AdR Fellow is from among the group of entrepreneurs mentioned as Germany’s 40 Under 40. Link to the magazine interview with Manouchehr: Porträt_Shamsrizi_JungeElite2017CAPITAL
Following is the English translation of the interview:
HYPE OR HOPE? ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
A new technology is turning the economy and our lives around. Who the pioneers are – who uses them and who benefits from them.
MANOUCHEHR SHAMSRIZI, 29, is the mastermind and biggest shareholder of Retrobrain. The company develops computer games as a prevention against dementia.
“I must use my time for something meaningful”
Retrobrain founder Manouchehr Shamsrizi wants to make technical innovations accessible to all.
Mr. Shamsrizi, you are featured as a “Global Shaper” of the World Economic Forum, are a Fellow of Yale University and the “Washington Post” counts you as among the most prominent voices of the young generation in Germany. How did you become such a high flyer at the age of 29?
Am I? I live in Hamburg and have Persian roots. Persians only hold doctors and engineers in such a high social regard. My sister is a doctor. I, on the other hand, studied political philosophy with a focus on the theory of justice. I found it a bit boring, always only doing what the principles or the social framework demanded. Only school work at school, only uni work at university? That does not fill a day. I have always done a lot in parallel. Among all the scholars at the Humbolt University of Berlin, in my year I was the only one who didn’t have a high achieving level 1 Abitur (baccalaureate).
What attracted you to the theory of Justice?
I grew up in Germany with the awareness that I enjoy educational privilege. It was clear to me that I had to use my time for something meaningful. At some point, while studying in the USA and GB, I realised that a “social business” offered the best framework for this. Because my motivation is not only to find ways that improve things, but also to ensure that they are made accessible to as many people as possible.
Does this claim also apply to Retrobrain? Your company lets senior citizens go bowling on game consoles and ride motorcycles to prevent dementia and falls. An innovative approach, but just in the testing phase with a health insurance company.
We are already working on a Parkinson and Stroke version. We will not completely reform the systemic or structural care of patients. We can only contribute puzzle pieces to the solution. At its core, health and social problems must be resolved politically and rethought from scratch.
Do you think you could make more of an impact in politics?
That was my intention originally. But from everything I was able to see, the political system is too slow for me and, above all, too self-referential. Besides, I would like to do one without leaving the other. This doesn’t work as well in continental Europe as in the Anglo-Saxon area. Here, the discourses of politics, science and economics are more divided than they are doing well.
In the election campaign you supported both FDP boss Christian Lindner and SPD boss Martin Schulz. Is that opportune?
As a left-liberal, I’m stranded between the SPD and the FDP in their current set up. Years ago, I was recruited by Henning Voscherau as an SPD member. At that time, I took the trouble to read the party manifestos and got caught up with the conception of man. I find it highly improper not to strive for equal opportunities. That is why I find a liberal system in which everyone cannot participate equally, morally reprehensible and economically stupid. I do not know why we are so hard on ourselves.
So for the time being your life revolves around Retrobrain. And what about five years from now?
I don’t know where I’ll be in five years. It would be terribly restrictive if I did know. That would mean that something fascinating would not be able to come around the corner.
INTERVIEW: JENNY VON ZEPELIN