Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften http://www.oeaw.ac.at de-at Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Mon, 02 Oct 2023 10:13:13 +0200 Mon, 02 Oct 2023 10:13:13 +0200 Typo3 news-27668 Wed, 20 Sep 2023 14:11:45 +0200 Join us at the European Researchers Night on 29 September http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/join-us-at-the-european-researchers-night-on-29-september Climate-friendly shopping - made easy! Find out how you can stop waste and help the environment at the ITA booth at the European Researchers Night in Vienna! Never before has it been so hot in the world in July. It is clear that something has to change.

When we shop, we can make a small contribution, but how? Is eating tofu really always "better" than meat, even if the tofu comes from thousands of miles away? How can buying organic pay off so that everyone can afford it? What would you do if there was already cooked food left over in your restaurant?

You will find the answers to these questions at the ITA booth at the European Researchers Night 2023.

Where: University of Applied Arts, Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7, 1030 Vienna
When: 15-22 h
Link to the program
Link to the ITA-Station

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news-27666 Wed, 20 Sep 2023 12:40:02 +0200 NanoTrust - Policy Advice for Safe and Sustainable Innovation http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/nanotrust-politikberatung-fuer-sichere-und-nachhaltige-innovation The 15th NanoTrust conference on "Innovation and Governance of Advanced Materials" took place in Vienna with large international participation. About 80 guests were invited to the arcade courtyard of the recently opened ÖAW campus to exchange views on sustainable development from the TA perspective and its role in policy advice.

In his keynote, Michael Decker from KIT-ITAS Karlsruhe gave a brief insight into the basics of technology assessment, its global development and the ambivalent impact of new technologies on society. There has always been a light as well as a dark side to the consideration of new innovations. His appeal to a sustainable development: "Technology as well as societal processes and structures must be aligned in such a way that both ethical principles are guaranteed: to enable present generations to meet their needs without creating risks for meeting the needs of future generations."

Currently, the OECD also has a noticeable presence in the NanoTrust project. NanoTrust has been an active member of the Working Group on Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) for several years. Douglas K.R. Robinson explains in his keynote why the OECD is exploring strategic intelligence and new requirements for TA tools and practices.

Risk researcher André Gazsó, project leader and senior researcher at the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, reflects on 15 years of NanoTrust, which has evolved from a classical research project into a complex process within the framework of Austrian nano-risk governance: "They were exciting years that we went through in a total of six project phases. The term advanced materials did not exist at the beginning in 2007. The perspective of the steakholders and the accompanying changes in policy advice have also changed over the years," Gazsó knows.

Advanced materials are materials with new properties and functionalities that are developed for specific purposes and can be used in many areas. Nanomaterials continue to be an important group within them. Gazso: "Tonight we can celebrate 15 successful years and hope that the topic will be taken up by more institutions in the future and that research will continue."

News English NanoTrust News Starseite_EN OpenTA André Gazsó Anna Pavlicek
news-27584 Tue, 12 Sep 2023 13:14:27 +0200 ITA Researcher Alexander Bogner Nominated as Austrian of the Year http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/ita-forscher-alexander-bogner-zum-oesterreicher-des-jahres-nominiert Austrian daily Die Presse has nominated ITA sociologist Alexander Bogner as "Austrian of the Year" in the category research. The whole team congratulates him! During the Covid crisis, Bogner gained recgonitian as a voice of science, always arguing for a better understanding between the public and political officials. "How do science and technology change when the borders to politics and the public become more permeable? Bogner from the Institute of Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences has been working on this question for more than 20 years. Most recently with a view to processes of understanding in the Corona crisis", Die Presse writes in their presentation of Bogner.

Crises need both - politics and science

Scientific advice should enable policymakers to make informed and autonomous decisions, is one of Bogner's core principles. In early 2023, he was instrumental in formulating the Vienna Theses - a manual for successful scientific policy advice. In his latest book, "The Epistemization of the Political. How the Power of Knowledge Endangers Democracy" (Reclam, 2021), he also took a close look at the role of policy advice in times of crisis, especially in the Corona pandemic .

"Evidence-based policy means that science should ensure that policymakers are not relieved of all burdens of justification. Politicians, for their part, should explain why they decided to take which measures based on which considerations," Bogner summarized in an interview with Austrian radio station OE1 on the occasion of the publication of the Vienna Theses.

The prize for the Austrian of the Year, the "Austria23", is awarded in a total of six categories: Success International, Research, Humanitarian Commitment, Climate Initiative, Cultural Heritage and Companies with Responsibility. There are five candidates in each category. Votes can be cast until October 3.

Click here to cast your vote
Austria23 - the Austrians of the Year

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Alexander Bogner
news-27311 Wed, 09 Aug 2023 12:11:35 +0200 Drug delivery by Nanocarrier? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/wenn-nanocarrier-medikamente-transportieren There is a lot going on in the field of nanotechnology in Austria and also at ITA. Cutting-edge developments, such as the use of so-called nanocarriers in medicine and agriculture, as well as risk management of nanomaterials throughout Europe will take center stage at this year's NanoTrust conference in September. NanoTrust-Advanced, a project of the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) are inviting participants to a conference on "Innovation and Governance of Advanced Materials" on September 14, 2023.

Nanocarriers useful for pharmaceuticals and agriculture

"The term nanotechnologies covers a wide spectrum. Everything that takes place in the nanoscale is difficult to comprehend for the average consumer and still poses many questions for research. How safe is the use of nanoparticles in, for example, pesticides that can come into direct contact with our food? Do we know that even food packaging and our lipstick can contain "nano"? There is an urgent need for education, which is why it is all the more important that authorities, researchers, industry and politics regularly exchange new findings," emphasizes biologist Anna Pavlicek, who has been working on the ITA's NanoTrust project for six years.

"Nanocarriers are an important new development. These transport and encapsulation systems in dimensions down to 1000 nanometers - that's one-thousandth of a millimeter - can be loaded with various active ingredients. In pharmaceuticals, but also in agriculture, they can be used to transport substances to specific locations and release them in a controlled manner," emphasizes organizer and project leader André Gazsó. Nanocarriers are therefore also the current main topic for Austrian group co-founded by NanoTrust for the protection of employees.

NanoTrust as a global model for the regulation of innovation

The NanoTrust initiative, launched by the then Ministry of Technology and the ITA, has been running for more than 15 years. The fact that the Austrian project, which also helped shape the Ministry of Health's Nano-Information Commission (NIK) founded in 2013, has a role model effect beyond its borders and is internationally respected became clear in the OECD report "Technology Assessment for Emerging Technology" (April 2023). There, in fact, NanoTrust is cited together with examples from, for example, Portugal, the Netherlands, the USA or Japan as successful applications of the principle "Safe and Sustainable by Design".

"It is important to us that areas such as worker protection, chemical regulation, environmental protection and consumer protection are already addressed in the development stage of innovations," Gazsó emphasizes. This year's NanoTrust conference is dedicated to policy advice for safe and sustainable innovation and how technology assessment can best support innovation.

