Opening Keynote at the AmI 2017 Conference

Reconciling Humans and Technology: The Role of Ambient Intelligence

Norbert A. Streitz, Scientific Director, Smart Future Initiative

Opening Keynote

About the Speaker: Dr. Dr. Norbert Streitz (Ph.D. in physics, Ph.D. in cognitive science) is a Senior Scientist and Strategic Advisor with more than 35 years of experience in information and communication technology. Founder and Scientific Director of the Smart Future Initiative (SFI) launched in 2009. From 1987-2008, at Fraunhofer Institute IPSI, Darmstadt, holding positions as Deputy Director and Division Manager founding, e.g., the research division “AMBIENTE – Smart Environments of the Future”. Teaching appointments at the Department of Computer Science, Technical University Darmstadt for more than 15 years. Before Fraunhofer, Assistant Professor at the Technical University Aachen (RWTH). At different times of his career, he was a post-doc research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, visiting scholar at Xerox PARC and at the Intelligent Systems Lab of MITI, Tsukuba Science City, Japan. He has published/edited 24 books and authored/coauthored more than 150 papers. His research and teaching activities cover a wide range of areas: Cognitive Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Hypertext/Hypermedia, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Ubiquitous Computing, Ambient Intelligence, Privacy Enhancing Technologies, Interaction and Experience Design, Hybrid Worlds, Smart Cities and Smart Airports, Smart Privacy, Smart Food. Manager of EU-funded projects, reviewer and evaluation expert for the EU, member of various Editorial and Advisory Boards, consultant, keynote speaker. More information at: 


In this keynote presentation, I will discuss the role of Ambient Intelligence in a range of technical and social contexts we are currently experiencing. Examples of these “smart” or “intelligent” environments and application scenarios are smart cities and airports, smart mobility, connected cars, autonomous driving, location-based services.

Starting out with the context of living in the Urban Age, I introduce different notions of the “smart city of the future” with a focus on so called “transient cities”. This is complemented by the concept of “hybrid” environments, i.e., integrating the virtual, digital world with the real, physical world.

There is currently a big hype about the business opportunities of smart cities based on an “Internet of Things (IoT)” infrastructure, providing information about states and dynamics of urban objects, especially when combined with information about people and their “big data” exploitation. In order to explore the challenges, but also the venues towards a human-centered IoT, I will take a critical look at the implications of smart services based on matching people’s profiles and interests with service options available at specific locations. A major focus will be on the risks resulting from these smart city installations, especially the serious infringements of privacy rights, i.e., usage of personal data without consent of the people concerned.

Our thesis is that a critical reflection of different manifestations of the “Smart Everything” paradigm is needed in order to meet the overall goal of reconciling humans and technology. A central aspect of this goal is to keep the human in the loop and in control. Therefore, a citizen-centered design approach for future cities is needed for helping us to go “beyond smart cities” and transform them into Humane, Sociable and Cooperative Hybrid Cities.