History: Activities of team members in the 1980s

The NATO double decision of 19.12.1979 led to the stationing of medium-range missiles (e.g. Pershing II) in Europe at the beginning of the 1980s. The mutual threat posed by nuclear missiles thus increased considerably at the beginning of the 1980s. This led to a strengthening of the peace movement with very large demonstrations.

In the following some actions of members of our team in this phase are briefly described.

The IJCAI (International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence, see www.ijcai.org ) is the world’s largest and most important conference for Artificial Intelligence (AI) with up to 7000 participants. In 1983 this conference took place in Karlsruhe and was organized by Jörg Siekmann. In addition to the lecture program there was also an industry exhibition with AI applications. An American company also wanted to exhibit there, which developed the Pershing II with automatic image recognition for target control. Jörg Siekmann, the organizer of this conference, had pushed through the fact that no military applications could be shown. The American company cancelled its participation completely and the stand remained empty, a sign on the empty stand pointed out the reasons. This process was also well received by the press.

Jörg Siekmann was also one of the 5 professors who placed a complaint to the Constitutional Court in 1983 “against the operation of early warning and decision-making systems for nuclear military conflicts in Europe”. The press had also reported on this in detail. 

In 1983, employees and professors of a research project led by Jörg Siekmann had sent a letter to every member of the german parliament („Bundestag“) warning of a nuclear war by mistake due to computer errors (www.fwes.info/Brief-MdBs-1983.pdf ). Since the working group also had projects on program verification (proof of the correctness of software), arguments on the security of early warning systems could be contradicted. One of the initiators of this action was Karl Hans Bläsius, a doctoral student of Jörg Siekmann at that time. Many of the members of the parliament had answered this letter and in the debate of the parliament on 22 November 1983 Willy Brandt referred to this letter in his speech and warned the members of the parliament to consider these arguments (http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/10/10036.pdf, page 2506, top right-hand column).

In response to this letter, one member of the parliament had visited the working group at the University of Karlsruhe and asked for support for a planned constitutional complaint by members of the SPD (a german party) against retrofitting with medium-range missiles. He provided the constitutional complaint of the Greens as well as an argumentation sketch for a constitutional complaint of SPD members and Karl Hans Bläsius gave him statements on it from the point of view of computer science.

In the following period Karl Hans Bläsius and Jörg Siekmann had dealt further intensively with the topic of early warning and decision systems and had provided several publications to this topic, one of these articles appeared in the computer science spectrum (www.fwes.info/FWES-1987.pdf).

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator