The government of Lower Saxony wants to improve almost all areas of public life with artificial intelligence and stands above all for “human-oriented artificial intelligence” that builds trust. Its strategy document covers the spectrum from health and care, education, environmental and civil protection, road traffic, citizen-friendly cities, efficient administration, judiciary and criminal prosecution, to agriculture.
Two research centers serve as the driving force of innovation to bring the results of laboratory and field tests to life: almost EUR 20 million flows into the laboratories of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Osnabrück and Oldenburg to focus on agricultural robotics and sensors.
The Lower Saxony Digital Innovation Center (ZDIN) in Oldenburg will receive EUR 35 million to combine business and science. The focus is on intelligent water management (pumps and pumping stations, flood forecasting) and sensor systems for agriculture and animal husbandry based on the European Gaia-X cloud project (DigiSchwein).
The federal state of Lower Saxony wants “human-centered artificial intelligence”. It would be one that helps you make decisions rather than dictate them. Workers are supported, rather than forcing the minimum workforce into a corset of carefully optimized processes. Supporting children and adults to develop their skills, not trying to explore personality based on questionable patterns and then set a course for the rest of their lives.
But no algorithm is “human” per se, and it is certainly not a panacea for social and economic harm. Many supposedly useful AIs are just messing around with the symptoms of broken systems, and in pure admiration for the efficiency of technology, people forget to get to the root of the problem.
The public should therefore look closely and critically monitor the projects. Because even a socially sounding robot project to offload nursing staff can be misused to get even more profits from a publicly traded nursing company. The threats emanating from an out of control social network like Facebook cannot be effectively contained with any technology in the world: the AI filter only distracts from it. And do small and medium-sized farms also benefit from algorithmically optimized agriculture, or does it make them even more addictive?
Overall, the budget of EUR 350 million is not very generous. For comparison: China aims to become a world AI power and is investing $ 16 billion in technology development – in the Tianjin administrative region alone, which has a population similar to that of Lower Saxony. So spending scarce resources wisely requires a lot of knowledge and wise, far-sighted decisions.
In the field of education, the state is investing five million euros in the development of an adaptive learning platform – including educational programs that aim to provide individual feedback on possible solutions and causes of errors. The same is being spent on adult education through the “Digital Campus Niedersachsen”. In the judiciary and administration, algorithms should search and pre-sort evidence, for example to detect tax fraud (Tax Defense Analytics, TaDeA) or to search for images of child abuse on seized data carriers.
The obligation to protect data when using artificial intelligence is formulated quite carefully. According to the Minister of Economy and Digitization, Dr. For Bernd Althusmann, “it is crucial to actively shape the policy framework for data protection and ethics without slowing down innovation in science and business.” Moreover, the strategy paper only provides very general approaches to solving the dilemma between data collection and protection in sensitive areas such as healthcare.
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