Developing a feel for the current AI transformation is essential, noted keynote speaker and internet entrepreneur Sascha Lobo at the event’s start, because it is still underestimated. But how can we turn the digitalisation narrative in Germany in a positive direction? This question was addressed in top-class panels from science and society. Central results from bidt research projects and ongoing projects of the bidt Graduate Center were presented, and the conference guests were invited to interact. There was an opportunity to talk to the researchers at the “bidt marketplace” and at the evening get-together. Here are some impressions, highlights and food for thought from the two days of the conference.
Where does responsibility lie in the interaction between man and machine?
The central topics included trust and responsibility in the context of generative AI. Finally, language models like ChatGPT throw us back to the question of the “core of the human”, explained Professor Jürgen Pfeffer (TU Munich). How language models can influence social inequalities was discussed, as was responsibility in the case of misuse of AI or the spread of misinformation. The common tenor of the discourse: Political measures are necessary in many places. However, digitalisation is a topic that affects society as a whole and also concerns the self-responsibility of citizens, according to Professor Alexander Pretschner, Chairman of the bidt Board of Directors (TU Munich).
“There is no need for ‘German Angst’ but a nuanced discourse … I would like us to get into the driver’s seat of digitalisation.”Lajla Fetic (Bertelsmann Foundation)
Is more regulation needed for public good-oriented digitalisation?
Can regulation protect freedom of speech and free participatory culture on the Internet? Where does regulation or curation make sense? The discourse on public good-oriented data use was another central point of discussion. Is a pragmatic, constructive approach to data protection law necessary for this? Professor Dirk Heckmann (bidt/TU Munich) put it up for debate. In general, there is a need for a more rational risk-reward assessment when using innovative technologies, added Professor Thomas Hess (bidt/LMU Munich). The consensus was that we have to shape the digital transformation, not it us.
“I believe that because of the monopolisation of the infrastructure of digital communication, because of the high degree of commercialisation, because of the dominance of Silicon Valley corporations, we require an alternative infrastructure of digital communication in public, public-law or foundation responsibility. In Europe, there is occasional discussion about this, but so far no one is getting off the ground.”Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Julian Nida-Rümelin (bidt/LMU Munich)
How do we build a positive digital future in Germany?
In his keynote, Sascha Lobo also warned against “German Angst” and that Europe should not allow itself to be paralysed by a fear scenario regarding AI. The solutions discussed at the conference revolved around competence building and AI literacy, more transparent communication between decision-makers and the media, and fundamentally new concepts in education and higher education. A new way of thinking about the world of work – with proactive and jointly designed change processes – was also considered.
“Where I am a specialist, I can get more help and even better and faster output.”Anna Kopp (Microsoft Germany GmbH)
Shaping the digital transformation together
At the end of the conference, Valerie Mocker (Managing Director of Wingwomen) gave a keynote speech in which she called for more courage: the courage to involve others, the courage to do things imperfectly rather than not doing them at all, the courage to get involved – despite fear – and the courage to help shape digitalisation in a way that is for the common good of all people. This was a nice conclusion for a conference that illuminated fields of action in digital communication from different perspectives in various areas of society.
“No one can give you a credential, certificate, or permission to help shape the future. We need more people with the courage to get involved. Who use their ideas to build a world where everyone benefits from technology, the internet and digital innovation.”Valerie Mocker (Wingwomen)
© bidt/Klaus D. Wolf