Author: PROF. DR. MARTINA MARA, Head of the LIT Robopsychology Lab at Johannes Kepler University Linz,

Member of the Austrian Council on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (ACRAI)

Technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence have come a long way. They have the potential to solve major challenges in various areas of application and they entail many opportunities for humanity: From improving detection and treatment of diseases to enabling greater autonomy for the elderly, from optimizing energy consumption to granting us more time and space for creativity. However, these opportunities come with complex challenges that need to be identified and addressed. Robotics and AI will not only lead to new demands in the working world, but are also raising societal, ethical and psychological issues that have to be solved by policy makers all around the globe. Therefore, now is the time to start the

discussion about the framework conditions of a world we want to live in in the future. We need to shape a human-centered tomorrow, in which artificial intelligence and natural intelligence are not played off against one another, but are rather seen as complementary; a tomorrow in which fundamental rights, human needs and values such as fairness, inclusion, transparency and non-discrimination are promoted by design.


Trans-disciplinarity is a key factor in this discussion. Experts from diverse backgrounds

and stakeholders from various areas of society – including the cultural and creative sectors that are so impressively represented at SXSW – have to be brought together to create forward-looking guidelines for the development of responsible technology. This year at the German Haus, we will deal in depth with the ethical and social challenges of robotics and AI. We will review current international policy-making initiatives and ask what it takes to implement a more proactive and participatory approach to the development of technology that considers ethical and social issues already in the very early stages of innovation.

The German performance artist Joseph Beuys once said “The future we want, needs to be invented; otherwise we will get one, we donʼt want”.