How AI, Automation, Algorithms, and Robots Re-Define Society and Work

Edited by Ingo Becker

POP, in short for Power of People, was the motto of re:publica 2018 (#rp18) conference at Berlin. Talks about digitization and the future of society were presented by renowned international speakers to about 10,000 visitors during three days in the first week of May. On-site we took a look at some of the most important and interesting talks regarding the impact of algorithms and automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality –– and robots –– which started to have a major impact on society in the, known as, the Age of Cognition.

Expanding World Means Growing Impact Of AI, Automation

What is the future of work? Lynelle Cameron, CEO Autodesk Foundation / Vice President Sustainability, Autodesk, explored in her talk ‘The Future of Work: Will Robots and Automation Destroy or Save Us?‘ the role of robots, automation, AI and machine learning in not only transforming how people work but also, and perhaps more importantly, what people as humans are now able to work on and do in their jobs. She introduced her presentation as follows:

“Experts who equate robotics and automation with the destruction of jobs often overlook one important detail: With the world’s population expected to increase to almost 10 billion by 2050 we will need more buildings, infrastructure and products to support more people. We will explore the role of AI/automation, in helping us design and make more things, make them better, and with less negative impact.”

With technology as partner and co-creator, people are now poised to tackle systemic global challenges and create a brighter future for billions of people. And they need more people designing and making than ever before, not fewer. As Lynelle Cameron pointed out, humans can’t do it alone – they need machines as creative partners to leverage the best of both to express values, imagination and the humanity to design them into the future.

Video from the talk by Lynelle Cameron on May 3, 2018:

– Source / video: re:publica via YouTube

Rise Of Automation – Challenge for Human Society and Work

In his talk ‘A failure of imagination and the rise of enhanced cognition as a human right‘, Mickey Mc Manus, Visiting Fellow, Autodesk Education Experience / Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), describes how to join and explore the potential for machine/human learning and play as a new way – a means of helping individuals and organizations thrive with enhanced cognition as a new human right.

The rise of automation has always driven new forms of work since the beginning of human civilization. Though each time a new era is born it seems like the technological shock will end work. Each time automation has brought us to a peak of job growth, society responded with an investment in education. Presently the cognitive age rises.

Watch the video from the talk by Mickey McManus on May 2nd, 2018:

– Source / video: re:publica via YouTube

Dr. h.c. Ranga Yogeshwar, freelance science author and journalist, showcases in his talk [in German language] ‘Mensch und Maschine – wer programmiert wen?‘ (Man and machine – who programs who?) that some areas of deep learning are incredibly powerful. In the evaluation of X-ray images or the recognition of traffic signs, today neural networks already exceed humans. Modern systems can judge bank lending better than people do. Result: algorithms decide.

But according to which moral principles do they make their decision? Looking at the exact operation of these systems, they are no longer causal due to feedback effects and their complexity. Although these neural systems work, their exact decision-making patterns elude a classical logic. The experience is a transition from causality to correlation which corresponds to a break with the basic principles of the Enlightenment.

Watch the video from the entire talk by Ranga Yogeshwar on May 2nd, 2018:

Source / video: re:publica via YouTube

Robots On The Move – But What If Breaking The Law?

With the rise of more sophisticated and independent artificial intelligence, situations will take place more often. Self-driving cars, smart contracts, IoT devices, data mining bots, machine learning algorithms; technology will be given autonomy to make decisions in various circumstances, and sometimes these may prove to be illegal or illicit. At the moment, the law has not given much thought to infringement committed by AI, mostly because of until now most autonomous agents were not sophisticated. With the growing presence of intelligent bots in all areas of life, the need to explore new solutions arises.

What happens when autonomous agents break the law? Who is liable? Is there even anyone liable? Dr Andrés Guadamuz, Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property LawUniversity of Sussex / Consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization, answered in his talk ‘Robots behaving badly: legal responsibility in the age of artificial intelligence‘, different questions regarding artificial intelligence and the law – as mentioned above – and explored potential legal pitfalls regarding AI liability.

Dr Guadamuz main research areas are open licensing, software protection, digital copyright, and complexity in networks. He blogs at and his most recent book is about “Networks, Complexity and Internet Regulation”.

Watch the video from the AI talk by Andres Guadamuz on May 3rd, 2018:

– Source / video: re:publica via YouTube

Explore the latest business developments regarding AI, automations and robotics –– at automatica 2018, the leading exhibition for smart automation and robotics with IT2Industry as specialist subject area with IT solutions for digitalization and Industry 4.0
from June 19th to 22th, at Messe


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