The rapid development of quantum technologies (QT) promises an economic innovation boost, new breakthroughs in science, and unprecedented solutions to global societal problems. For years, TUM and the Munich region have been a hub for innovation and research in the field of quantum technologies. This research is now complemented by a flagship project from the newly established Quantum Social Lab at the TUM Think Tank. Supported by the BMBF with a total of 1.9 million euros, the project "QuantWorld" focuses on the future of responsible technology development, making quantum technologies understandable to people where they will impact their daily work. The project integrates social aspects into the world of quantum technologies and takes new methodological approaches by involving artists in knowledge dissemination, making quantum technologies experiential.
Quantum Technologies: The Path to the Future
Quantum technologies have the potential to reshape the world as we know it. Applications range from personalized drug development to contributions, climate protection through innovative battery technologies, to agricultural optimization based on more accurate predictions of natural events. While some applications such as quantum sensors in medical imaging are already on the market, others - like powerful quantum computers and developments in quantum communication - are still in their infancy.
To harness the full innovation potential of quantum technologies while also addressing their risks, including security threats or access equity, it is essential to engage with their societal dimensions and anticipate the potential impacts on people in their (professional) daily lives while technical development is still malleable.
This is where the "QuantWorld" project comes in. Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF),it enables citizens, regardless of their background, to gain insight into the world of quantum technologies today and prepare for the future. The project is part of the Quantum Social Lab at the TUM Think Tank and was developed in collaboration with Fraunhofer AISEC and the TUM Clinic Rechts der Isar entstanden.
Urs Gasser, Principal Investigator of the project and Dean of the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology, sums up this challenge:"Quantum technologies can help us build a better future in many ways. However, we must ensure that societal, political, and ethical implications are considered from the outset, and technical innovations align with the well-being of people. We must avoid the mistake of only thinking about these aspects, as we did with AI, when applications emerge from the labs. QuantWorld is an attempt to be more proactive and participatory."
A Unique Educational Platform
The QuantWorld project provides a unique educational platform to introduce people to the world of quantum technologies, regardless of their prior knowledge. It combines innovative teaching methods, including artistic interventions, to make quantum technologies tangible and create a basis for a broad dialogue on the societal challenges associated with the development and establishment of second-generation quantum technologies.
Fabienne Marco, a doctoral candidate in computer science and political science who leads the Quantum Social Lab, provides a glimpse into the future: "Quantum technologies are abstract and built on complex mathematical and physical principles. Representing this abstraction requires new methods. Artistic interventions enable us to provide a new and disruptive way of accessing these technologies, initiating a transfer from the academic world to society, politics, and business. This concept will be further developed in the coming years to build an interdisciplinary network that focuses on the innovative communication of cutting-edge technologies and their applications, as well as the associated societal challenges."
Upon project completion, all suitable modules will be integrated into a QuantumBasics course, offering an overview of the fundamental workings of second-generation quantum technologies and potential future scenarios in the fields of medicine, banking, and mobility. Additionally, the artistic interventions will be made digitally accessible. In the long term, the learning experience from the QuantWorld platform will be transformed into virtual course formats to create an "immersive twin" of QuantWorld.
The project aligns with TUM's vision, committed to human-centered engineering. Thomas Hoffmann, President of TUM, emphasizes the importance of this approach: "This societal reference to complex technologies is critical for our innovation location in Munich. The QuantWorld project marks a crucial step toward a future where innovation and technology development are responsible, socially accepted, and sustainable."
For more information about "QuantWorld," please visit here.
About the Quantum Social Lab and the TUM Think Tank
The Quantum Social Lab focuses on researching and shaping the societal opportunities and risks surrounding quantum technologies, addressing responsible innovation and regulation, among other topics. It also offers various forms of knowledge dissemination regarding the theoretical and technological foundations of quantum technologies and is part of the TUM Think Tank.
The TUM Think Tank promotes societal and political change by bridging theory and practice. It creates interdisciplinary learning and experimentation spaces where stakeholders from science, society, and politics collaborate on specific questions and problems related to responsible technologies.
"AI applications are only as good at medicine as the data sets they are trained on. So you need really good data sets, including from our patients in Germany. These should not be biased and should meet high quality standards. Then you get the best possible medical AI. And if it has been carefully proven that such an AI application can perform individual tasks better than doctors or existing software, then we at the German Ethics Council say that it should be made widely available. There are the very first examples, for example in diagnostics in imaging" says Alena Buyx, Chair of Germany's Ethics Council and member of the Generative AI Taskforce at the TUM Think Tank.
She gave an interview to Tagesspiegel Background on Medicine and AI and touches on topics like AI algorithms in psychotherapy, and the Ethics Council's stand on electronic patient records. "Artificial intelligence is a tool in medicine", says Alena Buyx. On the question of ethical evaluation of AI, a central review board could be helpful, she says.
The full interview is available by free subscription at: Tagesspiegel Background.
