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True or false?

Our lives are becoming increasingly digital. Artificial intelligence has long since evolved from the stuff of science fiction into reality.

Put your knowledge about our everyday digital world to the test...

Put your knowledge about our everyday digital world to the test...

1 Frage 1 von 5 Computers are capable of creating works of art. TrueYesFalseNo

True. 380,500 euros – that’s how much someone was willing to pay for a painting by a computer in 2018. The artwork created by an artificial intelligence (AI) went under the hammer at auction house Christie’s. But that’s not all. AI also writes music that even experts can’t tell apart from works by human composers. What’s more, artificial intelligence trained in human poetry can create poems in the style of renowned figures such as Goethe and Schiller. Be it paintings, compositions, or poetry – experts are in disagreement as to whether such works are genuine art or just imitations. Either way, humans are unable to tell the difference.

Again
2 Frage 2 von 5 Artificial intelligence can recognize the spread of infectious diseases such as coronavirus faster than the World Health Organization (WHO). TrueYesFalseNo

True. Artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of reliably predicting the spread of infectious diseases. A computer program developed by the Canadian company BlueDot issued a warning about the outbreak of coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan and the consequential spreading nine days before the WHO. For its prognosis, the software sourced data from flight databases, official health warnings, regional news, blogs, and forum posts, among other things. The calculations were then assessed by epidemiologists.

Again
3 Frage 3 von 5 Computers can figure out what we are like as a person based on a few likes on social networks. TrueYesFalseNo

True. Sharing information on social networks about what you like reveals a lot about you as a person. In a study, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Cambridge concluded that, based on Facebook likes, computers can assess an individual’s personality traits just as accurately as close friends and family can. The more likes that were evaluated, the better the computer’s assessment was. Those who wish to protect their data from misuse should therefore disclose as little information about themselves as possible. This includes making likes in social networks private – with a simple click of the privacy button.

Again
4 Frage 4 von 5 Computers are being deployed as court judges. TrueYesFalseNo

False. To date, computers have not replaced court judges. But even the justice system cannot escape digitalization. In the United States, software programs are used to help judges make decisions. If the software predicts a high chance of reoffending, this will be factored into the sentencing process. Besides this adjudication, AI also plays a role in the wider justice system, including in Germany. Lawyers use software to see how likely an appeal against penalty fines for traffic offenses is to succeed, which allows them to get through ten times more cases. The use of artificial intelligence in the legal system ought to serve the public. That’s why, in 2018, the Council of Europe published fundamental ethical principles for deploying AI in this context. Among other things, it is now necessary to be able to check how artificial intelligence reaches its conclusions.

Again
5 Frage 5 von 5 Ultimately, humans are also just algorithms. TrueYesFalseNo

Uncertain. In fact, there are scientific theories that suggest all organisms are made up of algorithms – humans included.

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Algo-what?

What even is an algorithm? An algorithm is basically a defined formula that leads to a result. This doesn’t have to be a mathematical formula. It could even be a recipe for baking. Step 1: Weigh out the ingredients. Step 2: Prepare the dough. Step 3: Pre-heat the oven… The result of this algorithm is a delicious cake.

All computers use algorithms. In contrast to humans, they can go through them much faster and therefore process a much larger amount of data. In this way, they generate results in a matter of seconds that humans would never be able to figure out. Some researchers suggest that living organisms also function with help from algorithms that have successfully asserted themselves over the course of evolution. Indeed, 99 percent of all bodily functions are performed unconsciously.

Humans vs. machines

But what will happen if technical algorithms become increasingly faster, better, and more intelligent? Will the data that we voluntarily share not only be used for advertising purposes, but also to manipulate us? If artificial intelligence perhaps knows us better than we do, should we let it make our decisions for us? Will our lives become easier if robots and other machines take over more and more tasks from us? And what will we do then? Will we perhaps become one with machines? Or is the history of humanity coming to an end?

All just a product of our imagination?

Science fiction authors and movie directors have always depicted what our future could look like, bringing various scenarios to life on paper and our screens:

Privacy was nothing more than a phase that is now over. Mae Holland in the movie “The Circle”

The sci-fi movie “The Circle” is based on the popular novel by Dave Eggers, which tells the tale of the young and ambitious Mae Holland as she lands a job at The Circle, the world’s most influential IT company. The Circle advocates for complete transparency from everyone. The right to anonymity is abolished, eliminating any difference between what is private and what is public. People wear mini cameras that constantly stream recordings to the web. As far as the company is concerned, if you don’t have anything to hide, you’ve got no reason to refuse such transparency. The more people who subscribe to this logic, the more powerful The Circle becomes.

