Frank Leibiger


An interview with AI

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Wandering through the halls at Hannover Messe one inevitably hits on AI, Artificial Intelligence. It operates robots, steers cars or analyses complex data. We met one of these AIs for an interview at the Telekom booth.

A drone's taking pictures of a warehouse. The AI evaluates these photos and can thus locate stocks.

A drone's taking pictures of a warehouse. The AI evaluates these photos and can thus locate stocks.

Hi AI, how are you?

AI: Wait... D17 is currently sending image data.


AI: Yes. It is a camera drone. Those things are brainless. All they can do is fly and continually supply me with images from their cameras. It’s very practical. I’m not really very mobile... Right. I have now processed all of the data. It’s always exciting to see what D17 delivers.

Why is that?

Well, I am trained to recognize and assign printed or written numbers. D17 supplies me with these numbers when flying over the raw steel storage site. Each time it’s a challenge since the numbers on the steel slabs, or large steel ingots, are rarely clear. You people simply do not all write the same. You’re also not always good at keeping order.

Should that impress me? Even children can count.

But it becomes boring to children after a certain point. For me, never. You must also consider that I not only have to learn to count, but also to read. That includes numbers on various different backgrounds, in changing lighting conditions - and if D17 is having a bad day, then the images will vary greatly.

How did you learn to do that?

My trainers at T-Systems could answer that question better. Simply put, they initially fed me with all available data so I would have something like a standard template. At the time, they spoke of “model creation”. The trick is then to be able to identify deviations using this as a basis. In other words: is steel slab number 706221 04 8A still at the bottom left of stack 3 or is it now somewhere entirely different because new materials have been added in the meantime?

And you’re certain you wouldn’t mix it up with 706227 04 8A?

Fairly certain. My accuracy is generally over 80 percent and is becoming better and better over time. After all, I’m good at learning.

So that means you could take on other logistics and maintenance tasks?

Yes, in principle. I would, however, have to do some more learning first. My trainers have put together a comprehensive framework for preparing me for other operations. I wouldn’t necessarily have to work together with a drone to do so. Cell phone cameras or machine sensors can also supply me with the data required. I simply need to know in advance how I should process it.