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Lecturers of the University of Cologne, partner universities worldwide and external experts contributed to the academic program.


The topics of our Online Cologne Summer School on Digitization 2020 ranged from future reasearch to media education and analysis to health, modelling and further. Have a look at our renowned and international staff and their lectures.

Prof. Dr. med. Christiane Woopen, Executive Director of the Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics and Social Sciences of Health (ceres), University of Cologne

Ethical Guidelines for AI

Prof. Dr. med. Christiane Woopen is professor for Ethics and Theory of Medicine and head of the research unit Ethics at the University of Cologne. She is the coordinator and leader of several international and national research projects concerning ethical aspects of reproductive medicine, neuroethics, quality of life, aging, digital autonomy and genome editing. She is also the former chair of the German Ethics Council, president of the 11th Global Summit of National Ethics/Bioethics Committees 2016 and, amongst other boards, member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO. In April 2017 she has been appointed as chair of the European Group on Ethics of Science and New Technologies and in July 2018 she has been appointed as co-speaker of the Data Ethics Commission of the Federal Government of Germany. Source: https://ceres.uni-koeln.de/en/ueber-ceres/personen/team/prof-dr-christiane-woopen

David Caroll, Parsons New School of Design

Data Rights and Human Rights

David Carroll is associate professor of media design and former Director of the MFA Design and Technology graduate program at the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design at The New School. He is known for legally challenging Cambridge Analytica and related companies in the UK courts to recapture his 2016 voter profile using European data protection law. Featured in The Great Hack (2019) on Netflix, his data quest has appeared in WIRED, The Guardian, Motherboard, The Boston Review, Slate, Mother Jones, and the international press more widely. Source: https://www.newschool.edu/parsons/faculty/david-carroll/

In his lecture David Caroll presented the highlights of his legal battle with Cambridge Analytica and answered the many open questions of the participants about how we should deal with the surveillance that big tech companies oppose to us and what can be done on the level of every individual.

Keynote: Dr. Edgar Göll, Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment Berlin

Future Trends in Digital Societies

Increasing “Digitalization” is one of the megatrends in our societies that are reasons for major changes. They need to be understood in order maximize its positive effects, and at the same time reduce negative consequences. This is a task for modern future research, which is “the scientific work on possible, probable and desirable future developments (“Futures”), their realization options, as well as their preconditions in the past and the present.” In my keynote I will describe some basic features of future-thinking and various megatrends which will shape the conditions for digitalization. These include many different megatrends and other changing context conditions. Most societies will face a broad spectrum of increasing problems and challenges. Economic and social development deficits cumulate with ecological disasters and cultural decline and fragmentation. The ambitious concept “Sustainable Development” is suggested as solution, which aims to balance economic, ecological, social, cultural-political dimensions and has a long-term, global and participatory orientation. Due to these complex challenges there is a growing need for Future Research. It has to produce knowledge about the future(s) and to enable people to set targets on the basis of evidence. By way of various views about the futures, it tries to visualize and explicate future situations showing different options and alternatives for the future(s). In my presentation I will give a first idea about the most relevant methods of future research, i.e. megatrends, scenarios, roadmaps and wild cards. In the seminar right after my keynote and the break we will have a Q&A part and I will discuss with you some relevant aspects of the issue.

Christian Noll, University of Cologne

Youtube and Shaping of Political Opinion of Teenagers from an Academic Perspective

In this session, we are going to have a look at the way in which young people are using and reflecting on videos by YouTubers which contain content concerning political and societal topics. The focus will be on results of two explorative studies conducted in Germany in the field of media education. In these studies, our team led qualitative interviews with adolescents and young adults as well as YouTubers. We will discuss selected results concerning questions of authenticity, credibility, role model functions, algorithms and commercialisation among others. A central question will be: In how far do young people critically relfect such videos and the way they use these videos in their everyday lives? The main project, which combines a qualitative and a quantitative approach, is a cooperation of the University of Cologne (Media Education, team of Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Hugger; Social and Media Psychology, team of Prof. Dr. Dr. Kai Kaspar) and the Grimme Research College (Grimme-Institut, Lars Gräßer).

