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Adlershof Journal March/April 2019:

K. O. or A. I.? What artificial intelligence is doing to us and our time

Man and machine: Who is calling the tune? // Clever chaps: football-playing robots and automated transporters //  Great cinema: a journey through the history of AI //

From the Editor

Keep at it

When I asked him what I should do as an editor if a digital assistant were to take away all my work, Sebastian Denef, CEO of the software developer, had a simple answer: keep writing stories. A virtual companion working for me to prepare facts and background information for an article – creating the skeleton as it were – gives me time to talk to my interviewee about his motivation behind starting a company, about his hopes, dreams and wishes, and about the obstacles that will have to be overcome. That’s the real “meat” that fleshes out the story. Sounds good to me.

The topic of this journal, artificial intelligence (AI), deserves more than just a passing look. There is no doubt that AI is going to change our lives – a lot. And like every major upheaval, AI is also going to divide our society. In the one camp we have the fan community, the technology enthusiasts who see undreamt-of possibilities. In the other camp we have the sceptics, who fear they could lose their jobs and who do not want to become dependent on machines that lack all emotion and passion.


What can we do to prepare ourselves for all the revolutionary changes to come? One thing above all else is: learn to keep at it! We will likely never have to worry about how to operate the machines; everything is already becoming more intuitive, if not even autonomous. In the new Berlin excellence cluster “Science of Intelligence”, they are researching into how the complex human skill of communication can be reproduced in an artificial intelligence. The start-up AIBrain even wants to develop an artificial intelligence that thinks, learns, remembers and solves problems holistically like a human. And yet, of enormous importance are the matters of safety and security of AI.  Dangers lurk, after all, in the humanisation of machines.

If, after reading this journal, you want to stay on the subject: the foundation Technologiestiftung Berlin has published a stocktaking of AI activities in the science landscape of Berlin-Brandenburg –

Sylvia Nitschke
Head of Adlershof Print


Bild: © AIBrain


Adlershof Intelligence

AiBrain aims to develop a completely autonomous artificial brain:

The small business AIBrain has big plans: to develop an artificial intelligence that thinks, learns, remembers and solves problems like a human. The artificial brain is already working in the company’s first products. ...

Illustration: Dorothee Mahnkopf © WISTA Management GmbH


Do machines dream of human rights?

Artificial intelligence as a theme for film – a journey through cinematic history:

Essay by Rüdiger Suchsland, a German film journalist and film critic The sentences have to be short and precise. That’s the first thing you learn when communicating with an artificial intelligence. It’s also the advice Chuck...

Linda Onnasch, HU © WISTA Management GmbH


An interview with Linda Onnasch

The Berlin psychologist is researching how humanlike machines ought to be:

She was never interested in becoming a therapist. Instead, psychologist Linda Onnasch is investigating how humanlike a machine ought to be and who should have the final say in the cooperation between man and machine. For all...

Daniel Herfert, GFaI © WISTA Management GmbH


The Quality Inspector

Daniel Herfert develops industrial applications with AI inside:

He studied under a visionary. In 2050, a robot football team will defeat the German national team, Daniel Herfert’s academic teacher Hans-Dieter Burkhard loved to prophesise. Outlooks like this are not uncommon on the...

Neurocat GmbH © WISTA Management GmbH


Hype or High Potential?

Adlershof-based companies develop strategies for wise and safe use of AI:

Companies seem to have no lack of money and exhilaration when it comes to using artificial intelligence and Big Data. But when it comes to strategies for how to use them wisely and standards for how to use them safely, then...

Heinrich Mellmann, HU Berlin © WISTA Management GmbH


When robots take over the work: from transporting to kicking

Researchers and companies in Adlershof are hands-on involved in the development:

A tense hush descends as the Berlin United team scuffles in front of the opposing goal. Will the player make the shot and bring the game to a draw? He shoots, he scores and the crowd roars wildly: Draaaw! They could still...

