Date: August 27, 2019, No. 073

Cyber Valley establishes Public Advisory Board

The independent committee is involved in the selection of research projects, evaluating them with regard to their ethical and social implications. The Cyber Valley research consortium thus creates an additional element of transparency.

Tübingen/Stuttgart – With the Public Advisory Board (PAB), Cyber Valley is establishing an independent committee to evaluate research projects with regard to their ethical and social implications. Europe's largest research cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) thus creates an additional element of transparency.

The members of the PAB are appointed by Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Science, Research and the Arts. "Artificial intelligence has enormous potential for social change. In order to make use of this potential, people also need to have confidence in the opportunities offered by AI. Transparency and dialogue are indispensable. The Public Advisory Board will contribute to the development of an ethical and social model for AI research. In this sense, we also want to foster an open dialogue between science and society on the possible applications of AI," says Theresia Bauer.

"Artificial intelligence will significantly change the way we live and work," says Bernhard Schölkopf, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. "It is of crucial importance for society that we anticipate these changes and prepare for them.” His colleague and Cyber Valley spokesman Michael J. Black adds: "It is critical that we use AI to improve our lives. For this reason we are pleased that Cyber Valley provides a vehicle to engage AI researchers in this important and evolving ethical discussion. The dialog between the independent advisory board and scientists will help shape the future of AI for the benefit of humanity.”

The PAB’s role is to review project proposals from Cyber Valley research groups prior to approval by the Cyber Valley Research Fund Board. The Cyber Valley Research Fund Board is a joint commission of the partners from politics, science and industry in which the academic representatives have the majority. It decides on the basis of scientific excellence which research projects are to be financed with funds from the Research Fund. Only the Cyber Valley research groups can apply for Cyber Valley Research Fund money. The Cyber Valley Research Fund finances free research projects, i.e. projects that are not specified by industry, even though it is the industrial partners who fill the funding pot. It has a volume of 5 million euros for the next four years.

The members of the PAB have access to all funding applications and are thus in a position to check, on which projects the funds are spent. The PAB members participate in the meetings of the Research Fund Board. They can ask for further information, make recommendations, express concerns and engage in a debate.

The appointed members come from different areas of science and society and thus represent a broad spectrum of relevant disciplines and backgrounds. Science Minister Theresia Bauer: "In addition to the technical expertise of the members of the Public Advisory Board in the fields of artificial intelligence, ethics, technology assessment and digital civil society, it is very important to us to include the perspective of the younger generation, for it is their everyday lives that will be significantly influenced by the increasing penetration of artificially intelligent systems".

The following experts were appointed to the PAB:

  • Dr. Regina Ammicht Quinn is a Professor of Ethics at the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW) at the University of Tübingen and Head of the Department of Society, Culture and Technical Change, where she deals with ethical issues of digital life and digital technology development.
  • Dr. Heinrich Bülthoff is Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. As head of the department "Human Perception, Cognition and Action" he researches the fundamental processes of human perception and behaviour in virtual environments.
  • Dr. Armin Grunwald is Professor of Technology Philosophy and Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Head of the Office for Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag.
  • Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel is Director of the Weltethos-Institute in Tübingen, which accompanies and shapes the critical dialogue on the topic of ethics and AI in general as well as specifically on Cyber Valley with conferences, public events and lectures.
  • Lorena Jaume-Palasí is the Founder of the non-profit organization The Ethical Tech Society, which at the interface of technology, ethics and society pursues the goal of researching processes of automation and digitization and classifying them normatively with regard to their social relevance. As a member of the High-Level Expert Group on AI of the EU, she was involved in the development of the European ethical guidelines for trustworthy AI.
  • Dr. Sandra Richter is the Director of the German Literature Archive in Marbach, where she deals with digitalization and products of digital culture as well as the question of how digital technologies can be used in literary and cultural mediation.
  • Katharina Schmidt is Founder of the AI start-up, which uses artificial intelligence to investigate the causes of bee mortality. The company thus demonstrates a successful application of AI in the field of environmental protection and nature conservation. She is also involved in the G-Lab research project at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. Based on her experience in founding her own company, she develops new concepts for the promotion of a start-up culture among University students and supports the cooperation of Universities with start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Lukas Weber is a committed representative and Co-organizer of the Fridays for Future activities in Heidelberg and a student at the University of Heidelberg. He is committed to taking a closer look at the consequences for future generations of today's decisions that will strongly shape and change our society, such as the further development and application of artificial intelligence.
  • Nicola Wettmarshausen is a Journalist with a focus on science, environment and technology and founder of the citizen science initiative EcoCurious, which uses innovative projects and do-it-yourself formats to explore new applications for digital technologies and create new perspectives for an even closer exchange between science and society.
  • In addition, an elected member of the Tübingen Municipal Council will be appointed to the committee, based on the great commitment in shaping and accompanying the local discourse on the Cyber Valley initiative in a constructive and critical manner.

All Cyber Valley partners are committed to transparency. Regular events are held on the topic of artificial intelligence. The spectrum ranges from a Studium Generale series on AI, open days, lab tours, science slams or participation in exhibitions such as MS Wissenschaft or the Tübinger Fenster für Forschung. The researchers, who are part of the Cyber Valley ecosystem, take part in panel discussions – whether with politicians in Stuttgart's New Palace or with student representatives in University auditoriums. The scientists regularly hold lectures in front of a broad audience, take part in research and digital summits, are open to the media and welcome their reports.

Cyber Valley is Europe‘s largest research cooperation with partners from science and industry in the field of artificial intelligence. The Max Planck Society with the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, the two Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen as well as the companies Amazon, BMW AG, Daimler AG, IAV GmbH, Porsche SE, Robert Bosch GmbH and ZF Friedrichshafen AG are involved in the initiative, which is supported by the state of Baden-Württemberg. Cyber Valley is also supported by the Christian Bürkert Foundation, the Gips-Schüle Foundation, the Vector Foundation and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.


Press contacts:

Linda Behringer
c/o Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart
T: +49 711 689 3552
M: +49 151 2300 1111

Valérie Callaghan
c/o Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen
T: +49 7071 601 1832             
M: +49 151 1560 4276


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Andrea Mayer-Grenu

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