Responsible artificial intelligence

Whether it’s self-driving cars, medical devices or other applications – intelligent systems, which can act autonomously and learn independently, are considered a key technology for the next wave of industrial innovation. But what does that mean for society?



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At the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), researchers from the University and the Medical Center will work together to investigate normative and philosophical foundations as well as the ethical, legal and social challenges of the interaction between humans and such intelligent systems as part of the FRIAS research focus 2018/19 “Responsible Artificial Intelligence”. They will shed light on the benefits and risks of this techno-social transformation from the point of view of various disciplines. Involved in the research are Professor Dr. Silja Vöneky, Law, Professor Dr. Wolfram Burgard, Informatics and Robotics, Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer, Neurotechnology and Neuroethics, and Professor Dr. Oliver Müller, Philosophy.

Intelligent systems today combine very large amounts of data (‘big data’) and their analysis with advanced machine learning techniques, especially artificial neural networks for ‘deep learning’. It is to be expected that they will lead to fast, comprehensive change in societal sectors such as academia, mobility and health services. Issues the researchers are addressing during their time at FRIAS include how national and international lawmaking changes in the light of these systems, which rules of conduct they follow, and how to safeguard responsible research and innovation of these ‘disruptive’ technologies. One strategy is to look at the ways programming and hardware in the systems can ensure the safety of users. Furthermore, they will show how these technologies influence theories and concepts of human behavior and capacities, for example the concept of ‘intelligence’ or the capacity for moral decision-making.

The research focus promotes FRIAS’s aim to reinforce issues of scientific and technical reflection and analysis at the institute. The goal is for the research focus to become the core and starting-point for further multidisciplinary projects in the field of intelligent and autonomous systems at the University of Freiburg. It will, for instance, strengthen the link between FRIAS and the Excellence Cluster BrainLinks-BrainTools and the Center for Intelligent Machine-Brain Interfacing Technology (IMBIT), which is currently being developed. Due to the strong public interest attracted by the topic, the group will also hold lecture series and special events to advertise its work both within the university and beyond.

Research focus website


Professor Dr. Silja Vöneky
Institute of Public Law Dep. 2 (Public International Law and Comparative Law)
University of Freiburg
Phone 0761/203-2206

Professor Dr. Wolfram Burgard
Institute of Informatics
University of Freiburg
Phone 0761/203-8026

Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer
Department of Neurosurgery
Freiburg Medical Center
Phone 0761/270-87570

Professor Dr. Oliver Müller
Philosophisches Seminar
University of Freiburg
Phone 0761/203-2432


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