Societal Computing: What Digital Data Tells Us About Society
09-29, 11:45–13:00 (Europe/Berlin), Stahlhalle
Language: English

From finding a mate to booking a holiday, our lives are increasingly mediated by online platforms. Digital traces left by these interactions provide opportunities to study societal phenomena ranging from political polarization to gender bias. But more than just mirroring existing processes, digital platforms also actively shape what we think and do, creating algorithmically-infused societies. This creates a need to audit these platforms to ensure the algorithms work in the interest of society at large.

This panel brings together experts in (i) studying societal processes through digital and computational methods, as well as (ii) monitoring the digital platforms themselves with respect to their impact on society.

Nicolas Kayser-Bril is a reporter at AlgorithmWatch since 2019. He writes the Automated Society newsletter, in which he reviews, among other things, investigations and academic publications on recommender systems auditing. He led several investigations in platform algorithms. One of them, on Instagram, garnered worldwide attention, including a cease-and-desist action by Facebook.

He ran the datajournalism agency Journalism++ from 2011 to 2017. He was awarded the European Press Prize in 2015 for his work on the "Migrants Files" project, one of the first large-scale datajournalistic collaborations in Europe.

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Steffen Kühne arbeitet als Tech Lead für das AI + Automation Lab des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Schwerpunkt seiner Arbeit ist die Automatisierung von journalistischen Inhalten und die Entwicklung von Werkzeugen, welche Journalisten bei ihrer täglichen Arbeit unterstützen. In seiner Rolle als Tech Lead beschäftigt sich Steffen Kühne damit, wie man künstliche Intelligenz sinnvoll und verantwortungsbewusst für öffentlich-rechtliche Medien einsetzen kann und welche Infrastruktur dafür notwendig ist.

Für BR Data, dem datenjournalistischen Teams des BR, entwickelt er investigativen Datenanalysen, Visualisierung und interaktive Storytelling-Formate. Nach einem Studium der Journalistik studierte Steffen Kühne Medieninformatik, um dann ein Volontariat als Datenjournalist und digitaler Designer bei der Süddeutschen Zeitung zu beginnen. Bis 2015 arbeitete er dort in der Entwicklungsredaktion. Außerdem ist Steffen Kühne als Trainer für verschiedene Medien und Journalistenschulen tätig.

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Dr. Ingmar Weber is an Alexander von Humboldt Professor for AI at Saarland University where he holds a chair for Societal Computing. His interdisciplinary research looks at what non-traditional data sources can tell us about the offline world and society at large. Working closely with sociologists and demographers he has pioneered the use of online advertising data for complementing official statistics on international migration, digital gender gaps, and poverty. His work is regularly featured in UN reports, and analyses performed by his team have been used to improve operations by UN agencies and NGOs ranging from Colombia to the Philippines. Prior to joining Saarland University, Ingmar was the Research Director for Social Computing at the Qatar Computing Research Institute. As an undergraduate, he studied mathematics at the University of Cambridge before pursuing a Ph.D. at the Max-Planck Institute for Computer Science.

Katrin Weller is leading the team “Digital Society Observatory” at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Köln (Cologne). From 2021-2023 she is also co-leading the Research Data and Methods unit at CAIS in Bochum.

Krishna Gummadi is a scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS). He also holds a professorship at the University of Saarland. He received his Ph.D. (2005) and B.Tech. (2000) degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, respectively.

Krishna‘s research interests are in the measurement, analysis, design, and evaluation of complex Internet-scale systems. His current research focus is on understanding and building fair, accountable, and transparent social computing systems. Krishna‘s work on fair machine learning, online social networks and media, Internet access networks, and peer-to-peer systems has been widely cited and his papers have received numerous (13) awards, including the Test of Time Awards at ACM SIGCOMM and AAAI ICWSM. He received an ERC Advanced Grant in 2017 to investigate ”Foundations for Fair Social Computing”.