re:publica 2019 – Our sessions, our picks

Our picks of this year's programme - selected by Veronika Thiel and Sebastian Gießler
02.05.2018, Berlin: Akkreditierungen auf der re:publica. Die re:publica ist eine der weltweit wichtigsten Konferenzen zu den Themen der digitalen Gesellschaft und findet in diesem Jahr vom 02. bis 04. Mai in der STATION-Berlin statt. Foto: Jan Michalko/re:publica

It's that time of year again: re:publica 2019 opens its doors in Berlin on May 6th. AlgorithmWatch will hold two sessions on the 7th and 8th of May.

AlgorithmWatch's sessions

7. Mai 15:30 
Citizen Scoring in the EU - it happens at home, not only in China!
Matthias Spielkamp Kristina Penner

Several EU governments use automated decision-making systems to score citizens, to detect welfare fraud, identify children who may be in danger of neglect, or to determine how much care elderly or disabled persons should receive. AlgorithmWatch's research shows that these systems are deployed much more widely than commonly known in many countries in Europe, and that they lack oversight and accountability. In this session, we will present results of extensive research conducted in 12 European countries for the report "Automating Society – Taking Stock of Automated Decision-Making in the EU" and discuss them with the audience.

8. Mai  16:30 
KI: Mensch, Macht, Maschine
Martin Ebers Matthias Spielkamp Björn Böhning Chris Kranzinger (Diskussion)

"Artificial Intelligence" can improve our lives, how we learn and how we work. There is a tension between innovation and inclusive growth. Therefore, we have to develop rules that support the formation of human-centred AI. Ethical guidelines for AI are crucial here, but some important questions remain unanswered: what could and should companies do? Where should standards and norms be applied? Do we need (stronger) binding regulation? (Please note that this session ins in German).

For those who would like some guidance on which of the 600 sessions with over a 1000 speakers to go to, our researchers Veronika Thiel (VT) and Sebastian Gießler (SG) have compiled a list of recommendations. (Additional recommendations for sessions in German can be found here.)

Our Recommendations

6. Mai 14:15 Loft T 
Expect the Unexpected: Implementing AI at the Workplace
Shirley Ogolla | Hendrik Send

There's a lot of hype around so-called Artificial Intelligence in HR circles. But what happens when hype meets reality? This session addresses the subject from perspectives that differ from the usual alarmist discussions: it focuses specifically on the situation in Germany, and it does not present hypothetical arguments. Rather, the content is based on empirical research. The speakers investigate the impact of AI systems on corporate praxis. This is an important session to inform the debate and to identify the potential and the limits of such systems. (SG)


Outsourcing Ethics to Machines
Mark Surman

Ethics is a popular topic in the context of "Artificial Intelligence". But what does 'just' AI mean? And to what extend does a simplistic understanding of AI block potential solutions to this challenge? Mark Surman of the Mozilla Foundation addresses this complex subject in his session and wants to discuss negative examples as well as potential problem solving approaches. Recommended for everyone who is interested in this topic beyond ethical guidelines. (SG)


7. Mai 10:00 The anti-authoritarian revolt: Populism as enlightenment gone wrong
Torben Lütjen

In this session, Torben Lütjen will present his view that the newly empowered populism is not solely marked by authoritarian structures. On the contrary, it operates as an anti-authoritarian movement that rejects expertise as authority and by appropriating terms such as independence of thought and an anti-elite rhetoric only allows perceived realities as the sole true realities. If you want to combat the phenomenon of populism, then this is a talk for you: the better you understand how it works, the easier it is to oppose it. (VT)


Stage 2 )
#NoTechxit - Back to Made in Europe
Claudia Nemat Anke Domscheit-Berg Felix Lee Astrid Maier

This panel discussion could create lovely feelings of self-affirmation or it could produce reasons for feeling unsettled. Many actors, such as the European Union, the German Government, and various think tanks discuss a European solution to the challenge of "Artificial Intelligence". The panel addresses Europe's position as centre for technology, its values and directives. The panelists discuss measures on how to best support European companies and how to ensure Europe's sovereignty in the field of technology and science. This discussion wants to explore what a 'third way' aside from the paths chosen by the US and China could look like. (SG)


7. Mai  11:15 Informal 4.0: How Tech Savvy Africans Are Transforming the Informal Economy
Niti Bhan Lisa Nyamadzawo

It is a popular fallacy to believe that everything to do with "AI" and computers is predominantly in use in industrialised countries. Niti Bhan and Lisa Nyamadzawo present how digital technology influences everyday lives and the informal economy in Africa. The same technology with its pros and cons in use in the gig economy in Germany and elsewhere can accelerate the development of the informal sector in parts of Africa, and has the potential to improve working conditions. (VT)


7. Mai  13:45 Stage 5 
What happens when automated systems draw our maps?
Tracy Rolling David Volpe

Algorithmic systems can influence areas of our society that are not immediately obvious. In this session, Tracy Rolling and David Volpe address the systematic distortions present in automatically created maps. This is a good real life example of the interplay between automated systems and political positions and interests. This is especially of relevance as maps are always created with a political motivation and to present a certain narrative. (SG)

8. Mai 12:30 

The Algorithmic Boss
Alex Rosenblat

Alex Rosenblat is the author of Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work. Using the example of Uber and with ethnographic methods, she describes how algorithmic systems change the workplace, as they understand work completely differently. This talk promises to be particularly interesting as it presents the results of a study conducted over four years in several US cities. It promises to shed light on the future of work and platform work. If you speak German, it would make sense to attend this session alongside the presentation "Platform work - profitable micro freelance work or plain exploitation?", which compares platform work in the US and Germany. (SG)

In addition to our suggestions, we would recommend everyone interested in the digitalisation of work to attend the sessions of the The Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society in Hall 2. The policy lab of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is a partner of re:publica19 and its programme is dedicated to the topics of platform working, artificial intelligence, work culture, and data protection. The programme presents talks, discussions and workshops with a focus on data economy, digital associations, social movements and new forms of participation. You can find the programme here.

Photo:  Jan Michalko/re:publica (CC BY-SA)