AI summit sheds light on digital future
The AI Summit 2021, initiated by the Chamber of Commerce, the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center and ARIC e. V. marked the start of the "fAstival.hamburg" Tuesday (August 24, 2021) meaning "Hamburg is the AI capital of Germany - at least this week," said Dr. Michael Müller-Wünsch, Divisional Board Member Technology at Otto GmbH & Co. KG.
AI to assist rather than replace people
AI stakeholders in commerce and science are focusing on the digital future from August 24 to 28. The Otto Group has undergone exemplary digital transformation and believes the future lies in computer-assisted handling of tasks. "AI will assist people, not replace them," said Müller-Wünsch, who has a PhD in artificial intelligence, and cites AI applications for image, speech and text recognition as promising use cases.
Michael Koch, Director Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence at Lufthansa Industry Solutions, also cites image recognition as a valuable tool for improving the quality of forecasts. "Forecasts are our bread and butter business, whether it's passenger and baggage volumes or the number of special meals served as part of in-flight catering." And his boss, Dr. Susan Wegner, points to the potential of optimizing flight routes using AI and thus achieving sustainability goals.
Transparent risks and opportunities
AI holds both risks and opportunities and abuse cannot be ruled out. The possibilities range from deepfake algorithms to AI that create pieces of music, paintings or texts independently and without clear artificial authorship. Lothar Hotz, Managing Director of the Hamburg Informatik Technologie-Center (HITEC), has called for transparency: "AI must come out of the closet."
New technologies should always be developed responsibly, said Professor Olaf Groth, a faculty member at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and a professor at the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So is Germany's commitment to data privacy appropriate? "Absolutely - as long as it does not go too far," Groth stressed. "When it comes to applications in healthcare, data protection is essential but not necessarily for consumer issues."
Developers of innovations to have say
Access to data is a crucial for the use of AI. "That can be done anonymously, but it must be done. Otherwise, we will manoeuvre ourselves into an economic and social extinction," Groth believes. Ultimately, AI can make social interrelationships visible or raise awareness of the interplay between humans and nature. "It is up to us how that happens, but only if we act. The only way to have a say is to help develop innovations. That's why it's important to get young people excited about new technologies as early as possible and preferably in primary school," he stressed. "But a pro-entrepreneurial attitude in society is also important," added Groth, who is the brains behind a think tank that advises executives on disruption, opportunities and risks in the global digital economy.
And where is the journey heading? Will we be welcoming robots as roommates who do tedious household chores or look after elderly relatives soon? "There will no really big revolutions anytime soon," said Dr. Sven Magg, senior AI researcher at HITEC, and noted: "AI is already doing a great many useful tasks in the background."