The promises are big and varied and range from conquering diseases to considerably lengthening our lives on the basis of digital technologies. British gerontologist Aubrey de Grey believes a society of 1,000-year-olds is possible – and autonomous modes of transport will be seen on roads and waterways. Realistic predictions? Marvin Kastner of the Institute for Maritime Logistics at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) highlighted, for instance, Norway’s Yara Birkeland at the Disrupt Now! AI for Hamburg Future Summit on November 21. Yara Birkeland is the first, fully autonomous and zero-emission container vessel and could start operating next year, replacing 40,000 truck journeys per year. “There are still regulatory obstacles, with respect to who takes responsibility for a ship without captain or crew,” Kastner said. Yet, the development of autonomous maritime systems has already made considerable progress.
Great interest in AI conference
The half-day conference, held by the DigitalClusters Hamburg@work in co-operation with the new digital campus Hammerbrooklyn, is investigating the opportunities and effects of artificial intelligence (AI) for economic processes in the Hamburg’s five economic clusters namely the maritime sector, aviation, life sciences, renewable energies and logistics, and is meeting with great interest. “We were booked out two days after sending out the invitations to our event,” said Uwe Jens Neumann, Hamburg@work chair and CEO.
AI in health sector
AI’s potential in the health sector is particularly promising. “The promises are huge there,” Roland Becker, CEO of Just Add AI GmbH. “Surgical robots’ hands do not shake, nor do they forget swabs in their patients.” AI-based voice analysis is able to recognise dementia or Alzheimer’s and identify a heart attack, for instance, in an emergency call. “All of this facilitates very rapid intervention, leading to better outcomes.” However, the use of AI in radiology in particular promises major advantages for patients and health care professionals, as algorithms are considerably better at recognising patterns than people are. “Doctors will then have more time for their patients thanks to this digital support.”
“We don’t want to be run down by machines.”
People must be brought on board when establishing a foothold for AI in health care as many people remain sceptical, Becker said. “Asked whether a computer system or a person should view their X-ray, CT or MRI images, most of them opt for the human being,” he noted. The fear that a machine could make a mistake counts far more than possible human error. Becker points to similar attitudes towards autonomous transport. “Driverless cars will have to drive ten times better than people before they gain acceptance. People think along the lines of ‘we don’t want to be run down by machines.’”
Need for a data-based economy
AI needs to make progress based on a databank that is sufficiently large and of good quality, experts at the summit agreed. This is true irrespective of the sector, but is particularly apparent in medicine. The sector already has huge amounts of data, which can only be used, however, if the owners i.e. the patients consent. This could be done through anonymous provision of data. Thus educating the public is essential. Sara Mamel, digitalization expert at Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena), has called for an entirely new data economy. “AI is the oxygen for a data-driven energy sector.” And it has great potential.
AI for secure, climate-friendly and economical energy supply
The dena analysis Artificial Intelligence for the Integrated Energy Transition demonstrates that AI can be used diversely across the energy sector and could make a major contribution to secure, climate-friendly and cost-effective provision of energy in future. “AI helps to improve predictions of energy generation and consumption and can assist the improved integration of renewable forms of energy,” said Mamel.
Platforms for data analysis in aviation
Experts also see great potential in AI-supported predictions in other sectors. “Predictive Maintenance” is a key, frequently heard concept that has been realised to a great extent in, for instance, aviation. Professor Daniel Böhnke of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Kiel University of Applied Sciences points to the platforms AVIATAR, Skywise, Predix and Prognos. AI could help develop optimal aircraft in future. “Plenty of research is going into what the planes of the future could look like. AI can help find suitable shortcuts in the development.”
“Keep up to date!”
The opportunities of digital development must be seized regardless of whether people foresee immortality in the distant future or autonomous transport as a reality thanks to AI, keynote speakers at the summit agreed. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) have long been a reality in automated warehouses, said Christian Becker-Asano of Robert Bosch Start-up GmbH. Businesspeople with a more sceptical view of this “Brave New World” should watch developments closely: “Keep up to date,” he urged. “That makes for an inestimable advantage, when it comes to evaluating major innovations and to assessing their potential viability in one’s own business.”
Sources and further information:
Future Summit „Disrupt Now! AI for Hamburg“