Digital Futures - exciting insights at the European TA conference

From July 25 to 27, the international tech assessment community met in Karlsruhe to discuss the digital transformation and its challenges for politics, society, economy, environment and research. The ITA was represented with Doris Allhutter's keynote on discrimination through algorithms and other presentations, the event was hosted by ITAS, our German partner organization.

Titus Udrea answers questions about his presentation on the state of technology assessment in Central and Eastern Europe. (Photo: ITAS)

"It was a wonderfully organized, exciting event that offered the opportunity to look beyond the European TA perspective," says a visibly enthusiastic Titus Udrea, who is one of the researchers from the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of sciences on location. In one of his three talks, he presented a tool for AI startups which was co-developed by the ITA: "Startups are mostly about production and profit, but when AI comes into play, ethical aspects must also be included. A self-assessment tool will help companies answer essential questions and address unknown risks in a timely manner," he explained.

Star author Payal Arora gave the opening keynote

The three-day event was kicked off by Payal Arora, author of the book "The Next Billion Users" (Harvard Press), with a keynote on inclusive design: "I'm interested in what understanding of privacy and identity young people have who have grown up with AI. I see my role as exploring what people's needs and requirements are for technology," she says in an interview with TATuP.

The two other keynotes were given by Jeanette Hoffmann (Free University Berlin), who analysed the concept of democracy from the perspective of self-learning machines, and ITA researcher Doris Allhutter. In her talk, Allhutter presented the problem of discrimination when entire social classes, such as people who are not employed or those with low incomes, are categorized by algorithms.

People and machines

Technology researcher Mahshid Sotoudeh from the ITA emphasizes the importance of transdisciplinarity in regulating digitization: "We need to look at societal challenges beyond disciplines. Take the topic of distance learning, for example: it's not just about technical innovations, but also about social aspects of learning as a core function in society, and about criteria for the fair assessment of performance.

Also participating from the ITA were Steffen Bettin with a presentation on the side effects and risks of the energy transition and Stefan Strauß with a presentation on Deep Automation Bias and Critical AI Literacy. "AI brings new forms of automation. Understanding this new automation and managing its risks for our future requires more problem awareness. Critical AI literacy is therefore essential," Strauß said.