Based on the idea of a TüCAS (Tübingen Center of Advanced Studies) the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center was founded as one of three pillars of the Forum Scientiarum. As a host for postdoctoral students it complements the offer of the two other pillars, the Tübinger Forum for Science and Humanities (TFW) and the Leibniz-Kolleg. It also collaborates with the College of Fellows, a central meeting place for social and cultural activities at the University of Tübingen.
Under the direction of the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Professorship for Philosophy and History of Science, the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center is dedicated to foundational research, aiming to provide a platform to postdoctoral researchers for reflection on foundations.
The orientation of this foundational reflection is closely connected to Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker's heritage. When Weizsäcker worked on the foundations of physics and philosophy in the 20th century, the world was under the shadow of nuclear weapons and atomic energy. The responsibility of the scientist in a globalized world became a central issue for the first time in history. Weizsäcker, however, realized that engaging merely in daily politics would be too short-sighted. In fact, at the time, the changes we were seeing in the broader world were related to fundamental upheavals in physics, whose scientific and philosophical foundations had to be worked out.
In commitment to Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker's scientific and societal heritage, the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center will deal in alternating cycles with topics that have at their focus the responsibility of science and scientists. The first cycle, started in 2019/2020, is under the heading
Responsibility in the digital society
In the 21st century, digitalization is a global challenge for humanity. Most recently due to Data Mining and Big Data, there is a new public awareness of how strongly our personal lives are dominated by data and algorithms. A leading question of the new center is therefore: How calculable is the world? Some believe that these days, finding solutions to problems in technology and economy comes down to nothing more than ever faster and more efficient algorithms. However, the financial crisis of 2008 was closely linked to misunderstood notions concerning, for example, the assumptions and structures of mathematical models and algorithms. This is an on-going source of potential danger, whenever we blindly rely on algorithms without knowing their theoretical foundations and applicability conditions. An example of this is the current hype surrounding Artifical Intelligence. Only those who know the fundamental theories can prove theorems about the capability and limits of these algorithms. Again, questions of responsibility are therefore closely connected to foundational questions, the principal object of interest to the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center.