Science Year 2024 – Freedom

Freedom in a high-tech society

Logo Science Year 2024 - Freedom

For a long time, freedom was taken for granted in the western world. However, crises and wars are increasingly putting it to the test. At the same time, tools that manage freedom have never been more powerful. Technologies such as AI are playing a key role here. They can restrict social freedom – but they can also strengthen it. This is why it is important to understand the mechanisms behind these technologies.

When can I trust information or a system? How much freedom of choice do we still have with artificial intelligence? How can I avoid digital surveillance if my freedom is restricted? These are key questions regarding the freedom of a society. Given the role that AI and digital tools are playing in more and more areas of our daily lives, it is becoming increasingly important to ask these kind of questions.

At Fraunhofer, we are working on solutions to make technologies more trustworthy, safe and secure, while at the same time reducing their error rates. Our research encourages people to take a careful and critical look at the risks that the digital space poses for their freedoms and aims to enable them to preserve these freedoms. This is why Fraunhofer is taking part in Science Year 2024, which focuses on freedom.

more info

Fraunhofer on the MS Wissenschaft floating science center

May 14 to September 27, 2024

On the ship to freedom: What is freedom? What conditions make it possible? What does freedom mean in 2024? The MS Wissenschaft floating science center explores these and other questions from various perspectives − from the concept of freedom in antiquity to dealing with AI, from scientific freedom to fake news, from climate protests to game theory. Fraunhofer is contributing two exhibits on trustworthy AI and the dark web.

MS Wissenschaft

Die MS Wissenschaft, ein schwimmendes Science Center mit Exponaten zum Ausprobieren und Mitmachen.
© Retusche: Ralitsa Kirova / Wissenschaft im Dialog, CC BY-SA 4.0

Trustworthy artificial intelligence: Who’s deciding here?

" "
© designatics®

“Who’s deciding here?!“
Who should decide? A human, or AI?

Which decisions can we − and do we want to − leave to AI algorithms, and which decisions would be better made ourselves? How reliable are these technologies, which we are increasingly using in security-relevant areas? Whether it is employed in autonomous vehicles, in machines or robots, for detecting fake news or to support medical decisions  − if AI makes the wrong decision, this can have far-reaching consequences.

This game shows examples where AI is a good tool for us humans. The big challenge here is to be able to realistically assess the performance of AI. After all, AI is getting better and better, but is not yet perfect. Some of the use cases demonstrate the typical challenges that researchers face when developing AI applications. 

Get together with AI, test your knowledge, and put your freedom of choice to the test!

more info



Brighter than expected: discovering the dark web

" "
© Fraunhofer SIT

The dark web does not have a good reputation. Many people associate it with criminal activities, such as arms sales or drug trafficking. And yet, it is mainly used by people seeking freedom and safety. In less free countries, they can use the dark web to anonymously access information that is censored or banned and communicate with each other without leaving digital tracks. In Germany, many people use the dark web to protect their privacy and escape advertisers’ prying eyes while surfing the internet. Numerous companies have their own websites on the dark web, in parallel to their activities on the internet. The Fraunhofer exhibit shows all these aspects of the dark web, touching on freedom and safety. It explains terms, legitimate use cases and current research results. An interactive presentation demonstrates how the TOR browser works and invites visitors to test their knowledge of the dark web.

more info (in German)


More Fraunhofer projects in the context of freedom


Technological freedom: OpenGPT-X

Until now, the most successful AI language models have come from the US and China. These were not always suitable for the requirements of the European market. The new generative AI model, OpenGPT-X, aims to help European companies to make better use of the innovation potential of AI while maintaining technological independence.


Freedom and deepfakes

Deepfakes are a growing threat to our freedoms. Deceptively realistic manipulations to video and audio presentations pose considerable risks for the government, business and society. Artificial intelligence can help to reliably unmask deepfakes.


Freedom in science:
research with responsibility

Scientific freedom is a prerequisite for finding the truth as well as for democracy. As such, it also has an impact on society. But scientists must act responsibly. The LeNa project saw the development of practical tools for researchers to include social responsibility in their projects.


Freedom of work

Remote work has become the new normal. A study by Fraunhofer IAO sheds light on how remote work can be set up and what the benefits and risks entail. A key finding indicates that the reduced presence of employees on site must be compensated for with improved communication.


Freedom in the face of disabilities

A prosthetic can give a person who lost a hand a bit of freedom again. Fraunhofer researchers are working on more precise and sensitive controls for prosthetics, right down to individual fingers. Instead of conventional electrodes that detect nerve impulses in arm muscles, they are using ultrasound sensors.


Freedom of delivery

In the future, suppliers will be able to take to the air whenever ground traffic is too congested. The Albacopter – an aircraft modeled for particularly efficient gliding – is a first step in this direction.