Christian Herzog

Last name, first name: Herzog, Prof. Dr. Christian
Nationality: German
City, Country: Lübeck, Germany
Degree program/degree: B.Sc. General Engineering, M.Sc. Mechatronics, Phd Control Engineering, M.A. Applied and Professional Ethics
Year of graduation: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2020
Employer and position: University of Lübeck, Professor for Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Artificial Intelligence

"I was able to realize myself as a transdisciplinary researcher"

Why did you decide to study at the TU Hamburg back then?
I have always been interested in complex technical devices and systems as a whole. That's why I wanted to be able to thoroughly understand and design subsystems and interactions - for me, that meant "mechatronics". The TUHH as a university initially appealed to me above all because it offered me scientific excellence as well as local proximity. During a brief visit, I was captivated by the beautifully located, compact campus and the exciting lectures given by the professors.  

How would you describe the character of the TU Hamburg in three characteristics?
I would say that the TUHH definitely exudes a family atmosphere and has a distinct international charm - but is also very performance-oriented. While I would rate the first two aspects very positively - I was already able to study a lot with diverse and multicultural fellow students in the first semesters and was able to talk to and get to know many professors directly - I didn't always find the focus on performance to be beneficial. At the same time, performance was demanded too one-dimensionally. In my opinion, very talented fellow students failed or almost failed technical mechanics in the second semester. I only experienced a more holistic understanding of performance and a more appreciative culture in higher semesters.

What happened after your studies?
As part of Blue Engineering AG, which I co-founded at the TU Hamburg, we offered events and teaching formats by students for students on the social and ecological responsibility of engineers. When I moved to the Institute of Medical Electrical Engineering at the University of Lübeck as a postdoc in 2015 to research inference algorithms, I quickly missed this socio-ethical dimension in my teaching. In Lübeck, all doors were open to me and over time my research activities were also transformed. Since 2020, I have been able to lead the Ethical Innovation Hub as a bridge between the humanities and technical sciences and realize myself scientifically as a transdisciplinary researcher.

What exactly are you researching and how are you changing the world with it?

As a hybrid between engineer and ethicist, I am convinced that ethically reflected, value-based development work is at the heart of most innovations. However, this reflection must be supported. We must learn to communicate and argue about values. In particular, the application of artificial intelligence in medicine and public administration presents us with new challenges in terms of maintaining a human, individual perspective and decision-making authority while at the same time making processes not only more efficient, but above all more effective. I am committed to working out the value of human interaction, work and individual value orientation in order to preserve and strengthen them.

What is your advice to current students and graduates?
My advice would be that students should not only focus their thinking on what they have to achieve. Instead, it is very worthwhile to think outside the box. I believe that engaging with culture, mind, body and the human condition itself makes us better engineers. 

I would love to swap places for a day with ...
... Johny Pitts, to mention a specific name. He is the author of "Afropäisch", which was awarded the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding. He describes what it means to be a "black European" in an approachable and grounded way. This can be understood as a symbol of our challenge as a society to respect different cultural identities and at the same time make it possible to experience a sense of community. 

What would you ask an omniscient researcher from the future?
I would ask what he or she believes causes society to think that researchers are omniscient.

If you were President of the TU Hamburg ...
... I would devote myself intensively to the compatibility of family and science. There is an increasing gulf between industry and academia that doesn't need to exist. Instead, universities could be the avant-garde here. However, the TUHH is otherwise excellently managed. So I don't know whether it would be desirable for me to be president with my level of experience.