The networked society is characterised by profound changes in societal processes of coordination, regulation and legislation. Our research groups investigate how the conditions, forms and subjects of these processes are reconfigured as a result of the digital transformation.
The research groups investigate how social ordering mechanisms change in the networked society.
The digital transformation puts pressure on state institutions and bodies of rules. Their ability to regulate social conflicts is increasingly undermined by the shift of relevant legislative competencies to supranational levels as well as by the increasing power of private actors.
Furthermore, technical solutions that are supposed to enable “trustless” cooperation between globally distributed actors are being developed – with potentially far-reaching implications for existing economic, legal and social systems.
Finally, in the course of an increasing societal datafication new forms of regulation based on automated and networked information and decision-making systems evolve.
Through the research groups’ projects the Weizenbaum Institute participates in the endeavor of theorizing the political, legal and technical order of the digital transformation and thereby contributes to democratic self-determination within the networked society.
We want to analyse the repercussions of the digital transformation on the ability of state actors and institutions to regulate certain areas of life. We observe transformational processes that shift these capacities to international settings as well as to private actors and technical configurations. In that regard we also aim for an enquiry into the societal dimensions of these processes.
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” investigates 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 roles for regulation and for democracy require further examination. The research group undertakes this endeavor by combining perspectives from social science and computer science.