Generation A=Algorithm Couch Lessons

Key Visual Couch Lessons
Couch Lessons: A series of in-depth lectures and conversations about Artificial Intelligence – every Wednesday | Illustration: Marcia Mihotich

A free-of-charge series of in-depth online lectures and conversations about Artificial Intelligence.
A project of the Goethe-Institut. Sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

Pour a cold drink, turn on your laptop, and get comfortable on your couch - it's time for another episode of COUCH LESSONS. Every Wednesday, experts in artificial intelligence (AI) from around the world will discuss the opportunities, challenges, and risks associated with algorithmic decision making systems. As AI contributes to the next revolution in human history, what does this mean for our society? How intelligent can machines become and can they make fair decisions? Are we threatened by the automation of society through algorithms and AI? Will innately human skills such as the creation of art be computerized? Or will AI make the world a better place by helping us solve big problems such as climate change, pandemics, and inequalities?

The COUCH LESSONS are held in English.

AI + The Future of Work

Wednesday, July 1, 5-6 pm CET
AI + The Future of Work Illustration: Marcia Mihotich Artificial intelligence will turn the world of work upside down. It will lay the groundwork for a new form of automation. More and more job profiles and work processes will first be supplemented by artificial intelligence, and later perhaps entirely replaced by it. If the projections are correct, forty percent of all current jobs will be eliminated within the next fifteen years. Why hire a human being when a computer can do the same job more efficiently and at a lower cost? On the other hand, digitization will create completely new jobs and it offers the possibility that humanity can devote itself to other activities rather than just working to earn a living. So what will the work of tomorrow look like?
What you will learn:

- How Artificial Intelligence will influence the world of work
- Which jobs AI will make obsolete and which new tasks will be generated as AI technology becomes more sophisticated
- Isn’t it a good thing to work less and let machines take over? 

Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE, co-founder of Stemettes and keynote speaker on innovation and diversity in Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths / UK
Vanja Tufvesson, CTO at Tengai Unbiased and Co-Founder of Pink Programming / Sweden
Carl Frey, Oxford Martin Citi Fellow at Oxford University, Director of the program on the Future of Work at the Oxford Martin School / UK

The COUCH LESSON is held in English.



AI + Bias

Wednesday, July 8, 5-6 pm CET
AI + Bias Illustration: Marcia Mihotich Artificial intelligence is not neutral. It’s created by humans and how it’s built, trained and applied greatly influences the outcomes. How an algorithm interacts with human beings from different cultures, genders, sexualities, races, etc., depends on the team of AI experts that built the system and the training data they used as inputs. AI systems do not learn bad habits without humans programming those bad habits into them. At a time when many companies and governments are looking to deploy AI systems across their operations, being acutely aware of those risks and working to reduce them is an urgent priority. In this lesson we’ll look at discrimination that is already being observed in AI managed systems and discuss some suggested tactics to combat it in future developments. What does it mean to carefully consider every angle of making, iterating, and designing AI? Every step of this process needs to be thoroughly re-examined through different lenses.
What will you learn:
* What is bias in technology?
* How can AI’s be developed to serve a diverse set of users?
* What does it mean to design a data set as a form of protest?
Caroline Sinders, machine-learning-design researcher and artist / US
Lorena Jaume-Palasí, Executive Director The Ethical Tech Society / Germany
Gunay Kazimzade, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society / Germany
The COUCH LESSON is held in English.


AI + Health

 Wednesday, July 15, 5-6 pm CET
AI + Health Illustration: Marcia Mihotich In the previous Couch Lesson on AI + COVID-19, it became clear that one of the key areas in which AI can be utilized is general health research and drug discovery. To follow up on that insight, we’re hosting this session to uncover how AI is currently being used to improve public health, how it’s facilitating the development of new drugs and what large-scale effects this set of technologies might have on healthcare in societies around the world.
What you will learn:
- How is AI used in drug discovery?
- Will improvements in AI technology make us live longer?
- Will life expectancy increase for all people (in all geographies)?
Naomi Lee, Vice Chair at ITU/WHO Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Health and Senior Executive Editor, The Lancet
Maxine Mackintosh, The Alan Turing Institute, The Health Foundation and the University of Oxford / UK
The COUCH LESSON is held in English.


