© MPI for Intelligent Systems

Working against bias in AI in Baden-Württemberg’s Cyber Valley

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives. As its importance grows, so do concerns about bias in AI. Since AI systems need to be trained with data sets, they adopt the unconscious and conscious biases of their trainers, of professional groups, and of societies. AI has been found to recognize faces of darker skinned people less accurately as those of people with lighter skin tones, to just name one well-documented example.

Efforts to make AI more equitable

There are more: A number of incidents in hiring practices, law enforcement, school admissions and in gender-stereotyping have shown that biased AI exists and that it can adversely affect people’s lives. Samira Samadi, leader of the Fairness in Machine Learning group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, wants to change this. She and others work hard to find solutions that make AI truly equitable.

Samira Samadi was born in Iran, studied math and completed her PhD in computer science and machine learning at Georgia Tech in the United States before her work brought her to Baden-Württemberg’s Cyber Valley. While her background is largely technical, she values the multidisciplinary research community in Tübingen, where she is based. Getting the perspectives of experts in a board range of disciplines has proven highly valuable to her. It was one of the reasons that attracted her to Baden-Württemberg’s Cyber Valley.

But not the only one: “Tübingen is a good place to be a young computer scientist. It’s growing fast, and the funding is there for AI,” says Samira Samadi. “It is one of the best places to be for research.”


Baden-Württemberg’s Cyber Valley

The Cyber Valley is indeed unique. It was founded in 2016 by Europe’s largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence. Founding partners include the state of Baden-Württemberg, research institutes and businesses (see text box). The close connection between academic research, start-ups, established businesses and state institutions are one important ingredient in the recipe for success. Another is the fact that Baden-Württemberg invests heavily into science, research, and innovation. In 2017, it contributed 5.6% of GDP to research and development, the highest of all 78 regions in the EU. The investment and dedication paid off: In 2021, Baden-Württemberg reached the top of the EC’s European innovation scoreboard.

With all these pieces in place, Samira Samadi can focus on her work for ethical and transparent AI and machine learning so that societies all over the world can benefit from better machine-assisted decision making and less bias in AI.


Cyber Valley: An intelligent alliance

Cyber Valley is Europe’s largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence.
Founding partners include:

  • The state of Baden-Württemberg
  • The Max Planck Society with the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
  • The Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen
  • Amazon
  • BMW AG
  • Mercedes-Benz Group AG
  • IAV GmbH
  • Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG
  • Robert Bosch GmbH
  • ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has since joined as a partner. Cyber Valley also receives support from the Christian Bürkert Foundation, the Gips-Schüle Foundation, the Vector Foundation, and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.


Author: Siri Schubert