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Research issue in focus

Artificial intelligence and society

Artificial intelligence (AI) often refers to capabilities of technical systems that are similar to those of human intelligence. As such, the term AI is often associated with the automation of social processes. These AI systems are operating in diverse socio-technical contexts: from social media platforms to medicine to warfare. At HIIG, we investigate all the political, social and cultural facets of these discourses. Some of the discourses are connected, and some have their own dynamics. What lies behind the dazzling concept of Artificial Intelligence and society?


What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

In general, artificial intelligence (AI) often refers to capabilities of technical systems that require intelligence similar to that found in humans. This can be, for example, the recognition of visual patterns or the analysis of language and texts. This proximity of technologies to human beings is also expressed in terms like "machine learning" or "neural networks". Today, AI is often used to support or replace humans in certain activities. Therefore, it is also associated with an increasing automation of social processes. Behind the term AI, understandings around the world vary considerably from culture to culture. 

What are the impacts of AI on society and vice versa?

In many areas of our society, technological automation helps to evaluate large amounts of data and thus to generate new knowledge. Examples include the analysis of diagnostic images in medicine or the pattern recognition of voice data. AI systems support humans in everyday life; they become more like us (social robots). Today, they can undertake some of the tasks that were previously only done by humans. These changes raise questions on many levels: about responsibility, trust, autonomy and ultimately, time and again, the question of what kind of society we want to live in.

How does artificial intelligence (AI) influence our lives (where do I already find AI in my daily life)?

We check the news on our mobile phones, and then briefly scroll through Facebook and Instagram, while Spotify is playing or, if it’s evening, while the new Netflix series is on. Numerous media services use algorithm-based recommendation systems nowadays. But even beyond the screen at home, AI applications can be found in all fields of our lives: from medicine, finance, mobility, climate research to weapons systems.

Videos from the HIIG cosmos

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AI - The last one cleans up the internet

In our monthly Digital Salon, we discuss how artificial intelligence is actually negotiated in our society and whether we need more education on the use and handling of AI.


Judith Simon: The ethics of AI and Big Data

In our making sense of the digital society lecture series, Judith Simon discusses whether there is a universal ethic for AI systems & Big Data.

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How do platform companies manage and regulate the huge amounts of information and data that we publish on them every day in the form of text posts, photos or videos? With the help of algorithms!

Blog articles on the topic of artificial intelligence and society

Is the new EU directive for sustainability in AI a toothless paper tiger or a sharp and hungry lion?

A lion for sustainable AI: How to support a new standard for sustainability reporting?

The Sustainability of AI is missing proper standards. The EU's CSRD is a reporting tool that might be a new directive. But is it a toothless paper tiger or a...

Sustainable AI – How environmentally friendly is AI really?

Sustainable AI is becoming increasingly important. But how sustainable are AI models really? And what recommendations can be made? Read about our investigations of small-scale AI projects.

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AI as a flying blue brain? How metaphors influence our visions of AI

Why is Artificial Intelligence so commonly depicted as a machine with a human brain? This article by Johanna Teresa Wallenborn shows how one misleading metaphor became so prevalent.

Person in wheelchair taking photos outside

Exploiting potentials: Teaching AI Systems to See Accessibility Barriers

Barriers in our physical environment are still widespread. While AI systems could eventually support detecting them, it first needs open training data. Here we provide a dataset for detecting steps...

Titelbild Blogbeitrag: Deep Fakes

Deep fakes: the uncanniest variation of manipulated media content so far

Deep fakes are certainly not the first occurrence of manipulated media content. So what fuels this extraordinary feeling of uncanniness we associate with them?

How to identify bias in Natural Language Processing

Why do translation programmes or chatbots often contain discriminatory tendencies towards gender or race? Here is an easy guide to understand how bias natural language processing works.

Eine große Kreuzung mit viel Verkehr.

New toolkit collects easy tips for intersectional AI

Intersectional AI (IAI) is the key to greater inclusivity. It draws on practices of marginalised perspectives to fundamentally reshape the development, design and use of AI.

With Open Mind and Open Source – the democratic potential of public good-oriented AI

Dr. Theresa Züger talks to Patricia Leu from Prototype Fund about the Public Interest AI project and the democratic potential of AI for the common good.

“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...

Colourful dancers turning

The relevance of culture in the age of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the term on everyone’s lips – and it evokes both great hopes and dystopian horror scenarios. But how can you explain the enthusiasm for the technology?…

Where are we heading? – AI in public administration

The public sector is one of the fields of action in the AI strategy of the German government. Artificial intelligence has great potential for modernizing administration, while modernizing administration through…

Global AI race: States aiming for the top

There hardly exists a buzzword today that fires everybody‘s imagination in the tech world like “artificial intelligence” (AI). But not only giants like Google, Facebook, Baidu or Alibaba are trying…