Imagining the future, performing the state – Germany’s national AI strategy with Jens Hälterlein and Ljubiša Metikoš

In the past few years, many governments and supranational organisations published strategy papers in which they present their visions of the future development, application and regulation of AI. Nations states articulate the opportunity (and urgency) to shape the future of AI according to their political cultures, values, traditions and national pathways. Moreover, they portray themselves as participants in a global AI race, competing over economic and geopolitical power. With its National Strategy, launched in 2018, the German Federal Government presented its visions under the title “AI made in Germany”.

Most of the scholarship on national AI strategies has approached the subject by conducting (comparative) assessments, evaluating from an ethical perspective or based on criteria of competitiveness, and providing policy recommendations accordingly. However, AI strategies not only define policy agendas and determine rules and measures to push ahead or restrict the integration of AI in society. They articulate future visions of these societies based on the promises and fears associated with AI. They connect the appeal of national S&T projects to the purpose of a state that provides for the flourishing of the nation’s innovative abilities and the (economic) well-being of its citizens. By articulating visions of how technoscientific promises can meet national interests and the common good, they not only legitimize governmental measures that aim to fulfil these promises but also (re)imagine and (re)perform liberal statehood in a technological society.

In order to unfold this amalgamation of technoscientific promises, techno-fears imagined futures and concepts of statehood, Dr. Jens Hälterlein – PI of the project “Artificial Intelligence and Civil Security”, Centre for Security and Society of the University of Freiburg – and Ljubiša Metikoš – PhD Researcher in Responsible AI in the domain of law at the Human(e) AI RPA of Universiteit van Amsterdam – will discuss certain key aspects of the vision of an “AI made in Germany” such as human-centric AI, technological sovereignty, ethics by design and criticality.