In more and more countries, policymakers increasingly use Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to decide on public service provisions and state benefits among their citizens whose profiles are assessed and evaluated for likely future performance. AI-based social assessment technologies for public service provision categorise past, present and future human behaviour and delegate decisions based on such value judgements to machines. This raises ethical, philosophical and social issues, which lead to important questions of responsibility, accountability, transparency and the quality of social decision making about the distribution of scarce resources.

However, perceptions, attitudes, discussions and acceptance of AI use for public policy vary between countries, as do the types and degrees of AI implementation, with reference to norms and values in-use, but also related to technology status, economic models, civil society sentiments, and legislative, executive and judicial characteristics. Furthermore, attitudes not only vary between countries but also within countries between societal groups where winners and victims can be discerned supporting or rejecting technological developments.

To understand and jointly shape the role of AI for future societies needs a participatory approach involving many relevant stakeholders, which includes research methods to compare empirical cases, to model future societal scenarios on detail level, and to create better AI technology adapted to context-specific social value requirements. In support of these objectives, AI FORA conducts case studies in six different countries (China, Estonia, Germany, India, Spain, USA) to generate culturally sensitive and context-dependent knowledge on the use of AI for social assessment in domestic social service systems. Knowledge that will inform scenario simulations and the concept of a Co-Creation Lab, which aims at providing an environment for the production of better AI technology.

AI FORA is funded by the VW Foundation in the course of a 9-month planning grant which serves as a first step towards a multi-annual project.


Coordination of the Project Prof. Dr. Petra Ahrweiler
SponsorVolkswagen Foundation
JGU Project LeadProf. Dr. Petra Ahrweiler
Project PartnerGerman Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)
ResearcherDr. Martin Neumann



AI FORA – FB02 Sociology – Technology and Innovation

  • New Research Project: "AI FORA":
    Our new research project AI FORA is funded by the VW Foundation in the course of a 9-month planning grant which serves as a first step towards a multi-annual project. Our unit coordinates an interdisciplinary and international consortium which will investigate highly topical questions within the context of an ongoing rise of artificial intelligence: What are the effects of an increase in AI systems that assess human behaviour and how does society react towards this development? What are the social, political, legal and ethical implications of these modern computer programmes that more and more penetrate social structures?
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