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Alpbach Technology Symposium 2022


We currently have to cope with a multitude of crisis phenomena - from global political tensions to the climate and energy crises to the consequences of the pandemic. Many of these current problem areas were discussed at the Alpbach Technology Symposium 2022. "If we reflect on what the experts have told us over the past two days, they agree in that we have a certain chance of coping with the challenges," summed up Wolfgang Knoll, scientific director of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. "The consensus is that to do this we need a deeper scientific understanding that is translated into new technologies and into innovations," said Knoll at the end of the talks, which have been organized by AIT and ORF Radio Ö1 in a tried and tested manner for more than 30 years.

Need for personal exchange

The more than 20 Plenary and Content Partner Sessions, which took place from August 25 to 27 in the Tyrolean "Village of Thinkers", met with great interest from the technology community. The discussions then took place in well-filled rooms - almost like before the Corona crisis, which forced a virtual or hybrid execution in the past two years. "There is an urgent need for face-to-face exchange. The Alpbach Technology Symposium brings innovators together, promotes the exchange of ideas and stimulates dialogue between science, society and politics," says Knoll.

With the active participation of scientific partners - the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers and the Complexity Science Hub Vienna - a broad panorama of challenges that urgently need to be solved was covered in high-profile plenary sessions. For example, the session "Energy Transition: How to reduce Energy Dependency" discussed, among other things, the plans of major companies such as BASF, Infineon and voestalpine to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Under the title "RNA-based Medicine of the Future," the heads of leading research institutes outlined their expectations of how new molecular biology methods could radically improve the treatment of cancer or autoimmune diseases. The Ukraine war was the focus of the session "Battleground Internet: Between Cyberwar and Infowar," which clearly elaborated that today's wars are no longer won or lost exclusively on the battlefield, but increasingly in the virtual world and in our minds. The session "Complexity of Supply Chains: Ways into a More Resilient Future" concluded that greater transparency is essential to make supply chains less prone to disruption in the future. An "International Talk" addressed the fact that technology is now a significant geopolitical force. In other highly exciting content sessions, pressing issues such as artificial intelligence, bioeconomy, climate-neutral mobility, fake news and data sovereignty were discussed in detail.

A "mindset" for radical change

The importance of science, research, technology and innovation for crisis management was also emphasized by politicians. RTI is not an element for acute crisis management, said Climate Protection and Technology Minister Leonore Gewessler. But: "RTI is an instrument for overcoming future crises. It is good that we invested in renewable energy research ten years ago. Therefore, we now have solutions that we can roll out in mass programs."

In the "Café Exchange" (in Alpbach's Altes Schulhäusl, which was occupied for the first time this year), artists demonstrated how to change the "mindset" for living with uncertainties and for radical change. The Alpbach Technology Symposium was once again the place where numerous innovations were presented to the public. For example, the future plans of "Silicon Austria Labs" were discussed and new funding programs for radical innovations and for data research were presented. In addition, numerous social events, such as the AIT Garden Party or the "Forschung Austria" reception, served to encourage personal discussions.

Reason for optimism

Young people were also back in Alpbach this year: the fellows from all over the world participated actively in the high-level debates. The positive spirit of the young participants was visible not only in the lively discussions inside and outside the conference center, but also in the qualification for the "Falling Walls Lab" in Berlin (in the form of three-minute pitches) and the 24-hour innovation marathon, in which eight international student teams developed solutions for concrete problems of partner companies. "Listening to the young people in Alpbach, one has good reason to be optimistic about the future," commented Wolfgang Knoll.

Further information: www.ait.ac.at/efatec