Can artificial intelligence be dangerous for us? Pupils from grades 7 to 12 asked FIAS postdoc Bastian Eppler and other scientists these and other questions. He was part of a panel of experts on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) from the non-profit organisation "Wissenschaft im Dialog" (science in dialogue).
The online offer "I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here!" enables students to exchange ideas directly with researchers. From 25th to 29 of September 2023, a thematic round on the topic of AI took place, for which Eppler volunteered (https://imascientist.de/). The neuroscientist himself researches how neuronal networks function - both in the brain and the "black box" of artificial neuronal networks. "I answered the questions of interested students on the homepage and in the live chat and liked their great interest," reports Eppler. The topic of AI seems to occupy the students a lot, and they deal with it on many different levels, he observes.
"The curiosity and knowledge of the students I had contact with impressed me deeply," says Eppler. They not only asked questions about AI, but also showed great interest in the impact of this technology on our world. With great pleasure he answered their questions and discussed with them how AI will influence our future. He answered questions from school classes in two half-hour live chats and also replied to questions from students on the homepage every morning.
One of the questions was: In which areas will we deal with AI in the near future? So the students are aware of the rapid integration of AI into our daily lives. Of course, AI already has a big impact in many areas of our lives, such as healthcare and transport, but we are also likely to see more AI applications in education soon.
The students also had the opportunity to ask questions beyond science, e. g. about the daily work of a scientist, as well as about things like Eppler's favourite football club (FSV Frankfurt). "Questions like these help students, who otherwise have no contact with scientists in their environment, to understand that we are only human," the scientist smiles. He also hopes to show them that a career in science is possible and can be a lot of fun.
Eppler found his participation in "I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!" a remarkable experience: "It showed me how important it is to make science and research accessible to young people and to encourage their curiosity". This platform allows the 35-year-old to connect with the next generation of researchers and share their enthusiasm for the world of AI. He recommends this experience to all scientists. Eppler says he would be happy to participate again next time: “I look forward to getting more students excited about the fascinating world of artificial intelligence."
By the way, he denied the question posed at the beginning, "Can artificial intelligence become dangerous for us?” - at least as far as an omnipotent AI dominating humanity is concerned. He considers the careless or deliberate use of AI by humans to be more dangerous, for example in the production of fake news images or discrimination by AI that reproduces racism by humans, for example, because it only uses data generated by humans.