The FARI Brussels Conference returns on 18 November at Studio Flagey in Brussels, find out more.

An Initiative of

Supported by


AI Happy Hours: an appetizing exploration of what AI, data, and robotics can offer to the community


Laura Jousset

FARI collaborates with for a new monthly rendezvous 

Embarking on a new initiative, FARI introduced its AI Happy Hours in the early months of 2024, marking our commitment to democratize AI knowledge and foster meaningful community engagement. Held at our Test and Experience Center, these monthly gatherings sparked lively discussions and explored possibilities in the field of artificial intelligence. 

Happy Hours have become a common initiative within the scientific and research sectors, offering platforms for informal discussions and knowledge sharing. These events typically feature presentations, debates, and networking opportunities, fostering collaboration and innovation among professionals and enthusiasts alike. 

Inspired by this format, Karen Boers, FARI’s Managing Director, decided to integrate it into FARI’s approach to enhance education. In collaboration with, our AI Happy Hours were initiated with the goal of demystifying AI research. These sessions provided a platform to highlight the work of our researchers, whether funded by FARI or part of our ten research groups. They were designed to complement our training activities at the FARI AI Academy, making AI knowledge accessible and applicable to a diverse audience while fostering a collective understanding of its societal impact. 

From the inaugural session in February to the last session in June, the AI Happy Hours resonated with over 200 eager participants, fostering a community hungry for knowledge. We were pleased to witness that these evenings became more than workshops; they evolved into a crucible of ideas, where experts and enthusiasts alike converged to explore, debate, and envision the future of AI. 

Description of the image

Demystifying AI with 6 Researchers from ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) 

As the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly evolving, influencing various aspects of society, technology, and economy, we wanted to shed light on these developments by inviting researchers from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) to contribute to our AI Happy Hours. 

26 February Sustainable Digitalization: The AI Happy Hour on 26 February featured Arjen Van de Walle, a Ph.D. Candidate at Vrije Universiteit Brussels Buda Business Development. Arjen discussed the fourth wave of industrialization and the adoption of new technologies. He emphasized historical trends and humanity’s impact, including biodiversity loss and societal impacts. The session underscored the ongoing need for sustainable development, requiring continual observation and adaptation. Participants gained insights into integrating sustainability into daily lives and work routines, highlighting the intersection of culture, economic models, and emerging technologies. 

25 March Gender & AI: Anastasia Karagianni from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) Law Science Technology and Society (LSTS) led the AI Happy Hour on 25 March, focusing on Gender & AI. The session explored inclusive language and the importance of addressing biases within AI systems. Discussions delved into the nuanced impact of AI technology, acknowledging both its potential benefits and risks. Key takeaways included the critical role of feminist perspectives in shaping AI development, fostering a more equitable and inclusive technological landscape. The session emphasized collaborative efforts across legal, computer science, and data science disciplines to navigate complex ethical challenges. 

29 April Sustainable AI, ICT (Information & Communication Technology) & Societies: Professor Jan Tobias Muehlberg from Université libre de Bruxelles Cybersecurity Research Center hosted the AI Happy Hour on 29 April, delving into Sustainable AI, ICT & Societies. The session explored the ethical implications of AI development and its societal impact. Discussions highlighted the need for responsible AI frameworks and robust infrastructure to support sustainable development goals. Participants examined the intersection of technology, environment, and governance, advocating for holistic approaches to address global challenges. The session underscored the importance of ethical considerations in shaping AI policies and practices to promote societal well-being. 

27 May LLM (Large Language Models), RAG, and Embeddings: On 27 May, Lluc Bono and Julien Baudru from IRIDIA lab at ULB led the AI Happy Hour, focusing on advanced AI techniques including LLM, RAG, and Embeddings. The session addressed practical applications of these methodologies in real-world scenarios, emphasizing strategies to enhance AI system accuracy and reliability. Key insights included the use of Retrieval-Augmented Generation and Embeddings to mitigate limitations such as hallucinations and improve search capabilities. Participants gained deeper insights into cutting-edge AI research and its potential to address complex challenges across various domains. 

24 June – The acceptance of occupational exoskeletons: Shirley Elprama, post-doc at IMEC-SMIT-FARI, explored the impact of occupational exoskeletons on reducing work-related injuries. She stressed that exoskeletons, designed for industries like logistics and healthcare, provided mechanical support without batteries, needing individual adjustments like backpacks. Shirley investigated factors affecting exoskeletons adoption, such as performance expectations, effort, social influence, and ease of use, as well as design, safety, and comfort. She categorized users based on their engagement levels, from first-time users to resistors and highlighted the importance of involving employees through experiential learning and gradual implementation. She concluded by advocating for better-designed exoskeletons, user involvement, and comprehensive policies for effective long-term adoption. She continues her research on healthcare exoskeletons, collaborative robots, and planned to focus more on implementation and female users in future studies. 

We extend our gratitude to Arjen Van de Walle, Anastasia Karagianni, Professor Jan Tobias Muehlberg, Lluc Bono, Julien Baudru, and Shirley Elprama for their contributions during the AI Happy Hours. Their expertise has significantly enriched our understanding of AI’s impact across diverse sectors, highlighting its interdisciplinary nature. Moreover, their insights have inspired collaborative efforts aimed at tackling urgent societal challenges through innovative AI solutions. 

The Happy Hours Sparked Genuine Cheer at FARI: the Journey Continues 

Buoyed by the enthusiasm of the sessions from the first semester, FARI looks ahead to the upcoming AI Happy Hours in the second semester of 2024. Scheduled for September, October, and November, these sessions promise deeper explorations into AI themes, with announcements on topics forthcoming.  

Save the dates: 

– Monday September 30
Valentina Della Giovanna, Researcher in medical data and AI Law (ULB)
– Monday October 28
Ann Dooms, Professor and Research group leader in Digital Mathematics (VUB)
– Monday November 25
Patrick Van der Spiegel, Researcher in AI and cybersecurity at FARI and AI Lab (VUB)  

The fall sessions will soon be added to the FARI calendar. We hope to see you there!  



Through our AI Happy Hours, FARI remains steadfast in its mission to empower communities with knowledge, foster dialogue, and steer AI advancements towards a future that benefits all.  

We acknowledge and thank for their support in making the AI Happy Hours a success. 


Other news

All news

All news