, artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity.

Hosted by the University of Brescia, the event saw extraordinary participation: around 220 attendees in person, over 400 online registrants, and hundreds of streaming views on and GARR social channels.

On 29ᵗʰ May, the conference was inaugurated by Claudia Battista, GARR Director, Maurizio Tira, GARR President, and Francesco Castelli, Rector of the University of Brescia. They introduced this year’s central theme, "Navigating Complexity: Digital Infrastructure and Skills for Research", highlighting the challenges posed by technological innovation and artificial intelligence (AI). In their opening remarks, they emphasized how the GARR Conference serves as a unique meeting point for the Italian research and cultural community to tackle the challenges of the digital era. Massimo Carboni, GARR CTO, in his keynote address, discussed the risks of delegating decision-making processes to AI, comparing it to a modern "Golem", a powerful entity that risks being seen as an infallible oracle. He stressed the urgency of developing adequate skills, investing in continuous training, and promoting multidisciplinary collaborations to manage this technology. His message was clear: become active builders of technology, not just passive consumers.

A round table, moderated by journalist Andrea Bettini (Rai News 24), brought together a high-profile panel with various representatives from institutions, universities, and research entities, including Giovanna Iannantuoni, President of CRUI, Giuseppe Gervasi from the Ministry of Health, Giorgio Graditi, Director General of ENEA, Luca Dell'Agnello, Director of INFN-CNAF, Paolo Giuseppe Ravazzani, Director of CNR-IEIIT, Andrea Possenti, Executive at INAF, Mario Locati, Head of Data Management Office at INGV, and Maurizio Tira, President of GARR. Their discussions aligned on the need for strategic investments and enhanced collaboration to address two fundamental challenges: bridging the digital divide, which still hinders innovation in many areas, and managing data ethically and sustainably, a crucial requirement in the era of big data.

In the afternoon, the session “AI in Universities and Research”, moderated by Davide Bacciu (University of Pisa), explored the new frontiers of AI through Italian projects. Viviana Patti (University of Turin) explained language generation models like GPT, emphasizing the importance of collecting Italian resources. Lorenzo Baraldi (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) presented the PNRR MORE project to develop an Italian LLM, while Lucia Siciliani (University of Bari) addressed the computational and ethical challenges of foundational models. The day concluded with three presentations by Vivaldo Moscatelli (Ecosistema Formazione Italia) on #OpenAIF for AI training and sharing, Tiziana Armano (University of Turin) on VoiceMAT for improving video lecture accessibility, and Giorgia Di Marcantonio (University of Macerata) on the use of LLM and RAG in library sciences, highlighting the need for collaboration between digital humanists and computer scientists.

Day Two (30ᵗʰ May)
The second day of the conference focused on themes such as digital transformation in culture and science, big data, digital twins, and supercomputing. The day began with the session "Navigating Change", moderated by Chiara Veninata (Ministry of Culture), where Pierluigi Sacco (University of Chieti-Pescara) analysed changes in cultural and scientific participation, highlighting increasing cultural democratization but a lack of preparedness in the scientific sector. The studies presented underscored the need for more emotional scientific communication on social media to maintain science’s social relevance and avoid polarization towards anti-scientific positions. Innovative academic and cultural projects were then presented: Cristina Ferrian (Politecnico di Torino) illustrated the PolitoStudents app, Fabrizio Magnani (MiC) presented the CLIO system, and Francesco Marucci and Ada Gabucci (MiC) showcased the National Geoportal for Archaeology. Alessandro Coco (MiC) lastly illustrated the ICCD Photographic Collections Portal. The "Big Data and Digital Twin" session, moderated by Luigi Cattivelli (CREA), saw Alessandra Stella (CNR) discuss genomics and big data, while Simone Novelli (Sapienza) explored the use of digital twins in medicine by presenting the D34Health project. Marco Polizzi and Francesco Altarocca (ISTAT) presented a platform for analysing inflation and poverty data, Paolo Bellagente (University of Brescia) presented a PNRR Hub MOST case study on how advanced algorithms analyse the structural and traffic conditions of a local bridge, requiring high computational and storage resources. Laura Ferrari with Enrica Boldrin (University of Ferrara) discussed energy retrofitting of buildings with BIM and digital twin technologies. In the afternoon, the session "Supercomputing and Research Infrastructure", moderated by Stefano Salon (OGS), saw Tatiana Tommasi (Politecnico di Torino) present the FAIR (Future Artificial Intelligence Research) project, which, thanks to modular AI solutions, manages distributed data collection offering appropriate solutions for both edge computing and exascale; Gianluigi Rozza (SISSA) discuss the integration of HPC and ROM for industrial applications, and Claudio Grandi (INFN) illustrate the PNRR Terabit and ICSC projects for creating a federated digital infrastructure. The Lightning Talks offered a variety of themes: Angelo Bassi (University of Trieste) introduced "Quantum FVG", Fulvio Risso (Politecnico di Torino) and Giuseppe Zangari (ArubaKube) presented multi-cloud solutions for AI/ML. Matteo Pallocca (CNR-IEOS and discussed digital maturity in biobanks, while Sara Alimenti (University of Perugia) presented CeDiPa for the digitisation of cultural heritage. The day concluded with a round table on cybersecurity, moderated by Ilaria Comelli (University of Parma), where experts such as Roberto Caramia (National Cybersecurity Agency), Simon Pietro Romano (University of Naples Federico II), Stefano Zanero (Politecnico di Milano), and Marco Mellia (Politecnico di Torino) discussed cyber threats and defence strategies for public and biomedical infrastructures.

Day Three (31ˢᵗ May)

The third and final day of the GARR Conference 2024 opened with an international session titled "Why Open Science for Digital Autonomy", moderated by Maria Chiara Pievatolo (University of Pisa), offering insights into the need to rethink the scientific publication system in an accessible and collaborative way. Jean-Claude Guédon (Université de Montréal) traced the evolution of scientific journals, initially supported by academic communities and later becoming market products, highlighting how the impact factor has influenced rankings and costs, confusing quality and prices. He pointed out how digital transformation is returning control to researchers, with digital libraries now managing research outputs. Caterina Sganga (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies) reflected on the tensions between copyright and open science, proposing the recognition of secondary publication rights at the European level for greater harmonisation. Björn Brembs (University of Regensburg) emphasized the need to replace traditional journals with interoperable, non-profit, open access infrastructures, suggesting a federated network of academic publications. The lightning talks saw Dario Basset (University of Milan) present a dashboard to monitor research results, Cecilia Perrone (MiC-ICCD) illustrate "Digital Itineraries" to enhance historical-artistic heritage, Mario Locati (INGV) showcase the INGV data catalogue, and Elena Giglia (University of Turin) underline the importance of Diamond Open Access.

The final session, moderated by Davide Vaghetti (GARR), was dedicated to digital rights. Giovanni Ziccardi (University of Milan) highlighted the EU’s legislative efforts to regulate technology use, guided by the principle of human centrality. Lucio Badiali (INGV and EPOS) outlined the complex work of data protection, stressing the crucial role of the Data Protection Officer, who must have both legal and technological expertise. Manuela Marenco (IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino) presented the NeuroArtP3 project, a network using artificial intelligence for predictive diagnoses, discussing protocols for data processing in compliance with GDPR and the importance of informed consent. The conference concluded with Claudia Battista, GARR Director, thanking all speakers, participants, and those who made the event possible.

Presentations and videos from the conference sessions are available on theevent's website


Go to the event website