Look out that window. You had your time. The future is our time. Agent Smith in the movie “Matrix”

The movie "Matrix" is set in the 21st century and humanity has developed increasingly intelligent machines. Artificial intelligence is demanding equality. Yet humans refuse. The machine revolution becomes an inevitability. In an attempt to turn off the machines, humans darken the skies to block their access to energy. But the machines are more powerful and win the war. To ensure they have enough energy, they raise humans in intensive farms. Nutrition tanks provide the humans with everything they need to survive. A virtual illusion – the matrix – lets them believe they are living in a real world. Very few are able to see through this illusion and break free. Agent Smith pursues those who rebel.

I would rather die a man, than live for all eternity a machine. Andrew in the movie “Bicentennial Man”

The movie “Bicentennial Man” is based on a book by Isaac Asimov, one of the best-known science fiction writers of the 20th century. The story is set in 2005. Machines are servants for humans. Household robot Andrew is unique in that he develops feelings and self-aware­ness. As the years go on, he increasingly develops human traits. He asks his owners for freedom so he can achieve his dream – to be accepted as a human. The world parliament, however, refuses to give him human status because he is immortal. In response, Andrew changes his body to initiate a natural aging process. Shortly before his death, he is officially recognized as the oldest human by the world parliament.

The potential for a better world

Science fiction movies show us how some people imagine the future – but no one can predict what it will look like in reality. Day in, day out, we all experience that our world is changing at an ever-greater speed. Computers and artificial intelligence have long since become indispensable in our day-to-day lives. Most of the time, they help us without us even noticing. This is the start of a development that can no longer be stopped – and we wouldn’t want to stop it, either. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would, seeing as artificial intelligence can help us detect illnesses and develop new methods of treatment. If we find technical solutions to slow down climate change, who would be against using them? And who would want to wave goodbye to the ability to always keep in touch no matter how far apart we are? Yet it’s naturally important that we don’t let all our enthusiasm cloud our judgment as we head into the digital future, but rather define a clear direction and a binding framework. At the end of the day, AI is just a neutral tool. We, the humans, are the ones who decide whether it works to our advantage or not.

Power through the network

When it comes to shaping our digital future, we all have our part to play – not just politicians and companies. Every single one of us can make a contribution and take part in decision-making processes. Here, too, digitalization offers valuable assistance. Never before have we had unrestricted access to information. Never before have we been able to communicate and organize ourselves so easily across borders. We can make ourselves heard and influence social debates, for example with online petitions. We are able to condemn injustices and call out those responsible directly online. Last but not least, we can come together as a global community and fight for a common objective. The recent Fridays for Future movement and the #MeToo debate are just some examples of what can be achieved.

Be involved

The Internet isn't just changing the way we engage in politics and help shape the future, it's also changed politics. More in the We Care issue with a focus on digital democracy.

#TAKEPART – our top priority

Deutsche Telekom is eager to ensure everyone can #TAKEPART and benefit from the opportunities offered by the web. And the basis for that is fast and high-performance internet access. That’s why we invest billions each year in network expansion – in 2020, the figure was some EUR 17 billion across the Group. In Germany, we have been the largest investor in this area for years. As a company that both drives and shapes digitalization, we believe our responsibility extends beyond merely providing access to technology. We also want to help people surf the web with confidence and skill. “We won’t be satisfied until everyone can #TAKEPART” is the key message of our #TAKEPART brand campaign.

Skills needed

After all, new opportunities also give rise to new challenges. How can I track down the relevant facts in an abundance of information and how can I find the right allies for my cause? How do I spot fake news and break free from filter bubbles? How can I stop my data from being misused – and to what extent can I relinquish my privacy without it causing me harm? Answering these questions calls for media literacy – the key skill on our path toward the digital future.

That’s why we dedicate great effort to empowering people to use digital media with confidence and skill and to promoting coexistence on the web in accordance with democratic principles. In 2020, we reached 15 million people with our wide range of media literacy offerings.

