Review Practical Seminar "Innovation Sandbox for Artificial Intelligence"

On Thursday afternoon, May 25, 2023, more than 40 interested people gathered at Technopark in Zurich’s industrial district to learn more about and discuss the versatile applications of artificial intelligence (AI).

Project manager Raphael von Thiessen kicked things off with an introduction to the Innovation Sandbox. He explained the purpose of the sandbox and presented the selected AI projects. The Innovation Sandbox serves as a learning environment - like a laboratory, so to speak - in which companies, organizations and administrations can test out AI projects and develop expertise in the field of AI deployment without being completely left to their own devices. This is because the Sandbox project team advises submitted projects on regulatory issues and, if requested, provides new data sources. So far, 21 projects have been submitted, most of which came from smaller companies and startups, but also research institutes and some large companies.

At the practical seminar, the six selected projects were presented and discussed together with the participants. Using Mentimeter, participants had multiple opportunities to share their thoughts. So too on the question of where they see the greatest potential for AI in the public sector. The areas of administration, knowledge transfer & management, transport, cyber security, taxes, social affairs and communications stood out. Some of the projects presented actually fall into the above areas. For example, Parquery's Smart Parking project or AI-based administrative document search. Other projects surprised with their scope of application, such as the automated correction of primary school assignments, which aims to relieve teachers in order to create more time for individual support. The question of the risks of AI in the public sector was also raised; participants considered data protection, the threat to jobs, the question of ethics and quality, but also the fear of loss of control and the misuse of AI to be particularly important.

After the introduction to the topic, the participants divided into six groups to the corresponding World Cafés:

  1. Smart parking through image recognition
  2. Autonomous commercial vehicles
  3. Infrastructure maintenance by drones
  4. Machine translation of administrative texts
  5. Automated corrections of primary school tasks
  6. AI-based search of administrative texts

For fifteen minutes, each table discussed the opportunities and risks of using AI, where further areas of application lie, and what needs to be considered when implementing it. If the event management had not called for a rotation after the elapsed time and a conclusion after three rotations, the discussions would probably have continued until late in the evening. It was clear that the topic is more topical than ever. The evening showed that Artificial Intelligence and its diverse applications raise many questions and need promotion in a protected setting, one like the Innovation Sandbox, where responsible innovation can emerge.

Would you like to learn more about one of the projects or even initiate a similar project in your area? Then contact the responsible project manager Raphael von Thiessen. He will be happy to discuss the topic of AI with you.

Raphael von Thiessen
Project Manager Innovation Sandbox for AI
Division of Business and Economic Development

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