The Racist Algorithm?

n his welcome address at the most recent Web Summit, philosopher- physicist Stephen Hawking pointed out that artificial intelligence (AI) could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization - or the worst. There's hardly any other present phenomenon which at the same time kindles such high hopes or great anxieties. While some see unlimited opportunities, others preach caution and point to examples such as the COMPAS-System, which is designed to support US judges with passing sentences on freedom or imprisonment. Scientists have determined that this form of artificial intelligence is a failure: the algorithm discriminates black Americans.

Microsoft's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith twittered about the dilemma of artificial intelligence, which, if it is developed exclusively by a small group of men, will act and think like a small group of men. Wolfgang Altenstrasser of the Vok Dams event agency is also aware of the problem: "Let's not fool ourselves – robots and chatbots are capable of communicating only what software engineers have first programmed them to do." At best, he considers AI to be a valid complement to the live experience.

TV-celebrity Frank Thelen on the other side sees enormous potential and has been investing in the AIbased event-management platform "Doo". However, he differentiates that AI isn't genuinely intelligent, but is instead the product of highly-efficient data processing. If you read this magazine carefully, you will soon find that the acquisition and processing of data is the one issue on which organizers of conferences, expos and meetings currently have their most intense focus. Be it to learn more about customer needs or to measure visitor flows. Thelen explained that artificial intelligence can help to improve the analysis and exploitation of user data. "To accomplish this, I need to know as event organizer what exactly my attendees want." And that's the point of the matter: human intelligence still comes before artificial intelligence. Wonder if Stephen Hawking would agree.
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Editor christian.funk@dfv.de