Representatives of the German long-term project DaNa and the Swiss project Swiss NanoAnalytics will also be present at the conference.

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news-27041 Wed, 05 Jul 2023 12:53:55 +0200 Safe by Design - but safe, really? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/safe-by-design-but-safe-really Innovation is more than just technology - a series of OECD reports underlines the role of foresight and dialogue for innovation processes. The ITA's NanoTrust project is cited as one of several globally selected examples of successful regulatory policy. ITA researcher Ulrike Bechtold was interviewed on the topic of public participation. Technology assessment and foresight can make a significant contribution to innovative processes. They point out that in addition to technical and economic aspects, social and societal impacts always play a role when it comes to the well-being of us all.

NanoTrust selected as a global example for successful regulation

More than a decade ago, the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences started the NanoTrust project, which has since then evolved into an example of successful risk management in nanotechnologies. In the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Paper "Technology Assessment for Emerging Technology", Nanotrust is cited as a successful application of "Safe and Sustainable Design" together with examples from e.g. Portugal, the Netherlands, the USA or Japan.

"An important driver for the project was the idea of building a network of experts capable of producing independent and robust information on EHS issues and potential risks of nanomaterials and other nanotechnologies," project collaborators Anna Pavlicek and Gloria Rose emphasize. Project leader André Gazsó adds, "Scientific evidence alone is not sufficient to capture the wide-ranging impacts of innovations. NanoTrust’s role is facilitating exchange between research, policy and other stakeholders, processing existing knowledge and bringing the discussion of safety-related issues to the forefront. In this way, we contribute to the safe and sustainable development of technologies."

And what about citizens engagement?

ITA human ecologist Ulrike Bechtold was interviewed for the OECD report "Engaging citizens in innovation policy": she designed a presentation at the OECD-CSTP Workshop on Societal Engagement (Paris, March 2023) and spoke with the authors at this event. Her presentation focused on framing and possible rationales for societal engagement in science, technology, and innovation. Specifically, Bechtold talked about various examples of citizen participation on the topic of climate change and explained how public and political interest in this has changed in Austria in recent years.

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA André Gazsó Anna Pavlicek
news-26935 Thu, 22 Jun 2023 11:06:30 +0200 Live again! Impressions from the ITA's annual conference in Vienna (Video) http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/live-again-impressions-from-the-itas-annual-conference-in-vienna-video "Infrastructures of the Future", ITA's first live conference since 2019, was a complete success with over 100 motivated participants. "I am very happy to finally be back in Vienna," said ITAS Director Armin Grunwald, keynotes came from Cordula Kropp and Stine Lomborg. For our society to function, infrastructures for energy, food, mobility, knowledge and social services are essential. The energy transition and digitalization raise fundamental questions about how these supply systems will change. "How sustainable are our infrastructures and how can technology assessment accompany upcoming transformations?" therefore asked the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences at a conference in Vienna on June 6.

On climate justice and a better life

The diverse conference contributions made clear how important it is to take a close look at the social contexts in which infrastructures are integrated. The "optimization fantasies" of BigTech would ignore what it takes to live a good life, said media researcher Stine Lomborg in her keynote.

Infrastructures that enable climate-just social practice should break away from quantitative security of supply and the compulsion to grow, also emphasized risk researcher Cordula Kropp in the second keynote lecture. The central guiding principles, according to Kropp, must be supply and distribution justice in order to guarantee equivalent living conditions in the future.

About categories and people

"Supply systems of various kinds, be it the welfare state or energy supply, are increasingly evolving via a certain 'datafied' knowledge," emphasized Doris Allhutter, organizer of TA23 and Senior Scientist at ITA. "It is important not to lose sight of the social contexts in which these infrastructures are embedded." Allhutter is currently working on the Automating Welfare project, which was also presented at the conference. With her team, she is researching the effects of the algorithmization of welfare, for example in job placement or the provision of social benefits.

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news-24664 Mon, 05 Jun 2023 14:09:00 +0200 TA23 Conference: "Future infrastructures" https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/ita/veranstaltungen/ta23-konferenz The Conference on Technology Assessment will be held on June 5-6, 2023 at the ÖAW campus. All information about the Call for Papers. News Veranstaltungen Konferenzen news-26782 Thu, 01 Jun 2023 11:23:10 +0200 Recognizing the vulnerability of digital infrastructures http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/recognizing-the-vulnerability-of-digital-infrastructures Digital transformation brings progress and acceleration. We as a society depend increasingly on it. An ITA study has looked at the connections between the digital transformation and the vulnerability of societal infrastructures and reveals considerable areas of tension. From energy supply to modern household appliances, transport and mobility to healthcare - digital technologies are everywhere, very often to our benefit. But what happens when the infrastructures behind them suddenly stop working? How can government institutions, for example, prepare for cyberattacks?

"Digitization has long permeated countless areas of infrastructure. However, the development does not always follow a clear concept, but is often driven by technological trends and economic interests," says Stefan Strauß, project manager and senior scientist at the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Together with Steffen Bettin (ITA), he has investigated institutional but also individual effects of this development on the basis of selected case studies in the project "Digitalization, Vulnerability and Societal Infrastructures".

The study shows that digitized infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex and therefor prone to error. According to Strauß, many problems, especially loss of control, are not necessarily due to the use of technology, but to inadequate security and business models of the platform economy. Technology companies could exert more and more pressure through their growing power over the market: "Growing information and power asymmetries are a fundamental problem of digitalization. They lead to more technological and economic dependencies, for companies as well as households and individuals," Strauß emphasizes.

Strengthening resilience for a secure basic supply

This development also has consequences for security of supply and meeting basic social needs. New possibilities, such as remote access to digital systems, can lead to a loss of control, as the study shows. It is therefore essential not only to secure infrastructures against attacks or technical risks, but also to have a broader understanding of vulnerability - also in order to recognize weak points and dependencies: "Often, digitalization is carried out quickly without awareness of the longer-term consequences. In addition to cybersecurity, care must also be taken to ensure that security of supply and fundamental rights are not jeopardized," says Strauß. The ongoing digitization of societal infrastructures raises fundamental questions that are currently being renegotiated, he adds. Who controls infrastructures? What roles do state and private actors play in the provision of public services?  How can resilience be strengthened for secure basic services in line with fundamental rights and basic needs? "This is an issue we need to address so that we as a society do not become more vulnerable, but more resilient," says Strauß.


ITA Study: Digitalization, Vulnerability and (Critical) Societal Infrastructures, Authors: Stefan Strauß, Steffen Bettin (in German)

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news-26549 Wed, 10 May 2023 16:12:04 +0200 Nanomaterials in cosmetics http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/nanomaterialien-in-kosmetika New NanoTrust dossier: Regulation and safety assessment in the EU. The cosmetics industry is constantly developing new products to meet different requirements, drawing on developments in the latest research - including nanotechnology.

