Science of Intelligence Fair 2023

The first conference and exhibition of the Cluster of Excellence Science of Intelligence (SCIoI) in Berlin.

On 22 September 2023, Science of Intelligence (SCIoI) held its first large-scale event, the SCIoI Fair, where leading experts from science and politics, as well as journalists and the broader public came together to discuss the diverse facets of intelligence research. From individual, social, and collective principles of intelligence to the ethics of AI, the event offered a display of interdisciplinary collaboration and advancements from within the cluster, shedding light on the challenges of developing intelligent technologies. In guided tours through the accompanying exhibition that were held throughout the day, attendees got into exchange with the scientists and learned about the most recent research on intelligence straight from the labs.

The event was inaugurated with insightful speeches by key figures from politics and academia: Ina Czyborra, senator for higher education and research, emphasized Berlin’s commitment to scientific excellence and the pivotal role of the cluster in shaping the future of intelligence research, while Stephan Völker, vice president of TU Berlin, highlighted the university’s long history of scientific innovation and its focus on comprehensively understanding intelligence, especially in the AI era. Julia von Blumenthal, president of HU Berlin, reflected on the university’s historical contributions to revolutionary ideas and noted the Science of Intelligence cluster as a crucial step in expanding the understanding of both natural and artificial intelligence.

Oliver Brock, spokesperson of SCIoI, gave a comprehensive overview on the aims, the work, and the potentials of the cluster and explored the significance of the underlying principles of intelligence, both artificial and biological. SCIoI researchers then vividly brought this to life in their keynotes, where they presented the status-quo of intelligence research.

Of Individual, Social, and Collective Intelligence

In the first series of talks, Unravelling Individual Intelligence – How Animals and Robots Solve Mechanical Puzzles, Alex Kacelnik, Katharina Hohlbaum, and Manuel Baum talked about how individual problem-solving behavior in humans and animals is studied and then applied to artificial agents. The combination of behavioral biology and robotic technology showcased the potential of robotics in solving complex tasks, and the interplay allows to explore potential principles of intelligence.

The speakers of Uncovering Principles of Collective Intelligence – from Schools of Fish to Robot Swarms and Back, David Bierbach, Palina Bartashevich and Pawel Romanczuk gave insights on collective phenomena exhibited by animal groups and explained how SCIoI researchers develop bio-inspired algorithms for simulations and embodied robotics. According to the scientists, understanding of collective locomotion, collective decision-making, or behavioral contagion processes in nature and applying these principles to synthetic agents holds promising applications for fields such as autonomous driving.

Advancements in Safe AI Technology – Panel Discussion

The subsequent panel discussion provided an exploration of the intersection between behavioral research, machine learning, and robotics, focusing on the development of safe AI technology. The panelists John-Dylan Haynes, Verena Hafner, Jens Krause, and Georgia Chalvatzaki (TU Darmstadt), engaged in insightful dialogues with the charming and accomplished moderator Marianna Evenstein. Key topics included the distinctions between artificial and natural intelligence and the learnings about humanity from interacting with machines. The discussion also clarified concepts like machine learning versus deep learning and examined the concept of adaptive systems as a bridge between machine learning and behavioral research. Insights from animal behavior in AI development, the role of human-in-the-loop machine learning in creating safer robotics, and the challenges of defining and building safe AI were other significant topics. The discussion concluded with considerations for ensuring an ethical and harmonious future relationship between humans and artificial systems.

Exhibition – Demonstrators Straight from the Labs

The SCIoI Fair was accompanied by an exhibition that showcased the seamless blend of natural intelligence and advanced robotics. Scientists presented their research through interactive demonstrators, each underscoring the potential and complexities of natural and artificial intelligence. Highlights included the ‘Kilobots’ – simple robots that mimic the collective intelligence of a school of fish or a swarm of bees, demonstrating decentralized decision-making. The exhibition also featured interactive experiences like walking through a simulated fish swarm that adapts to human presence, offering insights into collective behavior and bio-inspired robotics.

Additionally, the demonstrators illustrated the integration of behavioral biology and robotics through artefacts such as a robotic arm solving a kinematic puzzle and the RoboFish, both highlighting advanced problem-solving and social interaction capabilities in robots. Cutting-edge technologies like event cameras and socially responsive robots were also showcased, revealing new paths in understanding and mimicking natural intelligence. This exhibition emphasized the fusion of different scientific disciplines, contributing to the future of autonomous systems and human-robot interactions.

Uniting Diverse Perspectives

Jörg Raisch, deputy spokesperson of the cluster, wrapped up the event, emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary approaches. He then handed over to the graphic visualizer Malte von Thiesenhausen who summarized all the lessons learned.

The inaugural SCIoI Fair marked an important step in the journey of the cluster, bringing together a diverse group of experts, academics, and politicians who delved into the multifaceted world of intelligence research. The event, with its range of presentations and interactive exhibitions, offered a glimpse into the ongoing work and challenges in the field. Through engaging discussions and demonstrations, attendees gained insights on the latest research and developments in both natural and artificial intelligence.

Read more:

Science of Intelligence Fair 2023 – Information on program and speakers

What we liked most about the SCIoI Fair


An overview of our scientific work

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