Robots serving food or tourists receiving sightseeing tips from an artificially controlled device may be common in Asia, but are quite novel elsewhere. “The chances of coming across many humanoid robots in Germany are slim,” according to Oliver Rößling, Chief Digital Officer at Absolute Software GmbH. Rößling, 34, is an expert on trend research and innovation in digital affairs.
Distrust of technology, and that the downside may lead to wrack and ruin, runs deep in German society, he noted. Familiarity with sci-fi movies such as “Terminator”, “Matrix” or “I, Robot” that conjure up doomsday scenes does not help matters. “The use of AI and robots will probably seem normal to future generations and our children may laugh at us and ask 'What were you afraid of?’” Rößling added.
More time for creative solutions
Technological progress is unlikely to lead humanity to the brink of an abyss. Artificial intelligence does have tangible benefits, said Rößling. “Routine, mundane tasks do not come naturally to people. AI can take over such chores,” he explained. Human beings, on the other hand, could still perform creative tasks. “Then it becomes exciting. When AI has relieved us of dull, standard chores, we have more time to develop creative, individual, solutions for the latest challenges.“
The question remains what happens when AI becomes creative? A computer recently generated a screenplay complete with directions for a short sci-fi movie called “Sunspring” in the United States. And in Japan, a book edited jointly with AI reached the second round of a literary competition. “AI may appear creative sometimes, but real creativity requires awareness. We have yet to find the key to human awareness – and a machine cannot find the key as long as we have not found it.”
Converting big data into smart data
At present, the emphasis is on turning big data into smart data. Gathering data has long since become an absolute must for companies. “Yet large amounts of data can be imagined as big, unprocessed chunks of marble. We need algorithms to carve out a pretty sculpture i.e. sensible answers to our questions,” Rößling explained. This also requires more interdisciplinary work.
Medicine has huge amounts of data and yet most analysis is still conducted in conventional ways. “This treasure trove of data often goes unused as few doctors have the required IT skills.” But tremendous synergies can be created when IT experts and doctors work together, said Rößling.
Model – 12min.me
The same applies to all eight clusters i.e. aviation, logistics or life science currently being promoted as part of Hamburg’s innovation policy. “Greater emphasis must be placed on curated, inter-disciplinary communication,” Rößling stressed. nextMedia.Hamburg could play a pivotal role in that process. The initiative is the first port of call for entrepreneurs in the media and digital industries and its expertise is ideal for digital issues in maritime, life sciences or logistics clusters.
A format called 12min.me, initiated by Rößling, could help bring the various clusters together. Once a month, experts and young professionals meet in the offices of Absolute Software GmbH where each participant talks about a random issue for 12 minutes maximum. A bell sounds loudly to signal the end. Then the audience has 12 minutes maximum to ask questions. Three talks per evening focus on the binding link between technology and business issues. The format leaves plenty of time for networking afterwards. “Partnerships are created that generate diverse synergies- across clusters as well,” according to Rößling.