News |Morals & Machines

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It was the first time that German Chancellor Merkel commented on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in such detail as she appeared at the VATMH-supported Wirtschaftswoche conference "Morals & Machines" last Wednesday night. During a roughly 30-minute conversation with Miriam Meckel, member of the advisory board of Thomas Mann House and editor of the Wirtschaftswoche, Angela Merkel outlined plans of the Federal Government's AI strategy, which is expected to be published in the upcoming fall.

First, however, she had a bizarre conversation with the humanoid robot Sophia of the company Hanson Robotics in which they talked about football results, feminism and the future of artificial intelligence. The conversation, however, made the shortcomings of the technology clear: The long pauses that Sophia often took to answer questions were one thing. Her answers, which in some cases were barely related, in particular to open and hypothetical questions, the other. (See the whole talk over at


In any case, the conversation was provocative. The appearance of the robot raised questions about the urge to anthropomorphize machines, the degree of intelligence needed to communicate, and the distinction between consciousness and intelligence. It has long been questioned whether Sophia is an artificial intelligence at all.



With the conference "Morals & Machines" Wirtschaftswoche brought the future of humankind to the stage. In the course of a two-day multimedia conference, scenarios of the future were discussed and the effects of technological developments on our consciousness, our humanity and communities were questioned.

On the second day, the conference started with a conversation between Miriam Meckel and the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari ("Homo Deus"), in which he described his vision of the future, in which intelligence and consciousness no longer necessarily go together.




The rest of the day also focused on the European Commission's AI strategy, the ethics of algorithms, the future of work after digitization, inclusion and responsibility. The closing key note was held by the self-proclaimed "techno" sociologist Zeynep Tufekci with a lecture on the unifying and divisive effects of technological progress.


The conferenc Morals & Machines has been organized by Wirtschaftswoche. More information at


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