ARIC pushing artificial intelligence ahead
German companies rate artificial intelligence (AI) as highly relevant, according to the AI Study 2020. Managers all over the world including 200 decision-makers with German companies had been interviewed for the survey by Deloitte. Yet, prejudices and fears of AI still persist in broad sections of German society. Sci-fi horror scenarios in blockbusters like "Terminator", "Matrix" or "I, Robot" do not help counter such trends. And this is exactly where the Artificial Intelligence Center Hamburg (ARIC) see its niche. The initiative is set to celebrate its first anniversary in September.
Making AI as commonplace as electricity
"Our mission is to demystify AI for the wider society and commerce and to remove any inhibitions that may have arisen because people do not yet understand this technology," said Alois Krtil, CEO of ARIC. At first, people did not understand electricity either and its power was connoted with myths and legends. But these waned as electricity became more commonplace. Krtil would like to see this happen in relation to AI as well - especially as the technology is already used in many areas e.g. logistics, robotics, autonomous driving, marketing or finding travel offers on the internet.
Making advantages visible and accessible
"When I look out of the window from the sixth floor of the Dockland with views of the port, the use of AI to manage and organize containers immediately comes to mind. Although AI is already a widely-used, key technology, it is constantly evolving. We want to make its advantages visible and accessible to as many people as possible.”
Interface between research and application
To this end, ARIC bundles the AI expertise in business and science available in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region and brings movers and shakers together for various events and workshops, ARIC also initiates and lends its support to projects and helps companies to implement their own AI applications.
The founders of ARIC include Lufthansa Industry Solutions, Pilot Hamburg GmbH, the Hamburg Information Technology Center (HITeC) and Zapliance GmbH. "But also the Nordakademie to which we owe our premises, the IT alliance between Hamburg's universities 'ahoi digital', the Innovations Kontakt Stelle and the Ministry of Economics and Innovation," Krtil added. "We see ourselves as an interface between application-orientated research and practical applications with the aim of promoting AI in the metropolitan region and remaining internationally competitive."
Putting Hamburg on AI map
Hamburg already meets the prerequisites for becoming a global centre of AI. "Hamburg is THE centre of artificial intelligence in the north with a great deal of expertise in over 80 AI start-ups and more than 1,000 movers and shakers in business and science who are actively pushing the technology forward." Big names such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook as well as lesser-known companies like Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH, which specialises in autonomous driving technology come to mind. Dr. Wolfgang Hildesheim, Head of the IBM Watson Group, is also based in Hamburg. "Hamburg is a real hidden champion in terms of AI. We want to change this through our work and put the location on the international AI map," said Krtil. ARIC has already taken the first steps toward this objective and has opened satellite offices in European AI hotspots such as the Czech Republic and Estonia. Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics and Innovation, has already been won over by the importance of the technology for Hamburg and recently became patron of ARIC.