Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize for human-machine collaboration
On 7 May 2019, at a ceremony attended by top international representatives from the worlds of business, research and politics, the 13th Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize was awarded to the AI platform Watson – and accepted on its behalf by John E. Kelly III, IBM Executive Vice President.
This was the first time the prize has gone to an artificial, rather than human, intelligence, said Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) CEO David Bosshart in his welcome address. He characterised Watson as a pioneering creation, a roadmap for the future.
The prize was presented by Sarah Kreienbühl, chair of the Im Grüene Foundation Board of Trustees. In her speech, she emphasised that the prize is awarded neither to companies nor to short-lived "business opportunities". Rather, it honours outstanding achievements for the collective good, something that has characterised all the previous recipients. These include former Czechoslovakian president Václav Havel, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
The prize is a reflection of its time, said Kreienbühl. Today, we live in a fully networked, post-heroic era, and the myth of the lone wolf achieving success is fading away. How we continue to develop will be determined by collective intelligence and the carefully calibrated interplay of human and machine. "We will not be able to solve our most pressing problems without the help of artificial intelligence. Famine, climate change, energy provision, global movement of goods, migration and epidemics are all based on mutual dependencies." Watson is therefore nothing less than the prototype of a new species of artefacts capable of acting autonomously – a species with which we will collaborate increasingly closely and effectively in future.
Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who famously lost a match to a predecessor of Watson, concurred with Kreienbühl in his speech and underlined the importance of human-machine collaboration.
John E. Kelly III, who, as Executive Vice President, is part of IBM’s top level of management, explained in his acceptance speech that we have arrived at a turning point: "We find ourselves in a new era, moving towards technologies that learn independently and computers that no longer need to be programmed." According to Kelly, it is now data that delivers competitive advantages. However, this data still needs to be processed – which is exactly what artificial intelligence does.
"The people writing the code determine the rules," Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr reminded us. Thurnherr, who congratulated Kelly on behalf of the Swiss Federal Council, therefore called attention to the importance of smart regulation. "Artificial intelligence is fascinating, but also opaque and unpredictable." He added that we need to weigh up two different dangers: that of missing opportunities by banning technologies too early, and that of causing damage by banning technologies too late.