fortiss researcher Tony Zhang

fortiss researchers in focus

Tony represents a human-centric AI.

Hello Tony. Can you give us an insight into your work at fortiss?

In my work at fortiss, I am involved in the development of prototypes for interactive intelligent systems in various application areas. I work closely with potential end users of our customers to understand and implement their requirements. Another focus of my work is the design and implementation of user studies. This involves evaluating the usability and acceptance of our prototypes and identifying possible improvements. In addition to my practical work, I am also actively involved in the research community in artificial intelligence (AI). I regularly publish papers and participate in the review process of scientific publications. Furthermore, I participate in workshops and conferences to keep up to date with current research results and trends and to expand my knowledge in turn, to share our results. Overall, my work at fortiss is very varied and offers me the opportunity to develop both practically and scientifically.

What is your research focus?

My research focus is in the area of human-AI interaction. This is about designing AI systems in a way that people can work well with them. This means, for example, that AI systems must be human-centered and user-friendly to enable successful collaboration. Contrary to the impression given in many product demos, AI systems are not perfect but can produce errors. Particularly important is also My main focus is therefore on ensuring that users of AI systems are designed in such a way that their users are not affected by erroneous AI behavior. Especially in high-stakes applications such as aviation, it is essential that AI systems work reliably and can be quickly and safely taken over by human operators in case of errors. Human operators are always aware of the limitations of AI systems and can effectively contribute their expertise when the AI reaches its limits. A central aspect of my research is therefore the development of methods and technologies to increase the safety and reliability of AI systems. This also involves integrating human expertise into the development process of AI systems to enable the best possible collaboration between humans and AI. The starting point of my research is therefore always people: How do people work? How do they make decisions in a particular environment? What challenges do they face? These insights form the basis for exploring how AI fits into human work processes, taking into account its limitations.  Overall, my goal is to improve human-AI interaction and help users of AI systems to realize their full potential without being affected by erroneous AI behavior that humans are always in full control, and that human capabilities are enhanced, not replaced, by AI.

How did you become aware of fortiss?

I became aware of fortiss when I discovered an exciting job advertisement that was located exactly at the interface between Human-centered Engineering/Interaction (HCE/HCI) and AI. The advertisement appealed to me immediately, as it covered exactly what I was looking for – namely, an opportunity to combine my knowledge and interests in both fields and work on developing innovative solutions. I then informed myself in detail about fortiss and its fields of activity and was impressed by the wide range of research projects being worked on here. The work of fortiss in the field of applied research and development of intelligent systems immediately excited me, and I was sure that this is where I can best contribute and develop my knowledge and skills.

[Translate to English:] Anführungszeichen Visual

"This is not just about improving algorithms, but also about designing AI systems to be more intuitive and user-friendly, and to help users understand how they work and what results they deliver, and how they can achieve their goals with AI systems."

fortiss researcher Tony Zhang

How do you feel about the working environment at fortiss?

I find the working environment at fortiss very inspiring and challenging. I especially appreciate the opportunity to work on real-world problems that have a direct impact on society. It gives me the feeling that I can really make a difference with my work. By working on these problems, I also learned a lot of things that often go unnoticed in controlled studies with very artificial problems. This gives my research a unique selling point, which also attracts a lot of interest in the research community. Here I can put my theoretical knowledge directly into practice and thus continuously expand and improve my skills and knowledge. The working environment at fortiss also offers me the opportunity to work with highly qualified and motivated colleagues who are leaders in their field. I appreciate the open exchange and collaborations with other researchers, which help me to improve my work and develop new ideas. In addition, the working environment at fortiss also offers many opportunities for personal development and participation in conferences and workshops. This helps me to stay up to date with the latest research and to continuously expand my knowledge and skills.

What drives you in your job?

What drives me in my work is above all the desire to have a real impact on society and the further development of technologies with my research results. I don't just want to publish papers as an end in itself, but to help shape the direction of research with my work and contribute to AI systems being better adapted to the needs of people in the future.
As a researcher, I want to contribute to AI systems being designed in such a way that they offer added value to users and help them achieve their goals more effectively and efficiently. I also want my work to help improve human-AI interaction. In my opinion, good human-AI interaction is central to this. This is not just about improving algorithms, but also about designing AI systems to be more intuitive and user-friendly, and to help users understand how they work and what results they deliver, and how they can achieve their goals with AI systems. I believe that this is an important step to realize the full potential of AI systems and to ensure that the technology meets people's needs.

"My vision as a researcher at fortiss is to contribute to making AI systems not only technology-centered but also human-centered."

[Translate to English:] Anführungszeichen Visual

What is the biggest challenge for you?

As an electrical engineer, my work at fortiss deals with human-centered methods of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), such as interviews or focus groups. This was a big change and challenge for me at first, because as a trained electrical engineer I come from a purely technical background. However, I quickly realized how important and indispensable these methods are to understanding how AI works in the real world and how it can best be designed to meet user needs. This realization motivates me to keep going and continue my work as a researcher at fortiss.

Where do you want to see your research results in action?

My vision as a researcher at fortiss is to contribute to making AI systems not only technology-centered but also human-centered. The rapid progress in AI is largely technology-centered, and I believe that we need to focus more on how AI systems can be designed to meet the needs and capabilities of users. My research focuses on establishing human-centered approaches to AI development, ensuring that the technology is truly useful to the people who use it. Therefore, I hope that my research findings will help to adequately anchor the human factor in AI development and thus contribute to the positive and sustainable development of AI technology.