Set to be launched this month, Cyber Valley’s public engagement initiative aims to make research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) more accessible and to promote dialog between society and AI researchers. Initial activities were announced on Thursday at a meeting of the Tübingen City Council. The “AI and Society: Exploring Possible Futures” activities will run on a regular basis and comprise a range of formats that are targeted at a broad range of social groups.
Cyber Valley’s public engagement efforts will complement the consortium‘s communications and the work of the Public Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB was launched in 2019 as a public, independent advisory body that evaluates research projects for their ethical and societal implications. “With its public engagement activities, Cyber Valley is creating new opportunities for dialog between science and society on topics related to AI research, especially in the Stuttgart-Tübingen region. The aim is to promote an open conversation with a variety of formats that engage scientists and the public to better understand the opportunities, realities, and fears associated with AI,” said Michael Black, director of the Perceiving Systems Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and Cyber Valley speaker.
“In Tübingen and Stuttgart, the conditions for initiating a process of critical reflection on the ethical and social implications of AI research couldn’t be better,” said Patrick Klügel, Cyber Valley Public Engagement Manager at the University of Tübingen. “We want to take advantage of this starting point to have an accessible and transparent conversation about the future with AI. We want to move the dialog beyond academia because we need the perspectives and commitment of a broad range of social actors. Cyber Valley is now creating a new hub for this. With our public engagement formats, we want to provide opportunities for constructive critical conversations between the public and researchers. I look forward to this exchange.”
The first step will include the launch of AI Office Hours with Cyber Valley researchers, which are open to everyone, a podcast, and a journalist-in-residence program. Cyber Valley has launched corresponding calls for participation on its Instagram channel. Additional public engagement activities will follow throughout the year.
Initial public engagement activities at a glance:
Cyber Valley on the Road – You’re the expert!
Members of the general public invite Cyber Valley researchers over for a chat. Over a cup of tea or coffee, the scientist interviews their hosts on any AI-related topic. In this case, the hosts are the experts, either as a result of their professional background or a special perspective on the topic of AI.
Interested parties can introduce themselves and invite a scientist for an interview by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The interviews can be held in different languages. Please note, however, that only virtual meetings are currently possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cyber Valley AI Office Hours
From now on, citizens will have the opportunity to meet Cyber Valley researchers once a month and ask questions about AI at the AI Office Hours. Scientists from various disciplines will provide insights into the state of research and potential areas of application. The AI Office Hours are a good way to get first-hand information.
On March 22, Professor Jakob Macke (University of Tübingen) and Professor Maria Wirzberger (University of Stuttgart) will answer questions from the public from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. To register, please go to: www.cyber-valley.de/ki-sprechstunde.
“Direktdurchwahl”: Straight-talk about AI. The Cyber Valley Podcast (German)
This new podcast is all about straight-talk: people from the Stuttgart-Tübingen region are invited to say what they think of AI and confront Cyber Valley researchers with their perspectives. Then, interview guests from the scientific community talk about real challenges in AI research rather than presenting unrealistic visions of the future. What can AI do? What are currently the greatest opportunities and risks in research and development?
“Direktdurchwahl” is available free of charge on www.cyber-valley.de/podcast and many major podcast platforms.
“AI and Journalism” Journalist-in-Residence Program
During a three- to six-month residency, a science journalist will focus on how AI applications can be used meaningfully for good journalism. The selected journalist is free to choose their topic and question. The pilot program will kick off on April 1 with Christina Elmer, deputy head of development at the weekly news magazine “Der Spiegel”.
Christina Elmer will present her work and research question on April 21 at a public lecture. At a later date, she will also unveil the results of her three-month residency.
About Cyber Valley Public Engagement:
Cyber Valley Public Engagement activities create spaces for dialog on topics related to research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The aim is to address the specific questions and concerns of all parts of society and to engage in a process of critical reflection and discourse with the research community. In other words, Cyber Valley sees public engagement as an active exchange with the public. This particular approach to science communication is already widespread in the US and UK, where universities and other research institutions have had professional, well established public engagement formats for many years. The basic idea is that engagement is always an interactive process that involves speaking and listening in equal measure.