What happened so far: 12 headlines about AI from 2018

December 30, 2018
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Required reading time: 6 minutes

What events around artificial intelligence have shaped the past year? Every month we took a detailed look at each other and summarized the most important headlines from Germany and all over the world.


The new year begins quietly with (PR) headlines about the free book "The Future Computed" by lawyer and Microsoft President Brad Smith and VP Harry Shum. The authors demand openness - as well as a critical view - to artificial intelligence and want to inform the public about opportunities and risks. The online magazine t3n has a corresponding title:

"Microsoft calls for clear ethical rules for artificial intelligence."



In February, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) will be speaking at the conference "Artificial Intelligence - Your Friend and Helper?" in the spirit of the Microsoft book and signalling openness towards new technologies. Germany as a strong location for AI is emphasized, freedom from discrimination and protection of the interests of the citizens are demanded. The Handelsblatt sees an election promise of the CDU and SPD followed by deeds and headlines:

"GroKo tackles the megatopic of artificial intelligence."

trade journal


The free economy is ahead of the federal government: On Women's Day, online fashion retailer Zalando fires 250 workers and replaces them with algorithms. The angry reactions of the affected employees dominated the reporting shortly afterwards. The FAZ refers to the restructuring of the company as well as the increased focus on IT resources and headlines simply:

"Zalando radically changes"


Twelve days later horizont.net announces the refounding of the Federal Association for Artificial Intelligence. “The goal: A human-centered and human-serving deployment of AI."


New technologies and digital transformation dominate the programme at the Hannover Messe industrial show. Chancellor Merkel welcomes robots and stresses the potential and importance of investments in artificial intelligence. But the Zalando case unsettles the media. WirtschaftsWoche (WiWo) - among other publications - is worried and asks questions:

"Is Artificial Intelligence a job killer or a motor?"



Google astonishes the world with the presentation of Google Duplex at the annual Developer Conference I/O. The tech giant's intelligent assistant can now make calls, make reservations and sound incredibly human. Doubts about the authenticity quickly arise, skeptics even speak of a PR gag. The Spiegel is convinced of the performance and titled:

"Google duplex is creepy good."



Meanwhile, Google employees are concerned about the development of autonomous weapons and protest against their employer's contract with the US military. 4000 signatures and 13 denunciations later, Google withdraws from the contract to evaluate drone images. The Group then defines four No-Gos for the use of AI, taking into account, for example, the protection of human rights. Nevertheless, the tech giant is continuing its cooperation with the military in other areas. The online magazine Wired is titled:

"Google wants to use artificial intelligence only for the good."



In the summer, the Federal Cabinet defines the cornerstones of a federal government strategy for artificial intelligence. Germany is to be promoted as a research location and, in this sense, scientists are to be engaged, knowledge exchange supported and business start-ups simplified. The proposal comes from the Federal Ministers Peter Altmaier, Hubertus Heil and Anja Karliczek. The goal is nothing less than to reach the top of the world, alongside China and the USA. The mirror summarizes:

"Germany wants to be at the forefront of AI"



During the summer hole, even artificial intelligence has a break. Only a few journalists use the time to summarize the most important information as well as opportunities and risks. A successful example appears in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

"What machines can and can't do"

Süddeutsche newspaper


In recent months, the fear of AI among Germans has been repeatedly addressed. In the late summer of 2018. the Institute YouGov publishes a studywhich now supports this thesis. The majority are sceptical about innovative technologies. Young people are more positive than older generations. The combination of AI and weapons is rejected by the vast majority. The FAZ is one of many publications that take up and headlines these findings:

"Great Scepticism About Artificial Intelligence"



In autumn, the progressive evolution of AI becomes clear, unimpressed by German Angst. The first AI-generated painting will be auctioned at Christie's for $432,500. The portrait shows the fictitious "Edmond de Belamy" and was created by an algorithm of the French artist collective Obvious. Shortly thereafter, a programmer claims the underlying code. Maybe that's why the mirror calls the signature in the headline:

"Painting of "min G max D Ex[log(D(x))]+Ez[log(1-D(G(z))]" achieves 432,500 dollars"



While the first robot in China reads the news, the German government adopts the Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy defined in July. The cabinet will meet for a two-day digital retreat. The Chancellor promises investments, "security during the disruption" (Süddeutsche Zeitung) for the citizens and the acceleration of digital projects in Germany. The consent of e-commerce covers the Handelsblatt in its heading:

"Internet industry welcomes billions in AI taxes - and calls for technology-friendly rules"

trade journal


The Federal Association for Artificial Intelligence, founded in March, positions itself in the press with the demand for more women in the AI industry. According to the World Economic Forum, the proportion of women is currently 16 percent. Among other things, a change was necessary to ensure that the male majority did not have any (resulting) discriminatory influence on AI systems. It was only in October that it became known that an algorithm for the applicant examination at Amazon had discriminated against female candidates. In order to make AI more attractive for women, an image change and computer science lessons from the third class onwards were necessary. Heise Online quotes the press release of the Federal Association:

"Artificial Intelligence: Changing Industry Image to Inspire More Women"

Heise Online


  • Picture: Photo by Charles Taylor, EyeEm
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