Many stakeholders in the economic, scientific, political and civil society sectors in
Germany have voiced their interest in discourse on ADM and its importance to participation. The “Atlas of Automation“ online database introduces about 30 of these actors.
It is difficult to clearly define the German stakeholders that are relevant to participation. This is partly due to the fact that a greater part of the debate on ADM takes place under the wider term “AI”. Particularly in the US, the “ethics of artificial intelligence“, which covers a lot more than just ADM, draws much attention. Leaders in this debate are not only from large tech companies, but also from scientific institutions and non-profit organizations that are often endowed with large sums of grant money from foundations. Within this mélange the strategic interests that guide individual actors are not always easily identified. A study published in 2018 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University in the UK [LINK] is worth your attention: The authors found that reporting on ADM is mainly shaped by the industry and their statements are rarely scrutinized. Even though the study only examined the British media sector, there is little indication that the situation is any different in Germany.
Industry associations like the German Association for IT, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom), the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW) and corporations such as Deutsche Telekom AG, Google and Facebook all have their own viewpoint and regularly lobby on the subject of automation and participation – and they often use the keyword “Artificial Intelligence”. Further actors are the TÜV companies (on the issue of certification) and the Initiative D21 association. This initiative is a non-profit network that deals with ethical questions concerning automation. Members consist mainly of companies that operate in the digital sphere.
INTERFACE BETWEEN POLITICS, SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
A great number of organizations which are active at the interface between politics and industry are often financed by both sides. Among them are the platforms “Learning Systems” (on the issue of AI applications) and “Industry 4.0” (on intelligent interlinking and industrial automation) which are operated by the National Academy of Science and Engineering (Acatech) and sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. In addition, some Fraunhofer Institutes, which are also state funded, provide commissioned research for the industry (on issues such as health and camera surveillance).
In the “AI strategy” published by the German federal government at the end of 2018 there are many sections that touch more or less directly on the subject of ADM that is relevant to participation. Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (“Labour 4.0“), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, are all obliged to follow the AI strategy, and can all be considered actors in the field of ADM relevant to participation. Noteworthy political bodies are the Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs (Sachverständigenrat für Verbraucherfragen – SVRV – with its main topic “Consumers in the Digital World”), the Data Ethics Commission of the German government (which in the past has also commented on issues of autonomous driving), as well as the Study Commission “Artificial Intelligence – Social Re-sponsibility and Economic Potential”. Last but not least, Germany’s political parties related to various degrees on the discourse around ADM and participation through their policies on digitalization, parliamentary initiatives, and through their respective party-affiliated foundations.
All aspects of ADM and participation are mirrored in a great variety of research institutes and projects run by scientific organizations and foundations. The Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, founded in 2017, distinguishes itself with its interdisciplinary orientation in the field of ADM and participation. Another exemplary institution is the Hans-Bredow-Institute in Hamburg with its communication research on platforms (Intermediaries) and the trade union affiliated Hans-Böckler-Foundation which manages the research association “Digitalization,
Co-Determination, Good Labour” in which AlgorithmWatch is also taking part.
The Bertelsmann Foundation can certainly be seen as a major player in the civil society sector: It started the “Ethics of Algorithms” project in 2017 to independently work on topics and commission third parties with studies and papers on legal issues or key topics. AlgorithmWatch, the organization behind the current Atlas, receives structural funding through this project of the Bertelsmann Foundation while remaining independent in its work. Apart from the Bertelsmann Foundation, NGOs and other organizations from the sector of digital policy such as the Society for Computer Science (Gesellschaft für Informatik) or the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) also address ADM related to participation.
Among the trade unions, the United Services Trade Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft – ver.di) is the one which most intensively deals with digitalization and auto-mation in the field of labor, and thus also with ADM related to participation.
In the spring of 2019, the iRights Lab and the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s “Ethics of Algorithms” project presented a list of criteria that must be observed, to enable and facilitate the socially beneficial design and verification of algorithmic systems. The criteria, which were published under the title “Algo.Rules”, serve as a basis for ethical considerations and for the implementation and enforcement of legal frameworks. There is a plan to develop them in the future and the cooperation of interested parties is welcome.
The programmatic headings under which Algo.Rules groups the criteria are as follows: 1. Strengthen competency 2. Define responsibilities 3. Document goals and anticipated impact 4. Guarantee security 5. Provide labelling. 6. Ensure intelligibility 7. Safeguard manageability 8. Monitor impact. 9. Establish complaint mechanisms.