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What do butterflies, data security, humanoid robots and flying taxis have in common with Karlsruhe? These are all technologies that will change our everyday lives in just a few years, technologies that are currently being developed in the region of Baden and are attracting worldwide attention.
It is therefore obvious that Europe's most important digital conference, DLD, should pay a visit to Karlsruhe with its DLD Campus branch. DLD founder Steffi Czerny opened the one-day conference together with Peter Weibel, head of the Centre for Art and Media (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien -ZKM). Surrounded by digital works of art and only a stone's throw away from the digital elite of tomorrow, who were studying in the summer heat, Steffi Czerny called out to the participants: "In Karlsruhe and the region there is an innovative dynamic ecosystem that manages to combine entrepreneurial spirit, platform competence and know-how. Karlsruhe thus combines the three core themes of DLD: "Digital, Life and Design".
"Europe will never be a Silicon Valley!"
Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Budget and Personnel, reminded the participants at the beginning of the conference of the strengths of the European Union: "Europe will never become a Silicon Valley as it has too many centres. That is why networking plays an important role. Europe is multicultural, a peaceful, open, liberal continent. Help us to strengthen Europe, a project in crisis. Because no European nation is enough when it’s all alone." At the same time, Oettinger warned the audience, in view of Britain's withdrawal from the EU, these networks must not be lost: "A clever Brexit based on partnership is important so that we do not lose Britain scientifically". After all, England is home to the world's leading universities.
Robots staring at humans
According to Tamim Asfour, Professor of Humanoid Robots at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), it is quite conceivable that robots as domestic helpers and cooks will make everyday life easier in the future. Together with his team, Asfour develops so-called ARMAR robots, which already carry out a series of complex activities, observe their owners, constantly imitate new actions and teach themselves. Following the harmonious image of the future of Asfour, in which man and machine work hand in hand, author and Internet critic Andrew Keen and Torsten Kröger (KIT) illuminate the topic from another direction on the DLD stage. Keen puts his finger deep into the wound and does not shy away from unpleasant questions. Are we all out of work soon? And what happens if the flood of private information falls into the wrong hands?
As light as a flapping of a wing
Butterflies have always enchanted people with their colourful and unique shape. Dmitry Stepanenko of the University of Belgrade takes advantage of the biological complexity and uniqueness of moths and creates unique, non-repeatable structures to encrypt digital technologies. The resulting security codes are impossible to copy and are designed to protect digital technologies from hacker attacks.
Hype meets reality
On July 13, 2016, everyone was suddenly staring at their smartphones and running around in confusion: the mobile game Pokemon Go had conquered around 50 million smartphones in just 19 days. Today we still vaguely remember the digital animals. A trend that went as fast as it came. In the panel "Managing Uncertainty" Olaf Zeitnitz, VisualVest, Gerhard Kreß, Siemens Mobility and Patrick Bernau, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, talked about the uncertainty associated with the progressing digitalization.
Man vs. Machine
Artificial intelligence is in the air: technology has already reached a high level - social issues are now at the centre of the discussion. Holger Volland (THE ARTS), Ludger Pfanz (Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe), Barbara Deml (KIT) and Anja-Maria Meister (University of Bayreuth) talked about that. In which areas do we trust the judgement of machines and where do we not want to do without human contact?
The panel of Gerhard Thomas (Burda Digital Systems), Alexander Gerfer (Würth Elektronik eiSos Group), Jivka Ovtcharova (KIT) and Hendrik Schmidt (linkit e.V.) on the DLD stage dealt with so-called digital twins. A Digital Twin is a digital representation of objects and systems. It virtually maps processes and workpieces. First the twin is modeled in order to be able to carry out simulations afterwards. Ultimately, a complete life cycle of a product can be mapped in the digital twin. The representatives from the fields of education, business and industry agree on Germany's enormous potential - all four areas must work closely together on the further development of Digital Twins.
Up in the Air!
Cities are growing faster and faster, and at the same time more people want to get from A to B in the shortest possible time. Overcrowded buses and trains as well as traffic jams are the result. Stefan Klocke from Bruchsal looks up to the sky, where he sees the solution to the problem: With the Volocopter, a kind of oversized drone, Klocke wants to transport people soon, setting new standards for the mobility of the future. Klocke assumes that the first city dwellers with Volocopters will be racing through the air in five years' time. The worldwide demand for his aircraft confirms his work.
The numerous topics of the first DLD Campus in Karlsruhe also offered a lot to talk about beyond the stage programme. At the barbecue in the evening the participants let the conference day end with electronic beats of the Syntheziser band Ströme and used the good atmosphere for exchanging ideas and networking.
Free photo material for editorial reporting (including the photo credit) can be found here.