"In 2009, the EU Cosmetics Regulation was adapted, with specific provisions for nanomaterials already introduced. Since cosmetics are so-called consumer applications, their safety is particularly important," points out Anna Pavlicek, co-author of the dossier.

To ensure the highest possible level of protection for consumers, the EU Cosmetics Regulation was adapted in 2009, with special provisions for nanomaterials introduced. These include the notification of cosmetic products containing nanomaterials to the European Commission, a comprehensive safety assessment, and the labeling of nanoscale ingredients on the product label. Cosmetics are the only consumer products with such regulations in the EU. In the U.S., for example, these regulations don’t exist to protect consumers.

"The rapid progress in technology now makes it necessary to adapt and update the regulations in order to continue to ensure the highest possible level of protection for consumers", Pavlicek continued.

The definition of the term "nanomaterial" in the regulation, the safety assessment procedure, the notification procedure and the method of labeling are now subject to review at the EU level.

Read more in the 61st NanoTrust dossier (German only)

News English NanoTrust News Starseite_EN NanoTrust NanoTrust-Advanced Nanotechnologien
news-25999 Tue, 02 May 2023 13:19:00 +0200 Unpacking infrastructural power: on the material underpinnings of digital tracking http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/unpacking-infrastructural-power-on-the-material-underpinnings-of-digital-tracking introducing: Stine Lomborg is keynote speaker at TA23 Stine Lomborg is one of the two keynote speakers at this year's TA23 Technology Assessment Conference in Vienna in June. In her keynote entitled "Unpacking infrastructural power: on the material underpinnings of digital tracking" she refers to the material backend infrastructure of digital communication systems and what impact infrastructural power can have.

"Today, digital tracking is standard operating procedure across the digital platforms that most of the world’s population use on an everyday basis. Digital tracking, e.g. through web cookies or sensor-based technologies, can be used for a vast array of purposes, including functionality and service optimization, surveillance, and new technological developments, and it serves a critical role in generating data to train machine learning models and other developments in AI. In this talk, I relate digital tracking to the backend material infrastructure of digital communication systems. I demonstrate that digital tracking enables the exercise of a specific kind of power, infrastructural power, which refers to the ability to exert control over the material underpinnings of an ecosystem. I suggest that infrastructural power is a foundational and increasingly important companion to other forms of power exercised in digital communication systems, and sketch ways to unpack its operational logics for the critical study of big tech and the political economy of data."

Stine Lomborg is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen. She studies the role of media in everyday life and in broader social processes and contexts with focus on digital tracking and datafication. Her work addresses the meaning and implications of digital tracking and data-driven decisions for people and societies.

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news-26427 Wed, 26 Apr 2023 13:20:01 +0200 ITA continues to advise EU Parliament http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/ita-beraet-eu-parlament-weiter In addition to the Austrian Parliament, ITA will continue to advise the EU Parliament within the framework of the European Technology Assessment Group. Through the STOA Committee - STOA stands for Science and Technology Options Assessment - of the EU Parliament, European Technology Assessment will continue to have an advisory influence; the framework agreement was extended on April 13. 

"This is a strong sign of life for parliamentary technology assessment. Together with its German partner, ITAS Karlsruhe, ITA advises the Austrian, and also the European Parliament with the aim of analyzing socio-technical innovations and including possible societal impacts," emphasizes Walter Peissl, Deputy Director of the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The value of technology assessment in an international context has thus been proven once again. 

The European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) currently includes institutions from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway and Portugal.

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news-26415 Tue, 25 Apr 2023 13:19:20 +0200 Revised leaflet "Nanomaterialien" of the AUVA http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/revised-leaflet-nanomaterialien-of-the-auva Updated bulletin "plus" with focus on the protection and health of employees After more than 10 years, the Code of Practice M310 "Nanotechnology" of the General Accident Insurance Institution "Allgemeinen Unfallversicherungsanstalt (AUVA)" has undergone a thorough revision and been brought up to date. New and updated in the leaflet: current requirements for safety data sheets of nanomaterials, potential health effects when coming into contact with nanomaterials, measurement methods for estimating exposure in the workplace, guidance on risk assessment and recommendations for the protection of workers.

"The drafting of the new version took six months of intensive transdisciplinary teamwork with the participation of ITA's NanoTrust project. Experts from BOKU, ÖSBS and the Central Labor Inspectorate were also involved. The result was an extended instruction manual, a so-called 'Merkblatt plus', for managers on the safe and responsible handling of nanomaterials. The guidance also includes a procedure for risk assessment of these materials. A version for direct application at special workplaces is to follow," says ITA researcher André Gazso about the extensive update of the leaflet.

The two ITA researchers Anna Pavlicek and Gloria Rose are also among the authors.

Download the fact sheet (German language only)


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news-26253 Thu, 06 Apr 2023 10:27:10 +0200 The path to a European search engine http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/the-path-to-a-european-search-engine How can Europe achieve independence from Google and similar tech companies? And why is the design of an independent search engine so difficult? ITA researcher Astrid Mager presents her findings in a new ITA-dossier. The European search engine market is strongly dominated by Google, with a stable market share of over 90 percent. Google's quasi-monopoly position, as well as its information distortions and business practices, have been under scrutiny all along.

ITA researcher Astrid Mager has devoted the past decade of her research to examining the omnipotence of search engines and the influence of Big Tech on Europe. In her newly published dossier "European Search", she explains why digital independence is not so easy to achieve and what the EU can nevertheless do to ensure autonomy over our data, at least to a limited extent.

Throughout her prestigious Elise-Richter project, she has examined European search engine initiatives in detail: the privacy-friendly search engine Startpage, the peer-to-peer search engine YaCy and the Open Web Index Initiative, which calls for the creation of a publicly or EU-funded web index to enable independent search engines in the first place.

Download the dossier here: "European Search" - ITA Dossier No.70


ITA News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Astrid Mager
news-26137 Mon, 27 Mar 2023 10:31:16 +0200 Opporunities and risks of AI in the work place http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/opporunities-and-risks-of-ai-in-the-work-place Artificial intelligence is increasingly influencing our work life. From the smart factory to administration, AI-based technologies are used as a support system for human decisions. A new ITA project looks at the challenges this brings and asks how AI-based forms of automation can make a constructive contribution. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is linked to many expectations and has enormous effects on our work life. AI should not only lead to more efficiency, it should also increasingly complement human knowledge and change “knowledge work” – a field that processes complex areas and thus generates new knowledge.

AI requires new expertise

"Knowledge work involves problem-solving skills and requires the combination of existing knowledge based on expericence and new, practical knowledge. AI can make a constructive contribution here, whether in IT, education, medicine or journalism," explains project leader Stefan Strauß from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

"However, in order to actually tap into this added value constructively, we need a completely new critical technical competence in companies in dealing with AI-based technologies," he emphasises. Because our knowledge about the technology also influences its practical use: "If we don't know enough about the functionalities, possibilities and limits of the technologies we work with, we run the risk of trusting them 'blindly'." Technical complexity and lack of transparency could lead to people no longer being able to understand and correctly interpret procedures and decision-making processes, says Strauß.