Prof. Rasha Abdel Rahman, Prof. Verena Hafner, HU Berlin © WISTA Management GmbH


Communication has to be learnt

Preparing robots to absorb information with all senses / New cluster of excellence „Science of Intelligence“ with HU and TU Berlin:

Languages, gestures, facial expressions and much more – that is how human-to-human communication works. How the complex human ability to communicate can be reproduced in an artificial intelligence is the subject of research... © WISTA Management GmbH


A pipeline full of ideas

Two start-ups from the Charlottenburg Innovation Centre CHIC are making our lives easier and more convenient:

Sebastian Denef is a workaholic. Nevertheless, he is convinced that we will all be working less in the near future. How do those two things reconcile? Just last year, he was a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for...

© orinoco-art – iStock


Multiagents to break up traffic jams

DLR traffic researchers are looking for solutions to increasing freight traffic:

Gernot Liedtke is working on making the future navigable – in the truest sense of the word. The department head at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and his team are researching whether delivery vehicles in future could still...

Prometronics © WISTA Management GmbH


AI analysis for the superficial

At the Adlershof Founder’s Lab the start-up ProMetronics is working on flawless functional microsurfaces:

The young Adlershof company ProMetronics UG combines 3D microscopy with artificial intelligence to inspect the quality of functional microsurfaces already in the manufacturing process. If defects are detected, the AI findings...

Short News


Neutral consulting office for building-integrated photovoltaics

In the spring, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin is opening the national consulting office for building-integrated photovoltaics (BAIP). The consultancy will support building owners, architects and municipal planners in activating building envelopes for energy generation. The consulting office is being set up on HZB’s Adlershof campus, in the immediate vicinity of PV research and technology companies, although consultations with these groups can also be held directly at client sites. The consultancy promotes dialogue between researchers, manufacturers, architects and end customers. In addition to direct consultation, the office will also offer advanced training and workshops designed in close cooperation with the project partners to meet specific needs.



Adlershof Thesis Award

Martin Maier won the Adlershof Thesis Award for 2018. With his thesis, he demonstrated the effects of language and knowledge on early stages of visual stimulus processing in the brain and proved that whether we consciously perceive certain stimulation can even depend on our native language. Maier completed his thesis in the Neurocognitive Psychology workgroup at the Department of Psychology of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The prize of 3,000 euros is awarded each year by the research network IGAFA e. V., the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and WISTA Management GmbH.



Bug-proof communication

PicoQuant, an Adlershof-based research and development company that focuses on optoelectronics, is leading the project QuPAD, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its aim is to employ quantum mechanical methods in communication, such as quantum key distribution, that will allow bug-proof communication based on physical properties. Other applications, aside from optical quantum technologies, include for example imaging methods in optics and biology, detection of manufacturing errors in process engineering, and in applications in the field of quantum computing research.



New IGAFA Board of Members

The members of IGAFA, the scientific network of non-university research institutions located in Adlershof, elected a new board of members in December 2018. The spokesman for IGAFA is Professor Ulrich Panne, President of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM).



Girls’ Day and Boys’ Day

This year’s Girls’ Day and Boys’ Day 2019 will take place on 28 March 2019. Girls and boys will have the opportunity to try out professions that have long been considered gender-atypical. Girls’ Day is the biggest vocational orientation day for girls worldwide: 33% of the companies that are regularly involved in Girls’ Day receive follow-up applications from former participants. According to LIFE e.V., 20% of those applications are successful. Adlershof institutes and companies such as the Federal Ministry for Materials Research and Testing, the Leibniz Institute for Crystal Growth, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and AEMtec and ADAV Optical are also involved. /

Editorial Staff

Sylvia Nitschke
WISTA Management GmbH
Director Adlershof Print

+49 30 6392-2238
+49 30 6392-2236


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Best of Adlershof 2017
Compilation of articles from Adlershof Journal and Adlershof Special