Current Research

  • Identity, Reference and Perspective in Personal Communication Models: Hybrid Intelligence (HI): augmenting human intellect: NWO Zwaartekracht (2020-2024)
    • Project Coordinator of this Gravity-subproject which addresses the phenomena of identity, reference and perspective within communicative scenarios between AI and people in real-world situations. To collaborate with AI, such as robots, both people and systems need to understand how they perceive shared situations differently. Understanding these differences is a first step in collaborating successfully. Communication about these situations is fundamental for resolving misunderstanding, explaining perspectives and informing the other. Knowledge and awareness of the context helps communication between AI and people (successfully identifying and making reference to the world) and through communication we create the common ground for understanding the context (identifying the world from different perspectives). This project tackles these two sides of the same coin by building personal relationships between people and AI in an adaptive environment to learn how to communicate about shared situations or contexts. By building a collective memory of shared encounters, we can define what there is, what is relevant and why we care.
  • Ondersteunen van klinische beslissingen in de revalidatie van patiënten met Covid-19 m.b.v. datascience (textmining): Corona Research Fonds (2020)
    • Project Partner op gebied van textming waarbij in samenwerking met een aantal partners geprobeerd wordt of we op basis van tekst in Elektronische Patiënten Dossiers (EPD’s) het functionele herstel van COVID-19 patiënten kunnen herkennen en voorspellen en zicht kunnen krijgen op factoren die bijdragen aan het functionele herstel van COVID-19 patiënten tijdens en na ziekenhuisopname, met behulp van text mining technologie en data science. CLTL gaat classificatie-software ontwikkelen die relevante revalidatie-uitkomsten (gebaseerd op de International Classification of Functioning, disability and health (ICF)) aan EPD teksten kan koppelen door deze automatisch te “lezen”. Deze inzichten kunnen de klinische beslissingen tijdens het revalidatietraject ondersteunen.
  • Communicating with and Relating to Social Robots: Alice Meets Leolani’ – Alani: NWO Open Competitie voor Digitalisering SGW 2019 (2020-2024)
    • Principal investigator of Alani where we study how social communication and relationships between robots and humans develop as two sides of the same coin: bonding results in better communication and better communication results in better socio-affective bonding. We propose a theoretical framework integrating both perspectives that guides the development of different robot scenarios that will be empirically tested in different user groups. We combine the Theory of Affective Bonding from a social sciences perspective with the Theory of Identity, Reference and Perspective from a linguistics perspective to optimally program social robots for communicative purposes. Likewise, a multi-method approach integrates qualitative and quantitative research designs, for short- and long-term studies both in the field and in the lab. Furthermore, the research combines and extends the results of two previously developed systems for the robots Alice and Leolani, resulting in a merged novel system Alani.
  • Make Robots Talk and Think: ULM-project 5 (2020-2024)
    • Principal investigator of the Spinoza-project Understanding-Language-By-Machines has funded a follow-up project on “Make Robots talk and think”. Leolani uses communication to learn about us and the world but she also needs to learn our language at the same time. Communicating and reasoning over the physical world and the people she encounters is a real challenge.
  • Hybrid Intelligence (HI): augmenting human intellect: NWO Zwaartekracht (2019-2029)
    • Principal investigator of the Gravitation Project Hybrid Intelligence (HI) that combines human and artificial intelligence. Six Dutch universities will develop theories and methods for intelligent systems that cooperate with humans, that adapt to dynamic circumstances and that can explain their actions. Ethical and legal values, such as transparency, accountability and trust, will be taken into account during the design of such HI systems. We will demonstrate applications of HI systems in healthcare, education and science to show the potential of artificial intelligence to amplify human intelligence instead of replacing it.
    • Coordinator and Core Participant in Explainable HI
    • Core participant in Collaborative HI
      More info: Gravity Project description
  • Dutch Framenet: Framing situations in the Dutch Language: NWO Vrije Competitie Geesteswetenschappen (2019-2023)
    • Principal investigator of Dutch Framenet where the project’s objectives are 1) to create a unique data set where similar situations are framed by many different sources and texts using a newly developed data-to-text method, 2) to capture the variation in framing these situations in Dutch and other languages, 3) to capture semantic-pragmatic factors underlying the usage of different frames for similar situations, and 4) to develop semantic frame and role annotation software. An additional concrete outcome of this project is a Dutch FrameNet contributing to the renowned Berkeley Multilingual FrameNet project, which assesses the cross-linguistic validity of frames and investigates crosslinguistic variation in framing. The insights, resources and technologies created by this project provide new possibilities for (industrial) data analysts and researchers from the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Make Robots Talk: Vossen Spinoza price project: SPI 30-673 (2018-2022)
    • Principal investigator of a project where CLTL bought a pepper-robot called Leolani with the goal to plug in our natural language processing technology so that the robot can respond to people in an intelligent way and turns into a wise bot. Our robot learns through communication and stores the result in a “brain”. She uses her brain to communicate better and more efficient and to understand situations she encounters. Ultimately, we develop robots that adapt to situations and to you, so that communication and collaboration are more smooth and efficient, with less errors.