Experts call for more transparency

The research project, funded by the Austrian Chamber of Labour's Digitisation Fund Work 4.0, is therefore investigating how working practices in knowledge work are changing and is developing solutions to strengthen critical technical competence for the responsible use of AI-based technologies (Critical AI Literacy).

In a workshop on 21 March, experts from the field of work and technology discussed the associated challenges. The participants agreed that the oftentimes slow and unnoticed introduction of AI-based technologies makes it difficult to assess their opportunities and risks in companies. In order to objectify the discourse, both decision-makers and employees would need more knowledge about the real benefits and limits of such technologies.

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Stefan Strauß
news-26079 Tue, 21 Mar 2023 14:38:25 +0100 Digital Economy: Our Data, Our Self? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/digital-economy-our-data-our-self In a digitalised world, consumers are in demand not only as active buyers but also as passive suppliers of data. This data is the raw material and currency of the "digital economy". This short study by ITA and the Chamber of Labour examines how the digitalisation of all areas of life affects consumers. The collection of data on the internet has reached unimagined proportions. Algorithms, artificial intelligence and the like are getting better and better at recognising not only what we are looking for, but also how we feel and what is important to us at the moment.

Against the background of a global economy of data collection, the EU has adopted various regulations to strengthen the rights and freedoms of citizens. These include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the laws recently passed in the European Parliament, such as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Service Act. "We are once again facing major technological upheavals, such as the increasing use of artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making systems, up to and including the use of quantum computers," emphasises ITA project manager Walter Peissl.

A new study, conducted by the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Labour, asks: How has the role of consumers changed, and how do European regulatory projects and the penetration of our everyday life with information and communication technologies influence the lives of consumers?

Click here for the project page

Further links

News: Algorithms in welfare: Social and transparent?
Podcast with ITA-researcher Astrid Mager: Hey Google! The almost limitless power of a search engine

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news-26480 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 13:19:55 +0100 Infrastructures in climate change http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/infrastrukturen-im-klimawandel Introducing: Cordula Kropp is keynote speaker at TA23 Cordula Kropp is one of the two keynote speakers at this year's TA23 Technology Assessment Conference in Vienna in June. Her keynote, titled "Infrastructures in Climate Change," (original German title "Infrastrukturen im Klimawandel") will take a closer look at the interaction of global warming with infrastructure development: 

"Infrastructures are essential switchers of societal natural relations. They are variously sociotechnically integrated and intertwined, go hand in hand as cognitive standards and technological connection constraints with interactions in all social spheres, and therefore have great persistence. Their construction, reconstruction and dismantling aims at channeling and co-designing uncertain futures. For this reason, infrastructure development projects have always been the subject of technology assessment and also transformation research. Global warming is the result of today's infrastructures, forcing their climate-responsive transformation. The goals of climate neutrality demand a fundamental transformation of growth- and efficiency-oriented infrastructure development and raise far-reaching questions - also and especially in the context of digital sector coupling, which will be opened up in the lecture."

Cordula Kropp is director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Research at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS) at the Institute of Social Sciences - Chair of Sociology with a focus on risk and technology research. 
In her research, she investigates socio-technical transformation processes such as the current infrastructure change (energy transition, mobility transition) and the possibilities of a sustainability and participation-oriented design of the changes. Special attention is paid to the increasing digital penetration of production and infrastructures and the associated opportunities and risks. What is driving the current societal transformation that is accompanied by automation processes in decision-making and production, leading to novel constellations of distributed control? How can digital, computer-based innovations be implemented in the construction sector, what quality and sustainability goals accompany the computerization of construction and robotic prefabrication, and what are the prerequisites of distributed control in the increasingly close human-machine interaction?

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news-25993 Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:45:07 +0100 Too much valuable food ends up as waste http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/too-much-valuable-food-ends-up-as-waste How can we avoid food waste? At several workshops of the EU project ToNoWaste, ongoing initiatives have already been analysed and goals for the future defined. Food waste is a major problem: according to Eurostat, around 57 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU along the entire supply chain from primary production to consumption. This causes an estimated cost of 130 billion euros. At the same time, about 36 million EU citizens cannot afford healthy food.

Which initiatives are successful? 

A team led by Mahshid Sotoudeh from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences is currently researching the global consequences of food waste as part of the EU project ToNoWaste. As a starting point, initiatives in Spain, Austria, Sweden and Greece are being studied. One thing is clear: steps must be taken by all those involved.

The project team therefore organised three workshops on the topic in Austria, the last of which took place on 23 February. Together with more than 40 experts, they discussed possible pilot projects in Austria and how they could be implemented and evaluated.

Developing pilot projects together

The fruitful exchange brought many concrete ideas on how to avoid and reduce food waste, and encouraged more contact between the different stakeholders. Researchers from Graz University of Technology, Johanneum University of Applied Sciences, IFZ and BOKU as well as representatives from the City of Graz, the Chamber of Agriculture, the Green Economy and the Austrian Armed Forces joined the discussion with representatives from supermarkets, caterers, canteen kitchens, logistics companies, AGES, Caritas, GLOBAL2000 and farmers.

Participants looked at where particular challenges in waste reduction arise, how they are interwoven and how food waste can be efficiently counteracted. It became clear that all levels of the value chain are affected and that better planning, networking and communication are needed. In addition, a survey initiated by the project team was further developed and tested with the help of the workshop results. Through this survey, the experts now hope to identify measures to reduce food waste and find out more about the potential of certain starting points.

"The three ToNoWaste workshops between December 2022 and February 2023 have shown that the expertise, commitment and networking activities in Austria support our project goals. I hope that the experts will diligently participate in the survey, which will run until mid-April, in order to jointly define pilot projects against food waste," says Sotoudeh. Especially in times of increasingly scarce resources, there is a need for awareness to consider food as "food" again and not as calculated waste, she adds.


ITA project page ToNoWaste



News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Mahshid Sotoudeh Ulrike Bechtold
news-25991 Tue, 14 Mar 2023 12:37:21 +0100 ÖAW Essay Award: Alexander Bogner on top for the 3rd time http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/oeaw-essay-award-alexander-bogner-on-top-for-the-3rd-time Fact or Fake: How do we deal with scientific scepticism?" - was the current prize question of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The three best essays have now been selected from over 140 submitted. Disinterest, prejudice and a sceptical attitude towards science are particularly pronounced in Austria in an international comparison. This has been proven by surveys such as the Eurobarometer or, most recently, the Science Barometer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW). What can be done about it? That is precisely what the ÖAW wanted to know in a publicly announced prize question: "Fact or Fake: How do we deal with scientific scepticism?"

