© Christof Rieken © Peter Himsel

Dear readers,

Whether it be in the form of robotic assistants, new ways of producing energy or breakthroughs in biotechnology, technological innovations can significantly improve a society’s productivity and living standards. But technology is not neutral – the way it is used must be shaped by policy. Technology can only help a country to modernise and remain competitive if the opportunities and challenges associated with innovative developments are subject to public debate and negotiation.

This was a running theme in the speeches and many of the discussions at the acatech Annual Meeting in autumn 2016. In a powerful address, Federal President and acatech patron Joachim Gauck stressed that it is particularly important to promote receptiveness to new technologies in Germany because of the nation’s “deep-rooted tendency to lose confidence at the first sign of any risk”.

He praised acatech’s efforts to foster dialogue between academia, industry and government as an important contribution to the much-needed development of a better understanding of technology. Going forward, the Federal President encouraged the Academy to keep building bridges with the public and engaging in discussions to identify scientifically sound visions of how Germany can get fit for the future.

acatech continued to develop its dialogue with the public in 2016. On the first Tuesday of every month, we now invite interested parties to the acatech Forum in Munich to discuss topical technology themes with the experts. Advisory groups of actors from civil society form an integral part of our projects. Through its partnership with the recently established Science Media Center, acatech assists journalists with their research by providing them with science-based expertise. This year, we are also expanding our dialogue with the public through joint initiatives with the churches in Germany and adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) in Bavaria.  

acatech’s events and publications in 2016 also provided an important stimulus to the public policy debate on new technologies. How and to what extent do we wish to use learning machines in the future? Which skills will the workforce need in an increasingly digitalised workplace? How will automation change the road traffic? And do we need to place greater emphasis on joint transport and energy planning? Our focus was on these and other themes where policy decisions will need to be taken sooner rather than later. The digital transformation of our economy and society is happening faster and more radically than many people think.

The new year also brought in change at acatech. After two terms of office, Reinhard F. Hüttl’s time as President came to an end in February 2017. We are deeply indebted to him for everything he did to develop the content of the Academy’s work and strengthen the international dimension of our organisation. We are delighted that he will continue to represent acatech on the global stage. The results of a status analysis carried out at the acatech Office in Munich in June 2016 provided a ringing endorsement of our work, which received an overall rating of “excellent” from a team of independent experts. The experts’ praise and recommendations are spurring us on in our efforts to continue developing the Academy.

Munich and Berlin, May 2017

© European Union, 2010

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Spath
acatech Präsident

© European Union, 2010

Prof. Dr. Henning Kagermann
acatech Präsident

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Thematic Fields 2016

Work and results