Already: Deep fakes are flooding the web. Some fear that AI could even help develop new viruses. "I still believe that the potential to help humanity through AI is extremely great," says AI researcher Daniel Rückert, a member of the Generative AI Taskforce on the German TV program "Titel Thesen Temperamente." He is primarily researching AI-assisted image analysis in medicine. For example, he envisions that in a few years, every primary care physician will be able to use AI to say, "You may develop a certain cancer in two years. Here's what you can do now to change that still."
Watch the whole segment (in German) here.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to fundamentally change the scientific landscape. In a state parliament hearing in the Committee for Science and the Arts, Prof. Dr. Enkelejda Kasneci, co-leader of the Generative AI Taskforce at the TUM Think Tank, was asked together with other experts about the opportunities and risks of AI in higher education. The discussion revolved around preparing students and faculty to use AI, the role of AI tools such as ChatGPT in writing, and the need for open and accessible use of AI tools in libraries. Despite some concerns, the experts emphasized the positive impact of AI and advocated for an optimistic view of the future of academia.
The co-leader of the Generative AI Taskforce emphasized that generative AI is steadily advancing and has ever-shorter technological cycles. This, she said, opens up opportunities for active, collaborative and immersive learning environments that are individually tailored to learners' needs, thus paying into the UNESCO Education 2030 Agenda, which calls for a human-centered approach to AI in education to advance inclusion and equity. Under the motto "AI for All," everyone should benefit from the technological revolution and reap its rewards, especially in the form of innovation and knowledge.
Basic competency goals in academic writing will still be maintained and will not be replaced in the long term. However, the introduction of AI writing tools requires adaptation, where integration should be done responsibly. Legal issues were also highlighted during the hearing, such as copyright, privacy, and liability. Universities should carefully consider these issues and take appropriate measures to protect the rights of all stakeholders, Kasneci said.
Although some students and faculty appreciated the efficiency and support of AI writing tools and certainly saw advantages in time savings, generation of ideas, and error detection, there was also some skepticism about automated text generation. Concerns about plagiarism and data protection could also lead to acceptance problems. According to Kasneci, students and faculty have reservations predominantly about the accuracy, reliability, and ethics of AI-generated texts. There could be a sense of loss of control if AI writing tools are perceived as a substitute for traditional writing skills. Therefore, she said, it is important to acknowledge these concerns and provide comprehensive education, training, and guidance to promote student and faculty confidence and acceptance.
In general, the experts agreed that a "calibrated trust" in AI is necessary in the scientific community. This means that students and teachers should be prepared for the use of AI in order to make the most of the opportunities offered by this technology. It was emphasized that AI tools such as ChatGPT can automate writing and increase creativity, allowing students and faculty to focus on more challenging tasks.
Kasneci appealed, "Education needs to move from routine and impersonal tasks to more personal, complex and creative tasks. We need to find ways to enable the promotion of multifaceted competencies beyond curricula and syllabi in higher education, with a strong focus on creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication."
She adds, "Overall, we are facing an exciting time of change in education. The question will be how do we make innovation and knowledge accessible to all, enable a more equitable and inclusive education landscape that meets the demands of a disruptively changing world."
It is not only in higher education that there is an urgent need for action. In the Handelsblatt, Kasneci recently called for a " revamping of the curricula". Teaching is "far too fragmented" - with the support of AI, it will be easier to teach "holistically" in the future. To achieve this, however, the education ministers must ensure that all teachers acquire a basic knowledge of AI.
Enkelejda Kasneci is a co-founder of the newly established TUM Center for Educational Technologies, where interdisciplinary research teams investigate the effectiveness of digital tools for learning and teaching and develop new applications. The center will bring these into practice through advanced training and by supporting start-ups.
Each week, we will introduce you to one of the members of the Generative AI Taskforce at the TUM Think Tank. Get to know their take on the latest developments within the field of Generative AI, representing various perspectives and fields.
On our first episode: Meet Georg Groh, from the TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology.
Now out on our YouTube Channel:
Researchers from the "Mobilität.Leben" research group have conducted a study to examine the effects of the "Deutschlandticket"(49-Euro Ticket) on travel behavior. The research group leader, Allister Loder, was recently interviewed in the TV program "NANO" on 3sat where he shared some key findings from their research.
The study involved equipping 1,000 participants in the Greater Munich region with a tracking app to monitor their mobility patterns. One notable finding was that after the discontinuation of the 9 Euro Ticket, car usage returned to its previous levels. However, around 4% of the sample demonstrated increased public transportation usage sporadically, but not to the same extent as during the 9 Euro Ticket period.
The "Deutschlandticket", which aims to revolutionize mobility, offers greater flexibility and convenience, particularly for commuters who often cross state borders. The hypothesis suggests that it could potentially lead to a more significant shift from private cars to public transportation compared to the 9 Euro Ticket. This shift is observed using Austria as an example.
The price point of 49 Euros seems to strike a chord with the population. This amount aligns with the willingness to pay in metropolitan areas, in contrast to 59 or 69 Euros, which would yield substantially fewer new customers.
The question remains: Will the ticket be a success? And what contribution can it make to the transportation revolution? These questions and more will be explored as part of the ongoing research conducted by the "Mobilität.Leben" research group.
For more information and updates on the research findings: Mobilität.Leben