How Corona is changing our approach to Artificial Intelligence

The corona crisis accelerates digitization. Home offices, video conferences and learning platforms are part of our so-called "new normality". However, the challenges of digitization can also be viewed as if under a magnifying glass in the pandemic. How do we deal with the risks for data protection and IT security, for example? What impact will the pandemic have on our use of technology? And will we make greater use of Artificial Intelligence in our everyday lives? Experts from Plattform Lernende Systeme and acatech discussed these questions with citizens at the Political Academy Tutzing from September 9 to 10.

Jessica Heesen, member of Plattform Lernende Systeme, on digitization in Corona times.

The corona pandemic is providing a digitalisation push for the German economy. According to a survey by the ifo Institute, 55 percent of the companies surveyed have pushed ahead with the digital change in their operations. A McKinsey study found out that 36 percent of medium-sized companies intend to invest in Artificial Intelligence as a reaction to the Covid 19 crisis. AI systems can also help outside companies to deal with the virus. The Corona crisis gives a boost to autonomous technologies that can help fight the pandemic, said Michael Decker, head of the Department of Information Technology, Economics and Society at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and member of Plattform Lernende Systeme. Intelligent robots can help distribute food in care facilities or compensate for missing staff in production. A Danish start-up offers automated corona tests to protect medical staff who would otherwise have to take the samples from infection. In China, robots are even being used to measure people's body temperatures from a distance in the lobby of a hospital, or to identify people on the street without face masks. The latter examplesin particular show that smart technologies also raise important ethical, legal and social issues. For example, Claudia Eckert, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Security and member of Plattform Lernede Systeme, referred to the new IT security issues associated with the use of autonomous systems.

Pandemic as driver of autonomous technologies

Accelerated digitisation and intelligent automation must not be allowed to lose sight of the challenges . "In exceptional situations, new standards are established and the spectrum of the normal is expanded," explained Jessica Heesen, head of the Media Ethics Research Centre at the University of Tübingen and a member of Plattform Lernende Systeme. In the pandemic , people are quicker to accept practices to protect their health that would normally meet with reservations in the population. For example, many citizens responded to the call of the Robert Koch Institute and voluntarily provided their personal data from, for example, fitness tracking apps to virological research - and this despite the fact that in Germany, data protection is usually very important for informational self-determination, Heesen noted. How people evaluate data collection or a technology also depends on the public discourse about its opportunities and risks . It is therefore important to conduct a broad, balanced dialogue about the potential and challenges of artificial intelligence and other technologies in the public sphere. Plattform Lernende Systeme is also committed to this task.

Further information:

Linda Treugut / Birgit Obermeier
Press and Public Relations

Lernende Systeme – Germany's Platform for Artificial Intelligence
Managing Office | c/o acatech
Karolinenplatz 4 | 80333 Munich

T.: +49 89/52 03 09-54 /-51
M.: +49 172/144 58-47 /-39

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