SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUM REPORT 2019

The ninth SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUM was once again the cen­ter­piece of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR in 2019. The invit­ed experts did not only dis­cuss the advan­tages and  dis­ad­van­tages of new tech­no­log­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties; they also explained the effects of the increas­ing “Mea­sure­ment of the Future” on our soci­ety. The talks were con­duct­ed in a proven man­ner by Markus Hengstschläger. New this year was the sup­port of the polit­i­cal expert and jour­nal­ist Melin­da Crane.

The inter­na­tion­al experts who shared their knowl­edge with us were:

• The jour­nal­ist and pub­li­cist Susanne Gaschke, who warns of „dig­i­tal­ly dumb­ing down”.
• The psy­chol­o­gist and data sci­en­tist Michal Kosin­s­ki, for whom pri­va­cy is basi­cal­ly gone.
• The com­put­er graph­ics sci­en­tist Nadia Mag­ne­nat Thal­mann, who sees social robots as future com­pan­ions in com­pa­nies and care facilities.

Dur­ing the day, the SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUM focused on inter­views and dis­cus­sions with experts in a small cir­cle togeth­er with Chris­tine Haber­lan­der, mem­bers of the aca­d­e­m­ic board and stu­dents of Young Academia.

The ACADEMIA SUPERIOR PLENUM in the evening offered some 700 invit­ed guests deep insights into the top­ic “Mea­sur­ing the Future” and the intense dis­cus­sions dur­ing the day. After an emo­tion­al review of the many years of work with ACADEMIA SUPERIOR and a the­mat­ic intro­duc­tion by Michael Strugl, Gov­er­nor Thomas Stelz­er, in his speech, explained the inter­ac­tion of peo­ple, tech­nol­o­gy and the future. The inputs by the experts focused not only on the pos­si­bil­i­ties and devel­op­ments in the field of algo­rithm-con­trolled and self-learn­ing com­put­er sys­tems and their effects, but also on the nec­es­sary frame­work con­di­tions and pro­ce­dures for the best ver­sion of a(n un)predicted future.

As part of the sym­po­sium, Michael Strugl offi­cial­ly hand­ed over his pres­i­den­cy of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR in the form of a sym­bol­ic key to his suc­ces­sor Chris­tine Haberlander.

Results of the expert panels

The per­spec­tives on the sub­ject of “Pre­dic­tive Futures: Mea­sur­ing the Future” were as mul­ti­fac­eted as the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­pli­nary back­grounds of our experts. Tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments can bring great improve­ments and sim­pli­fi­ca­tions in busi­ness, sci­ence and med­i­cine as well as in our every­day life. At the same time, how­ev­er, the respon­si­ble use of dig­i­tal tools is a pre­req­ui­site in order to avoid the risk of being dri­ven by technology.

For the sci­en­tif­ic and pub­lic dis­course, it is also impor­tant to talk about the lim­its of the new tech­nolo­gies. The per­fect algo­rithm does not exist and, even though social robots are human-like, they can­not actu­al­ly feel.

Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, robot­ics and a new lev­el of trans­paren­cy ask for new rules from our soci­ety. We have to set appro­pri­ate lim­its and cre­ate a legal and eth­i­cal frame­work for busi­ness, research and soci­ety, which min­i­mizes risks and max­i­mizes oppor­tu­ni­ties. Above all, politi­cians are called upon to facil­i­tate explorato­ry free­dom while at the same time set­ting bind­ing standards.

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