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Navigating Digital Frontiers: Minister Kristina Sinemus on the Internet, the Smartphone, and AI

Fri 17 May 2024

Image of Minister Kristina Sinemus copyright State Chancellery / Paul Schneider.

In anticipation of her appearance at Cloud Expo Europe, taking place as part of Tech Show Frankfurt on 22-23 May, we had the privilege of speaking with Professor and Dr Kristina Sinemus, the Minister for Digitalisation and Innovation in Hesse.

Minister Sinemus shared her insights into three transformative inventions that have shaped her journey and continue to redefine the landscape of digitalisation: the internet, the smartphone, and artificial intelligence (AI).

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The Digital Backbone: The Internet

Minister Sinemus identified the internet as a paramount invention, catalysing unprecedented information exchange and communication advancements. Reflecting on its impact, she underscored the pivotal role of the digital industry in fostering economic growth and innovation, not only in Hesse but across Europe.

“We have set ourselves the goal of making data centres more sustainable as pioneers in sustainability issues,” noted Minister Sinemus, highlighting the importance of aligning infrastructure with the evolving demands of the digital age.

Envisioning the future, Minister Sinemus said digital, internet-based applications and data-intensive artificial intelligence (AI) applications will only ensure tomorrow’s prosperity if today’s infrastructure is aligned with tomorrow’s requirements.

Minister Sinemus emphasised the necessity of substantial investments in internet infrastructure to facilitate real-time, reliable, secure, and energy-efficient data transmission, a prerequisite for realising the full potential of digitalisation.

The Smartphone Revolution: Mobility and Connectivity

For Minister Sinemus, the smartphone epitomises the evolution of telecommunications, symbolising the transition from traditional cell phones to multifunctional devices that seamlessly integrate into everyday life.

“The step from the first cell phone to the smartphone, with which you can practically organise almost your entire life, was a great progress that is far from over,” reflected Minister Sinemus.

The Minister underscored the importance of mobile technology in bridging digital divides and expanding internet access, particularly in rural areas.

However, Minister Sinemus also advocates for responsible innovation, stressing the ethical imperative of placing user well-being at the forefront of technological advancements.

“Despite all the advantages, I also consciously put my smartphone aside on a regular basis and enjoy the time to actually meet and exchange ideas with family, acquaintances, and friends,” said Minister Sinemus.

Advocating for Equal Access

In Hesse, the expansion of cell phone locations and the implementation of 5G technology are prioritised initiatives aimed at ensuring equal access to digital resources.

“We need equal living conditions, whether in the city or in the country. This is the only way we can position ourselves for the future,” said Minister Sinemus.

The Minster added 5G is the future of the mobile network with the new technology already becoming widespread in Hesse.

“We have passed a national law for the second time in a legislative period, the Mobile Communications Expansion Acceleration Act, which further advances and simplifies the mobile communications expansion,” added the Minister.

Navigating AI Frontiers: Responsible Innovation

AI has emerged as a cornerstone of Minister Sinemus’s vision for the future, underpinning strategic initiatives to promote ‘AI made in Hessen’.  Hesse is spearheading research and development endeavours that prioritise ethical considerations and societal well-being.

This is achieved through collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders, like the Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence, hessian.AI, the AI ​​innovation laboratory Funding program Distr@l, the AI ​​Quality & Testing Hub GmbH and the Center for Responsible Digitalization (ZEVEDI).

“We research and develop AI with responsibility for people and provide answers to important questions about the digital transformation of our society,” said Minister Sinemus.

With the dialogue tour “AI makes the future – Hesse talks about artificial intelligence,” which started in the spring, Minister Sinemus said Hesse intends to bring the topic closer to citizens with practical examples with success.

AI for Everyone

Innovations in AI hold immense promise with Minister Sinemus stating her goal in turning Hesse into the ‘Silicon Valley of Europe’.

“In our AI future agenda, we have defined three innovation areas in which we are bringing AI technology from the laboratory into practice: health, finance and mobility,” remarked Minister Sinemus.

Minister Sinemus envisions a landscape where citizens directly benefit from enhanced diagnostic accuracy, improved patient care, and more efficient processes.

However, she acknowledged the imperative of addressing ethical concerns surrounding AI, including issues of bias and privacy. Through proactive engagement with policymakers and industry leaders, Prof. Dr. Sinemus advocates for a regulatory framework that fosters innovation while safeguarding fundamental rights and values.

“The AI ​​regulation is the right step, even if more opportunity-oriented thinking and thus more innovation-friendly regulation would have been desirable, especially for SMEs,” said Minister Sinemus.

Looking Ahead: A Digital Horizon

As we peer into the future, Minister Sinemus envisions a digitally empowered society where 5G and fibre optics are ubiquitous, health and telemedicine are revolutionised by AI, and rural communities thrive through digitalisation-driven job creation. Central to this vision is the active participation of women in trades and IT, empowered by digital skills and opportunities.

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