The curator Judith Spickermann is in the exhibition: “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics” in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum vor … Photo: Guido Kirchner / dpa
If you want to have your liver spots checked, you have to go to the dermatologist today. The waiting time is often long, the worry big if a stain looks unusual. Is this skin cancer? In the future, it should be possible to check it from home via a smartphone app: take a picture of the spot, wait a minute, the result will come – this is possible with artificial intelligence (AI) , with which data can be evaluated in seconds. For this to work, the program has to learn how a harmless spot looks and how evil. Around 70,000 pictures are necessary for this. Only: where should the app developers get the photos?
The government wants to make such data much easier for researchers and developers to use as part of its Artificial Intelligence strategy. Because only then can products such as the app in Germany be developed – before it makes the competition in China, where there is almost no privacy. Or one of the tech platforms from the US, which can rely on gigantic amounts of data like Facebook or Google.
On Thursday, the government will therefore decide on an AI strategy in its Cabinet meeting in the Hasso Plattner Institute, which will make Germany the world leader in AI. The strategy for this could come just in time, so that Germany is not left behind in the race for innovation leadership. Against China, where the state spends billions on AI research and development. And the US, where the Silicon Valley companies themselves invest billions in AI.
Even today, business models are increasingly data-driven, but in the future there will hardly be a product that is not “intelligent”: autonomously driving cars, sensors that warn their wearer half an hour before a heart attack, digital voice assistants who manage the networked household by acclamation.
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If Germany wants to participate in this lucrative market , it needs more than easier access to data. The strategy must therefore also provide an answer to how researchers can be better kept in Germany. Leading AI institutes complain that they are wooing the best people from companies and laboratories in China and America on a weekly basis. One million dollars is supposedly paid there for top executives, a supply package for the family is added. How should the TVÖD keep up?
Maybe in the end it will not always be the one with the heaviest check – but the one with the most attractive overall package. That’s where the government has to go with its strategy. For example, it must enable researchers to use hybrid models to develop products and services alongside their research. For this they need test fields that are not down to the last detail. And data that the state will make available to them in the future – at first free of charge, before he opens his hand to get his share of the potential business success.
But these data alone will not be enough. It needs a kind of trustee or data pool, in which the citizens confidently bring in and control their – anonymous – data. But they will only be willing to do that if they understand how not only the society as a whole but also individuals as individuals can benefit. Communicating this remains an essential task for the government even after the decision of the strategy.