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Making sense of our connected world


Making sense of our connected world

Latest articles

Myth: AI will end discrimination

We approach the de-mystification of this claim by looking at concrete examples of how AI (re)produces inequalities and connect those to several aspects which help to illustrate socio-technical entanglements.

Siri’s evil sister. When the Dutch public service steals your data

“System Risk Indication” (SyRI) deployed by the dutch government for automatically detecting social benefit fraud. The program was shut down due to a severe lack in transparency and unproportional collection of data. This demonstrates how automating public services fails, when not properly implemented.

Myth: AI will kill us all!

AI won’t kill us in the form of a time-travelling humanoid robot with an Austrian accent. But: AI is used in various military applications – supporting new concepts of command…

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Myth: What you do with AI in the bedroom is your own thing

More and more AI systems are being used as personal assistants, also in the bedroom and for sexual purposes. Sex robotics adopt AI systems for making sex robots interactive. While…

Why, AI? – A new Online Learning Space

Everyone talks about AI. But how does it change society? How can we use it to help society? For that, we need to understand how AI works and how we can make it work for us. This is why we have put together the free and open online learning space “Why, AI”.

Man with a lot of post its on his face

Working from Home but Never Alone: Why People Analytics Have to Be Designed with the Employee in Mind

Remote working challenges management, employees and works councils alike. People analytics could offer support, but only if the software is designed with the employees’ well-being and privacy in mind.

We need to talk about data – New report reframes the debate around data sovereignty

The dueling slogans: “free flow of data” and “data sovereignty” actually prevent seriously addressing the complex challenges of cross-border data flows. A report, released this week by the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network, reframes the debate to foster a more nuanced approach of this critical topic for the digital society.

You can only be what you can see: How platforms and advertisers can make job ads algorithms fairer

We successfully concluded the first virtual Clinic of the Ethics of Digitilisation project financed by Stiftung Mercator. Twelve international fellows developed innovative approaches to improving fairness in targeted job advertising. Looking back at two intense weeks of interdisciplinary collaboration, we share highlights and key outcomes.

Trump’s social media ban: Reviewing the constitutionality of permanent digital punishment

Trump’s ban from social media, while gaining significant media attention, does not represent an isolated case. Preventing individuals from accessing social media platforms or parts of them is a common phenomenon today that we can call ‘social media exclusion’.

Roundtable dialogues for the future of AI in Europe

With the publication of its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence in February 2020, the European Commission launched a broad consultation process and invited key figures in civil society, industry representatives and researchers to contribute proposals for a European approach to AI.

Digital rights activists are not luddites

Claudia Haas spoke to Benjamin about his involvement with the civil rights organisation DigiGes, which stands up for fundamental rights and consumer protection in the digital space.

From Zero To One: How a Podcast is fostering Entrepreneurship Education

In recent years, customer acquisition has become the biggest challenge to German startups. Covid-19 turned out to be an accelerator for the recent developments. This article discusses a podcast that…

The Digital Services Act and freedom of expression: triumph or failure?

This article looks at new obligations and regulatory powers introduced by the DSA and examines their potential to safeguard freedom of expression.

Alternative ways to credit: An advantage for the disadvantaged?

ML-based credit scoring systems could facilitate wider financial inclusion on the market for credit. Yet, automated consumer profiling threatens to reinforce rather than resolve financial inequalities. Consumers’ rights, privacy and…

Opening match: the battle for inclusion in algorithmic systems

How can the increasing automation of infrastructures be made more inclusive and sustainable and be brought into accordance with human rights?

Trump’s very own platform? Two scenarios and their legal implications

Should it be up to private actors to decide whether or not to ban the US President from the digital public sphere? Most probably have a clear opinion on these questions, but in fact, they aren’t as easy to answer as it may seem.

Free technologies for the whole world to use – why open source hardware is in the public interest

Open source hardware (OSH) is an essential approach to public interest technology, not unlike well-maintained infrastructure. While OSH is a field with a range of challenges, we see tremendous potential for societal benefits, but it also needs support.

How we use art for academic knowledge transfer

As an art collective we are passionate about escaping the academic ivory tower by translating our academic work into interactive art installations for the broader public. In our latest work,…

The rapid digital turn: How are universities faring?

COVID-19 brought an unprecedented digital turn to higher education institutions around the world. This rapid transition highlighted both barriers and inequalities among institutions as well as sparked a spirit of…

The troll next door: an interview with Laura Lackas

Digital debate culture and forms of communication on the internet are frequently discussed topics in public and scientific discourse. In an interview, communication scientist Laura Lackas talked about the experiences…

How can platform innovation in SMEs be promoted?

What are the obstacles and conditions for success for platform innovation in medium-sized businesses? Which policies can support it? – These are the questions the research team of the project Data Platforms for Medium-Sized Businesses (short “DaPla”) asked itself.

When scholars sprint, bad algorithms are on the run

The first research sprint of the Ethics of Digitalisation project reached the finishing line. Thirteen international fellows tackled pressing issues concerning the use of AI in content moderation. Looking back at ten intense weeks of interdisciplinary research, we share highlights and key outcomes.

Computer says Hausfrau

Imagine being laid off, returning your work computer while dusting off the old one for your kid’s home schooling. Following the pandemic the unemployment office is congested and the job openings are few. Perhaps you could freelance while looking for something permanent? But first you need to acquire a computer to work on.

“The idea that algorithmic decisions are not yet regulated is wrong”

Should machines make important decisions in HR management and administration? Who is responsible for ensuring that these decisions are taken fairly – and how do we prevent discriminatory structures from being algorithmically perpetuated?