- October 13, 2021
- October 16, 2021
As part of the Laboratories of Democracy Initiative, Aspen Germany hosted an in-person meeting with the first cohort of German and American state legislators in Stuttgart from October 13 to 16, 2021. Besides addressing broader issues in the transatlantic relationship, the first cohort focused on the core topic of digitalization. Three subtopics were of particular interest: Digital transformation in the mobility sector, digitalization of the economy and the future of work, and cybersecurity. After meeting virtually for over a year due to COVID-19, the group finally got to meet in person in Stuttgart for the first time. Legislators from Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein, California, Washington State, Illinois, and Colorado were represented on the ground. Additionally, virtual participation for most program activities was made possible for those who could not travel to Stuttgart in person due to the pandemic.
The Stuttgart program provided participants insights into regional best practices, created exchange opportunities with high-level government representatives, and allowed for discussions with experts from the region. Minister of State Dr. Florian Stegmann, Head of the State Chancellery, welcomed the group in the New Palace. The discussion focused on the political priorities of the Baden-Württemberg state government, the consequences of the 2021 federal elections, and transatlantic cooperation opportunities at the state level. The participants also visited the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg. Following a private tour, the group enjoyed meeting the President of the State Parliament Muhterem Aras to discuss the functioning and responsibilities of the state legislature, parliamentary groups and committees, and differences from state legislatures in the United States.
In line with the focus on digitization, the group also visited relevant research institutions and companies in the region. During a visit to the Cyber Valley in Tübingen, Europe’s largest research consortium in the field of artificial intelligence, the group of parliamentarians gained insights into AI research. They also discussed the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence with leading Cyber Valley scientists, including Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schölkopf, Executive Director, Michael Black Ph.D., Director and Speaker, Katherine J. Kuchenbecker Ph.D., Director, and Dr. Matthias Tröndle, General Manager. The program also included an exclusive factory tour of Daimler’s production facilities in Sindelfingen. The consequences of ever-increasing automation in production for the workplace were discussed in greater depth in the subsequent exchange with Dr. Ulrich Leitner, Carmelo Tona, and Luisa Goldberg from HR Research and Development. The delegation also visited the Bosch Research and Advance Engineering Campus in Renningen and exchanged views on geopolitical developments, cybersecurity, and robotics with Dr. Andrej Heinke, Futurologist at Bosch Future Research and Technology Strategy, Paul Duplys, Program Lead “Security, Privacy & Safety,” and Joachim Frangen, Chief Expert for Manufacturing Automation and “Industry 4.0 – Connected Industry.”
The legislators gained further insights into regional initiatives and best practices in roundtable discussions on digitalization in mobility and the economy. Malte Schmeck from e-mobil BW addressed the digital transformation in the automotive industry and potential future mobility solutions. In addition, Lisa Petit presented the Allianz Industrie 4.0 and Mascha Eckhardt the Initiative Wirtschaft 4.0, highlighting regional efforts to support local businesses in the digital transformation. In an exchange with Prof. h.c. Dr. Chirine Etezadzadeh, Founder and President of the SmartCity.institute, the group also discussed smart cities and the role of digitalization in shaping future cities.
In internal working sessions at the end of the Stuttgart program, the participants developed a series of policy recommendations on the digital transformation in the mobility sector, digitalization of the economy and the future of work, and cybersecurity. These recommendations will later be published in the form of a policy paper and offer food for thought for both the subnational level and transatlantic cooperation.
The Aspen Institute Germany would like to thank all participants of the first cohort of the Laboratories of Democracy Initiative: Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D), Member of the California State Assembly; Senator Raumesh Akbari (D), Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus in the Tennessee State Senate; Senator Thomas Alexander (R), Member of the South Carolina State Senate; Assemblymember Marc Berman (D), Member of the California State Assembly; Senator Reuven Carlyle (D), Member of the Washington State Senate; Representative Tom Demmer (R), Deputy Republican Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives; Christian Flisek MdL (SPD), Member of the Bavarian State Parliament; Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D), Member of the California State Assembly; Sarah Gillen MdL (CDU), Member of the State Parliament of Saarland; Joschka Knuth MdL (Alliance 90/The Greens), Member of the State Parliament of Schleswig-Holstein; State Secretary Andrea Lindlohr MdL (Alliance 90/The Greens), State Secretary in the Ministry of Regional Development and Housing and Member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg; Representative Brandy Pyle (R), Member of the North Dakota House of Representatives; Katharina Schulze MdL (Alliance 90/The Greens), Chair of The Greens in the Bavarian State Parliament; Prof. Dr. Erik Schweickert MdL (FDP), Member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg; Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R), Member of the Colorado State Senate.
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).