Artificial Intelligence Event Series


From personal assistants on our smartphones to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (A.I.) is poised to play a major role in our lives over the coming decades. However, due to the rapid growth of these technologies, understanding of the future impact of A.I. is limited; and from hype over recent developments, understanding of the these technologies' capabilities is in danger of becoming distorted.

This poor understanding stands to prevent citizens and politicians from finding acceptable tradeoffs between the benefits that A.I. promises and the risks it entails. As a result, we find ourselves in danger of ungrounded fear about beneficial technologies such as autonomous vehicles; ignorant risks being taken related to automation; and high expectations set up by science fiction being disappointed. 


reatch aims to address this issue through a series of five events on A.I. at ETH Zürich. Targeted at students and interested members of the Swiss public, the series will launch with an interactive exhibition of A.I., continuing over six months with a number of talks and panel discussions from authoritative figures in the field. Our hope is to provide a source of information about A.I. grounded in fact rather than fiction, facilitating an informed public conversation about the risks and benefits of A.I.. 


Supported by

with patronage of

The Series


28th-29th September, 2017

A.I.: connecting the dots

From self-driving cars to cancer detection, the recent success of A.I. is ubiquitously present in the media. Its impact is starting to become noticeable in our everyday lives through targeted advertising, conversational chatbots and optimized search engines. But what's behind the buzzword, and how does it really work?

At this two-day exhibition in the ETH Main Hall, you'll have the chance to learn about the key components that make up modern A.I. technology directly from the people that build and use it. Starting with the basics and working up to exciting real-world applications from companies and startups that make use of A.I. technology, we'll show you how to connect the dots - to see how it all fits together to enable the technology that we see around us.

For more information, see


27th October, 2017

Why are the smartest people on earth worried about A.I.?

Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Elon Musk share the worry that future artificial superintelligence might be 'the last invention we'll ever make'. Join this panel discussion to find out if this worry justified.


21st November, 2017

Language and creativity: what makes human intelligence unique?

Language and creativity are considered fundamental features of human intelligence. They pose a significant challenge to artificial systems. However, in recent years, the success of deep and recurrent neural networks has revolutionized artificial intelligence as rule based systems were replaced by networks that learn through experience.

AI more than ever competes with human intelligence, but creativity and language, are still dominated by humans. Why? And will it stay this way? 

Join this event that consists of 4 talks of and a panel discussion to find out!


6th February, 2018

Staying human in a robot world: how will A.I. change social attitudes?

Robots are penetrating evermore areas of our everyday's life, as coaches, care workers or waiters. They exist to help, to please and to serve us. And they will be more become more human-like to facilitate our interaction with them. As we grow used to having these servants around us, how will our attitude towards humans change? In an afternoon series of short talks, we set out to find the answer.


15th March, 2018

Crime and punishment: is A.I. liable?

The idea of human accountability is a hallmark of our law system. However, AI challenges this idea on the grounds of overall efficiency: autonomous traffic will likely reduce the number of causalities but if something happens: who can be held responsible? Predictive sentencing (as employed in Eric Loomis' prison sentence) transfers the part of the judges responsibility into an algorithmic black-box; a black-box that might be less biased than human judgement. Join this panel discussion to find out how AI challenges our idea of juridical liability



Jannes Jegminat

Team Lead

Jannes is pursuing his PhD in theoretical neuroscience at the institute of neuroinformatics. ‘It’s science responsibility to explain the facts of a new technology and it’s the citizen’s responsibility to form an opinion based on these facts.’ [email protected]

Matthew Rahtz

Kickoff event lead

Matthew is studying an MSc in neuroscience and machine learning at the University of Zurich's Institute of Neuroinformatics. "Given the impact that greater use of AI will have on society, we need to make sure that discussion about AI really is informed by fact and not misinformation and hyperbole. [email protected]

Angela Shen

Psychology event

Angela is an MSc student in theoretical neuroscience at the Institute of Neuroinformatics. ‘These events serve a good purpose in equipping the public with a factual understanding about AI. This could help eliminate pseudo-controversies and encourage public engagement in rational decision making regarding AI's future and safety.’ [email protected]

Alexandra Pinto

Kickoff event

Alexandra is an MSc student in theoretical neuroscience at the Institute of Neuroinformatics. ‘I enjoy being part of reatch in the search for understanding and communicating what everybody really needs to know about AI. Our goal is to be able to transmit this knowledge in the clearest and most reliable way to the public. For me, the weakest point in this endeavor is the lack of a theory that give us a tool for explaining and predicting the reach of this powerful machines.’ [email protected]

Andri Sonder

Kickoff event

Andri is an MSc student in Robotics, Systems and Control at ETH Zurich. ‘AI is going to play an important role in the near future. In order to form an opinion about AI-related topics, the society needs to have certain knowledge about it and its impact on various areas of our everyday lives. Therefore, knowledge transfer between academia and society is a crucial step in order to critically discuss related topics and make well informed decisions to fully leverage the diverse potential of AI.’ [email protected]

Karolina Ignatiadis

Sociology event

Karolina is an MSc student in the program Neural Systems and Computation at the Institute of Neuroinformatics. ‘Artificial Intelligence is indeed a part of our lives gaining progressively more ground in every aspect of our society. At present stage, the greatest danger there is to it is the one of misconception. It is for this reason projects like reatch are important: to fill the gaps and give insight through communicating scientific knowledge to the broader audience, raising discussion and awareness of the challenges AI has to pose in the near future.’ [email protected]

Jonathan Schaffner

Philosophy event

Jonathan finished his MSc in Neuroinformatics in 2018.’ [email protected]

Clemens Kielhauser

Kickoff event

Clemens Kielhauser is pursuing a PhD in Construction and Infrastructure management at ETH.

Florian Berlinger


Florian Berlinger studies collective intelligence toward a PhD in Computer Science at Harvard University. “I want to encourage my fellows in science to think about ways in which we can leverage our research to help achieving better policies.

Micha Eichmann

Kickoff event

Micha studies bioinformatics at the University Bern, where he focuses on developing image analysis algorithms for tumor tissue samples, with the goal of ultimately improving patients' diagnoses.

Marco Unternährer


Marco has recently joined out team. He works as backend developer. 

Nikola Nikolov

Kickoff event

Nikola is an PhD student at the Institute of Neuroinformatics. In his research he focuses on natural language processing.

Tranquilo Janisch

Kickoff event

Tranquillo is pursuing a Master in Physics at the University of Zürich. Currently, he is doing an internship in software engineering. "A.I. brings a digital revolution with an incredible disruptive power. Therefore, facts for an elaborated discussion between academia, society and policymakers are required to tackle this opportunity.

Alpha Renner

Psychology event

Alpha is pursuing a PhD at the Institute of Neuroinformatics with a focus on embodied long term memory.