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Konstruktion von künstlicher Intelligenz

The discursive and political construction of AI


Talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently abundant. Commentators, politicians, start-up founders make us believe that AI will change how we live, communicate, work and travel tomorrow. Both companies and states proclaim to partake in a global AI race. New products and innovations promise magical results powered by AI and national AI strategies pop up all around the globe, identifying opportunities and risks that go along AI development.

This project takes the AI hype seriously – not necessarily because it is well substantiated, but because the expectations and investments it generates are real. AI as a cluster of technologies and as a sociotechnical imaginary is currently being institutionalized in our societies. It won’t go away (for quite some time), and we will come to take it for granted. But what exactly we take for granted is still contested. Are we ready to change our cities in order to cater to autonomous vehicles? Shall hate speech on platforms be automatically be filtered away like spam in email? What degree of autonomy do we want to grant automatic decision systems? The ways we imagine these technologies and think about our futures shape decisions and developments in the present. This is why the hype matters, notwithstanding its substance.

This project empirically investigates the discursive and political construction of AI in contemporary societies. We have started with small-scale preliminary studies on the media discourse in Germany as well as on select national AI strategies. We are now partnering with research organizations in Canada, Israel, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in order to deploy encompassing comparative studies across regions, sectors and time.


Durationsince October 2018


Christian Katzenbach, Prof. Dr.

Associated researcher: The evolving digital society

Part of the research programme

Former employees


Katzenbach, C. (2017). Die Regeln digitaler Kommunikation. Governance zwischen Norm, Diskurs und Technik. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-19337-9 Publication details

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Bächle, T. C., & Bareis, J. (2022). “Autonomous weapons” as a geopolitical signifier in a national power play: analysing AI imaginaries in Chinese and US military policies. European Journal of Futures Research, 10(20). DOI: 10.1186/s40309-022-00202-w Publication details

Bareis, J., & Katzenbach, C. (2021). Talking AI into Being: The narratives and imaginaries of national AI strategies and their performative politics. Science, Technology, & Human Values. DOI: 10.1177/01622439211030007 Publication details

Other publications

Katzenbach, C., Bareis, J. (2018). Global AI race: States aiming for the top. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Lectures and presentations

Mythen und Metaphern der Automatisierung - eine Herausforderung für zwischenstaatliche Regulierung [Myths and metaphors of automatization - a challenge for intergovernmental regulation]
Jahrestagung des DVPW-Arbeitskreises „Soziologie der internationalen Beziehungen“, in Kooperation mit der GGS-Sektion „Normen und Wandel in der Weltpolitik.“ (Session: Mythen, Narrative, Praktiken & Selbstdarstellungen in der Diplomatie & Weltpolitik). Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW). Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen, Germany: 15.11.2019 Further information

Jascha Bareis

Collective swarms competing with singular battle machines: National strategic discourses around military AI
KI 2019. (Session: Critical Examination of Military AI Applications). Gesellschaft für Informatik. Universität Kassel, Kassel, Germany: 23.09.2019 Further information

Jascha Bareis

Talking AI into Being: The Imaginaries of National AI Strategies and their Performative Politics
International Association for Media and Communication Research, IAMCR 2019. School of Communication, UCM, Madrid, Spain: 07.07.2019 Further information

Christian Katzenbach, Jascha Bareis

CTRL_SPACE: Eine Kritik der liberalen Öffentlichkeitskonzeption im Zuge staatlicher Überwachung [CTRL_SPACE: A critique of the liberal public space conception in the context of state surveillance]
Die Grenzen der Demokratie: 27. wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (Session: Studentisches Nachwuchspanel Demokratie und Digitalisierung). Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW) & Fachschaft FB03 Goethe Universität. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Frankfurt a.M., Germany: 26.09.2018 Further information

Jascha Bareis

Künstliche Intelligenz und Algorithmen – Ethische und politische Herausforderungen in der Digitalen Gesellschaft
Neusser Wirtschaftstreff. Amt für Wirtschaftsförderung, Stadt Neuss. Sparkassen-Forum, Neuss, Germany: 25.09.2018

Christian Katzenbach

The turn to artificial intelligence in content moderation
Digital-born Media Carnival (Session: Understanding Complex Systems). SHARE Foundation, OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Pjaca od Kina, Kotor, Montenegro: 17.07.2017

Kirsten Gollatz