Digital Bauhaus: AI can learn from the modern masters

Dortmund | 14. August 2019

In developing AI projects, businesses must ensure that data-driven applications set their own special requirements when it comes to responsibilities. IT service provider adesso believes that four roles are key to successful development and implementation. Those responsible for AI projects can learn a great deal from the Bauhaus movement.

One of the strengths of artificial intelligence (AI) is recognising patterns in large pools of data. When under development, data-driven applications often come across issues in a practical environment as they require a different project structure and project expertise in comparison to conventional IT solutions. To ensure the success of an AI project, those involved must have an understanding of the underlying data and the particular features of their own company and industry, analytical capabilities and the ability to develop algorithms on this basis. adesso has designed an adapted process model with phases, roles and responsibilities in order to meet these requirements. It is known as Building AI-based Systems.

The four roles in an AI project

The IT service provider has defined four different roles that are key to implementing AI projects. The term “role” is understood here as a set of skills and responsibilities, and not as a single person.

  • Domain expert: The domain expert knows a company’s business processes, the workflows in the industry and user requirements like the back of his hand. This role is just as skilled at industry specifics as it is at assessing applications.
  • Data scientist: The data scientist combines the skills of an IT expert with those of a statistician. This role has knowledge of machine learning (ML) and AI technologies, is skilled at programming and has experience in handling large volumes of data.
  • Software engineer: The software engineer holds overall responsibility for software engineering and functions as the link between the data-driven part of the project and the conventional project areas. As an expert in software development, this role has a fundamental understanding of data science.
  • Data domain expert: The data domain expert provides access and knowledge of data and data sources within the business and the domain. Unlike a domain expert, who analyses data from a business perspective, this role has more of a technical approach.

All four roles ensure that the project team has the necessary technical, IT and AI expertise.

Bauhaus principles applying to projects of today

Artificial intelligence can learn a great deal from the Bauhaus movement. The 1919 Bauhaus Manifesto signed by Walter Gropius emphasised the importance of a solid team over individual genius. On the other hand, nowadays agile management has established itself as a project management method. Splitting up a major project into different sections and regularly going over progress and recommendations for improvement with the team was a revolutionary idea. The form follows function principle developed by Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe is a perfect reflection of the modern topic of usability engineering.

“We quickly found that we have to develop AI applications differently to conventional IT systems,” says Prof. Dr Volker Gruhn, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, founder of adesso AG and Head of the Software Engineering Department at the University of Duisburg-Essen. “The data pool plays a different role, and other expertise is required. At the beginning of these projects we were also not sure whether the use of AI technologies would even lead to the desired outcome. That’s why it is all the more important to have the right experts on board. Just as the Bauhaus school involved its students in specific applications at an early stage, we also need a ‘Digital Bauhaus’ today both in businesses themselves and in a training and educational environment. I interpret this as a university where all disciplines work together in the truest sense. Students focus on subjects such as machine learning, software technology, design and usability engineering using specific workpieces, or software projects in this case. Things are no different in the day-to-day operations of a business. A successful AI project needs a multidisciplinary mindset and method of working. Now, 100 years after the foundation of the Bauhaus movement, we need to revitalise those ideas in the context of the digital transformation.”


Prof. Dr. Volker Gruhn (Copyright adesso)

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