The jury, consisting of members of the Academy, has now for the first time awarded three prizewinners ex aequo from more than 140 submissions: Joachim Allgaier, Alexander Bogner and Klaus Gourgé each receive prize money of 8,000 euros. The jury, which reviewed anonymous submissions, justified its decision by saying that there is not just one right answer to such a multi-faceted question.

ÖAW President Heinz Faßmann says: "The topic of scientific scepticism is moving, as shown by the impressively high number of entries to the current ÖAW Prize question. Three contributions stand out in particular and provide the Academy with a number of suggestions. I warmly congratulate all the prize winners."

Self-criticism as a value of science

"The soul of science is tolerance," sociologist Alexander Bogner, who conducts research at the Institute of Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, quotes legal theorist Hans Kelsen in his submission. He points out that science requires a high degree of self-criticism and self-relativisation. "Obscurantism, authoritarianism and dogmatism are not compatible with the ethos of science," Bogner writes in his essay. For: science embodies values "that promote a prosperous coexistence in modern, fragmented, pluralistic societies".

In his article, Alexander Bogner argues for public forums in order to be able to openly discuss different conflicts of values. The "readiness for genuine understanding, for shared learning, for open discourse" is what not only science, but also democracy is at its core. Bogner thus sees scepticism about science primarily as a (democratic) political problem.


The three best contributions to the prize question can be read and downloaded here (in German):

Joachim Allgaier: On the counterattack against disinformation: How do we succeed in promoting scepticism in the face of deliberately induced social scepticism about science?

Alexander Bogner: How do we deal with scientific scepticism?

Klaus Gourgé: The Birth of Science from the Spirit of Scepticism

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Alexander Bogner
news-25919 Mon, 06 Mar 2023 14:02:57 +0100 Healthy Food in the City http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/healthy-food-in-the-city Climate change and resource scarcity are making the production and quality of regional food increasingly important. The CITY.FOOD.BASKET project has investigated how regional food baskets can be promoted, examples were the Austrian cities Vienna and Graz. Food security, sustainable agriculture and bio-economy - these are some of the topics that are also integrated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. A key goal here is to sustainably supply urban areas with healthy and regional food and to make them more crisis-resistant.

In order to be able to address these challenges, Mahshid Sotoudeh from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and her team investigated within the framework of the CITY.FOOD.BASKET project how regional shopping baskets can be promoted in the future. The experts' concrete recommendations are directed at politics, production, consumers and trade.

Extra points for sustainability

"In general, it is noticeable that people in Austria are rethinking things due to climate change and global environmental pollution.They are increasingly opting for regional and organic products. The economy should take advantage of this moment and recognise the value of healthy food," emphasises Sotoudeh. One of the recommendations is therefore to strengthen civil society involvement and to promote the strong need of consumers for a personal relationship with producers.

Furthermore, the researchers recommend to regulate regional food prices, e.g. through tax concessions, compared to non-sustainable forms of production, and to promote regional economic cooperation, e.g. through quality seals, labels and product standards. The availability of regional products outside of supermarkets, for example through pick-up stations, vending machines and online shops, is also essential. The full report and detailed recommendations will appear soon.


Folder (PDF, in German): CITY.FOOD.BASKET – nahhaltig Konsumieren leicht gemacht: Regionale Warenkörbe für Interaktion, Kompetenzaufbau und Lebensmittelsicherheit

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Mahshid Sotoudeh Niklas Gudowsky
news-25882 Wed, 01 Mar 2023 14:16:13 +0100 Looking East! - Technology Assessment in Central and Eastern Europe http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/looking-east-technology-assessment-in-central-and-eastern-europe A new ITA manuscript asks: What is the state of technology assessment (TA) in Central and Eastern Europe? How can TA institutions network better and learn from each other? And is there perhaps a need for more openness in approaching each other? "Technology assessment (TA) originated in the USA, today it exists almost all over the world," says ITA Director Michael Nentwich about the rise of TA in the past four decades. "The EU project PACITA, which ran from 2011 to 2015, contributed to the further development of TA in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Bulgaria. With the GlobalTA network, we have reached out to even more international TA institutions. This new initiative now builds on these projects and focuses on the CEE region."

Promoting dialogue between policy and technology assessment

So, what are the main TA issues and approaches in Central and Eastern Europe, and which research institutes, consultancies or think tanks are involved? And what could be done to strengthen the policy discourse on the unintended socio-economic consequences of technology and innovation in this region? Are there institutions doing technology assessment that have perhaps not yet been discovered? All these questions are addressed in the current ITA manuscript. TA experts from all EU member states in this region, from Croatia to Estonia, from Poland to Romania, report on their experiences and challenges.

Co-author Titus Udrea summarises the conclusions of the study as follows: "It is important for us to have a mutual exchange - not only about the best ways to conduct TA, but also to bring politicians and TA experts into conversation with each other. Our next goal is therefore to organise Europe-wide workshops, for example within the framework of the globalTA network. What is certain is that we should continue to support this region."

Click here to download:
„Technology Assessment in Central and Eastern Europe - Status quo in 2022 and future prospects”

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA
news-25814 Wed, 22 Feb 2023 12:45:23 +0100 ITA workshop brings politics and science together http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/ita-workshop-brings-politics-and-science-together The recently published "Vienna Theses" on policy advice, co-authored by ITA researcher Alexander Bogner, are intended to form the basis for constructive policy advice. At a workshop organized by Bogner and his project team, high-ranking representatives from politics, research and the health sector discussed how evidence-based policy can succeed. Politics and science function differently. The Corona pandemic has made it clear that scientific facts do not make good policy. Stabilisation in times of crisis, it turns out, requires both: scientific expertise and political skill.

This knowledge formed the basis of the workshop that Bogner, sociologist at the Institute of Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, organised together with his colleagues Daniela Fuchs, Tanja Sinozic and Paul Buntfuß as part of the KIRAS project EPISTEMIS on 16 February 2023. Representatives from the Ministries of Science, the Interior and Health, as well as from AGES and Gesundheit Österreich were present.

Communicating through differences

"Scientists assume that politicians want rational advice. Politicians, however, want to make decisions that don’t cause too much conflict. Both sides need to understand each other's rationalities in order to be able to communicate better," stresses Bogner. In small groups, participants also discussed how different voices can be heard in policy advice and how the diversity of views and different points of view can be used constructively: “The pandemic is not just a health problem but an interconnected crisis in which social, economic and psychological aspects must also be taken into account. Different voices should also be heard. This requires an active debate between different cultures of knowledge. Opposing views must not be allowed to stand side by side in isolation."

The EPISTEMIS project has been comparing the practice of scientific policy advice in the UK, Germany and Austria since October 2021. The results will be presented in spring 2023.


ITA project: Epistemic Security – On Scientific Expertise in Chronic Crises

News: ÖAW veröffentlicht mit Leopoldina „Wiener Thesen“ (in German)

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA
news-25635 Thu, 16 Feb 2023 13:31:59 +0100 Blackout fears and Google alternatives http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/blackout-fears-and-google-alternatives The risks of a blackouts or a possible internet outage where the most heavily debated topics for ITA experts in 2022. Other media-highlights revolved, for example, around the search for Google alternatives and digitalisation in all its forms - be it AI for consumers, mobile communication or cyber security.
No power, no internet – and now what?

