Are you still here or are you just melting like we do? To all our weekly readers: Thank you very much! But now it’s time for a summer break. Don’t worry, we will be back in September. Nevertheless we discussed a couple of exciting topics in July.

Fair algorithms

In late 2018, Amazon had a computer algorithm pre-select applications. Already in the test phase it turned out that the computer rejected applications of women more often than those of men. Since then, increased demand has been made for fairness in artificial intelligence. But not only that. Companies should also be held accountable for what their algorithms do. Critics expect FAT: Fairness, Accountability and Transparency.

Mensch_Maschine_Technologieengel

However, fairness must first be taught to the algorithms. Scientists rely on machine learning. A technical solution that realizes fair algorithms does not exist. Every single problem of discrimination in the data is different and needs to be analyzed first. But even step 2 is not easy peasy lemon squeezy: for each problem a mathematical description must be found.

How does the analysis work?

Data is collected, fed into an analysis program whose algorithms then make a recommendation such as “suspicious person”. In order to be fair in the future, both the data side and the output side of the recommendations need to be improved. It starts with the question of which data is collected and how. Not only historical data should be collected. Like us humans, the algorithm would also need to periodically review its assumptions. In the future, you have to take on the challenge of putting data in a realistic, causal context, so that fairness isn’t going to be left behind. This is the only way to avoid algorithms seeing the data as just a large collection of numbers between which they produce the wildest correlations.

Humans ≠ Machines

Let’s take a look at Artificial Intelligence. Freedom of the will does not exist in the logic of the AI. Machines do what they were programmed for. They behave as they should, not as they please. Any “behavior” that deviates from this target can be attributed to anomalies in the system or other damage. For example, to develop “learning” robots and more complex software systems, some software-driven systems have probabilistic functions. This means that, for example, the next action can not be a 100% foreseen, but only the probability of possible actions can be stated.

Mensch_Maschine_Technologieengel

People, on the other hand, think about their actions (mostly 😉), are able to substantiate them with reason and then align with it. We act according to “best knowledge and conscience”, so we have the ability to make decisions based on the “best reasons” for us. This is one of the aspects that makes up our human freedom and responsibility and that sets us all apart from machines. If our actions were already established before any consideration or consideration of the Pro’s and Con’s (or even just the probability distribution of all possible actions), we would be neither free nor responsible.

(Note: To what extent man really is free, or whether he is free at all, is an enormously great philosophical discussion.) In order not to go beyond the scope of this article, we assume that we are at least freer than machines.)

“Virtual communication” is real

Let’s start with the definition of “virtual”. So far, I have used the word as a synonym for “not real” or “not actually present” (despite the fact that the topic of reality and fiction is a topic of its own discussion). The dictionary has just confirmed this to me and has just made another suggestion: “Possibly available.” Thus, “virtual communication” would mean that this type of communication is only available as a possibility. Our mutual exchange in the so-called “virtual world” is fundamentally real.

Virtuelle Kommunikation_Technologieengel

We need a new definition

Recently, someone explained to me that he understands the term “virtual” in the context of communication differently from me. He said that he uses “virtual” in this context to show that communication on the Internet is not objective, but only simulated. By “simulated” he would mean “imitating”, “without being bound by the limitations of a face-to-face conversation.” I have to admit that I like this definition a lot more, because virtual communication really gives us some extra freedom. Here are a few of the many benefits: It makes us both time-independent, as well as locally unbound. We can save time and money and it makes it very easy for us to stay in contact with people who do not live near us.

The history of augmented reality

Once upon a time, in 1965, a computer graphics pioneer named Ivan Sutherland, who postulated in one of his publications entitled “The Ultimate Display,” that “Advances in computer technology may make it possible to harness the human senses with virtual experiences.” Said, done. Over the next three years, he worked on the design and development of a display that allows users to immerse themselves in a computer-generated 3D world. 1968 probably arose the first head-mounted display (HMD) (If you’re interested in what it looked like check for example this). There are many variants today. The most well-known is the AR-glasses (= augmented reality glasses) and the VR-glasses (= virtual reality glasses). However, this original model was so heavy that it had to be attached to the ceiling of the room.

So now there was a display available that allows a person to view 3D computer graphics placed in the room from their own perspective, no matter where they are or where they are going in that room. Well, and then the Augmented Reality had to back down first, although its history has just begun with the development of this display. For some years, research in the field of virtual reality has made great progress. But Augmented Reality benefited from this progress. It seemed perfectly logical to be able to spice up the real world with virtual elements.

At the end of the 20th century, the focus was again placed on the area of ​​the AR. In Japan, a multi-year project on Mixed Reality (= mixing of reality and artificial, computer-generated 2D or 3D objects) was launched and more and more conferences and symposiums were held in Japan, the United States and Germany. In 2002, these three separate communities joined together to form the International Symposium on Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality (ISMAR). Since then, this meeting has taken place alternately on one of the three continents originally involved.

Customer-Feedback: Fill

We were recently nominated for the Constantinus Award in the category “Digitalization / Internet of Things” with our customer for engineering “Fill”. Even if it we didn’t win the price, we are proud to be in the forefront of digitization. Mario Redhammer, Head of E-Technology & Software at Fill, did an interview about the project with Technologieengel and told us if he is satisfied with the results.

Mario Redhammer, Head of E-Technology & Software

How can Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have advantages for Fill? Several small project teams (production, design, sales, service and training) were involved in this question. In addition, the core team met regularly with Christian (our CEO) to get feedback, discuss the next steps and keep track. It quickly became clear what vision they pursued. Here are some examples:

  • Sales: In order to show the customer the size of a machine that does not exist yet, he can now view a simulation of the machine in the virtual reality room. Customers simply put on the VR-glasses and move through the virtual space in real size. In addition, it is possible in the virtual world to get to know the functioning of the machine.
  • Service: Problem solving has probably never been easier than before. When a customer needs help, he simply picks up the head-mounted tablet and starts a live broadcast. With these “hands-free tablets” it is not only possible to get support from Fill, but also, for example, to view technical documentation, load IoT data, call up maintenance instructions and sketches, and record inspection work.

  • Training: Operating machinery wants to be learned. Fill does not need to wait until the machine itself has been built. VR also makes it possible to train the future operators on machines that do not even exist in the real world. Likewise, the maintenance can be practiced.

Virtual Reality-Room

Happy?

Mr. Redhammer is very satisfied with the project results, which also resulted in positive feedback from their customers. It looks very innovative when you can see a machine before it’s even built. It also facilitates the decision-making process. Sketches and blueprints may still be good, but against the “lead in the virtual world,” they seem boring. Should there be another follow-up project with Fill in the future, they would opt for usagain. “We would be happy in any case, the cooperation was also from our side a complete success!”

A summer full of sunshine

With a big thank you we say goodbye to you and hello the summer break of our blog. We hope you’re going to have a summer full of Ice Cream, Sun, Sea, warm nights and joy 🙂 See you in September!

Copyright © Pictures: Unsplash, Fill Gesellschaft M.B.H