Unboxing AI – a multiple perspective on the gamechanger AI

In the first Transformation Talk of 2024, we are exploring the topic of "Unboxing AI - a diverse perspective on AI as a game changer" from various angles. Our speakers offer new insights and perspectives on the highly controversial and current topic of artificial intelligence (AI) through different points of view and experiences.

A panel of top-class speakers on the topic of AI, moderated by Dr. Christoph Wargitsch, CEO of WARGITSCH Transformation Engineers, presented various views and highlighted the changes and risks for education, companies and employees. Which areas in Germany still need to catch up and how can they be closed as quickly and comprehensively as possible? What opportunities can schools, universities and companies offer and what commitment is required from each individual?
These and other questions were addressed by the following panelists:
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This year, the talk took place in front of a large audience for the first time at the TRAFO Hub in Braunschweig. The co-working space is a meeting place where people from business, research and politics, from corporations, SMEs and the start-up scene regularly come together. A place where a lot revolves around digital transformation – and therefore a perfect place for our Transformation Talks! Many questions following the panel discussion impressively demonstrated the importance of the topic of AI, and there was no shortage of topics for discussion at the get-together that followed.
The event was kicked off by a round of introductions in which the speakers not only presented their companies, but also their key learnings to date with regard to AI.
One of the key insights Beate Hofer gained at 42 Wolfsburg was that AI is a necessary skill, as it increases productivity enormously. “You can solve things with AI that you can’t solve conventionally!” Because “AI is a key technology like electricity, also in its scope”. The second learning is: “It’s all about data!” The data for AI must be well selected, not least to avoid discrimination and biases.
Dr. Ulrich Erxleben still considers it incredible how much is possible with AI. Language technologies offer many new opportunities for change, especially for learning AI agent processes. “If you ask the AI to read an accounting book, that works too, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as if you let the AI learn from the results of work done by humans.”
At WARGITSCH, Dr. Christina Weigert asks herself the question: “Where can AI tools be used sensibly for customers when it comes to digital, agile and sustainable transformations?”. Dr. Christina Weigert’s insight in this context shows that results from AI applications require validation. “I need to have a certain level of expertise when I use AI for a specific topic in order to be able to assess the quality of the results,” is her personal learning.
Lucas Kneffel Otal considers the rapid changes in this area to be a learning challenge in his technical field: “The world in the field of AI is changing so quickly”, which makes it imperative to stay on the ball and keep up to date with published papers. But also the importance of machine learning operations, which make it possible to develop marketable models in the first place. His hardest learning, however, was how high the costs for the necessary hardware are when working in a cloud environment.
The next topic of the panel discussion was about how AI is used in the speakers’ respective companies and, consequently, what requirements arise – at schools, universities and among the employees themselves. Beate Hofer considers the use of AI directly in the curriculum at 42 Wolfsburg, Dr. Christina Weigert focuses on medium to long-term HR development, while Dr. Ulrich Erxleben predicts the effects on employees in the back office and Lucas Kneffel Otal points out the requirements for students through direct cooperation with universities.
The panelists see the use as necessary, sensible and helpful across the board. However, it is important that users, whether students or administrators, are able to classify, reflect on and critically question the results. The staff’s specialist knowledge is often the best basis for the AI systems’ training data. It has often been postulated that the use of AI should be integrated into curricula at an early stage and that theory and application should be closely interlinked in order to create a basic understanding. For that, enhanced media skills, social skills and empathy are becoming increasingly important.
Although politicians and private initiatives are already providing a large amount of investment and have a broad range of starting points for funding, Germany is still somewhat behind in the field of AI. How can this be made up for and what opportunities does AI offer for companies and individuals? Our panelists also had their own opinions on this key topic:
At the end of the discussion Beate Hofer appealed for people to simply start trying out AI and thus continue learning. Dr. Ulrich Erxleben hoped that people would recognize the opportunities that AI opens up. Dr. Christina Weigert, on the other hand, would like to see AI fully integrated into the education system, making its use independent of the social environment, for the development of the future workforce. Lucas Kneffel Otal would welcome free access to hardware resources.
The talk concluded with a Q&A session with the audience, which took part very actively: interest ranged from questions about sustainability and the resource requirements of AI to the dimensions of the AI Act, which is expected to come into force soon.

The Transformation Talks, hosted by the TRAFO Hub Braunschweig, are expected to continue in June and September, when the topics will be ESG and CX.

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