What actually is artificial intelligence?

What actually is artificial intelligence?

Johanna Pabst (front right) from the Künzelsau innovation and digitization motivator hfcon explains to interested company representatives how to enter the world of artificial intelligence. Photo: Nadine König Photo: Nadine König

How do you make AI accessible to your employees? Around 70 private individuals, entrepreneurs and company representatives learned about the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the wider corporate environment last Thursday morning from Professor Nicolaj Stache, research professor for artificial intelligence at Heilbronn University, and Johanna Pabst, project manager at hfcon GmbH.

The moderator Hannes Goth pointed out that this lecture was one of the first face-to-face events on the premises of the “b39” innovation and technology center, because the Obersulm-based industrial camera manufacturer IDS Imaging Development only moved its headquarters in 2020 to the forum called “b39 Campus” has been expanded, where regular training courses and events now take place.

machine learning

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, there is often confusion about the term itself,” says Nicolaj Stache. “Artificial intelligence is actually an umbrella term for the general imitation of human intelligence by computers. Machine learning, on the other hand, is one way of realizing artificial intelligence by artificially generating knowledge from experience,” Stache continues. In machine learning, data is presented to a computer and the computer is then able to generalize and draw conclusions on its own after this learning phase is complete.

While in machine learning a programmer has to intervene to make adjustments, in so-called “deep learning” the algorithms decide themselves. In detail, “deep learning” uses an artificially generated neural network to recognize patterns. These conclusions or recognized regularities can then help companies to optimize products, but also to open up new business areas. For example, in future it should be possible for insurance companies to identify anomalies and uncover insurance fraud much faster with the help of artificial intelligence, or in medicine wearables such as smartwatches should provide even more precise automated diagnoses.

more on the subject

Heilbronn prepares the ground for the artificial intelligence innovation park

competitive advantages

Nicolaj Stache and Johanna Pabst see significant competitive advantages for industry through the use of artificial intelligence in the optimization of production processes and automation, among other things. In this way, better utilization of industrial machines can be achieved or, by evaluating usage behavior, it can be recognized when a repair is due. Artificial intelligence has also made great progress in recognizing and evaluating image data. While in 2010 around 28 percent of image evaluations using artificial intelligence were still incorrect, today it is only around two percent, as Stache and Pabst showed. “Today we have significantly more data available in all areas that can also be applied. That is one of the reasons why the hype about AI is currently increasing,” says Johanna Pabst.

skills shortage

The topics raised in a subsequent panel discussion repeatedly made it clear that it is currently difficult for companies to find suitable specialists who are familiar with setting up and using systems with artificial intelligence. Here, the Heilbronn University with its interdisciplinary center for machine learning offers a contact point for interested local companies. If necessary, the companies are accompanied from initial consultations on the use of artificial intelligence to the final implementation of corresponding systems.


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