Who is an expert in programming
The look through the artificial eyes of a driver assistant does not initially look technical, but rather colorful. Anything that the software identifies as an obstacle is highlighted in yellow. Cars passing by and the road, on the other hand, appear green. The current exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz shows what the system sees while driving and how it perceives its environment. In the Austrian Museum of the Future, which is expected to open its doors to visitors again at the beginning of February, you can "watch artificial intelligence thinking", as it says on the website. "Learning machines have long ceased to be science fiction," says Gerfried Stocker, managing director of the museum. Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is anchored in a large number of technical, social and cultural processes. "How do we as a society want to go into the digital future?" Asks Stocker.
Possible answers come from research - the most important engine behind the development of artificial intelligence. The platform for learning systems in Germany, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, lists an impressive 60 non-university research institutions for AI. In addition, more and more universities are expanding the courses offered by their computer science faculties or establishing new institutes that focus on AI. According to the Internet portal Hochschulkompass, around 80 courses related to artificial intelligence have already been created in this country - and new programs are added every semester. For example, those interested in AI learn to program humanoid robots at the Beuth University of Technology in Berlin, receive basic training in "Data Science" at the University of Marburg and can apply for the master's degree in "Robotics, Cognition" at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) "Intelligence", which combines programming with elements of electrical engineering and mechatronics. With the establishment of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence two years ago, TUM also created a research center in which questions about health technology and future mobility are negotiated.
"There is a growing need on the job market for AI experts who not only touched on the complex topic during their studies, but also bring extensive know-how with them," says Patrick Glauner, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Deggendorf University. For a year he has been teaching students of the KI Bachelor, which started last winter semester. The aim of the course is to give students "tools to understand and develop artificial intelligence in the long term," says Glauner. Subjects such as mathematics, statistics and programming therefore form the basic content on which modules such as robotics, machine learning and human-machine interaction are built. The specialized offer is popular: while almost 40 students registered in the first round a year ago, there are already 90 in the current winter semester. At the same time, the teaching staff in the area of AI has also been increased. Glauner is one of four new AI professors at Deggendorf University. Ten more are to follow there this year. An important step in the promotion of young talent, with which the Federal Government is getting closer to the goal defined in the "Artificial Intelligence Strategy" in 2018. According to this, a "broad anchoring of AI at universities should be secured" in Germany. The federal government wants to provide three billion euros by 2025 for the implementation of the national AI strategy. At least 100 additional professorships in the field of AI are to be created nationwide.
The International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS) has also grown strongly. It is one of the youngest and, with currently 160 doctoral students, one of the largest of a total of 65 graduate schools of the Max Planck Society. The doctoral program established three years ago is part of the academic unit of Cyber Valley, a cooperation between the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen with the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and various partners from industry such as Bosch and Daimler. The project, funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg, claims to be "Europe's largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence". Young scientists can network there in order to promote projects in the fields of computer vision, a combination of computer science and engineering, as well as computational neuroscience, a discipline on the border between biology, physics and computer science, reports Leila Masri, coordinator of the IMPRS IS. The interdisciplinary approach is well received: Almost 1000 applications from 55 countries have been received in the current recruitment round, a third of the candidates are female. "The number of applicants has increased from year to year," says Masri. Nevertheless: "The proportion of women in the field of AI is unfortunately still low." By expanding the computer science departments with specializations such as computational linguistics or medical informatics, universities can get more women excited about artificial intelligence, but the foundation for interest in intelligent systems must already be laid in school, says Masri.
Research in the field of intelligent systems, as it is being promoted at universities, institutes and science centers, is especially "important for European competitiveness," notes Stocker. Because AI competence is an advantage in a wide variety of industries. The graduates receive job offers from chip manufacturers and mechanical engineering companies as well as from banks, start-ups and public service institutions. The aim of these companies is to transfer human decision-making processes to digital, intelligent systems.
From robotics to autonomous driving to speech and image recognition: The specialization within a degree in artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role. Also at Deggendorf University: With an English-language Master's in Data Science, she has recently expanded her range of courses. Due to the advancing automation, every technical course will have to cover the topic of artificial intelligence in the future, at least in part, according to Patrick Glauner. "The speed with which AI penetrates all areas of life is enormous," says the AI professor. "So far we have only scratched the surface of the possible."
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