More Couch Lessons

July 22: AI + Privacy


Wednesday May 20, 5-6 pm CET
AI + Covid-19 Illustration: Marcia Mihotich
As the world is in the midst of a hugely disruptive pandemic, we will find out how AI can be used to understand the spread of the virus, how it might reveal early signs of symptoms, and how it can potentially assist in finding treatments and even a vaccine for the disease.   

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON
What you will learn:
- How companies and governments are utilizing AI in response to the current pandemic.
- How hospitals are turning to automated tools to help them manage the pandemic.
- How a recording of your cough can be used to diagnose the disease.
Karen Hao, senior AI reporter at MIT Technology Review / US
Rahul Panicker, Chief Innovation Officer, Wadhwani AI - AI for Social Good / India
Björn Schuller, Professor of artificial intelligence at Imperial College London and chair of embedded intelligence for healthcare and wellbeing at the University of Augsburg / Germany

AI + intelligence

Wednesday May 27, 5-6 pm CET
AI + Intelligence Illustration: Marcia Mihotich
In the second COUCH LESSON, we will explore what AI is today and what the future holds. With the help of one machine learning researcher we will learn how artificial intelligence is already part of our daily lives (whether we know it or not!), what the technology consists of, how it’s already used, and what work is under way for further applications in companies and society at large. In addition, a philosopher will guide us through how to think about intelligence in general and how artificial and human intelligence relate to each other.

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON

What you will learn:
- What is intelligence?
- What does AI consist of and how does it learn?
- What can it do today and what do we expect its future capabilities to be?
Markus Gabriel, professor of Philosophy, University of Bonn / Germany
Nell Watson, machine learning researcher / UK


AI + human-robot interaction

Wednesday June 3, 5-6 pm CET
AI + human-robot interaction Illustration: Marcia Mihotich AI is fueling advancements in robotics, and each year machines are becoming increasingly better at the tasks that only humans could once achieve. How does it feel to interact with an automated computer, whether it’s a robot, a car, or a virtual agent at the tax office? How do we design trustful interfaces between humans and machines? Can you imagine having a robot as partner, colleague, or caregiver?

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON
What you will learn:
- What to take into account when designing human-robots interfaces.
- How to establish trust between humans and machines.
- Why robots seem so spooky.

Kate Darling, Robot Ethicist, MIT Media Lab / UK
Sami Haddadin, Director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence, TUM, and Chair of Robotics Science and Systems Intelligence / Deutschland


AI + Climate Change

Wednesday, June 10, 5-6pm CET  AI + Climate Change Illustration: Marcia Mihotich Artificial Intelligence has tremendous potential to make lasting changes to the collective challenges facing the world. Even before the current pandemic, climate chaos was hurting our planet and even despite global lockdowns we can still see the impact of human activity on the earth. Clearly, we need new solutions to make energy use cleaner and more efficient, better policies at the system levels, as well as improved or reduced consumption patterns. How can AI help save the climate? Researches and climate scientists will give real-life examples of how AI is helping.

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON

What you will learn:
- Where can AI be applied with high impact in the fight against climate change?
- How does AI help to the mitigation of greenhouse gas?
- How do we make sure that AI doesn’t accelerate the environmental degradation?

Victor Galaz, Deputy Director and Associate Professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre / Sweden
Lynn Kaack, Energy Politics Group ETH Zürich and Co-Chair of Climate Change AI / Schweiz
Sims Witherspoon, Program Manager, DeepMind


AI + Creativity

Wednesday June 17, 5-6 pm CET
AI + creativity Illustration: Marcia Mihotich A key question for the success of artificial intelligence is whether or not it is capable of being creative. In recent years, machines have been trained with existing materials to produce everything from music to art, and a growing amount of creative work is even made with the assistance of AI. In conversation with both a professor of mathematics and an artist, we will ask how the creative interplay between humans and machines will evolve and if a machine can become creative in its own right.

