Mem­bers of the aca­d­e­m­ic advi­so­ry board of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR were also involved in the dis­cus­sions. They par­tic­u­lar­ly elab­o­rat­ed on the lev­el of con­trol over the new tech­nolo­gies, uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion and the devel­op­ment of the EU.

Control over technology

The pos­si­bil­i­ties pre­sent­ed by today‘s tech­nolo­gies are over­whelm­ing. How­ev­er, using tech­nolo­gies that we do not under­stand is extreme­ly dan­ger­ous. The basic knowl­edge of all these advances can­not be del­e­gat­ed to machines. We have to make sure that there are always peo­ple who can under­stand even com­plex tech­nolo­gies and algo­rithms and repro­duce them if nec­es­sary.

Nev­er­the­less, it is not quite clear how much con­trol has to be exer­cised by humans and in which areas arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence makes bet­ter deci­sions. On the one hand, tech­nol­o­gy must be sub­ject to human con­trol. Oth­er­wise we are placed in a dan­ger­ous posi­tion of depen­dence that can derail our soci­ety with the small­est sys­tem error. On the oth­er hand, there are areas where machines are sim­ply supe­ri­or to humans: for exam­ple, in reac­tion time. Thus, it seems utter­ly irra­tional to allow man-made road acci­dents to occur, although they could be pre­vent­ed by autonomous dri­ving sys­tems. And yet, the trust and the social accep­tance for such sys­tems are still lack­ing.

Learning to deal with information

In the light of the dis­cus­sions about fake news and a lack of objec­tiv­i­ty in the media, the ques­tion of truth has gained new pop­u­lar­i­ty. There is no ”truth“ except for nat­ur­al laws, because ulti­mate­ly it always depends on the per­spec­tive. This is why it is so impor­tant to start ear­ly in edu­ca­tion to teach chil­dren and young peo­ple how to deal with infor­ma­tion. This has still not been devel­oped enough in schools.

„Stu­dents are far too well-behaved.”

In the mod­ern infor­ma­tion age, it is now nec­es­sary to take active mea­sures to avoid wast­ing away in the media bub­ble. There is an urgent need for action because the oper­a­tors of social media do not have any incen­tives to dis­solve infor­ma­tion bub­bles and often react far too late, even if social media are being mis­used. At the end of the day, they are busi­ness com­pa­nies which pur­sue their own objec­tives, and these are not always con­sis­tent with social inter­ests.

Plea for a better discussion culture

One of the worst symp­toms of infor­ma­tion bub­bles is that there are no real debates any­more. If every­one is only sup­port­ed in their own views, there are no points of fric­tion with oth­er opin­ions. There are no impuls­es to ques­tion your own posi­tion crit­i­cal­ly. This is a great loss for democ­ra­cy. It also explains polit­i­cal sub­cul­tures such as the iden­ti­tar­i­an or reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists.

Issues should not become a ques­tion of faith; you have to be able to exchange opin­ions on a mat­ter-of-fact lev­el with­out becom­ing aggres­sive. Such a cul­ture of debate has to be active­ly lived and claimed. This is part of the nature of democ­ra­cy.

Innovation needs space

Is chaos a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site for cre­ativ­i­ty and the cre­ation of some­thing new? Even the sci­en­tists are divid­ed on this. On the one hand, a con­trolled envi­ron­ment and tran­quil­i­ty are essen­tial in order to be able to focus entire­ly on research; on the oth­er hand, there are indi­ca­tions that pro­duc­tiv­i­ty aris­es from chaot­ic sit­u­a­tions and exter­nal pres­sure. In any case, it is essen­tial that the great­est pos­si­ble space be cre­at­ed for cre­ative and inno­v­a­tive think­ing under cer­tain con­di­tions.

University is much too structured

The ques­tion of more or less con­trol also affects the uni­ver­si­ties. In recent years, for exam­ple, there has clear­ly been a trend towards more reg­u­la­tions and few­er options for stu­dents. Mak­ing a smooth tran­si­tion from the school sys­tem to uni­ver­si­ties is cer­tain­ly desir­able but it should not con­tin­ue through­out the entire cur­ricu­lum. The approach should be: more options but high per­for­mance require­ments. In order to extend the stu­dents‘ hori­zons, a com­pul­so­ry year abroad would also be desir­able for all study pro­grams.
Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Europe

Europe faces dif­fi­cult times. There are many chal­lenges to the Euro­pean Union, which also calls for a new gen­er­a­tion of polit­i­cal actors.

„Trump pro­vokes us to think.”

If every­one only strives for the max­i­mum of nation­al free­doms, Euro­pean pol­i­cy is doomed to fail. There­fore, the oth­er EU coun­tries have to be more involved in what is going on in the Mediter­ranean because we are all con­cerned. The EU is a com­mu­ni­ty based on cohe­sion. Per­haps not more but bet­ter coop­er­a­tion between the Euro­pean states is the key to turn­ing the uncer­tain­ties of the glob­al polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion into an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Europe.