Three labs for AI in Saxony: In Dresden, Freiberg and Görlitz, young people can experiment with machine learning algorithms

Three Saxon hackspaces started today with a joint kick-off event. From now on, young people in Dresden, Freiberg and Görlitz can immerse themselves in the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and develop their own projects under the guidance of experts. Relevant experience is not necessary. Interested people between the ages of 12 and 18 can drop by at any time and test whether they enjoy the free offer. The so-called KI Labs – KI is the German abbreviation for Künstliche Intelligenz, meaning Artificial Intelligence – run at the Dresden Technical Collections (TSD), the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), and the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding (CASUS) in Görlitz. Together, TSD, HIF, CASUS, and Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) developed the “KI Labs” idea. The three hackspaces are embedded into the Germany-wide “Jugend hackt” program.

The “Jugend hackt” initiative has been active since 2013, but the new labs in Saxony are still something special: For the first time, the focus is on artificial intelligence. Understanding AI and its use is becoming increasingly important because the topic is a key driver for society’s digital transformation. From online shopping to spam filters to speech correction and completion while typing – AI is already present in our everyday lives. New applications will certainly emerge in the future and will significantly change our lives.

“To introduce the topic, we always show some rousing experiments at our meetings about what can be done with AI algorithms,” says Dr. Nico Hoffmann, head of a Helmholtz AI young investigator group located at HZDR. “In one of these apps, you can play a short melody, and the AI responds with a matching sequence. Another example relates to image recognition: under time constraints, you try to sketch an elephant, for example. Even if the person sketching shows a certain lack of talent, the computer surprisingly often recognizes the elephant as such,” says Hoffmann.

Tinkering towards a better future with program code

Once you have got the hang of it, creating your first self-programmed artificial intelligence is just a small step ahead. The young participants decide for themselves which project they want to pursue. Together with their mentors they clarify questions such as: What data do I need? How do I get hold of this data? How do I evaluate it? And how do I present the results? “We particularly want to encourage young people to use AI to solve urgent societal issues,” Hoffmann explains. “Many topics are conceivable, ranging from the desiccation of entire regions in Germany to the retreat of the Arctic ice sheet to the efficient use of resources.”

Experienced volunteers from various technical fields will provide support for the implementation of the AI projects. The “KI Lab” teams from the three Saxon cities will regularly exchange information and also work jointly on projects. Interested youngsters can drop by the three labs at any time, try out, join ongoing projects or start their own project. The premiere on July 21 kicked off at 4 p.m. with live broadcasts between the teams from all locations. Their regular meeting schedule is available on the internet and on Instagram. In the future, the Saxon “Jugend hackt Labs” are also going to organize workshops and coding sessions. These dates will also be announced online.

“Jugend hackt” is supported by the associations “Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland” and “mediale pfade – Verein für Medienbildung”. The program offers young people spaces to experiment at many locations throughout Germany and a platform to network with like-minded people. With the slogan “Improving the world with code,” the program is aimed at anyone who wants to develop digital tools, prototypes, and concepts for a better future.

More information at (all in German): and on Instagram at jugendhackt.sachsen (login required)

The “KI Lab” in Dresden
In Dresden, tinkering is going on at MACHwerk, the research workshop for everyone at the Dresden Technical Collections (TSD), on Junghansstraße 1-3. Helene Hoffmann (HZDR) and Holger Seifert (TSD) are the on-site contacts.

The “KI Lab” in Freiberg
Contacts in Freiberg are Lucas Pereira and Dr. Raimon Tolosana Delgado, who both conduct research at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF). The HIF is part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and is located in Freiberg on Chemnitzer Straße 40.

The “KI Lab” in Görlitz
The sessions in Görlitz are in the hands of Dr. Nico Hoffmann (HZDR). Meeting point is the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding (CASUS) of the HZDR, located at Untermarkt 20. After the summer vacations, the hackspace will open at least every other week. In August, an additional workshop on the design of the hackspace is planned. Further workshops for, for example, all newcomers to programming are to follow.

Images from the launch event can be made available on request on July 21 from 6 p.m. onwards. Please contact Dr. Martin Laqua if you are interested.

CASUS was founded 2019 in Görlitz/Germany and pursues data-intensive interdisciplinary systems research in such diverse disciplines as earth system research, systems biology or materials research. The goal of CASUS is to create digital images of complex systems of unprecedented fidelity to reality with innovative methods from mathematics, theoretical systems research, simulations as well as data and computer science to give answers to urgent societal questions. Partners are the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig (UFZ), the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden (MPI-CBG), the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) and the University of Wrocław. CASUS is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Saxon State Ministry for Science, Culture and Tourism.

First “KI Lab” of the Jugend hackt initiative (Other pictures are available upon request, also in high-resolution)