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON

What you will learn:
- Can a computer be creative?
- How are artists utilizing AI in their work?
- How does AI affect our view of originality?
Anne Ridler, artist / UK
Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Author of Creativity code / UK
Jessica Rosenkrantz, Nervous System / USA


AI + Ethics

Wednesday June 24, 5-6 pm CET
AI + Ethics Illustration: Marcia Mihotich The great promise and opportunity that AI brings must also be weighed against a number of very real ethical concerns. If we’re asking machines to help us make more and better decisions, we must be sure to encode “the right values” into its way of thinking. This asks us to consider difficult questions like: Whose desires and outcomes should get priority? How transparent should AI technology be? In this lesson, we’ll take a closer look at the implications and consequences of embedding AI in society, and how we can establish a more trustful relationship between individuals, technology and regulators.

Click here for the recording of this COUCH LESSON

What you will learn:
- Why does technology need to be ethical?
- How could a standard for AI transparency be conceived?
- Can AI help us to make better decisions?

Carla Hustedt, Project Lead “Ethics of Algorithms” at Bertelsmann Stiftung
Sarah Spiekermann, Author and Head of the Institute for Information Systems and Society, Vienna University of Economic and Business / Austria


Tutorial Couch Lessons (Zoom)

- All Couch Lessons take place on the platform Zoom. The Zoom privacy policy can be found at:
- To register for a Couch Lesson, you must enter your name and e-mail.
- This personal data will not be used by the Goethe-Institut, will not be stored and will not be passed on to third parties.
- Zoom does not sell personal data. Zoom only collects user data that is necessary for providing Zoom services.
- In addition to the name and e-mail address, this user data includes data such as the IP address, the operating system and details regarding the device of a user.
- You will receive a reminder e-mail ahead of the event.
- At the time of the event you can participate by using the link provided in the reminder e-mail.
- All Couch Lessons will be recorded. For this purpose, the option "Speaker View" is selected so that only those people who speak will be recorded.
- By participating in the Couch Lesson, you agree that your picture and sound will be recorded if you actively contribute to the discussion.
- At the beginning of their participation in the meeting, all participants will be notified that the Couch Lesson will be recorded. You can switch off the audio and video function and leave the Couch Lesson at any time.
- The recording will be stored on a local computer at the Goethe-Institut and will be put online afterwards. 


Martin Thörnkvist
Martin is a curator and context maker working at the border between culture, digital development, and business. He’s the organizer of Deep Cuts and Hours Beirut. Most recently, he has been involved in developing the MAD Academy, Techfestival and Design Matters. Previously Martin was the director of The Conference.
Jeannette Neustadt
Jeannette works for the Library department at the Goethe-Institut and is the manager of the project “Generation A=Algorithm” that addresses Artificial Intelligence. She spent one year at the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and after that she joined the visual art department at the headquarters in Munich and curated exhibitions including “Games and Politics.” Before she started her work for the Goethe-Institut, she wrote her doctoral thesis on visual art and brands and worked as a freelance journalist.

Generation A=Algorithm

Generation A=Algorithmus Grafik: Tobias Schrank © Goethe-Institut

Big data, algorithms, deep learning - artificial intelligence is changing our lives from the ground up and has long been part of everyday life. The Coronavirus pandemic has shown how interdependent humans are on the digital world as we find new ways to create public and private connections online despite social distance. However, some of greatest potential is being developed for and by businesses for economic advancement – or by regimes interested in surveillance.
As "digital natives," Generations Y and Z - today's 18 to 30-year-olds - can step up their work on an open and critical net culture because they will set the course for the next generation, "Generation A", and its everyday handling of algorithms.
Starting in May, 2020, the project "Generation A=Algorithm" will use various interactive formats to explore the questions of how artificial intelligence is changing the world now and in the future. In addition to the digital series "COUCH LESSONS” Generation A=Algorithm will host a Robots-in-Residence programme and AI residencies for visual artists.  At the end of 2021, a "Generation A Manifesto" will be presented at the "Generation A Festival," which will summarize the results of the individual formats and serve as a recommendation for future societies.

Federal Foreign Office © Federal Foreign Office

“Generation A=Algorithm” is a project by the Goethe-Institut, supported with special funds from the Federal Foreign Office.