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Science in Dialogue: The bidt at the Open BAdW Day 2024

On 4 May 2024, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BAdW) opened its doors to the public. More than 5,500 interested people visited the academy to take part in the varied programme. As an institute of the BAdW, the bidt was also present on this day with an information stand, a talk, and a discussion on digitalisation and artificial intelligence (AI).

How are Germans experiencing the digital transformation?

As part of various projects, the bidt think tank analyses how people in Germany experience digitalisation, how they use digital technologies and how their everyday lives are changing.

© BAdW/Kai Neunert

In his presentation, Dr Roland A. Stürz, Head of the bidt Think Tank, provided insights into current survey results and used quantitative data to illustrate how digital transformation is perceived in Germany and compared to other countries. He emphasised:

In an international comparison, the Germans are definitely at the top of the league when it comes to taking a liking to new technological developments.

Dr. Roland A. Stürz To the profile

From analogue to digital: How digitalisation and AI are enriching our everyday lives

Besides smartphones, which digital innovations are reaching us and bringing us added value? Moderated by bidt Managing Director Dr Christoph Egle, the panel discussed current developments and positive examples of digitalisation in the environment and nature conservation, social work, and education.

Participants were asked how they assess the status of digitalisation in various areas.

Digitalisation in the forestry sector

Dr Nikolas Herbst, head of the “Data Analytics Clouds” research group at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, presented a project funded by the bidt: “Real-time earth observation of forest dynamics and biodiversity (ROOT)”.

The research project is developing an app based on satellite data for Bavaria that provides forestry staff with up-to-date information on forest conditions and stand loss. At the same time, information collected on-site can be fed back into the system. Herbst reported on using the digital solution in nature conservation and environmental protection: The challenge is to pass on disturbances to foresters promptly and without major computing effort and energy consumption. The app must be a helper that causes little disruption and works 100% offline.

It is important to set the right expectations for such a technical tool. We can't see bark beetles from space. That's not what we're trying to sell foresters. We have a resolution of ten by ten metres, and we have to work with that.

Dr. Nikolas Herbst To the profile
From left to right: Jennifer Burghardt, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm; Dr Nikolas Herbst, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg; Prof. Dr Ute Schmid, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg / bidt. © BAdW/Kai Neunert

Digitalisation in child and youth welfare

Jennifer Burghardt, research assistant for social work at the Institute for E-Counselling at Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm, presented the bidt consortium project “Can algorithms calculate morally in situations of conflict? Ethics and digital operationalisation regarding risk assessment in child welfare practice (KAIMo)”.

The researchers developed an approach to how AI can be used as an assistance system for assessing child endangerment. The AI prototype helps child and youth welfare workers analyse data in a more structured and faster way and recognise patterns.

This AI does not make a decision and never gives a recommendation. It does, however, help colleagues in the process — for instance by asking reflective questions in the analysis.

Jennifer Burghardt M.A. To the profile

Digitalisation in education

Prof Dr Ute Schmid, Professor of Cognitive Systems at the University of Bamberg and member of the bidt Board of Directors, has been teaching and researching artificial intelligence for many years. She is committed to bringing computer science and AI skills to schools.

© BAdW/Kai Neunert

On the panel, she shared her views on three key topics in education: learning with digital media, learning about digital media and using digitalisation for classroom management. In this context, she also gave an outlook on a new bidt research project that aims to investigate the role of code generators in computer science education and the process of software development.

The introduction of calculators in schools makes as much sense as the introduction of any other technology, such as search engines or ChatGPT. But we need to think: How do we organise the teaching and testing processes so that the relevant skills are retained?

Prof. Dr. Ute Schmid To the profile

Understanding digital transformation — shaping the future through dialogue

At the bidt information stand, visitors could learn more about the institute’s work and projects. The bidt team was available to answer questions and offered detailed insights into current and planned research work.

© BAdW/Kai Neunert