AI Week: Research, Politics and Entrepreneurship

Symposium at the Coronation Hall Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

During the RWTH AI Week (31.08.-03.09.), researchers, politicians and citizens had the opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art AI research and discuss the implications of advances in this field. The week was jointly organized by RWTHextern and the RWTH Center for Artificial Intelligence and comprised a series of events with very different formats.


The first highlight of the week was a special of the event series “Uni im Rathaus” with the topic “AI and me”. A panel of experts and the audience discussed the question: Where and how do we already encounter artificial intelligence in our everyday life? The questions by moderator Jens Tervooren guided those present through both the political and scientific dimensions of this topic. The invited experts were able to offer very different perspectives: Holger Hoos, professor for machine learning at Leiden University and initiator of the CLAIRE network, stressed the importance of a European agenda for AI research and regulation, to develop trustworthy AI made in Europe. Member of parliament and chairwoman of the enquete commission on AI, Dr. Anna Christmann, offered her political take on AI regulation and data provision. Bastian Leibe, professor for computer vision at RWTH Aachen and spokesperson of the RWTH AI Center, provided insights into what state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms can and can not achieve. And Prof. Markus Strohmaier from the Chair of Computational Social Sciences and Humanities highlighted some of the dilemmas which arise from delegating decisions to such algorithms. The numerous questions from the audience showed that such formats are of great relevance for a public dialog regarding our future with AI.

  Prof. Saskia Nagel Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

On Thursday, a series of short talks introduced the many different facets of AI research at RWTH University. The format provided interesting and entertaining insights into the most recent research questions from a number of different fields. Some core AI methods were presented by Prof. Wil van der Aalst, Prof. Gerhard Lakemeyer, Prof. Bastian Leibe and Prof. Michael Schaub. The central issue of efficient hardware for AI applications was addressed by Prof. Max Lemme. Prof. Abigail Morrison talked about how understanding the human brain can help to improve state-of-the-art neural networks even further. Two examples for applications of AI research in learning-based control and molecular imaging were introduced by Prof. Sebastian Trimpe and Prof. Fabian Kießling. How we want to work and live in a world that will be transformed by AI was discussed in the talks by Prof. Verena Nitsch and Prof. Saskia Nagel. All in all, the event illustrated the impressive variety of AI research at RWTH.

  Sebastian Thrun at the Scientific Symposium Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

Top-level international AI research was the focus of the scientific symposium held in the historic Coronation Hall on Friday, September 3. The keynote was given by Sebastian Thrun, adjunct professor at Stanford University and entrepreneur at Google. He talked about the exciting opportunities of using AI in transportation. Another field of application, namely robotics in agriculture, was presented by Prof. Cyrill Stachniss from University of Bonn. The relevance of simulating molecular processes and the role of deep learning for advances in this field was stressed by Max Welling, professor at Amsterdam University and head of the Microsoft Research Lab in Amsterdam. The second part of the symposium started with Prof. Barbara Hammer from Bielefeld University, who introduced the challenges of non-stationary learning. With his second appearance at the RWTH AI Week, Prof. Holger Hoos closed the scientific symposium. He took the opportunity to talk about the issue of safety and trust in machine learning algorithms. The stream of the event is still available on the RWTH YouTube channel.


The AI Week culminated in the award of the Aachener Ingenieurspreis to Sebastian Thrun on Friday afternoon. The week highlighted the importance of AI for our society and put a spotlight on AI research happening at RWTH. Its success will be followed by further interesting events in the future. To stay up-to-date, subscribe to our mailing list by writing an email with the subject “subscribe” to or follow us on LinkedIn.