Let’s talk about AI
Mathematician Mario Koddenbrock uses artificial intelligence to develop practical everyday solutions
Mario Koddenbrock, a mathematician and an expert in pattern recognition at the Society for the Advancement of Applied Computer Science, investigates artificial intelligence (AI) and develops real-world applications with it. AI facilitates applications, he says, that would have been unattainable just a few years ago. However, it’s a topic that must also be approached from a critical vantage point. Ideally, by talking about it and exploring opportunities and risks.
Ivory tower mathematics? Abstract algorithms? Complex constructs? Maybe. However, working on artificial intelligence is not an exercise in theory. “Using mathematical methods and computing power, we will make previously unthinkable applications possible and problems solvable,” says Mario Koddenbrock, waxing lyrically. The 35-year-old researcher works in the field of structural dynamics and pattern recognition at the Society for the Advancement of Applied Computer Science, which goes by the German abbreviation GFaI for Gesellschaft zur Förderung angewandter Informatik e. V. “Algorithms only become useful, just like mathematics only become tangible, when used in everyday life. That’s what makes this incredibly fast-moving topic so attractive,” emphasises Koddenbrock.
With his recent research article on AI-based monitoring of pulsatile ventricular assist devices, the mathematician was able to demonstrate just how useful this supposedly abstract work is. Using AI, he developed a method for automated monitoring of the heart pump of patients with cardiovascular diseases as part of a project for Berlin Heart GmbH, a medical technology manufacturer. It helps the users of these assist devices to go about their daily lives safely and with peace of mind. As yet, testing whether the heart pump functions correctly requires visiting a medical professional. With the device developed by Koddenbrock, patients gain significantly more independence in their everyday lives. This is made possible by a smart combination of acoustic signal processing, statistics, and artificial intelligence. In short: AI increases quality of life. It is effects like these that Koddenbrock enjoys about his work.
Highlighting new opportunities vis-à-vis companies, speaking about chances and limitations, discussing what AI can and cannot do – this is what drives Koddenbrock. “It’s about making AI more approachable for small and medium-sized companies,” explains the researcher. He gives talks, seeks dialogue, and uses social media to explain AI and to overcome potential hesitations where they show up.
Koddenbrock is convinced that AI will also change the way we communicate. This is most obvious where large language models like ChatGPT are used to answer questions, write texts, create images, music, and software, all while communicating with us in natural language. The most recent AI tools are now able to lip-synch in other languages, says the researcher, for example, when talking to colleagues in China via video call. Time-consuming dubbing of films could soon be a thing of the past.
Koddenbrock does not share the fear of AI destroying people’s jobs squarely: “Some tasks and jobs will disappear, but I expect many new ones to be created, relieving employees from tedious and monotonous tasks, and enabling them to turn to more creative activities.” Lastly, it might be possible to counteract the shortage of skilled workers by driving automation forward.
Whatever happens in the end, we must speak about boundaries and rules. “There is a lot of scaremongering,” says Koddenbrock, “as well as justified concern. And discussing it is good.”
Chris Löwer for Adlershof Journal