KAAD seminar: "Automation and artificial intelligence as a challenge and an opportunity"

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On 10 November 2023, 19 scholarship holders explored the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence under the direction of Markus Leimbach.

In line with the topic, the participants met in virtual space to familiarise themselves with the differences in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the opportunities and risks of AI. The difference between automation and artificial intelligence is that the former works according to a defined goal, while AI is a learning system.

After an introduction by one of KAAD's two spiritual advisors, P Prof Dr Ulrich Engel OP, who spoke about the legend of the creation of the "artificial human" by Albertus Magnus and its destruction by his student Thomas Aquinas, Dr Balint Varga, researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, made it clear in his keynote speech that not everything that is described as artificial intelligence is actually AI, but often comes from software-controlled control technology. He demonstrated this using the example of a drone for firefighting operations that can search for people in a smoke-filled building.

The biggest problem with artificial intelligence systems is that there is currently no guarantee that AI will always do the right thing and that its behaviour is not always comprehensible.

In the participants' presentations, Satenik Martirosyan from Armenia first addressed the topic of "AI and the preservation of cultural heritage" and demonstrated the wide range of possible applications of AI in this area: In addition to the virtualisation of historical buildings and the creation of replications, AI can also create new educational experiences and better access to cultural heritage.

In his lecture, the artist Jovan Turcinovic from Serbia presented the possibilities and opportunities of AI in artistic work, whereby it became clear that AI can only copy what it has previously learnt. He denied the question of whether a work produced by AI is real art, as AI can only reproduce.

Nelly Voskanyan from Armenia presented the possible applications of AI in the social sector. The main focus here was on prevention (early detection of problems and risks, including when dealing with people likely to threaten public safety), anamnesis (risk assessment) and treatment of physical and psychological problems as well as offers of help. However, the analysis of data can lead to misinterpretations and, as a result, to discrimination and stigmatisation. Artificial intelligence is an intelligence based on mathematical calculations and cannot replace human emotional intelligence. Therefore, it is important that the use of AI in this area is always transparent and that specialists and managers are trained and sensitised to the use of these methods.

The seminar presentations showed that artificial intelligence and automation can be helpful and supportive assistance systems, but that they cannot (yet?) function independently. The support and control of AI by a human is still necessary.

In the concluding discussion, the chatbot ChatGPT was discussed, which many of the scholarship holders use as a tool to conduct research and revise texts. However, it became very clear that ChatGPT cannot replace a person's own creativity and knowledge.

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