AI Week 2023: A week full of knowledge exchange, discussions, and fun
The Aachen AI Week 2023 took place from 25 to 29 September this year. This was a week full of knowledge exchange, discussions, networking, and fun.
The Grand Opening Ceremony was the upbeat of the AI Week and took place in the Coronation Hall of Aachen’s City Hall. Professor Holger Hoos, one of the directors of the RWTH AI Center, opened the event with a first surprise: Karl der Kleine, a comic character very well known to the city of Aachen, who came alive and disrupted the show. Ms. Gonca Türkeli-Dehnert, the state secretary of the state NRW, explained how important RWTH university is to the national AI research. Mayor Sibylle Keupen proudly explained that Aachen was and still is a city of innovation and creativity and encouraged Aachen’s citizens to attend the AI Week events. The second surprise was the official announcement of the partnership of the AI centers of RWTH Aachen, KU Leuven and TU Eindhoven. The rectors of the three universities signed the Memorandum of Understanding where the details of the collaboration were outlined. The third surprise of the evening was the drone-light show on the Katschhof. For ten minutes, 160 drones illuminated the skies of Aachen and symbolically displayed the partnership of the three universities in a dance of three swarms becoming one. The show finished with the letters “AI Week” and “AI 2023” formed by the drones.
Tuesday was dedicated to the education and working in AI. Professors Gerhard Lakemeyer and Ulrik Schroeder explained why it’s worth studying AI and how you could do it at RWTH. Sarah Mathews from Adecco explained what skills will be required in the near future and addressed the gender gap in the job market of AI. Multiple other speakers from the industry gave examples of their own careers and showed that even the “unconventional career path” can lead to a very successful career in AI. In the afternoon, several RWTH institutes discussed about their research and multiple representatives from the industry proved that AI technology managed to move out of universities’ labs and is already used in the industry. At the end of the day, professor Bodo Kraft from FH Aachen University discussed with panellists from research and industry about the effects of AI on the working place. At the same time, a programming workshop for kids was delivered by MathWorks.
The first 2 talks were recorded and can be found on our YouTube channel.
Wednesday and Thursday were devoted to scientific research and knowledge exchange. On both days, leading researchers from RWTH and its partners Forschungszentrum Jülich, TU Eindhoven, and KU Leuven presented their cutting-edge work in AI. There were two parallel tracks: in “Foundations of AI” AI experts such as Joost-Pieter Katoen and Michael Schaub discussed the newest AI methods and in “Real-world Impact of AI” domain experts such as Sandra Geisler and Daniel Truhn provided examples of applications of AI.
At the same time, 19 of 23 Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt professors met to discuss the future of AI. This meeting, supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, resulted in 7 recommendations for the German Government.
On Wednesday evening, selected junior researchers from all around Germany presented their work on AI in the digital church. This poster session was followed by a panel discussion where moderator professor Holger Hoos discussed with representatives from academia, the industry, and the general public about the future of AI. This event was recorded and can be found on our YouTube channel.
On Thursday, the industry and academia were brought together at the RWTH AIxChange Workshop on the topic of hybrid intelligence and how to distribute work between humans and AI. Researchers from RWTH presented the newest research on this topic and representatives from the industry showcased how hybrid intelligence is applied in the “real world”. The workshop continued on Friday morning and resulted in ideas for future collaborations.
On Friday, citizens from Aachen and the neighbourhood were invited to discover AI. At two central locations, research groups from RWTH and its partners presented experiments and demos to the general public. Selected large labs from RWTH University and FH University also welcomed interested citizens for lab tours and to demonstrate their research. The last highlight of the week was the panel discussion on large language models moderated by the RWTH Chancellor Manfred Nettekoven. The panellists, consisting of Michael Goebbels (Couven Gymnasium), professor Verena Nitsch (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) and professor Holger Hoos (Chair for AI Methodology) discussed what chances and risks we are facing and where ChatGPT & Co could improve the future working. The panel discussion will be available on our YouTube-Channel soon.
The entire week was accompanied by a special format in the cinemas: AI movies, from older classics to new releases, were introduced by AI-experts who explained the technology depicted in the movie and discussed the likelihood of the story.
With over 500 participants, nearly 50 speakers, 17 exhibitors with 21 demos and experiments, 7 lab tours, 3 workshops, 2 panel discussions, 1 poster session, the AI Week exceeded all our expectations.
We would like to extend our gratitude and a huge thank you to all organisers, contributors, participants, and volunteers who made this fantastic event a great success.