Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Wolfgang Wahlster became an official member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences during a ceremony in February 2004 in Stockholm, Sweden. Following the induction ceremony, he addressed the plenary session of the Academy on the topic, "Understanding Multimodal Man-Machine Dialog", in which he discussed the results of the BMBF funded project, SmartKom, which established Germany as a world leader in the field of Human Computer Interaction.
The Academy was founded in 1739 and today is responsible for the selection of Nobel prize winners in ten categories or classes. Prof. Wahlster is the only German scientist to be a member of the Engineering Sciences class. According to the charter of the Royal Swedish Academy, each class may have a maximum of ten foreign and ten Swedish members and membership is for life.
Membership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Science is important because all members nominating as well as voting are involved in the annual selection of Nobel prize winners in Physics, Chemistry and Economics, a grant donated by the Bank of Sweden in memory of Alfred Nobel. Every year in October, the selection committee makes its recommendations from among the nominated candidates to the voting members of the Academy who then cast the deciding votes. Strict secrecy accompanies each step of the selection process.
Prof. Wahlster has many ties to Sweden: In 1998, he became the first German scientist to receive an honorary doctor title from the University of Linköping. As the Chair of the Computer Science Department at the University of Saarland, he has mentored many masters and doctoral candidates who are natives of Sweden. Since 2001, he has been a member of the science advisory committee to the Swedish Research Institute for Information Technology (SITI), the largest information systems research association in Sweden. Since 2003, he has also been the senior scientific editor of "Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence (ETAI)", an international technical journal for Artificial Intelligence published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.
The German Minister of Education and Research (BMBF), Edelgard Bulmahn, congratulated Prof. Wahlster in a personal letter in which she stated, "In appreciation and recognition of your accomplishments in the field of research in the areas of artificial intelligence and knowledge management and for focusing worldwide attention on the research excellence of the Saarbruecken region in the area of speech processing and Human Computer Interaction," she continued, "Please accept my special gratitude for your significant contributions in helping the Ministry of Education and Research to promote Germany in the world as a center for leading edge research in your areas of expertise and for increasing the opportunities for international cooperation."
Next to this prestigious award of membership in the Nobel Academy, Prof. Wahlster's other awards include the Beckurts Prize in 2000 and the Federal President's German Future Prize in 2001.