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Patrick Bettinger, University of Cologne

Quantifiying Social Phenomena and Critical Reflection of Digitization

In the course of the digital transformation we are experiencing the establishment of various forms of quantification of culture and society. But what does it mean when social and cultural phenomena are translated into quantifiable logic? How does the spread of algorithmic structures change the relationships with the self and with the world? How does the attribution of meaning change in our everyday life? The lecture addresses these questions using the example of learning and educational processes and discusses the importance of a critical perspective 

Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard, University of Cologne

Media Control Analysis and Digital Surveillance

In this session, we will discuss digital surveillance as an aspect of media control, i.e. technologies that control media in the interest of controlling something else. Big Data methods and networked communication paradigms have increased and transformed societal surveillance, suggesting an inverted panopticon in which we know that we are always watched but act as if we are not; and in which the difference between humans and automated actors grows less distinct. We will look at models of media and control that combine technological and cultural aspects to describe media usage, and consider critical questions to be asked both of systems of control and of concrete situations in everyday media usage. One special focus will be on models of Super-Scoring in Social Credit Systems

Giovanna Nieminen Sanchez, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Digital Health Transformation: Ethical and Social Implications

Increasing evidence has risen about the necessity of digital health care technologies for solving critical challenges in the health care systems in low and middle-income countries. Digital health is seen as a promising tool for increasing health equity in a global level, with its potential to extend the coverage and access of health services related to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. In exceptional times, as these we are living, the importance of digital health technologies, such as those enablers of rapid diagnostic testing, become even more evident. Around the globe, we have seen public health systems overburden by patients suffering with the symptoms of COVID-19. The necessity of improving epidemic preparedness is now evident in the Global North and South. Efficacy and cost-effectiveness are at core of the development and implementation of digital health, but important aspects such as health equity and accountability often seem to be overlooked. Without proper implementation and evaluation of digital health programs and solutions unexpected and negative impacts can emerge, further increasing the vulnerabilities of already marginalised groups. In the webinar “Digital Health Transformation: Ethical and Social Implications”, we will cover the current challenges and drivers for digital health and on-going researches on the topic. In addition to reflect upon the implications of health technology solutions for the societal well-being and for the achievement of health 

Prof. Dr. Øyvind Eide, University of Cologne

Modelling Between Digital and Humanities: Thinking in Practice

Models play an important role in how we see the world. Predictive modelling of climate change and virus spread are fundamental to political discussions and decisions, whereas historical and ideological models influence our understanding of our place and role in the world. Modelling in science and the humanities are important to teaching and research as well as for society at large. The aim of the workshop is to understand better processes of modelling and how meaning is established though the creation and manipulation of tangible models, today usually with the use of computers. We will establish two core aspects of the discussions of core questions in the humanities in the digital age: First, many humanities questions can be re-negotiated based on digital tools and methods, and second, the discussions in the humanities take part in shaping the digital world. Both these processes are model based at a number of levels. Also modelling in the sciences and consequences for society at large will be discussed. The aim of the workshop is to establish the need for cultural literacy to include an understanding of how models work -- the need to develop modelling literacy.

Dr. Frederik Ferreau, University of Cologne

How to Guarantee Freedom of Speech in Social Networks

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube have revolutionized the way societies communicate: They enable almost everyone to participate in political debates and to share his or her opinion with a (potentially) large auditorium. Usage of social networks nowadays is crucial not only for citizens but also for politicians, political parties, companies, NGO's and the media. However, provider of social networks do not only offer a technical infrastructure: They are likely to transform into "gatekeepers" of the opinion-forming process. They delete user-generated content or reduce its visibilty, mostly for very good reasons like preventing the spread of criminal hate speech or dangerous disinformation. But provider also ban content with reference to their "virtual domestic authority", though this content is legal and therefore protected by Freedom of Speech guaranteed in states constitutions. The questions we will answer in our lecture is: Does social network provider have the right to ban content by their own standards? Or should legal instruments restrict their power in order to protect a free opinion-forming process? First we take a look on how provider find and exercise their own standards. After that we will learn how legislators and courts – primarily in Germany and within the European Union – try to find the right balance between the providers property rights on the one hand and Freedom of Speech on the other hand. In the following Moot Court we will transfer theory into practice and simulate a trial where a social network provider and a (famous) network user argue about the providers right to sanction some of the users statements

