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Artificial intelligence: Germans see no reason to fear robot coworkers

Bosch presents survey on the eve of an AI conference

  • Germans believe AI will bring great benefits to mobility and manufacturing
  • One in two people would be willing to work with a robot
  • Michael Bolle: “Humans will be in control of AI”
  • Bosch announces award for young researchers

Stuttgart, Germany. Whether at home, in traffic, or at work, artificial intelligence (AI) is going to transform the world. It’s a future that is not so distant. Smartphones already come with smart voice-controlled assistants, and physicians are using AI to diagnose conditions.

The more intelligent systems now shape everyday life, the more important it is to show people their benefits, and in this way to foster acceptance for this key technology.

Michael Bolle, the chief digital and technology officer at Bosch

But even if smart systems are already with us, most Germans (85 percent) still have no clear picture of the purposes that AI already serves today.

Much the same can be said of the public’s understanding of AI. Although most respondents – 82 percent – are familiar with the term “artificial intelligence,” more than half (53 percent) know only vaguely what it means. These are the findings of a representative survey conducted by Bosch and the market research institute Innofact in the run-up to the AI CON AI symposium at Renningen near Stuttgart.

Commenting on AI CON, where 200 and more experts are to talk about the opportunities and challenges of AI, Dr. Michael Bolle, the chief digital and technology officer at Bosch, says: “The more intelligent systems now shape everyday life, the more important it is to show people their benefits, and in this way to foster acceptance for this key technology. We have get the message across that humans will be in control of AI.”

No fear of robots

One example of how AI can benefit people is automated driving. Bosch is striving to make road transportation emissions-free, accident-free, and stress-free. With nine out of ten accidents are currently attributable to human error, smart technology could use AI to prevent many of these from happening in the first place. Connected manufacturing is another banner field for AI. In a smart factory, people and machines will work together as an intelligent team. Robots will relieve people of strenuous and dangerous tasks and learn from experience. This will reduce people’s burden. The Bosch survey found that many Germans could imagine being able to accept this situation. Two-thirds of respondents – 67 percent – believe that manufacturing and mobility are going to benefit greatly from artificial intelligence. They are also open to working with a robot if it takes over routine chores. Half of all respondents could well imagine such a situation, and would above all devote the free time gained to social or creative activities. Views on the use of AI vary with age, with 18- to 29-year-olds most likely to see AI applications as potentially useful for smartphones and households.

Investigating safe, robust, and explainable AI

Bosch founded the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence, or BCAI, in early 2017 to expand its AI skill-set. A big part of the BCAI’s mission is to explore the rules by which machines learn and what conclusions they draw from these lessons. To promote young talent in this field, Bosch will be presenting the Bosch AI Young Researcher Award, endowed with 50,000 euros, for the first time next year. “We are investigating artificial intelligence that is safe, robust, and explainable. AI will augment humankind's abilities,” says Professor Thomas Kropf, the president of the Bosch corporate sector for research and advance engineering. In late 2016, Bosch joined forces with partners in science, business, and government to set up Cyber Valley and drive research into artificial intelligence. Speaking at AI CON, Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf, director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, said:“Science and industry are working together in Cyber Valley to create an ecosystem for the best AI research.” Cyber Valley aims to transfer research findings into real-world industrial applications as quickly as possible, to attract highly qualified researchers from all over the world to Baden-Württemberg, and to train and retain AI experts.

Branch out the network, step up knowledge-sharing

Organized by the BCAI and the Cyber Valley research alliance, AI CON is being held for the first time this year. It will bring together leading AI industry and research experts to explore the opportunities and challenges inherent in the technology. The conference will feature the Bosch experts Dr. Michael Bolle and Dr. Christoph Peylo (head of the BCAI), Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf, the Max Planck Institute’s world-class authority on machine learning, and speakers from Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S., ETH Zurich in Switzerland, and from Austria, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Survey design: For this major study conducted on behalf of Bosch, the market research institute Innofact polled 1,022 people throughout Germany between the ages of 18 and 69. The survey was carried out in October 2018.

To the presskit

Contact person for press inquiries:
Christiane Wild-Raidt,
Phone: +49 711 811-6283
Twitter: @WildRaidt

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 402,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2017). The company generated sales of 78.1 billion euros in 2017. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.

As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 125 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 64,500 associates in research and development.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, www.iot.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse.

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