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Hamburg wants to become a beacon for AI applications


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Hamburg wants to become a beacon for AI applications

6.30 a.m. on Eppendorfer Weg. The driver of the garbage truck from the Hamburg city cleaning department wants to turn right when his assistant sounds the alarm. A pedestrian, difficult to see in the drizzle, runs across the street. The driver brakes in time. The assistant who warned him is mounted above the passenger door. It's called "Turn Detect". It was developed by Luis Technology at Hammer Deich. The little helper is equipped with a camera and artificial intelligence (AI). It recognizes pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders. "We train our program with pictures," explains Luis Managing Director Martin Groschke. "It learns and gets better every day." The error rate is now less than five percent, the technology has been installed in all 420 Hamburg garbage trucks from 7.5 tons.

However, artificial intelligence not only increases security, it can also help to make optimal use of storage space. For this purpose, Luis Technology has created an AI camera system that forwarding dispatchers can use to look into the trailers of their trucks. Is there still room for five or six heat pumps in the truck that is perhaps on its way from Hamburg to Italy and has been loaded with eight pallets of wood in Hanover? Then the vehicle is directed to Holzminden and packed. Groschke: "On average, almost 60 percent of the truck loading areas are unused." His system ensures higher utilization and thus reduced CO2 emissions. "In addition, the carrier can check from the headquarters whether the load is properly secured and document with a picture that the recipient has received it."

There are more and more application examples of artificial intelligence in everyday business life, including in Hamburg. Paul Elsholz from the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce sees "cross-sectional technology as a key for Hamburg as a business location." It offers new opportunities in almost all sectors. As a trading metropolis, Hamburg could “become an international beacon for AI applications in logistics and in autonomous transport systems”.

For this purpose, the Artificial Intelligence Center Hamburg (ARIC) was founded on Van-der-Smissen-Straße in 2019, which is primarily intended to support start-ups and new initiatives. Jörn Messner, head of Lufthansa Industry Solutions (LHIND), a founding member of the center, emphasizes the successes: "Politics, business and science are pulling together here and promoting cross-industry exchange." Apparently with success: according to ARIC Managing Director Alois Krtil Hamburg is now one of Germany's top 3 AI metropolises alongside Berlin and Munich.

In the metropolitan region, the AI.Hamburg network is now also taking care of bringing the topic of artificial intelligence more widely to the public and to the economy. Around 140 companies are currently working on AI solutions. "In addition, around 120 professors and around 10,000 students in Hamburg every year deal with the future topic," says Ragnar Kruse, who once built up the software companies Smaato and Intershop and launched AI.Hamburg together with his wife Petra. “Business and science already cooperate relatively well. However, there is a lack of private investors in Hamburg. This is how many start-ups run out of breath when it comes to growth financing in the millions.”

That is why Kruse proposes an "Elphi of Innovation" in which 50 to 100 young AI companies could work together with medium-sized companies and in which events and training courses on AI and entrepreneurship would be held. Such a flagship project would "attract experts from all over the world," Kruse believes.

While social reservations about the use of artificial intelligence are sometimes still great - after all, the working world will change fundamentally in the long term as a result of the new technology - Lufthansa manager Messner is convinced that the use of AI will make companies "more efficient, make more informed decisions and develop completely new business models “.

There are already many practical examples of this in the Hanseatic city. One example is text recognition: millions of documents are already being analyzed and processed by machines every day. "Software for pure text recognition is increasingly being replaced by programs that recognize connections in the content," says Bruno Messmer from DXC Technology. Even irony is registered. If a vacationer writes in an e-mail about noise in his hotel "The quiet in the house was great", the AI ​​classifies the letter as a complaint. "There is no knowledge behind this, but the module simply considers this possibility to be the most likely," explains Messmer. Speech recognition tools are now similarly intelligent. AI text machines are particularly useful for IT security: “They use the content of a document to check the necessary level of secrecy. If the employee chooses a value that is too low, the AI ​​automatically blackens out the sensitive areas.”

So what are Hamburg companies doing well at the moment? They are developing a particularly large number of AI solutions for industry, for example for predictive maintenance. Based on the analysis of machine data from sensors, the system independently predicts when a compressor or ship's engine will fail. "Through timely maintenance, downtime and costs can be reduced by up to 50 percent, around every fifth unnecessary maintenance can be avoided and the service life of systems can be extended by up to 25 percent," explains Lena Weirauch, co-founder of ai-omatic am Neuen Wall. A Hamburg shipping company has an auxiliary diesel on one of its pots monitored by this AI software, which is constantly learning through feedback messages. "We can also use existing sensors that have been delivering huge amounts of data for years, but so far nobody has evaluated them," says the start-up boss.

There are also large areas of application in the healthcare sector: the company Evocal Health in St. Georg intends to use vocal biomarkers to detect diseases in the future. "Changes in a person's voice are indicators of certain diseases such as larynx cancer or Parkinson's disease," explains co-founder Dirk Simon. "These are barely audible to the human ear." An AI that detects characteristic features in the audio signal of the voice could help with the diagnosis.

Mindpeak also wants to revolutionize cancer diagnosis. Felix Faber, Managing Director of the start-up, explains: "A specialist who, like 100 years ago, only examines tissue samples with a microscope and counts cancer cells, needs up to 30 minutes for some findings, our AI solution only a few seconds." Learning algorithms use high-resolution images to identify and classify diseased breast cancer cells early and reliably. The BreastIHC software is fed with millions of data from 14 laboratories worldwide. "In this way, the program becomes more and more intelligent and recognizes patterns that it hasn't seen before," explains Faber. "This enables the development of drugs that work even more precisely."

All of this costs a lot of money, and large investments are often necessary. Mindpeak, for example, is supported by the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank and venture capital companies. Mark Miller, Managing Partner at Hamburg investment bank Carlsquare, known as M

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