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lecture series

Making sense of the digital society

The current rapid social and technological change brings about enormous uncertainties – a great need for explanations and sense-making but also of shaping our common future. This high-profile lecture series thrives to develop a European perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing. To this end, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) are inviting great European thinkers to help us making sense of the digital society.

What is really changing in society beyond the hype of short-term excitement? What is power in the digital society, and how is it distributed? Do we witness the revival of democracy through increased participation and transparency, or rather its demise due to fragmentation and populism? Are services fueled by algorithms and artificial intelligence improving our private and business lives or do they enforce social inequalities? How does urban life change in times of digitization and what role do infrastructures take?

The series began in late 2017 with a kick-off event with Manuel Castells, author of the influential "Information Age" trilogy and professor at the University of Southern California. Other speakers included Elena Esposito, Professor of Sociology at Bielefeld University, Nick Couldry, Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory at the LSE in London, and Eva Illouz, Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Armin Nassehi, Professor of Sociology at LMU Munich and Shoshana Zuboff, who is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School. All speeches can be listened to in the playlist, further information on the events can be found below.

All events in the series will be moderated by Tobi Müller. They are held in English and translated simultaneously into German.

 

 

 

 

Upcoming events in this series

Carola Westermeier: Money as a digital technology

Carola Westermeier: Money as a digital technology

In this issue, we will discuss the evolution of virtual money, how we deal with it and the concerns it raises about data protection and market dominance.

 

Past events

Rob Kitchin: Navigating Smart Cities

Rob Kitchin: Navigating Smart Cities

In this session, we will discuss equal access to technology and decision-making, social justice and agency among all citizens within smart cities.
Daniel Miller: The global evolution of smart technologies

Daniel Miller: The global evolution of smart technologies

Daniel Miller's keynote will provide insight into the results of ten years of ethnographic research on digital media use.
Lorenz Hilty & James Maguire: Digitising the environmental paradigm

Lorenz Hilty & James Maguire: Digitising the environmental paradigm

19.09.2023    
19:00 - 21:00
These lectures by Lorenz Hilty & James Maguire give an insight into the challenges of sustainability in a digitised world.
Gina Neff: Making AI work for us

Gina Neff: Making AI work for us

03.05.2023    
19:00 - 21:00
This lecture by Gina Neff gives an insight into how AI can work for us.
Stefania Milan: Resistance in the datafied society

Stefania Milan: Resistance in the datafied society

This lecture by Professor Stefania Milan gives an insight into resistance in the datafied society.
David Betz: Warfare in the digital age

David Betz: Warfare in the digital age

This talk gives an insight into warfare in the digital age.
Kanta Dihal: How the world sees intelligent machines

Kanta Dihal: How the world sees intelligent machines

This talk will introduce culture-specific visions of technology from around the world and discusses if these marginalised perspectives are still of great relevance for today’s societies.
Krisztina Rozgonyi and Marius Dragomir: Freedom of expression in Central and Eastern Europe

Krisztina Rozgonyi and Marius Dragomir: Freedom of expression in Central and Eastern Europe

This talk will examine the media systems in Central and Eastern Europe and how we can safeguard the freedom of expression in the digital era
Helen Kennedy: Everyday life in times of datafication

Helen Kennedy: Everyday life in times of datafication

Helen Kennedy will talk about the relationship between existing social inequalities and datafication.
Judith Simon: The ethics of AI and big data

Judith Simon: The ethics of AI and big data

This talk will examine how fundamental rights and moral values can be accounted for in the design, development and management of digital technologies
Genia Kostka: Big data dreams and local reality in China

Genia Kostka: Big data dreams and local reality in China

15.06.2021    
19:00 - 20:30
This talk will examine the intended and unintended consequences of incorporating digital technologies into local governance processes in Chinese cities.
Jan-Werner Müller: The critical infrastructure of democracy

Jan-Werner Müller: The critical infrastructure of democracy

09.03.2021    
19:00 - 20:30
Political parties and professional media are undergoing major structural transformations today. The lecture will offer an account of the distinctive roles of intermediary institutions and also suggest normative criteria for judging how well intermediary powers are working.
Iyad Rahwan: How to trust machines?

Iyad Rahwan: How to trust machines?

16.12.2020    
19:00 - 20:30
Machine intelligence plays a growing role in our lives. Today, machines recommend things to us, such as news, music, and household products. They trade in our stock markets and optimize our transportation and logistics. How do we ensure that these machines will be trustworthy?
Tilman Santarius: Making digitalisation work for the climate!

