What contribution can digital technologies make to public welfare? Can we place algorithms in the service of society? Is “tech for good” a clichéd idea? Or can we, in fact, manage to use technology sensibly – especially now – without treating it as the silver bullet to complex societal problems? Do you have something to say about these issues? Then join our Blogparade!

The current coronavirus situation is creating a wholly new dynamic with regard to these issues – for us all. Digital technologies make it possible for many people to work from home and are facilitating entirely new forms of neighborhood-based mutual aid and social interaction. There is also considerable hope that artificial intelligence systems may help us surmount the Corona crisis. Quite recently, Germany’s federal government and seven civil society groups organized the #WirVsVirus-Hackathon with the goal of working together in a process of digitally enabled participation to develop solutions for unprecedented challenges.

Even beyond Corona, a variety of digital-policy projects are currently under way that focus on human well-being, the preservation of fundamental values, and the diverse societal opportunities afforded by algorithmic systems and other digital technologies. Particularly noteworthy here is the package of proposals presented by the European Commission in February 2020, which draws from the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as the European data strategy, for which public consultations are currently ongoing. Germany’s federal government also recently closed a submissions window in the context of a public-consultation process on its data strategy. Among other topics, this inquiry is asking about measures for the promotion of a public-interest-oriented data policy.

We call for a Blogparade!

We on the Ethics of Algorithms team are focused strongly on all the questions raised in the teaser text – whether here on our blog, in our weekly newsletter of curated information “Erlesenes” or, of course, in our daily project work. But we neither can nor want to answer these questions alone. We’re interested in diverse points of view and are therefore appealing to you to share with us your perspectives on the topic of “tech for good.” We’re looking for submissions that address the following issues, among others:

  • How can digital technologies, particularly algorithms and AI, contribute to public welfare?
  • How can we promote algorithmic innovation that targets public welfare? What specific measures do we need today for this purpose?
  • What challenges need to be overcome in order to develop technology that targets public interests? How can we address these challenges?
  • It’s easy to imagine that technology might solve all of humanity’s problems – if only we had the right code, the right algorithms, the right data. In 2013, Evgeny Morozov criticized this idea as the “folly of technological solutionism.” But how might we avoid falling into this so-called techno-solutionism while, at the same time, constructively considering how we can use technology to address societal problems and their underlying causes?
  • In what application areas – even those that might remain quite “analog” today – do you see the need and opportunity for algorithmic innovation?
  • What are the dos and don’ts in communicating issues regarding technology and its benefits to society in a positive manner?

All formats are welcome, from blog posts and essays to videos and podcasts. For written submissions, we ask that you limit the length of your texts to 12,000 characters (including spaces). Videos and audio recordings should be no longer than 10 minutes. You can either post the submissions on your own blog, website or video channel, or publish them through Medium.

To inform us of your submission, link to this article and comment here, send us an email (viktoria.grzymek@bertelsmann-stiftung.de), or tell us using Twitter (@algoethik). We’ll promote submissions through our Twitter account and will collect them and comment on them in a summary post on our Ethics of Algorithms Blog. The deadline for submissions is May 10, 2020.

We look forward to your ideas and submissions!

This text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License