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New study: AI becomes a key technology

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) presented a study on Artificial Intelligence at the Hanover Fair 2018. According to this, the VDI expects the use of AI to increase by a factor of three over the next five years.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the key technologies of the coming years from the point of view of the VDI. "AI is the next logical step in digital transformation and is therefore increasingly becoming a field for engineers," as VDI Director Ralph Appel underlined at the Hanover Fair. Here the largest German engineering association presented the results of a current survey on this topic among 900 of its members.

Data Analytics dominates AI use

The lack of digitization in production has so far prevented industry from making wider use of AI technologies. Nearly 64 percent of the study participants stated that their companies would lack the prerequisites for this.

Around 60 percent of those surveyed today use AI primarily for the analysis of data - a trend that will continue to grow. Data Analytics will remain the most important field of application for AI, but other areas of application are clearly closing the gap.

According to survey results, the VDI expects a general increase by a factor of three in the use of AI within the next five years. In some areas, the growth is even higher - for example in human-machine cooperation from currently 5.6% to 38% in the future.

Stay in control

According to the VDI, it is up to the engineers and computer scientists whether AI could lead to a loss of control in the future. Users and developers need their own understanding of criteria for dealing with AI systems so that their suggestions or decisions are plausible and transparent.

"AI systems should be used as support, not as a substitute for human intelligence."

VDI-Director Ralph Appel

Outside industry, too, respondents rated the potential of AI highly, for example with regard to improved traffic flows through autonomous driving or assistance robotics. Due to the high demand for skilled workers, the VDI considers negative effects on the job market due to robots and assistants with AI also unlikely in the medium term. In the best case, the opposite could even happen, according to Appel: "If we correctly evaluate and tackle the digital transformation and the possibilities of AI, it will become a job engine for Germany”.

Leadership in research

Germany is well positioned in terms of AI fundamentals, but currently occupies only third place in the ranking of the leading AI nations. Eighty percent of the interviewed VDI members see the USA in front, followed by China (55 percent) and then Germany with 30.4 percent.

However, Germany does not need to hide when it comes to AI, the association emphasized at its press conference in Hanover. German companies and scientists play a leading role in three areas: in AI research, in the application of AI in robotics and in the application of AI in autonomous driving.

According to Appel, it is important to discuss the opportunities and risks of AI in detail and throughout society - this is the view of almost 92% of the engineers surveyed.

Further information on AI in data analysis and keywords such as machine learning or neural networks is provided by our white paper "Data Science & Analytics".

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