On 29 May 2018, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a discussion with experts on the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Federal Chancellery in Germany. Experts from universities, research institutions and companies were invited to attend. One of them was Hans Beckhoff, Managing Director of Beckhoff Automation. In addition to Angela Merkel, other participants from the Federal Government were Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery, Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, and Dorothee Bär, Federal Government Commissioner for Digitisation.
The aim of the event was to exchange information on the potential and challenges of artificial intelligence for Germany. The Federal Government intends to bundle all measures in this area and combine them into a national strategy to promote the use of artificial intelligence for the benefit of business and society. In this context, Hans Beckhoff had this to say about the following key issues: “Artificial intelligence is a true cross-cutting technology that will have or already has a far-reaching influence on many areas of our lives. Voice communication with machines and devices using people’s respective mother tongues is a typical example. Developed further, this will result in universally automated interpreting services, which, I hope, will help people around the globe to understand one another better. We are now all familiar with the purchasing recommendations in online retail currently made possible for the most part by deep-learning processes. This technology could also, for example, be used in the field of medicine for automated diagnostics based on the medical symptoms exhibited by the patient. In any case, we are certain that artificial intelligence will improve the properties of machines and devices. This applies in particular to machine control, the field in which Beckhoff is most active. With Beckhoff New Automation Technology and our PC Control philosophy, we and all our customers are well equipped for the future. Today, we can already offer many artificial intelligence applications as standard functionality via the TwinCAT MATLAB® tool chain, and the first sensor-evaluation algorithms are also already based on neural networks. Every company in Germany, in Europe and around the world will have to meet this challenge and take advantage of the opportunities it provides for their own products and business models, something which Chancellor Angela Merkel has already realised. She aims to develop a national strategy for the advancement and use of artificial intelligence, comparable to the initiatives developed for Industrie 4.0. The industry wholeheartedly welcomes this approach.”