Webinar Culture and AI, July 6, 2021 14:00-17:00 CET

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While AI is an intensively debated topic, the impact of AI on the social and cultural life is less investigated. This will be highlighted in the webinar. The webinar will consist of talks of three experts in the domain of AI and culture and will conclude with a plenary discussion of the speakers.


  • Sascha Dickel

Title: "Communicative Robots and (Post-)human Identities"

Abstract: With the rise of communicative robots like Amazon’s Alexa, language-based interaction with machines is increasingly becoming part of our everyday life. This presentation uses the case of communicative robots to investigate the changing relationship between humans and machines. I suggest that communicative robots challenge established boundaries of the social world but nevertheless reproduce a cultural asymmetry between human and non-human actors.

Person: My research profile connects an academic background in sociology with a transdisciplinary career trajectory in science & technology studies. One of my major research fields are the challenges of digital technologies for society and social theory.

  • Christoph Bläsi

Title: "AI in editing, marketing, and using books. What do we know about potential effects on taste and creation?"

Abstract: In the publishing industry, AI applications are not only used in general management and marketing, but increasingly also at the core of its value chain, in editorial work. After an overview about such applications, the book usage process (buying, reading) and its support and / or surveyllance by AI systems will be focused. Anecdotal evidence (corresponding platforms don´t talk much about what they do ...) and insights from other media systems (film, music) inform a research project that has just started and will research particularly algorithmic recommendations and their effects on cultural tastes and possibly also the creation side.

Person: Christoph Bläsi is a professor for book / publishing studies at JGU´s  Gutenberg Institute for World Literature and Written Media. His main areas of interest are digital publishing and book business as well as the application of digital humanities methods to book studies research problems. More recently, he has been starting research on AI applications in the book industry as well as on the effects of recommender engines on cultural tastes.

  • Petra Ahrweiler, Dr. Martin Neumann, Dr. Frederick Herget

Title: How does AI shape social change in the domain of public policy?

Abstract: the lab for sociology of technology and innovation of the JGU Mainz will provide an overview of ongoing research projects on the influence of AI on social change.  This will be illustrated at two examples: One example is algorithmic assessment for social welfare provision. Research is undertaken in a bidirectional way: It is studied how AI assesses humans and how humans assess AI. A second example is cognition in navigating political landscapes. It is investigated whether AI based complexity reducing devices foster the rise of political populism.

Person: The lab of Professor Petra Ahrweiler is investigating the sociology of technology and innovation. Professor Ahrweiler received her PhD for a study on AI and obtained her habilitation for a study on simulation in Science and Technology Studies. Her lab investigates whether and how new technologies and innovations have the potential to redraw the image of our society in a completely new way. Dr. Frederick Herget will talk about algorithmic assessment for social welfare provision. Dr. Martin Neumann will concentrate on the impact of AI on navigating political landsca

Self-learning sensor systems for nature and technology



As part of the BMBF Cluster4Future program, the TISSS Lab at Johannes Gutenberg University is participating in the SENSORITHM Rhein-Main future cluster together with the partners Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Darmstadt University of Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, and the Institute for Animal Ecology and Nature Education. The interdisciplinary consortium combines expertise from physics, biology, computer science, mechanical engineering and social sciences. SENSORITHM will investigate how intelligent sensor technologies help avoid collisions of birds and bats with wind turbines and will develop self-learning sensor systems for monitoring technical components and installations.

In this way, Sensorithm can help resolve a green-green dilemma: On the one hand, the renewable energy generated by wind turbines is intended to halt climate change and thus ultimately safeguard biodiversity; on the other hand, rotor blades endanger rare bird species such as the red kite and various bat species. By introducing smart sensor technologies, the trade-off of climate neutrality vs. energy demand could be resolved with the help of innovation networks.

In the project, TISSS Lab director Prof. Dr. Ahrweiler and her team will be responsible for the social science analysis and design of the multi-dimensionality of this innovation network in the field of tension between technological, ecological, economic, political and social aspects.

For example, it is expected that approval procedures for wind turbines will change and that knowledge about new technological possibilities will find its way into political discourses. The Future Cluster is closely linked to partners from industry, universities, institutes, authorities and civil society (environmentalists, associations, NGOs, school classes) and will cooperate with them. The TISSS Lab will support participatory processes and ensure adequate involvement of relevant stakeholders.

New Publication of the Unit (in Evidence based HRM)

An article has been published in Evidence based HRM: "Siebers, Ü., Herath, D., Bardone, E., Farahbakhs, S., Knudes, S., Madsen, J. Mufti, M., Neumann, M., Richards, D., Seri, R., Secchi, D. (2020). On the quest for defining organizational plasticity. Evidence based HRM: a global forum for empirical scholarship (online first)"

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New Publication of the Unit (in Quality & Quantity)

New Special Issue of the journal Quality & Quantity - International Journal of Methodology with participation of the uni published: "Voinea, C. F., Neumann M. (2020): Interdisciplinary Approaches in Political Culture Research Methodology, in: Quality & Quantity Vol. 54 / Issue 2 (Special Issue)."

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New publication of the unit: Comment from the European Social Simulation Community on the COVID 19 pandemic

Computational Models That Matter During a Global Pandemic Outbreak: A Call to Action

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a dramatic loss of lives worldwide, challenging the sustainability of our health care systems, threatening economic meltdown, and putting pressure on the mental health of individuals (due to social distancing and lock-down measures). The pandemic is also posing severe challenges to the scientific community, with scholars under pressure to respond to policymakers’ demands for advice despite the absence of adequate, trusted data. Understanding the pandemic requires fine-grained data representing specific local conditions and the social reactions of individuals. While experts have built simulation models to estimate disease trajectories that may be enough to guide decision-makers to formulate policy measures to limit the epidemic, they do not cover the full behavioural and social complexity of societies under pandemic crisis. Modelling that has such a large potential impact upon people’s lives is a great responsibility. This paper calls on the scientific community to improve the transparency, access, and rigour of their models. It also calls on stakeholders to improve the rapidity with which data from trusted sources are released to the community (in a fully responsible manner). Responding to the pandemic is a stress test of our collaborative capacity and the social/economic value of research.

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