20th Annual Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society forum
Berlin, 23 October 2023
Jan Wörner, acatech President and Michael Dowling, acatech member and Chairman of the Management Board of Münchner Kreis took part in the Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum). In their keynote speeches and contributions to discussions they flagged ways in which science, technology and innovation can assist in solving global challenges.
The STS forum is regarded as an international platform for dialogue between policymakers, science, business and media. The forum established by former Minister of Finance Koji Omi took place from 1 to 3 October 2023 in Kyoto, Japan. Some 1500 people from more than 80 countries, regions and organisations attended the 20th anniversary meeting.
Topics related to artificial intelligence featured prominently in discussions, focusing on prospects and challenges in general as well as AI in healthcare and education specifically. In total, ten plenary sessions were held at this year’s conference, involving lively exchanges of views.
These included sessions on topics such as “Lights and Shadows of Human’s Activity in Space” and “AI & Hyper Automation”, to which Jan Wörner and Michael Dowling made active contributions. In his keynote speech, Jan Wörner said that there are many global challenges to which space is helping to find a solution. He views space as a science laboratory. For example, climate change variables can be observed from space, and solutions devised. However, enthusiasm aside, the issue of environmental pollution by space research, both in space and on Earth, must not be forgotten. Jan Wörner ultimately pointed out that it is wrong to regard space research as a search for an alternative planet to Earth. It is more important, he said, to use the innovations in space for the benefit of the planet.
In his session, Michael Dowling stated that hyperautomation will have an even more profound influence on business and society in future. He sees the positives associated with it; e.g. the potential for incremental change in process efficiency, but also points out that there are many outstanding issues. Michael Dowling emphasises that we are on the cusp of a new generation of automation. He believes it is crucial to weigh up the opportunities and challenges of hyperautomation. Topics such as its economic impact, ethics and governance, cooperation between humans and AI, AI decision-making and possible long-term effects of hyperautomation on society must be explored.
Presidents of the academics of technical sciences of various countries around the world, such as Australia, France, India, Japan, Singapore and Sweden, took the opportunity to meet on the fringes of the forum. In lively discussions, they exchanged views on the diverse applications of artificial intelligence. Discussions centred on prospects, challenges but also acceptance by society and the most positive and humane use of artificial intelligence.