Tilman Santarius: Making digitalisation work for the climate!

26.10.2020    
19:00 - 22:00
Digitalisation is one of the biggest transformation processes of our time - everyone agrees on that. But what does it mean in concrete terms for ecology and social justice? What opportunities and risks does digitalisation hold for sustainability?
Joanna Bryson: The role of humans in an age of intelligent machines

Joanna Bryson: The role of humans in an age of intelligent machines

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the information age are bringing us more information about ourselves and each other than any society has ever known. What are the limits of AI? Of intelligence and humanity more broadly? What are our ethical obligations to machines?
Livestream: Philipp Staab – The crises of digital capitalism

Livestream: Philipp Staab – The crises of digital capitalism

For around 50 years, digital technologies have been the key to economic transformation. However, it is only since the late 1990s that we have begun to see the emergence of a genuinely digital capitalism with the commercial Internet at its core.
Cancelled: Lina Dencik – Justice in the Datafied Society

Cancelled: Lina Dencik – Justice in the Datafied Society

Cancellation of the event due to COVID-19 Due to the immediate measures decided on 11 March 2020 for the Berlin scientific institutions against the spread [...]
Sybille Krämer: Cultural history of digitisation

Sybille Krämer: Cultural history of digitisation

It is often assumed that digitisation and computer technology are inseparably linked. However, digitality is part of a much older cultural history, namely the symbols [...]
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen: The power of platforms and how publishers adapt

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen: The power of platforms and how publishers adapt

Today, more people follow the news via platform companies like Facebook and Google than via any news organisation in human history, and smaller platforms like Twitter serve news to more people than all but the biggest publishers.
Shoshana Zuboff: Surveillance Capitalism and Democracy

Shoshana Zuboff: Surveillance Capitalism and Democracy

The collection and analysis of data is changing the way economies operate. Are these changes so fundamental that they can be said to have led to the emergence of a new form of capitalism – surveillance capitalism?
Armin Nassehi: What problem does digitalisation solve?

Armin Nassehi: What problem does digitalisation solve?

Digital technology has revolutionised the world in just a few years: our relationships, our work and even the results of elections – everything seems to [...]
Louise Amoore: Our lives with algorithms

Louise Amoore: Our lives with algorithms

From detecting anomalies in the landscape of medical images to drone footage to the influencing of elections, machine learning algorithms are transforming radically how we [...]
José van Dijck: Europe and responsible platform societies

José van Dijck: Europe and responsible platform societies

The growing pains of digitisation involve intense struggles between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors – market, government and civil society — raising important [...]
Dirk Baecker: Digitalisation and the next society

Dirk Baecker: Digitalisation and the next society

A new era in human society is beginning with digital media. While language, writing and book printing had been the hallmarks of this era, machines [...]
Eva Illouz: Capitalist subjectivity and the internet

Eva Illouz: Capitalist subjectivity and the internet

In her lecture, Eva Illouz takes a closer look at the dating app Tinder. In regards to how people interact with the app, she will [...]
Andreas Reckwitz: Digitalisation and society of singularities

Andreas Reckwitz: Digitalisation and society of singularities

 The late-modern society produces singularities. It does no longer aim at the general, standardized and average solely, but promotes and expects uniqueness. Things, individuals, [...]
Nick Couldry: Colonised by data – the hollowing out of digital society

Nick Couldry: Colonised by data – the hollowing out of digital society

The current datafication of society not only brings about another iteration of capitalism, but also a new form of colonialism. We are witnessing the start [...]
Stephen Graham: The politics of urban digital infrastructures

Stephen Graham: The politics of urban digital infrastructures

Already more than half of the world’s population lives in cities – and this number is growing. Modern cities depend largely on invisible infrastructures that [...]
Marion Fourcade: Social order in the digital society

Marion Fourcade: Social order in the digital society

Modern institutions, both public and private, rely on tools and procedures that track individuals, assess their behavior, and assign them membership in various categories. They [...]
Elena Esposito: Future and uncertainty in the digital society

Elena Esposito: Future and uncertainty in the digital society

What does knowing through algorithms and AI mean? How does AI shift our understanding and production of knowledge?

Contact

Thomas Christian Bächle, Dr.

Head of research programme: The evolving digital society

Past lectures

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