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Issues in Focus

Digitalisation for the Common Good

Whether civil society, politics or science - everyone seems to agree that the New Twenties will be characterised by digitalisation. But how do we create a digital transformation involving society as a whole, including people who either do not have the financial means or the necessary know-how to benefit from digitalisation? And what do these comprehensive changes in our actions mean for democracy? In this dossier we want to address these questions and offer food for thought on how we can use digitalisation for the common good.

Talks on the topic

Shoshana Zuboff| Harvard University

Surveillance Capitalism and democracy

Robert Seyfert | Universität Duisburg-Essen

Algorithmic Sociality

Sybille Krämer | Freie Universität Berlin

Cultural history of digitalisation

Texts on the topic

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....

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...

“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...

Artificial and intelligent but also sustainable?

Despite the growing global interest in mitigating climate change and in the digital transformation, there is often still a lack of implementation expertise on how these "instruments" can best be...

Making Technology Great Again: How to Use Ethics to Save Digitalisation

Can your refrigerator order milk for you but refuse to give you a second ice cream? Should your self-driven car drive with you into a tree instead of over a…

Discrimination preprogrammed?

Technology is never neutral. And even if the Internet as a medium initially invited us to deconstruct established, fixed role models and identities in supposedly new publics, to break up…

Digital Social Innovation: from efficiency to effectiveness in digitalisation

How can technology help organisations to more effectively tackle societal challenges? In this article we introduce the concept of effectiveness in digitalisation, which, we believe, is key to any digitalisation…

Excellence and Trust – Webinar on the EU White Paper on AI

In the context of a dialogue event organized jointly with the HIIG and the German AI Association, the European Commission presented its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence on May 4…

5 Questions for the AI & Society Lab

Artificial intelligence has become a huge part of our daily lives – and its relevance will continue to grow and pose new questions to our societies. In this light, the HIIG…

Social Scoring – a Chinese invention?

Chinas Social Scoring System ist in aller Munde, wenn es um totale Überwachung geht. Die „westliche Welt“ distanziert sich. Zu Recht? Ohne Frage. Allerdings wäre eine ausführliche Reflexion über hiesige…

Birds view of "resist" written by people gathering on a beach

Critical Voices, Visions and Vectors for Internet Governance

The Internet has changed our world. But has it also irritated hierarchical power structures and given a meaningful voice to all? Are offline differentials in terms of access to individual…

Busted: AI will fix it

There is a strong belief on the internet that AI will solve basically all of future society’s problems, if we just give it enough time. Christian Katzenbach took a close…

Richterhammer mit Glitcheffekt als Symbolbild für Roboterrichter

“Robot judges” without training?

Discussing the implementation of automated decision making systems as savior of overburdened legal decision makers is en vogue. But if employed instead of human decision makers and with rising complexity…

Empirische Daten und KI | HIIG

There isn’t enough empirical data on the impact of AI

Many articles in peer-reviewed journals that investigate the application of artificial intelligence to knowledge work refer to data and insights from blogs, newspapers, or data collected by consulting firms. This…

Robot judge: Verdict in the name of the algorithm?

Smaller legal disputes in Estonia are to be decided by Artificial Intelligence. In the USA, algorithms are already making decisions about penalties and bail amounts. In Germany, too, there is…

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?…

The key challenges of social robots

What are the key ethical, legal and social (ELS) issues of social robots? How can these challenges be addressed? To answer these questions, Christoph Lutz conducted with two research colleagues…

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…

“It’s about human dignity and autonomy”

Privacy and data protection are currently being debated more intensively than ever before. In this interview, Frederike Kaltheuner from the civil rights organisation Privacy International explains why those terms have…

Algorithmische Entscheidungen und Menschenrechte

Algorithmic decision making and human rights

Embedded in smart technologies, algorithms are taking decisions on a daily basis. What challenges arise from algorithmic decision making for human rights and for the regulation of artificial intelligence? In…

Digitaler Salon on the topic

Digitaler Salon | 04.12.19

Score me maybe?

Digitaler Salon | 04.08.20

Diskriminierung vorprogrammiert?

Digitaler Salon | 30.04.20

Digital ist man weniger allein?


Making Audits Meaningful

This white paper sets out to explain how and why audits, a specific type of transparency measure, should be mandated by law within the four clear principles of independence, access, publicity, and resources. We go on to unpack the types of transparency, and then contextualize audits in this framework while also describing risks and benefits. The white paper concludes with the explanation of the four principles, as they are derived from the previous sections.

Disclosure Rules for Algorithmic Content Moderation

Dominant social media platforms are increasingly using automation and AI to find and remove problematic content. While this helps stop some of the worst content from spreading on the Internet, algorithmic content moderation can delete content that should not be deleted (overblocking) or discriminate against minorities. Crucially, there is very little transparency from platforms about how algorithmic content moderation works, how accurate its technologies are believed to be, and how much content they remove, especially without human review.

Freedom of expression in the Digital Public Spheres

This policy brief was developed with the contributions of an interdisciplinary team of experts from the fields of law, political science, sociology, and engineering. It aims to inform legislators and policymakers of the risks posed by the proliferation of algorithmic content moderation and the need for a more proactive regulatory approach by the states towards the governance of content moderation systems that are deployed by online platforms providing digital infrastructure for public discourse. It highlights an information gap that prevents regulators from evaluating the impact of content moderation on freedom of expression and an accountability gap that arises through the absence of effective redress mechanisms by which users are able to challenge violations of freedom of expression.

HIIG Podcast