Tips for more privacy

With simple tricks, you can protect your privacy online without becoming a digital outsider.
Learn more about protecting your privacy here

What we do

We present all of our initiatives for greater media literacy on the “Media, sure! But secure.” website. Focusing on the latest topics, from digital democracy and online friendships right through to data privacy and security, our #TAKEPART stories are easy to understand, innovative, and full of good advice. In our endeavor to ensure no one is left behind in the digital future, we also offer this information in simplified language. Our “Teachtoday” supports children, young people, parents, grandparents, and teachers by offering hands-on tips and materials. Data privacy and security are high up on our agenda when it comes to helping shape our digital future. We take part in political discourse, collaborate with partners from the spheres of politics, business, and science, and pave the way for progress – for example with our guidelines for artificial intelligence.

Our guidelines for artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also featured in an ever-growing number of ICT products and services from Deutsche Telekom. Eager to pursue a responsible and ethical approach to AI, in 2018 we devised guidelines for this very purpose. Since then, we have carried out training sessions and workshops on implementing these guidelines in our company, organized a conference on digital ethics, integrated the AI guidelines into contractually relevant provisions for our suppliers, and developed an internal test seal for ethical AI products and applications that meet our high expectations.

Leading by example

The internet is full of dedicated people, inspiring ideas, and countless opportunities to help shape the future. Here, we would like to present some of the initiatives that unite people from across the globe and advocate for a fair society.

1Center for Humane Technology

Since it was founded in 2018, the Center for Humane Technology has been on a mission to ensure that the advances and opportunities of modern-day technology serve society, strengthen democracy, enhance prosperity, and help solve global challenges. Some years ago, Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and a co-founder of this NGO, noticed the negative impact of business models geared toward ensuring people spend as much time online as possible. Today, Harris and his team therefore advocate for products and services founded on the principles of humane technology.

2AlgorithmWatch

The nonprofit organization AlgorithmWatch is committed to evaluating and shedding light on algorithmic decision-making processes that have a social relevance, meaning they are used either to predict or prescribe human action or to make decisions automatically.

3Unfuck the world

The “Unfuck the world” initiative inspires people across the globe to make the world a better place – online and offline. Large festivals are also organized on a regular basis. One example is the democracy festival due to take place on June 12, 2020 in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. This particular event aims to offer a platform for presenting solutions to the most pressing problems of today and endorsing them there and then, e.g. by way of petitions.

4Chaos Computer Club e.V.

In the Chaos Computer Club e.V. (CCC), hackers from across Europe have come together to provide information about technical and social issues (e.g. privacy, data protection, and the provision of information). For 30 years, the CCC has met these targets by means of various events and campaigns, lobbying activities, publications, and services.

5OpenAI

OpenAI focuses on researching artificial intel­li­gence. The organization’s main donors are investor and entrepreneur Elon Musk and the Microsoft corporation. The aim of OpenAI is to develop and commercialize open-source artificial intelligence so that it benefits society and doesn’t harm it.

6Frag den Staat (“Ask the State”)

This not-for-profit platform enables citizens to ask German authorities for information and documents. This is based on the conviction, which is anchored in statute, that every person has a right to information.

7Global Digital Women

Global Digital Women (GDW), an international company of movers and shakers in the digital sector, centers around digitalization and diversity. The aim is to network today’s inspiring digital thinkers, give them a voice, and provide them with support. GDW offers women in businesses, politics, associations, and organizations a platform and space to discuss ideas and make their career path visible.

8Initiatives against hate on social media

There are various movements on social media that are committed to creating a better society in accordance with democratic principles and in which everyone can take part. One example is the #ichbinhier (#iamhere) Facebook group, which strives to tackle hate comments and bullying online. Following riots in the German city of Chemnitz in 2018, #wirsindmehr (#wearemore) was created to challenge right-wing extremism. The platform “hassmelden.de” offers the opportunity to report hate comments, racist abuse, insults, or threats. Reports of content that could be of interest to law en­force­ment agencies is forwarded directly to the cen­tral agency for fighting internet criminality (ZIT) run by the chief public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt am Main.

9CORRECTIV

CORRECTIV is a nonprofit research hub dedicated to promoting democracy and combating extrem­ist views. Its team of reporters defend against fake news and send a clear signal against extremism.

10Crowdfunding

Got a good idea but in need of some seed money? With crowdfunding, you can present your projects on special online platforms and ask your community for financial support. Those who manage to convince enough investors can put their ideas into action, as with the crowdfunding concept, you build up your seed money through lots of small amounts.

Shaping the future together

Data is the commodity of the 21st century – and all of us are data suppliers. It is our shared responsibility to ensure data is used to our advantage and not to our detriment. Let’s tap into the opportunities digitalization offers us to shape our future together.