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Gerhard Fischer new honorary doctor at the IT Faculty


Gerhard Fischer has been appointed honorary doctor at the IT Faculty, University of Gothenburg. Gerhard Fischer is the director of the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design, professor at the Department of Computer Science, and a fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science, all at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.

Gerhard Fischer is interested in what the digital culture means for us a human beings and how it affects our ways of thinking, working and learning.

His research has been focusing on new concepts and new media for learning, working and collaboration, on the relationship between humans and computers and also on social creativity.

Lifelong learning is one of Gerhard’s main research tracks and to him lifelong learning is not just about adult education, but looking upon learning as a central activity of a human life.

One important part in Gerhard’s recent research is the transition to what he calls meta-design, “design for designers”, where new technology facilitates the transformation of the user from a passive consumer to a co-creator – Wikipedia, YouTube and open source are a few examples of meta-design.

How did your interest for this research area start?

'As a young student in Mathematics in Germany my perception was that computers were boring and at the time I couldn’t see what they could bring to the world. The computations a computer could make, I could make myself. But when I was working on my master thesis in Mathematics I found a book with the first scientific article on artificial intelligence. The article was about a computer playing chess and the idea of computers that could achieve intellectual skills became the turning point for me.'

'But I am not interested in replacing human being by computers, I rather see the computer as something that could empower us and complement our human characteristics. To be able to build a symbiotic relationship between humans and computers I have to understand what humans are good at what they are not so good at and for that I needed help from many different categories as psychologists, philosophers and linguistics for example.'

What do you expect from your time as honorary doctor at the IT Faculty?

'I am familiar with the situation in America and at the same time I am familiar with the situation in Europe – since I’m originally from Germany and have many contacts in Scandinavia for example. I hope my contribution might be bringing many of the perspectives from many different directions together. Right now I have just finished a two-day PhD course at the Department of Applied IT, where PhD students from very different parts of the world were taking part. I see it as part of the broad international cooperation.'

'The Department of Applied IT conducts research that overlaps my research and I believe we will be able to have an interesting exchange of knowledge.'

What are your future perspectives in terms of research?

'We can see that we have made tremendous progress technologically, now I would like to bring out a strong scientific base of research about how we use our technology and how to get the most out of it. Do we want to use the technology to become more productive and efficient, or should we switch to using technology to improve our quality of life?'

Gerhard Fischer received his insignia at the Conferment Ceremony of Doctoral Degrees at University of Gothenburg on 16th of October 2015.

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