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

Team of the JGU wins the 4th place of the "Frontier of Food" challenge

Team Innovation Networks (left to right: Nils Eggert, Rebekka Panitz, Viktoriia Voloshan, Jan Gruca and Johanna Kayser) © Ekipa

As part of the "Innovation Networks" seminar, which was led by Prof. Dr. Petra Ahrweiler, a group of sociology students successfully participated in the "Frontier of Food" Challenge, finishing in 4th place. The interdisciplinary challenge was organized by Merck KGaA and Ekipa. The topic was "the future of food", which was handled very differently by the student teams.

The JGU team has worked on the subject of Clean Meat, developing a concept of how Merck could establish Clean Meat products on the market and simultaneously become a central actor for innovation in this area. For the first place it was not enough, nonetheless the team could be happy about winning 1000 euro prize money. The first place was taken by a team from the University Wageningen (Netherlands), which has developed a process for the fermentation of fruits.

Seminar for JGU students in summer semester 2019 (March 2018)

Fellows of the „Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes“ (German Academic Scholarship Foundation) at St. John’s College of University of Cambridge, UK are invited to join the course „Policy Modelling Using Agent-Based Simulation“ led by Prof. Dr. Petra Ahrweiler and fellow sociologist Prof. Dr. Nigel Gilbert (University of Surrey, UK) in late Summer 2018 at the Studienstiftungs-Akademie „Zukunft. Future“ in Cambridge, UK.