Event Report: Science Circle Lecture with Prof Astrid Rosenthal von der Pütten

In keeping with the Focus Topic for the Year 2019 – Artificial Intelligence – the German Centre for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New Delhi, along with the RWTH Aachen University and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, organised a Science Circle Lecture: What artificially intelligent systems still have to learn to fit into our social system.

The lecture was delivered by Prof Astrid Rosenthal von der Pütten, Chair of Individual and Technology, Human Technology Centre at RWTH Aachen University. She began her talk with a comparison between science fiction and reality. In fiction, the basics like navigation, object recognition and natural language processing by AI are already solved, and the focus is on big questions like the definition of humanness. In reality, however, researchers still struggle with these elementary issues.

She proceeded with the demonstration of a socially assistive robot helper for senior citizens, called Hobbit, developed at TU Wien. With such increasing expectations of what AI can do, sociability is becoming desirable in robots. The branch of social robotics explains how sociability is not about being emotional or caring or even compassionate. Rather it is social competence – the ability of human beings to read other humans (also called common ground) and act accordingly.

AI still has to overcome the challenges of context awareness – common sense and user modelling – to fit into our social system, she concluded. The idea is to make implied knowledge or common ground knowledge available to AI systems.

With more than 70 people, including students, professors, industrialists, and AI researchers and columnists in attendance, a long and engaging question answer round followed. The event culminated over high tea and networking.

Date: Monday, 14th October 2019

Venue: Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, New Delhi