Anna Nuhn & Jessie Loyer, Mount Royal University Library

New Opportunities for Digitizing Indigenous Presense. Blackfoot Language and the DesichAR App

A new app developed by Mount Royal University Library in collaboration with Red Crow College uses augmented reality (AR) to provide audio and visual information about the Blackfoot translations on the wayfinding in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre (RLLC). This information includes pronunciations and descriptions of the translations completed by Elder Leo Fox. DeciphAR continues the work of place-making in the Library by supporting and encouraging the active use of Indigenous language while recognizing the importance of grounding ourselves in the place that we work and live.

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kunz, University of Cologne

Business Model Innovation and Transformation Arising from Digitization

The course is dedicated to the concept of business models as well as their innovation and transformation in connection with digital technologies. The course takes a look at business and revenue models from the media and technology sector from both an academic and practical perspective. Students analyze the various components of business models and then apply their previously acquired knowledge to selected case studies on business model innovation and transformation.

Norbert Erdmann & Jussi-Pekka Järvinen, University of Turku

Digitization and Innovation in Teacher Education

Finland is known for his well-functioning school system. So it is interesting in knowing more about how the Finish school system is prepared for a digital society or rather how the teacher are educated to prepare the children for living and learning in this new digital age with the skills and competencies they need. After a brief overview of the Finnish school system, the role and social recognition of the teacher, we turn our attention to the key competences and how the key competencies are experienced and learnt. Few examples will illustrate practical realization, such as enlarging the learning space, conducting projects, and research based learning. Furthermore one main aspect to prepare the children for the digital age are the digital tools and services. The Finnish strategy and its implementation will be nicely illustrated by means of examples. In addition we also consider how the Finish school system cope with the COVID-19 situation.

Margarita Boenig-Liptsin, University of California, Berkeley 

Imaginaries of Data and Justice

Data analytics and algorithmic models promise to deliver justice to today's digital societies. This promise of justice can be found across sectors, from health care and resource management to justice systems themselves. Designers and proponents of intelligent autonomous systems argue that these technologies can make societies more fair by incorporating values of alleged efficiency, impartiality, scale, and objectivity. Yet this promise disappointed time and again, such as by the discovery of racial disparities in algorithm-produced risk scores, by the recollection of the links between the eugenics movement and development of the same statistical techniques used today to pursue social justice issues, and by problematic relationships between the world's most powerful data analytics companies and public institutions. This workshop examines the sociotechnical imaginary of justice that takes root in contemporary American society in relation to data technologies and the persistent trope of technology and injustice. Based upon my work and perspective as Director of the Human Contexts and Ethics program in the University of California, Berkeley, I survey some efforts from within the technical fields, industry, and the interpretive social sciences to address this discrepancy. To adequately take on the problem of data and justice, I argue, requires attention to the structural dynamics between power, justice, and technology, and a deep concern for the normative visions of human-technology futures.

Franziska Pradel, University of Cologne

Digital Societies.The Influence of Web Search Engines on Political Opinion Formation

Web search engines have become an important source when people seek information. While search engine queries play an important role in obtaining political information, to this date, only little is known about potential challenges and consequences that may emerge from this behavior.
The aim of the workshop is to give an insight into the importance of web search engines for our society and their influence on political opinion formation. One part of the workshop will be about current research on biases in search engines. In addition, we will take a closer look at data containing information about how politicians are represented in Google.
We will also discuss how to get an explorative overview of what information citizens are interested in. Moreover, we will talk about which factors influence the information seeking. The workshop will focus on the role of social identities and stereo-types in the search for information and the information provided by search engines.