#rp24 speaker Katharina Weitz: Empathy at the push of a button

06.05.2024 - At re:publica, we will be discussing social robots and artificial intelligence in care and medicine with the researcher!
Katharina neben einem humanoiden Roboter mit Mütze.
Photo Credit
Tobias Thiergen

Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly a ground-breaking technology with impressive potential. For researcher Katharina Weitz, the exciting question remains: how ‘human-centred’ can a machine really be?

At re:publica 24, she will discuss with us how social robots can be used in medicine and care and whether they can actually empathise with patients. She will take a closer look at the concept of ‘explainable AI’, which is essential for making the actions and decisions of AI systems comprehensible.

Katharina Weitz is an educator, psychologist and computer scientist. Her research at Fraunhofer HHI is focussed on making artificial intelligence understandable for people. She uses science slams, videos, workshops and books to share basic knowledge about computer science and AI with young and old people so that the research findings reach a wide audience. In 2020, she was awarded the Junior Fellowship of the German Informatics Society (Gesellschaft für Informatik) for this commitment.

At #rp24, we look forward to Katharina's exciting insights and inspiring discussions on social robots and artificial intelligence in care and medicine.


#WhoCares: An interview with Katharina Weitz.

The Motto of re:publica 24 is „Who Cares?“. What or whom are you currently investing your care in?

I am currently thinking about how we can design artificial intelligence in such a way that it is understandable for people. It is important to me that we take people's needs and interests into account when developing and using AI.

What do we as a society fail to care enough about?

As a society, we often pay too little attention to the social impact and changes in people's lives that arise from the use of artificial intelligence. It is crucial that we not only focus on the technological advances, but also ensure that no one is left behind or disadvantaged. We must ensure that the introduction of AI does not lead to certain groups of the population being excluded from the benefits of this technology. It is important that we continuously discuss the ethical and social implications of AI and take appropriate measures to ensure inclusive and equitable use.

Has anyone, any movement, or any institution caught your attention by their commitment to a particular cause?

One institution that inspires me so much that I became a member at the very beginning of my career as a researcher is the German Informatics Society (GI). The GI is committed to promoting the understanding and use of computer science and digital technologies in society in a variety of ways. It brings together experts from various disciplines to work together on solutions to the challenges of the digital world. Its contribution to promoting dialogue between science, politics and society is inspiring and shows me how important it is to work together on a digital future that benefits everyone.

At re:publica: What topics will you be discussing at re:publica, or what are you presently dedicating your research or efforts to?

At re:publica, I would like to talk about my research into human-centred artificial intelligence. There are many ways in which AI can support us, for example in medicine or education. For example, we can use robots in care and support for the elderly. However, we need to think about what role AI should and should not play in our lives. It is important that we find a balance between using AI to support us in our everyday lives and protecting our privacy and freedom.


Empathie auf Knopfdruck? Soziale Roboter und Künstliche Intelligenz in Pflege und Medizin

Katharina Weitz

Kann ein Pflegeroboter auf emotionale Bedürfnisse von Patient*innen eingehen? Welche Herausforderungen bringt der Einsatz von empathisch wirkenden Maschinen mit sich? Katharina Weitz beleuchtet über den Zugang von "Erklärbarer KI" wie soziale Roboter in Medizin und Pflege eingesetzt werden können.
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