The Order of Merit – awarded in different classes – is presented to citizens who have distinguished themselves through special achievements in government service, economics, science, culture, or through voluntary commitment to the common welfare.
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Wahlster has been the head of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence since 1996. Established in 1988, DFKI has since developed into one of the most respected research institutes, with more than 1000 employees currently working at locations in Saarbrücken, Kaiserslautern, Bremen, Berlin, Osnabrück, and Oldenburg.
"Wolfgang Wahlster set as his research goal one of the central challenges of the future: The study of artificial intelligence. In doing so, he has made the Federal Republic one of the top addresses in this scientific field," as stated in the President's speech. In addition to multi-modal speech dialog systems, adaptive assistance systems for the Internet of Service and Things, his research areas also include cyber-physical production systems based on digital product memory.
"I am very pleased that after receiving the Future Prize in 2001, the Officer's Cross of Merit 1st Class in 2006, the Saarland Order of Merit in 2017, the Honorary Citizenship of Saarbrücken in 2019, I am now able to personally receive the Grand Cross of the Federal Republic from the Federal President as my highest state recognition" summarized Wahlster. "As in competitive sports, I am always driven by such awards to work ever harder in my special subject area for the good of society. I thank all my colleagues at DFKI, for without their cooperation, my scientific success would not have been possible. My sincere appreciation also goes to The State of Saarland, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) for the massive support provided to my AI research efforts over the past 40 years."
For his research, Wahlster has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Darmstadt, Linköping, and Maastricht. He is a member of the Nobel Committee in Stockholm, the Leopoldina (German National Academy of Sciences), Acatech (German Academy of Engineering Sciences), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and the Academy of Science and Literature in Mainz. As a member of several advisory bodies to the German government, for example, the Partners in Innovation and the Research Union, he was the co-initiator of future-oriented projects like Industrie 4.0 and Smart Services Worlds. He has volunteered in the Federal Government's Data Ethics Commission and currently heads the steering committee for the AI standardization roadmap. He is first vice president of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians (GDNÄ) and a member of the national steering committee for AI Platform Learning Systems. Associated with more than 90 successful startup companies, he was instrumental in establishing one of the most active AI research centers and is also active on numerous industrial supervisory boards and advisory councils, both in Germany and abroad.