It’s a sunny Saturday morning at the Radialsystems V complex in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin. But today is not just any day. The extensive terrace right next to the Spree river is slowly filling with young people. The scent of croissants and coffee wafts through the air—brain food for the over 1,300 visionary minds who will develop ideas for a better future this weekend at the Z2X festival. Armed with their visions for mobility, economics, politics, and social coexistence, the 2X (that is, 20–29)-year old participants wait for the signal for the festival by Zeit Online to begin.
The beyond initiative by Audi in discussion with Generation Y at the Z2X festival
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change the way we work. But what can we do today to make sure that AI will be the team player with society’s best interests at heart? The beyond initiative by Audi brought together young visionaries at the Z2X Festival in Berlin to discuss this question. Blog author Olivia Faulbacher was there with them.
Audi talks with young visionaries about the working world of the future
The signal comes at 10 a.m. First on the schedule are a series of short speeches. One of the biggest questions about the future that the speeches raise is how we want to design our working life in the age of artificial intelligence. What do we need to do now to use technological advances in such a way that they push us forward, both as people and as a society? That’s exactly what Melanie Goldmann and Barbara Wege, from Audi, ask the assembly of 1,300 out-of-the-box thinkers. The auto company is here with its beyond initiative in order to collaborate with members of Generation Y during the subsequent workshop to hammer out new ideas for the working world of the future.
How the beyond initiative thinks beyond artificial intelligence as technology
The beyond initiative is a network that brings together a variety of players to discuss the topic of artificial intelligence. “We talk with international engineers, legal professionals, startups, psychologists, and philosophers, encouraging an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas,” explains project head Barbara Wege at the beginning of the workshop. I’m sitting with over 40 other Z2X participants in a bright room with a view of the Spree. First, we all take a moment to look deep within ourselves. I, too, ask myself how I picture a good working life in the year 2035. For example, if AI answered my emails for me, I would have more time for creative projects. And the words “more flexible” and “less work” also land on the poster with our vision of the future. But how will we get there? Which competencies do we need in this working world? And how can we ensure that all members of society profit from the transformation? That’s what we talk about in the next step.
What effects AI could have on economic success
Next we look more closely at the targets that we want to reach. To do this, we split up into four groups: individual freedom and security, social cohesion, successful cooperation between man and machine, and economic success. In our team, where we discuss economic success, we quickly come to an agreement: technology can make our work more efficient in the future. “Although AI will take over certain tasks in the future,” the group says, “we will need to be able to do other things in turn.”
Now we develop some action steps. We suggest programming courses in schools as well as in the context of continuing vocational training. Furthermore, companies could more intensively encourage entrepreneurship to make talented people more capable of taking action, which would make Europe a more attractive location for businesses. After our idea pitch, these visions are incorporated into our shared masterplan for the future of the working world.
More time for personal creativity
More space to explore the world “beyond” wage labor—that’s what the team for “individual freedom and security” demanded from the working world of the future. In their concrete vision that means: Every 15 years, each person can take a year off to devote themselves to continuing education, founding a startup, or social involvement, during which time they will receive support. A good idea—because it would allow us to create more space for creativity when our AI colleague, for example, takes over our administrative tasks in the future.
But how can we ensure that AI is acting in our best interests? It’s astonishing: all the teams have come up with a similar approach to this topic: a sort of independent “ethical TÜV” certification. “I’m excited to see what a keen sense of justice and sustainability the Z2X participants have,” says Barbara Wege. “For example, it was exciting for us to see that many of them share our belief that the social market economy can be a model for the future of the working world.”
She will take the “spirit and drive” of Z2X with her, she tells me as the room slowly empties. As a participant, I feel much the same way. And in additional discussions on political topics, feminism, or the competencies needed by change makers, I am reminded again and again: we can all think “beyond.” Use new ideas to design the society and working world of the future. And work together to make our AI colleague into a team player.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will substantially change our mobility, our working world, and our lives. The aim of the beyond initiative is that AI will be applied for the benefit of society. The focus is to trust in autonomous driving and the future of work in the age of AI. As a first step, the beyond initiative has established an interdisciplinary network of international AI experts. Philosophers and psychologists meet software engineers, start-up entrepreneurs, and legal experts – because beyond is convinced that, in order to shape the AI transformation, business, politics, and society must work together.Read more
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