What happens in case of a large-scale blackout? And how would the health sector, logistics and other crucial infrastructure deal with an internet outage? In both cases, one thing is for certain: life as we know it would come to a halt. ITA-experts explored both scenarios in 2022.

In September, Jaro Krieger-Lamina and a multi-disciplinary project team, which included the BOKU Vienna, presented the findings of the multi-disciplinary project ISIDOR, a two-year analysis on what would happen in Austria when the internet dies: “Our water and the power supply would not be affected. However, other infrastructure like hospitals or logistics, would seriously suffer”, stresses Krieger-Lamina. Together with Steffen Bettin, he also presented the results of a second study on a blackout in Austria to Parliament. The study, conducted by the working group ITA/AIT (Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Austrian Institute of Technology), was commissioned by the Austrian Parliament. It provides an overview of the knowledge and the existing need for action to prevent electricity shortages or blackouts from occurring.

Search Engines – why we need alternatives to Google

Google is answering all our questions, but is far from objective. Results are ranked, commercial interests come into play. The ITA’s Astrid Mager has devoted her research to exploring what is behind the largest global search engines and analysing real alternatives for Europe. In February 2022 she presented her findings at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. ORF Online writes about her presentation: “The quality of the search results we see cannot really be measured. So, it may be that a large company is listed higher than a more helpful small site.” APA, the Austrian Press Agency, says: “Search engines are not a neutral technology. Social power relations are also inscribed in their algorithms.” Der Standard’s Alois Pumhösel finds that “you have to look for alternatives with a magnifying glass”.

AI, 5G, digital sovereignty

Other media high-lights centered around digitisation: Walter Peissl, together with the Austrian Chamber of Labor, warned of the many unanswered questions around Artificial Intelligence: “AI is not consumer-ready yet, we do not understand decision-making factors enough to monitor them appropriately.” Michael Nentwich, the director of the ITA, stressed the importance of digital sovereignty at the annual Internet Summit Austria: “We must thrive to become more independent in the area of cyber-security. We need substantial investments to strengthen our national competencies”. Karen Kastenhofer, author of the parliamentary study “5G and Health”, was quoted by Austrian newspaper “Die Kronen Zeitung” saying: “We should discuss the issue openly and examine alternatives. For example, receiving 5G via fibre optic technology. This reduces the need for electromagnetic fields, which are still poorly little researched and may have effects on living beings. It would also be a signal to the population that concerns are being taken seriously.”

ITA Top-Topics 2022

click to enlarge

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news-25606 Fri, 10 Feb 2023 12:02:00 +0100 ChatGPT: „Vor der allwissenden KI brauchen wir uns noch nicht zu fürchten“ https://www.oeaw.ac.at/news/chatgpt-vor-der-allwissenden-ki-brauchen-wir-uns-noch-nicht-zu-fuerchten ChatGPT ist in aller Munde und steht im Kreuzfeuer der Kritik. Alles nur ein Hype? Oder kann der Chatbot tatsächlich die Welt verändern? ÖAW-Technikfolgen-Experte Stefan Strauß ist jedenfalls überzeugt: Statt Ängsten und Verboten brauchen wir mehr Medienkompetenz im Umgang mit den neuen Technologien. News Startseite_DE OpenTA news-25541 Wed, 08 Feb 2023 11:12:48 +0100 Are Austrians really not believing in the science? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/are-austrians-really-not-believing-in-the-science Surveys are not everything when it comes to explaining scepticism about science. Participation of citizens in science and the right communication in the right place are essential to convey the value of science, emphasise ÖAW experts at the Joint Academy Day. On 1 February, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW) and the German Leopoldina held a "Joint Academy Day" to discuss the current challenges of science communication from the perspectives of science and the media. On the panel were ITA researcher Alexander Bogner together with Matthias Karmasin (CMD-OEAW), Eva Stanzl from the newspaper Wiener Zeitung and Michael Hallek, Christoph M. Schmidt and Ricarda Winkelmann from the Leopoldina.

A struggle for values

For Alexander Bogner, the scepticism of Austrians towards science cannot be clearly measured by surveys like the Eurobarometer: "We ask people whether they trust science, but we don't know what exactly we are measuring on the basis of their answers. We don't even know what these people think of when they hear the term 'science'." The protests during the Corona pandemic had deeper causes than a mere rejection of science, Bogner continues: "People protest when they feel their identity or political beliefs are threatened by science's explanations. They associate values and views with science that are not theirs," says Bogner.

Understanding through participation

For Bogner, a lot of research is still needed for the causes of science scepticism: "It is not just about the public understanding everything that research says, but about communicating the values of science, namely openness and critical faculties. Citizen Science, the participation of citizens, enables a rapprochement, an understanding of how science works."

For Mathias Karmasin it is not about more but about the right communication. "I have to think about who I address and what language I use. The public does not differentiate on as many levels as scientists often do. What messages are important? That’s something we have to negotiate before we pass them on." Events such as the Children's University or the Long Night of Research have an important function in the transfer of knowledge, Karmasin said.

Watch the panel discussion "New challenges for science communication" (in German) here on Youtube.

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA
news-25496 Thu, 02 Feb 2023 20:35:05 +0100 Interview: What can advisors to politicians learn from the Corona crisis? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/interview-what-can-advisors-to-politicians-learn-from-the-corona-crisis Alexander Bogner, co-author of the "Vienna Theses on Policy Advice" and sociologist at ITA, says in an interview with Radio Ö1: "Science should enable the autonomy of politics". On the occasion of the Joint Academy Day of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW) and the German Leopoldina on 1 February 2023, during which the "Vienna Theses" on successful scientific policy advice were presented and discussed, ITA sociologist Alexander Bogner emphasises the importance of independent policy that relies on scientific advice in an interview with the The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bogner recently published a book with renown publisher Reclam “Die Epistemisierung des Politischen” and is a Senior Scientist at the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In the Ö1 interview he sums up the role of policy advice in the pandemic.

Science not an excuse for politicians

"Scientific policy advice has become professionalised in Austria in a very short time, the highlight being the establishment of the Gecko Commission in December 2021. That was an attempt to centralise advice so that policy-makers have a single point of contact. But there were problems in the process, from both sides," Bogner says in the interview.

On the one hand, policy-makers sometimes instrumentalised scientific recommendations to legitimise preconceived decisions. "On the other hand, we have also seen that science has begun to play politics. When recommendations are formulated as political appeals, this is also problematic," says Bogner.

Ultimately, however, it is about learning from mistakes, he says. The Vienna Theses on Policy Advice are intended to provide guidelines for reflection: "This also means that science should ensure that not all the burden of justification is lifted from politics. Policy-makers should explain why they have decided to take which measures based on which considerations.

