The research group is dedicated to the social and economic effects and design options of the digital transformation. The research focus is thus on the overlapping area of social sciences, economics and computer science and in particular on the following topics:
Platform economy, platform capitalism and platform cooperatives: Economically and socially, the big digital platforms – such as Google, Facebook, Amazon – are increasingly shaping the public and corporate operating framework: Does it make sense to contain and regulate the power of platforms? And if so, how could economic (and therefore political) power be re-decentralised? And why should we care about it at all? How can participants in the platform economy benefit from it or escape it? What entrepreneurial approaches can be realized in this context?
Algorithmic governance in the enterprise: The use of Big Data, predictive analytics, algorithms and AI in the management of companies today is multifaceted – whether in marketing, logistics or production planning, approaches aligned with the respective corporate goal are required everywhere: How can industry-specific and targeted data-driven processes and business models be successfully implemented? How can business goals be efficiently achieved using machine learning, pattern recognition and data-based forecasts? Which strategies and procedures should companies apply?
Algorithmic Governance in State and Politics: The influence of algorithms and artificial intelligence on political decisions is steadily increasing. What approaches exist for regulation? And what are the limits of the use of algorithms in administrative and governmental processes? How should societies “deal” with the application of AI and algorithms? What should successful application scenarios in the political environment look like? How can algorithmic governance be legitimized in modern democracies? And overall: how do algorithms and AI change democracy?
Virtual realities: In conjunction with AI and other digital technologies, “virtual reality” has the potential to redefine the framework of social and economic activity. Alternative digital realities are no longer uncharted territory, but the “metaverse” offers completely new perspectives on the one hand as an economic space, as a global trading platform, but also as a global social meeting and gathering place. The emergence of “virtual beings”/”digital humans” – for example in the form of digital avatars or “virtual influencers” – opens up new approaches in both economics and social sciences: What are the conditions under which economic and social action takes place in virtual worlds? What precautions have to be taken, what strategies have to be adopted? And what are the consequences?
Data sovereignty of citizens and companies: If data is indeed the “new gold” or the “oil of the 21st century,” as it is often claimed – why don’t we act accordingly? How can individual citizens be enabled to dispose sovereignly of their “data property”? How can the civil rights inherent in data protection be guaranteed and enforced? But how can companies operating in a market economy also ensure that the respective “data treasure” contributes to entrepreneurial value creation? How can data exploitation become part of existing business models? Which institutional conditions need to be created in order to establish a reliable social framework?
Innovative approaches to strengthening democratic participation and combating misinformation via digital sources: “fake news”, “deep fakes” and “filter bubbles” in social media and digital messenger services – what impact do they have on the formation of public opinion and how can they be controlled? Is digitalization destroying democracy? And if so, what can we do about it? What optimistic approaches can we take to counter this? Is it possible to use these tools positively and to use them for more participation and more democracy?
Digital ethics: Discriminatory algorithms and AI bias, ethical facets of data protection and the eternal academic question of whether everything that is possible is also desirable determine the discussion about “digital ethics”. According to which guidelines, principles and values should we act in the digital age? And how can theory be applied and implemented in practice?