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Issues in Focus

Titelbild European Platform Alternatives. Ein Schwimmbad mit zwei Sprungtürmen von oben.

European Platform Alternatives

When the Platform Alternatives project began its research of Europe’s platform economy in 2020, the team set out to understand the structural effects of the large American platforms and the strategies of their European competitors. What they found was a highly diverse and active landscape, where scaling at all cost and market domination were not necessarily core concerns. Now, two years on, the question of how to regulate large...


Why, AI?

Everyone talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI). But how does it change society? And 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. We need to get this right, because there is so much to get wrong. This is why we have put together this online learning space. We hope that with “Why, AI?” you learn a little more about how AI impacts the world. And how we need to...


Sustainability in a digital society

The developments of digitalisation are the greatest technical challenges of our time. At the same time, we must be careful to make our technology and our actions sustainable. Are digitalisation and sustainability opposites? Or can new technologies such as artificial intelligence even contribute to making our lives more sustainable? Is technical progress perhaps even the only answer to climate change? This dossier deals with these...

Man sieht in Leuchtschrift das Wort "Ethical"

Digital Ethics

Whether civil society, politics or science – everyone seems to agree that the New Twenties will be characterised by digitalisation. But what about the tension of digital ethics? 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...



The state monitors its citizens, Internet companies monitor their users – and finally we monitor ourselves and each other. Who is monitoring whom and why? What positive effects can surveillance have and when does it become a danger for a democratic society? Questions like these were posed by students of the Humboldt University of Berlin in the seminar “Tracing Surveillance – On the Trace of Surveillance” led by...


How COVID-19 impacts digital technologies

The current lockdown is boosting online activity – everything is increasingly shifting to the digital sphere. In this dossier we ask if, how and why the Corona pandemic will affect key subjects of digital technologies. What does this mean for the regulation of content on digital platforms? How is Covid-19 activating the digital society? How does it transform our online culture? How safe are tracing apps? What lessons can be learned...

algorithmic decisions and human rights

Algorithmic decisions and human rights

Who is responsible if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident? What are the consequences of automated profiling of the unemployed? How intelligent is our use of artificial intelligence, and what visions and strategies do we need for the future? Innovations in the field of artificial intelligence are impacting nearly every area of our everyday life. However, algorithmic decision-making leads to complex human rights implications....

digital entrepreneurs look at a computer screen

Digital innovation and entrepreneurship

Increasingly, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are investing in digital technologies to respond to the rapid changes that are now affecting almost all sectors of life and work. Many SMEs take this step either to realign their business model, to make their processes more efficient or simply because they are forced to do so by structural change and altering customer needs. But what concrete activities and strategies do SMEs pursue...

AI regulation dossier banner: Airport and plane heading off

Governing AI: Political players between vision and regulation

Not only tech giants in Silicon Valley influence the development of artificial intelligence (AI): supranational political institutions, states and parties are also active leaders and regulators. They set legal standards, formulate strategies for the future, explore potentials and dangers, promote and sanction or even adopt controversial positions. How do political actors position themselves in the AI debate between economic interest,...


Exploring the digital society

To understand current social and technological change, we need explanations that help shape our future. Within the framework of the lecture series “Making Sense of the Digital Society“, visionary experts share their perspective on the digital society of our time. They address fundamental questions: What could a European perspective on the current transformation process look like? What is the meaning of power and how is it...


Work in the digital age

The future of work is now. We work side by side with intelligent technologies. Does that frighten us or does it give us courage? Automation and AI are changing the world of work. How will we work tomorrow, and who gets a say? No machine can give us the answers. At least for now. The issue in focus “work in the digital age” was created in 2017 during the research project Competing and Complementing – The Relation of Co-determination...


GDPR – what’s beyond?

New rights for consumers, new obligations for businesses: European data protection law will receive a massive update, as the EU’s general data protection regulation will enter into force on 25 May 2018. This makes it easier for users to find out what Facebook, Google & Co. store. Will GDPR really make data traffic more transparent? Or nothing new after all? In this context, our researchers also shed light on other topics such as...


How metaphors shape the digital society

Cloud, Big Data, Piracy, Virus are common terms in the debates about digital technologies. At the same time they are methaphors that originate from other fields than technology. What normative or political baggage do they therefore carry? How does this vocabulary shape the emerging digital society? In the series of articles on the How metaphors shape the digital society different authors analyse the assumptions and meanings of metaphors...


#BTW17 – Germany goes digital?

How parties envision the process of digitalisation is becoming a more important factor in the fight for political power. Various online tools shed light on the opaque party election programs in order to discuss important questions: how do parties view AI, how do they want to manage the digitisation of administration and how does digitalisation change the way scientific research is funded?


Understanding Platform Governance

More and more people and institutions communicate via Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and co. They allow us to share photos, news, opinions and status updates of all kinds with the whole world. Therefore its importance for political developments and moods is rising. The rules of platforms for sorting and blocking, for liking and sharing determine whose voices get heard, how content is being framed and who gets access to which data.


Fundamental rights in the digital age

The Internet is a space where social relationships are cultivated, business is conducted, new knowledge is created, and all kinds of networks are built. But do fundamental rights exist in this growing digital habitat? Should there be a right to internet access or anonymity on the world wide web or even for digital disobedience?


Open Science

Scientifically generated data and results should not vanish behind paywalls and in expensive books, but should be publicly accessible. Open Science is on all sides a popular idea, but rarely implemented. Who benefits from that and why do scientists not share their data? How can new technology like Blockchain make science more transparent and how can citizen science contribute?


Data: Between Freedom and Protection

Data is polarising. It is the resource of the 21st century.  It enables business models and innovations in society, science and politics. Some people want to use it, others want to protect it and many regard their dwindling privacy with scepticism. In the dossier we ask: Is privacy really data protection and is your employer allowed to inspect your browser history? We explain why there is no such thing as a hacker.


Internet Rules !?

What rules has the internet created, what ones has it got rid off and what ones does it urgently need? Internet researchers from around the world will be meeting in Berlin at #AoIR2016. In science and the media, the internet has ensured a continuous renegotiation of rules. Open access is calling scientific verification processes into question, platforms like Youtube are challenging the traditional players in the media industry to develop...