Huffington Post: Digitalization Expert Boos: “We Need a Willkommenskultur for Digital Innovations”

Arago CEO Chris Boos highlights his expectations for the impact of digitalization and AI on societies and explains his positive outlook for the future in an interview with HuffPost Germany. Chris Boos’ interview is the first in a series of conversations HuffPost Germany conducts with digital thought leaders.

Boos considers digitalization the “biggest chance that our country is given in the last 100 years”. Despite many concerns about digitalization and AI, Boos is convinced that this technology will create jobs and have a positive effect. In general, he is delighted that politicians in Germany are talking more about digitalization. Yet, they would still be too narrow-focused on the development of glass-fiber infrastructure. Since technologies like AI, genetic medicine or 3-D printing will dramatically change our societies, the discussion should actively steer this process.

Boos believes that the digital revolution should be properly explained to people to counter public fears about mass unemployment through digitalization. He considers the scenario of large lay-offs and machines replacing humans as dangerous fear mongering. Machines will help to preserve human knowledge and human experience will be crucial to teach machines. Instead of pointing out risks, politicians, trade unions and the private sector should put in place instruments that would support this transfer of knowledge. In state-funded programs, for example, people should be supported to digitalize the experiences and knowledge from their old jobs.

At the same time, Boos believes that the jobs most in danger are those in very specialized fields, such as doctors, bankers and analysts. Machines would be simply better in specialized work. As an example he names the medical sector where machines would bring up in seconds a diagnosis by drawing comparisons to large data sets and delivering accurate conclusions. Boos, therefore, expects many new jobs in areas that machines cannot imitate or automate. These are jobs in creative industries, care, education, coaching, innovation as well as those requiring human empathy. Current advancements in automation would just be the next step in the industrial revolution. Yet, in a digital and efficient world, personal service would gain in value. Humans would simply prefer to pay for human contact than talking to a chat bot. Especially the latter one is going to lead to a large expansion of the service industry, anticipates Boos.

Instead of repeating fears, the new government should setup a roadmap for the countries digital future. Such a roadmap could, for example, include the target that in ten to fifteen years all produced cars in Germany would run autonomous. Such ambitious target would be necessary not to fall behind in the current competition with the centers of innovation in America and Asia. This would in particular require laws that enable innovation instead of preventing them. In the case of self-driving cars he exemplifies this thought by proposing to make producers liable instead of drivers.

Most importantly, he believes that society should give innovations time to be tested out before they are regulated. As an example, he sides the famous doctor Robert Koch who would get into prison for his research methods under current laws. The current risk-averse approach in Europe is dangerous, says Boos. While Europe would have great tax-funded research projects, Chinese and American companies would make commercial success out of them. He sees the ageing population in Europe as one explanation but believes that in particular in Germany an ambitious plan could get people excited about digitalization. He sees a lot of positive assets in society to master the developments of the future. In particular in the autonomous driving Germany could lead the way. The great education system, innovative enterprises and ambition would allow the country to stay competitive.

Click here to read the article (German language).

Arago Redaktion 26. October 2017

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