  • Understanding of Language by Machines – an escape from the world of language – “Spinoza-price projects Vossen: SPI 30-673 (2014-2020)
    • The goal of the Spinoza project “Understanding of language by machines” (ULM) is to develop computer models that can assign deeper meaning to language that approximates human understanding and to use these models to automatically read and understand text. Current approaches to natural language understanding consider language as a closed-world of relations between words. Words and text are however highly ambiguous and vague. People do not notice this ambiguity when using language within their social communicative context. This project tries to get a better understanding of the scope and complexity of this ambiguity and how to model the social communicative contexts to help resolving it. The project is divided into 4 subprojects, each investigating a different aspect of assigning meaning:

      • ULM-1: The borders of ambiguity: ULM-1 will explore the closed world of language as a system of word relations. The goal is to more properly define the problem and find the optimal solution given the vast volumes of textual data that are available. This project starts from the results obtained in the DutchSemCor project.
      • ULM-2: Word, concept, perception and brain: ULM-2 will cross the borders of language and relate words and their meanings to perceptual data and brain activation patterns.
      • ULM-3: Stories and world views as a key to understanding language: ULM-3 will consider the interpretation of text built up from words as a function of our ways of interacting with the changing world around us. We interpret changes from our world-views on the here and now and the future. Furthermore, we structure these changes as stories along explanatory motivations. This project builds on the results of the European project NewsReader.
      • ULM-4: A quantum model of text understanding: ULM-4 is a technical project that investigates a new model of natural-language-processing. Current approaches are based on a pipeline architecture, in which the complete problem is divided in a series of smaller isolated tasks, e.g. tokenization, part-of-speech-tagging, lemmatisation, syntactic parsing, recognition of entities, detection of word meanings. In this new model, none of these tasks is decisive and the final interpretation is left to higher-order semantic and contextual models. This project also builds on the findings of previous European (KYOTO) and ongoing OpeNER and NewsReader and national (BiographyNet) projects carried out at the VU University Amsterdam. The goal is to develop a new model of natural-language-processing in which text is interpreted in a combined top-down and bottom-up proces.
  • CLARIAH-PLUS: Nationale roadmap grootschalige onderzoeksfaciliteiten NWO (2019-2023)
    • Member of the Kernteam and Technical Officer.
  • e-Humanities Amsterdam (2013-ongoing)
    • Project Leader on behalf of the VU University in the Centre for Digital Humanities Amsterdam: a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, the VU University of Amsterdam and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Within the field of Digital Humanities, researchers and students focus on digital or digitized sources and methods of research. Digital data concerning language, art, music, literature and media allow researchers to discovers new patterns, concepts and motives, eventually raising new research questions.†The Centre for Digital Humanities Amsterdam facilitates so-called embedded research projects, in which research questions from the humanities are approached by using techniques and concepts out of the fields of Digital Humanities. In these short and intensive projects, which last between 6 and 12 months, researchers collaborate with private partners and deliver proof-of-concepts. The centre preferably initiates embedded research projects in the context of larger projects in which expertise from the humanities and industry is brought together.
  • OpenSourceWordnet: grant Taalunie (2013-2014) and ongoing
    • Global WordNet Grid: a GWA Project (2006-ongoing)
      • In 2006 Vossen launched the Global Wordnet Grid: the building of a complete free worldwide wordnet grid. This grid will be build around a shared set of concepts, such as the Common Base Concepts used in many wordnet projects. These concepts will be expressed in terms of Wordnet synsets and SUMO definitions. People from all language communities are invited to upload synsets from their language to the Grid. Gradually, the Grid will then be represented by all languages. The Grid will be available to everybody and will be distributed completely free.
    • Global Wordnet Association (2000-ongoing)
      • Vossen is Founder and President of the Global WordNet Association. He founded GWA (with Christiane Fellbaum of Princeton University) in 2000 as a public and non-commercial organization that provides a platform for discussing, sharing and connecting wordnets for all languages in the world. For more information see: