AI expert Prof. Dr. Thilo Stadelmann and the hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence

14. July 2023 – Katharina Schlangenotto

“Intelligence involves much more than machines will ever be able to do,” says the AI expert and Director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence at the ZHAW. For years, he has been intensively involved in the topics of artificial intelligence and robotics, researching which ethical, social and political questions arise in connection with AI, or how the growing influence of robotics affects world events.

The AI expert does not see AI as a threat, as many fear. He simply sees it as a supportive tool that people can use for their own benefit.

In a conversation with the magazine format FENSTER ZUM SONNTAG, he talked about the currently hotly debated topic of whether AI can have – or should have – a consciousness. Stadelmann comments, “That’s where the follow-up question follows, what actually is consciousness, and if we assume that we’re working on tools here that support people, then that question doesn’t even arise for me for the time being.”

Human awareness rather than self-awareness

A much more important area for him is that of “AI alignment”, i.e. the question of how we can succeed in bringing systems that are becoming ever stronger into line with our values and preferences. And then self-awareness, whatever the precise definition of that would be, would even be a hindrance. Thilo Stadelnmann says, “The AI should rather have human consciousness, so that it can find out what we want right now, what moves us, and what would be good for us and the environment at that moment. That way, there is a real benefit for people.”

Thilo Stadelmann is a friend of clear definitions. He says it’s important to understand the term “artificial intelligence”: “AI is a distinction from natural intelligence, a different intelligence that is not designed to develop a consciousness itself, but to be a helpful tool.”

All digital tools, Thilo Stadelmann explains, have it in them to some extent that they concentrate power. The person who uses them thereby acquires a certain power. It is important for him to remember that power can also be good and do a great deal of good. Once AI is applied, it is no longer a purely technical question, but rather a question of how we deal with AI: do we manage to do good with it?

“ChatGPT is a kind of sparring partner for quite a few tasks.”

Currently, it is almost impossible to banish the ChatGPT system from the media world. ChatGPT has arrived in the middle of society, and of course AI expert Thilo Stadelmann has an opinion about it.

In an interview with, the professor and doctor talked about possible applications and limitations of ChatGPT: “ChatGPT is a kind of sparring partner for quite a few tasks. This tool is incredibly useful, but it needs our expertise and knowledge to be able to distinguish whether the information provided is usable and corresponds to reality – because ChatGPT definitely also makes mistakes.”

That’s right. Those who rely 100 percent on the truthfulness of ChatGPT’s texts are themselves abandoned, according to Stadelmann, a lecturer, consultant, speaker and researcher: “If I use ChatGPT to query something that I myself have no idea about, I can get quite carried away. With current technology, you’re not going to get errors all the way out because the chatbot can’t distinguish between things it makes up and things that actually exist – because it has no concept of them.”

More relaxed through life with AI

Again and again, Thilo Stadelmann emphasizes that AI depends on the expertise and knowledge of humans: “The reference point of AI must always be humans in order to serve them. If we develop AI according to this principle, it will be absolutely safe and can become arbitrarily intelligent.”

Leaving common sense on and not blindly trusting any (fake) information is generally a good idea. In the context of Artificial Intelligence, thinking for yourself becomes even more important.

In his keynotes, Thilo Stadelmann talks about Generative AI and ChatGPT, about what is really behind AI, gives an introduction to Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, sheds light on the future of Artificial Intelligence and shows how and what it takes for data-centric innovation to succeed.

Prof. Dr. Thilo Stadelmann

Expert on Artificial Intelligence, Scientist & Pioneer