Evidence-based policy is also advisable in other areas, such as education or migration, says Bogner.

News English Starseite_EN OpenTA
news-25467 Wed, 01 Feb 2023 08:51:50 +0100 Recycling of precious plastics http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/recycling-von-wertvollen-kunststoffen New NanoTrust dossier examining marker materials and spectroscopic methods for sorting plastic waste. Modern waste sorting systems are automated, sensor-based sorting systems and capable of separating some commercially available plastics. However, many technical plastics, including highly valuable ones such as polyoxymethylene used in the production of molded parts by injection molding, are not detected and recognized in this process and thus are not sent to a recycling process.

Special marker materials can be incorporated into plastics in such a way that they could be detected by spectroscopic methods and thus sorted. As recycling rates are still too low in many EU countries, this method is intended to help meet the recycling targets of the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan.

However, the large-scale use of marker materials, for example for inexpensive bulk plastics in the packaging industry, still has a catch: the high price! Therefore, the greatest potential for marker-based sorting lies in the area of expensive, technical plastics, such as those in waste electrical equipment.

More on the topic in NanoTrust Dossier 60 by Christoph Olscher, Aleksander Jandric, Christian Zafiu, Anna Pavlicek and Florian Part.

News English NanoTrust News Starseite_EN Nanotechnologien
news-25414 Thu, 26 Jan 2023 13:16:08 +0100 "Für Abgeordnete ist Zeit Mangelware" https://www.oeaw.ac.at/news/wie-wissenschaftliche-politikberatung-funktionieren-kann Wie funktioniert Politikberatung? Im ÖAW-Interview erzählt ITA-Direktor Michael Nentwich was es braucht, um Abgeordnete des Parlaments in allen Fragen, die der wissenschaftlich-technische Fortschritt mit sich bringt, mit Wissen zu versorgen. Wie lässt sich algorithmische Diskriminierung verhindern? Was machen wir bei einem großflächigen Internetausfall? Droht uns tatsächlich bald ein Blackout? Es sind Fragen wie diese mit denen sich das Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW) auseinandersetzt. Auf diese Expertise setzt auch das österreichische Parlament. Forscher:innen der ÖAW unterstützen den Nationalrat in den Bereichen Foresight und Technikfolgenabschätzung – und diese Zusammenarbeit wurde kürzlich mit einem neuen Kooperationsvertrag gefestigt.

Über die Rolle der parlamentarischen Technikfolgenabschätzung und die spezifischen Herausforderungen, konkrete politische Entscheidungen zum Umgang mit dem wissenschaftlich-technischen Fortschritt beratend zu begleiten, spricht Michael Nentwich, Direktor des Instituts für Technikfolgenabschätzung der ÖAW, im Interview.

Warum wird es immer wichtiger, über die gesellschaftlichen Auswirkungen von technologischen Entwicklungen Bescheid zu wissen?

Michael Nentwich: Über die Folgen des Einsatzes von Technik nachzudenken war und ist wesentlich. Technologien und Gesellschaft beeinflussen sich wechselseitig. In den vergangenen Jahrzehnten konnten wir beobachten, wie unser Alltag, unsere Wirtschaft, ja alle Bereiche unseres Lebens immer mehr von Technik durchdrungen werden. Daher müssen wir in Zukunft noch mehr als bisher auf systemische Effekte schauen und auch die Wechselwirkungen zwischen unterschiedlichen Technologien untersuchen.

Ein Beispiel, bitte?

Nentwich: Zu Beginn der Entwicklung der Telekommunikation, also in der Ära des Festnetztelefons mit hohen Verbindungsentgelten, war Telefonieren ein Luxus. Heute ist das Mobiltelefon unser täglicher Begleiter, elektronische Kommunikation ist billig geworden. Allein am Smartphone hat jede:r von uns zahlreiche Kanäle gleichzeitig zur Verfügung, nicht nur Telefonie, auch E-Mail, Chats, SMS, Soziale Medien usw.

Das hat nicht nur unser persönliches Kommunikationsverhalten stark verändert, sondern hat auch Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft als Ganzes: Die neuen Arten zu kommunizieren nehmen viel Zeit in Anspruch, die damit nicht mehr für anderes zur Verfügung steht. Was das langfristig bedeutet, wäre ein typisches Thema für die Technikfolgenabschätzung, ebenso wie die Folgen für unsere Privatsphäre oder der zunehmende Einfluss der Algorithmen auf unser Leben.

Wie kann die Forschung hier die Politik bei der Gestaltung des sozio-technischen Wandels unterstützen?

Nentwich: Forschung kann einerseits spezifische Wissenslücken schließen. Andererseits gibt es in der Wissenschaft zu vielen Themen schon sehr viel Wissen. Technikfolgenabschätzung bereitet das vorhandene Wissen für die Politik auf. Das bedeutet, dass wir den Stand des Wissens erheben, Wissenslücken aufzeigen und auf dieser Basis Schlussfolgerungen ziehen, diese Ergebnisse in einer zugänglichen Sprache, also nicht in Fachchinesisch, darstellen und darauf aufbauend Handlungsoptionen für die Politik erarbeiten.

Welche waren die größten Herausforderungen in Ihrer langjährigen Zusammenarbeit mit dem österreichischen Parlament?

Nentwich: Für Abgeordnete ist Zeit Mangelware. Wir als wissenschaftliche Berater:innen müssen daher um Aufmerksamkeit und Gesprächszeit ringen. Und wenn wir in einer Besprechung mit Abgeordneten und ihren Mitarbeiter:innen sind, gilt es, rasch auf den Punkt zu kommen und die richtige „Sprache“ zu sprechen. Das ist eine ständige Herausforderung, selbst dann, wenn man damit wie wir viel Erfahrung hat.

Dazu kommt noch, dass die thematischen Zuständigkeiten im Parlament nicht langfristig konstant sind und der Neubeginn einer Legislaturperiode immer auch bedeutet, dass wir es mit neuen Personen und deren Backgrounds zu tun haben.
Internationales Netzwerk

Wie sieht die Zusammenarbeit mit Parlamenten im internationalen Vergleich aus?

Nentwich: Seit den 1990er-Jahren besteht das Netzwerk European Parliamentary Technology Assessment, kurz EPTA. Mittlerweile zählt es 26 Mitglieder, darunter auch einige außereuropäische wie etwa Argentinien. EPTA ist sehr aktiv, man trifft sich mindestens zweimal im Jahr zum Austausch und erarbeitet gemeinsam Berichte.

Die Zusammenarbeit dieser Einrichtungen mit ihrem jeweiligen Parlament ist höchst unterschiedlich. Teils sind sie direkt im Parlament angesiedelt, in der Parlamentsverwaltung, meist im wissenschaftlichen Dienst oder in der Bibliothek. Teils handelt es sich um externe Einheiten, die ausschließlich für das Parlament arbeiten, wie zum Beispiel in Deutschland; andere sind so wie unser Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung neben dem Parlament auch für andere Institutionen tätig oder betreiben daneben auch Grundlagenforschung.

