When a ministers’ hearts beat for new technologies, the state of Baden-Württemberg is investing over one billion euros in digitization projects. At least that is the passionate impression Theresia Bauer gives us when we talk to her about new technologies and how she intends to use them for the state.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular is an essential component of these new technologies for the Minister of Science. AI enables a completely different use of digitization. In her opinion, AI offers enormous potential, especially for Baden-Württemberg as a strong science and culture location.
Minister Bauer, to which period does this 1 billion euro refer? “Digitization is a cross-cutting issue and therefore relevant for all departments. If we calculate all the investments in this legislative period, we have invested this amount in digitization across all departments. This also includes AI.”
Regardless of whether it is estimated, estimated or concrete. The message of these 1 billion euros remains: It is not only the Science Department that wants to use AI for itself but also many other ministries in Baden-Württemberg. And that is actually a good sign. Many are demanding a lot from the politicians, who — as we can see — are ready for AI.
The economy is pleased.
After all, politicians hold responsibility when it comes to AI. According to Dr Thorsten Pötter, Chief Digital Officer at Samson, they have an educational function: “The importance of local authorities and politics in AI is enormous. The chemist is responsible for digital transformation at Samson. He says that we needed digital education — “and associations and networks can help. In many cases, we deal with it far too timidly, and in others far too openly, the majority probably don’t know any better. Politics owns the role to change that.”
He is not alone with this judgement. Many are experiencing a social upheaval through the use of artificial intelligence techniques and proclaiming more socio-political commitment, while everyone is invoking networking. And Theresia Bauer and many of her colleagues in politics are aware of this legislative-directional impulse from Pötter. The city of Frankfurt, for example, has set up a special association for artificial intelligence. A network that aims to bring business and politics together. Learning from each other is the main focus.
Why does Artificial Intelligence generate so much cooperation and support for each other? What does it have that other IT movement did not have? Matthias Koppenborg from Appointrix sees it this way: “It is the idea of automation that makes the difference. Through automation and the use of artificial intelligence, completely different business models are possible. The use of these technologies offers companies, but also private individuals, the chance to interact with each other in new ways. All the more important is the cooperation with different partners to be a successful part of these developments”.
One probably does not want Chinese conditions
Well, let’s face it: AI is more multifaceted than other IT products. The old way of thinking about solving problems with an IT tool no longer applies here. Many stakeholders belong to only one problem. You can almost hear the manifested will of the voters speaking. And so Bauer is of the opinion that the primary task of politics is to create the right framework conditions and guard rails, for example on the subject of data protection: “It should be an enabling one: It should be an enabling one: processing data yes, but of course with simultaneous protection of personal rights”.
Bauer sees laws and regulations at the end of the line.
They probably do not want Chinese conditions, but a European answer. Theresia Bauer sees herself and the politicians there as creators who facilitate the path into unknown possibilities while upholding European values. At the end of the flagpole, Bauer sees laws and regulations. But can something as dynamic as AI be wrapped up in laws at all, or is that its certain death?
In the end, are the federal states just implementing diffuse federal digitization projects, Mrs Bauer? Are you driven at the international and federal level by a hype called AI? “My drivers are the scientists of this country. They show me the infinite possibilities of AI with ever new facets for the location-independent consolidation and processing of data.”
So we learn that even science ministers are constantly learning. Is the educational role that Thorsten Pötter demands of politicians really something that can be achieved by politicians alone? Possibly not in its entirety. The business community also has a part to play, especially those market participants who produce AI. Together they can all help to minimize fears and uncertainties among those who are not AI experts. And finally, last but not least, jobs are at stake, says Theresia Bauer.
We listen up
Fortunately, she addresses the topic on her own. How do you assess the development, Mrs Bauer? “AI will endanger jobs where routine activities are taken over, but it will also create new ones by expanding the scope for manoeuvre that opens up. Namely exactly where our social and creative skills are in demand. Bauer has a realistic view of things. That is gratifying. It does not produce hot air. That becomes particularly clear in the last question in the interview with her.
Where in your ministry would you like to see AI used to speed up processes? If you could wish for something, what would it be? “We are still in the early stages of digitization at the ministry — even though the current corona crisis has made a big leap towards digital work. The next step would be to convert our entire administrative processes electronically and digitally. Imagine if we had digitized all our data and could use text recognition to evaluate all relevant data in-house, such as research data on climate change.
If our employees were supported by AI methods in the future, they would have much more time for creative thinking. They would then be able to work more intensively and would have to spend less time gathering information. Tough research would then possibly be taken over by AI. This would inspire and promote the creativity of our employees.
Many thanks for the open conversation!