Press Release 02/2021

Ethics Council hears experts on the topic of “Man and Machine’’

The German Ethics Council is currently preparing an Opinion on the ethical questions regarding the relationship between humans and machines. In this context, it will question four experts on current developments in the field of artificial intelligence and human-machine interfaces at a Public Hearing on Thursday, 25 February 2021.

In its working group “Man and Machine”, the German Ethics Council is dealing with the societal effects of the ever-increasing pervasion of digital technologies in all areas of life. In particular, technical advances in machine learning and other developments in algorithmic systems, as well as in the possibilities for interaction between humans and machines raise questions that also affect human self-conception and the shaping of society. In order to better assess current developments and emerging trends, the German Ethics Council will talk to four experts in its Public Hearing who conduct research on relevant key technologies and will present important developments in their fields in keynote speeches.

Computer scientist Ulrike von Luxburg will report on the foundations and prospects, but also the limits of machine learning, especially with regard to the question of whether and how ethical criteria can be taken into account already at the technical level. Neuroscientist Matthias Bethge will expand the topic with regard to the disruptive potential of machine learning, also addressing the question of how increasingly flexible algorithms could enable human-centred technology.

Computer scientist Tanja Schultz and neuroscientist Stefan Remy will take a closer look at the multitude of human-machine interfaces that already exist or are foreseeable for the future, from the variety of networked sensors and machine agents in everyday life to brain implants.

The event will be held in German and broadcast via livestream on Ethikrat live. A registration is not required. Further information, as well as – after the event – a video recording and a transcription (both in German) are available at