Was braucht es, damit diese Zusammenarbeit gelingen kann?

Nentwich: Zusammenarbeit an der Schnittstelle zwischen Politik und Wissenschaft ist sehr voraussetzungsvoll. Es braucht Qualitätszeit und damit die Bereitschaft, sich aufeinander einzulassen. Es braucht eine verständliche Sprache, Fachsprache ist kontraproduktiv. Es braucht von Seiten der Wissenschaft, konkret der Technikfolgenabschätzung, ein Gespür dafür, was für Politiker:innen relevant sein wird. Und es benötigt gegenseitiges Vertrauen. Die Wissenschafter:innen müssen darauf vertrauen, dass sie nicht politisch missbraucht oder missinterpretiert werden, und die Politiker:innen darauf, dass die Wissenschafter:innen nach bestem Wissen und Gewissen, also ohne Eigeninteressen, ohne politische Schlagseite und nur auf Basis wissenschaftlich fundierter Ergebnisse beraten. Die Technikfolgenabschätzung ist vor vierzig Jahren genau mit diesem Anspruch angetreten: interdisziplinär, multiperspektivisch und unabhängig.

News Startseite_DE OpenTA Michael Nentwich
news-25389 Wed, 25 Jan 2023 10:28:09 +0100 Wissenschafts­kommunikation in Zeiten der multiplen Krise https://www.oeaw.ac.at/detail/veranstaltung/wissenschaftskommunikation-in-zeiten-der-multiplen-krise Die ÖAW und die Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina laden zu einem "Joint Academy Day" ein, am Podium mit diskutiert u.a. Alexander Bogner vom ITA. News Startseite_DE OpenTA news-25339 Thu, 19 Jan 2023 12:35:58 +0100 Press Conference: Foresight and Technology Assessment for the Austrian Parliament http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/press-conference-foresight-and-technology-assessment-for-the-austrian-parliament ITA Director Michael Nentwich and National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka presented innovations, FID Committee Chairman Hafenecker (FPÖ) looks forward to "fast and flexible" cooperation. The Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW) will continue to provide Parliament with expertise from foresight and technology assessment. At a press conference in the recently reopened Parliament building, National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka, the Chairman of the Committee on Research, Innovation and Digitisation Christian Hafenecker (FPÖ), the Director of the Institute of Technology Assessment Michael Nentwich and Parliamentary Director Harald Dossi presented the scientists' support and contributions for legislation.

National Council President Sobotka underlined the desire of all parliamentary groups to continue the project. He said that it showed that the members of parliament put their faith in evidence-based consultation.

For Michael Nentwich it was a "joyful day": "The fact that the Austrian Parliament has decided to perpetuate scientific advice on technology assessment issues is very good news. All the more so because today science and its findings are often called into question. It is reassuring and gratifying that Parliament is backing evidence-based policy. Today is therefore a good day for scientific policy advice, for Austrian politics, for Austria."

OEAW President Heinz Faßmann offered greetings: "Whether climate, migration, energy, or artificial intelligence - our MPs are faced with many legal decisions. Scientific knowledge is of great importance in this context. The Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences can provide information, explanations and background knowledge for selected factual issues in each case and thus support the members of the National Council in their often also difficult work in the best possible scientific way."

Short studies and international networking as focal points

Among the new services that his institute will offer the Parliament in future, Nentwich listed international comparative analyses and "very short studies" that can be commissioned by MPs for quick, well-founded decision-making within a short period of time.

Research Committee Chairman Hafenecker emphasised: "This scientific tool will enable politicians to make even more well-founded decisions with regard to technical developments and their social impact. Be it in the legislative process or in the handling of tax money". With the help of the expertise from the Institute of Technology Assessment, policymakers have the "state of the art knowledge" in dealing with current challenges. He therefore wanted to give the ITA reports even more space in the meetings of his committee.

Scientific know-how for evidence-based policy-making

The institutionalisation of scientific advice in research, technology and innovation policy in Parliament aims to provide all parliamentarians with external scientific support in these areas. Since 2017, the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) has provided semi-annual reports on relevant scientific and technological as well as related societal developments.

The first monitoring report within the new framework contract will be published in May 2023. A more attractive presentation on the Parliament's web portal features improved filter and search options. The advisory board for foresight and technology assessment in parliament - consisting of the parliamentary director and one member of each parliamentary club - or committees (parliamentary group chairpersons) can also issue their own study assignments by consensus. Complex technological and societal challenges such as climate change, demographic change or resource scarcity are dealt with.

In addition to the biannual monitoring, four studies have been commissioned so far: Intermediate Storage of the Future for Electric Energy (2019), 5G Mobile Communications and Health (2020), Cybersecurity: Systematisation, State of Research and Innovation Potentials (2021) and Secure Power Supply and Blackout Prevention in Austria (2022), all of which are available in German only.


All topics from the previous monitoring as well as the commissioned studies are available on the parliamentary website (Language: German)

ITA project page: Monitoring for the Austrian Parliament

"ITA-ÖAW erhält Zuschlag für Foresight und Technikfolgenabschätzung für das Parlament" - Parliamentary Correspondence, 19.01.2023


News English Starseite_EN OpenTA Denise Riedlinger Walter Peissl Thomas Bayer Michael Nentwich
news-25021 Mon, 12 Dec 2022 16:09:17 +0100 How “social” are algorithms in welfare? http://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/news-1/how-social-are-algorithms-in-welfare Automated processes promise more services and less costs. In sensitive areas such as welfare, the use of algorithms could bring disadvantages for people. In a new project, eight EU countries including Austria compare automation in their welfare state systems. Data-based infrastructures are becoming increasingly important in public administration. In the welfare sector, partial automations are expected not only to reduce costs, but also to distribute welfare state services more effectively. Algorithms and the analysis of citizen data are supposed to help. But how does this affect the relationship between citizens and the state? And how will the welfare state change as a result?

Transparency and social justice in the first place

"In Austria and other European countries, decisions on the allocation of social benefits are increasingly being partially automated. Many of these systems have failed because they reinforce social inequalities. Others are still in use although their effects are completely non-transparent to the public", says Doris Allhutter from the ITA of the Austrian Academy of Sciences about the European efforts to date to achieve improvements in performance in this area.

The project Automating Welfare - Algorithmic Infrastructures for Human Flourishing in Europe, or Auto-Welf for short, is researching the effects of welfare automation in the area of core welfare state services, such as employment services, health care and the provision of social services. But it also explores the idea of community welfare in the context of so-called smart city and smart village initiatives. Eight European countries, specifically Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Sweden have different welfare models and initiatives to automate social services. "Auto-Welf is the first research project to investigate automated decision-making in different European welfare systems. We analyse how it affects social justice, equity and the well-being of citizens in Europe."

AUTO-WELF project page


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