The research area placed responsibility, trust and governance at the center of its efforts to learn more about the effects of digitalisation and to positively shape technological change.
Digitalisation promotes sustainable innovation in society and the economy. Big data, AI and especially machine learning are omnipresent today, and the convergence of these new technologies is leading to increasingly complex digital ecosystems. Data is still being collected without the knowledge of the users and processed in a non-transparent way.
As a consequence, scientific and societal discourses are increasingly characterised by concerns regarding privacy, informational self-determination, improper use and justice, accompanied by new and complex possibilities of abuse. This continues to be increasingly accompanied by a crisis of trust, which raises questions of responsibility and liability as well as appropriate governance mechanisms.
The research area therefore placed responsibility, trust and governance at the forefront of its efforts to explore the effects of digitalisation and to positively shape technological change.
The aim of our research group was to comprehensively map the field of "Responsibility and the Internet of Things" and to make new contributions to unanswered questions concerning "ubiquitous responsibility and data platforms". While responsibility of technical actors has been a recurring theme in science and politics since antiquity, its scope is now expanding. Within the framework of our research, we considered the concept from an ethical-moral and legal point of view as well as with regard to technical feasibility.
Algorithmic systems are often publicly associated with a lack of transparency and a loss of human control. At the same time, networks like Bitcoin and its offspring enjoy unprecedented popularity. Being transparent both with respect to their inner workings and the data stored within them, such decentralized systems promise to abolish middlemen and trusted authorities and to thereby foster radical grassroots solutions.
The research group “Quantification and Social Regulation” investigated how regulation changes when it makes use of contemporary automated information and decision-making systems. Ubiquitous computing, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) entail new practices of quantification and valuation whose role for regulation and for democracy require further examination. The research group undertook this endeavor by combining perspectives from social science and computer science.
Artificial intelligence systems are increasingly being adapted to human activities. Fed by data humans generate, they are working ever more closely with us in real time. The search for artificial intelligence is also a search for human values. An important part of our research was on how knowledge can be integrated into technologies and how it can be derived from them.