Artificial intelligence is a central issue in social and political debates. To conduct these debates and evaluate development trends, we need indicators, data and analyses. To date, however, there have been few strong sets of data capable of providing a reliable picture of the AI landscape within Germany and in international comparison. This is particularly true as regards the development of AI technologies in the field of work and society. While advances in research and economics have already been covered by AI indicators – for example through the appraisal of publications, citations, patents, conference appearances, the number and foundation of start-ups, the level of investment or the level of adaptation shown by companies – such benchmarks have to date been absent in the fields of work and society.
To address this, the AI Observatory sent out invitations to a virtual workshop for discussions about the potential benefits of indicators as regards the observation and analysis of AI in work and society. The format was exploratory, allowing over 40 stakeholders from the fields of politics, economics, science and society to examine relevant indicators from an extremely wide range of perspectives.
The discussion was moderated by Stefan Heumann from Stiftung Neue Verantwortung and it soon became clear that the range of potential AI indicators was extremely wide. Indicators do have enormous potential and can provide us with fragmentary insights into the development of AI, but they are no substitute for basic research. Equally, since AI is an extremely dynamic technology, such indicators require constant updating.
Various concrete questions designed to identify the relevant indicators were addressed by participants in the plenary session and in the working groups. These included among others: what functions can be replaced by AI applications in the future and what effect is this having on demands for personnel and requirements for competence within specific occupational categories? To what extent are works councils being included and involved in the introduction and use of AI in enterprises? What effect is the introduction and use of AI having on job satisfaction and physical and psychological health? What effect is AI having on inequality and social mobility in Germany?
Over the coming months, the AI Observatory will focus intensively on the topic of AI indicators, selecting and developing new indicators that are relevant to the fields of work and society. Likewise, the dialogue between experts and stakeholders will be continued.