BMBF launches Platform for Learning Systems

The Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is reinforcing research on artificial intelligence and launching the forward-looking project “Learning Systems”. As a first step, a new expert platform is being established in order to improve the collaboration between research and application as well as clarify how learning systems can be useful for humans.

f.l.t.r.: Wolfgang Wahlster (DFKI), Reimund Neugebauer (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft), Johanna Wanka (BMBF), Dieter Spath (acatech), Georg Schütte (BMBF) and Ralf Klinkenberg (RapidMiner)

Concrete application possibilities will open up particularly for different services such as in the mobility sector, the health care sector, e.g. in medical technology and nursing, the use of automated vehicles and robots in environments hostile-to-life, as well as in IT security.

Federal Minister for Education and Research Johanna Wanka says: “Artificial intelligence can improve our lives if we use it appropriately. Therefore we must know what learning systems can do and where their weaknesses are. There are still many unanswered research questions. This is why we need extensive research more than ever in order to also understand technological developments from an ethical, social and legal perspective. Only then we can make fact-based decisions what we want to apply and where to set boundaries. These decisions make exchange and dialogue even more necessary. My understanding is that we must approach artificial intelligence from the human’s perspective. Technology must help rather than alienate us.”

With the forward-looking project “Learning Systems” the BMBF is establishing a second platform on another important topic of digitalisation, alongside the Plattform Industrie 4.0. The experts who cooperate within the platform will further develop competences in data analysis tools and promote application scenarios suitable for daily use, demonstrators, as well as cross-vendor oriented research and development. A management office will support the platform.

Learning systems can provide great improvements for example in the health sector by analysing and disaggregating large amounts of data for a mammography more quickly. This new quality of information provision improves the core work of medical staff for patient treatment. At the same time, a sensitive environment such as patient data requires clear definitions on how and to what extent learning systems shall be employed, as well as how they can operate securely. IT security is a high priority in this context.

The forward-looking project “Learning Systems” is an outcome of the High-Tech Expert Forum on Autonomous Systems which has developed recommendations i.a. for production, road and rail transport, as well as smart homes in recent years. The High-Tech Forum delivered these and other recommendations for action for future innovation policy to the Federal Government at today’s closing conference on the High-Tech Strategy. The steering committee for the new platform “Learning Systems” also held its first meeting today.

German research is in an excellent international position concerning artificial intelligence, particularly on topics such as learning systems and machine learning. Basic research, notably by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), has provided a substantial contribution to this.
Germany boasts the world’s largest AI institution with the DFKI in terms of funding volume and staff. Furthermore, numerous start-ups have successfully established themselves on the market. Overall, a remarkable number of companies are involved in the innovation process. Autonomous vehicles alone account for almost 70 per cent (1,596 of 2,309) of worldwide patents from German companies.

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