Together with the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, Freie Universität Berlin and Deutsches Haus at NYU, Technische Universität Berlin hosted the symposium “Critical Stances towards AI: For a Critical and Self-Determined Approach to Digital Technology” in honor of what would have been Joseph Weizenbaum’s 100th birthday.
On this very occasion, the three partners traveled to the USA - Joseph Weizenbaum's adopted home - to discuss topics he was deeply engaged with and thus promoted the transatlantic discourse on Weizenbaum and his influential work.
Over a period of two days, researchers from the Weizenbaum Institute and various North American institutions addressed questions concerning the role of humans in AI as well as the role algorithmic platforms play for information in digital societies. Additionally, they looked at an analysis of hypergiants in the internet ecosystem and discussed the issue of AI development and usage from both social and environmental perspectives.
The symposium was targeted at alumni of the universities and non university research institutions which are involved in the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society: Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK), Universität Potsdam (UP), as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS) and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB).
The keynote speech on Thursday, 28 September was open to the general public.
The Weizenbaum Institute is a joint project of five universities - among them TU Berlin and FU Berlin - and two non university research institutions in Berlin and Brandenburg funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The Institute takes its name from the German-American computer science pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum (1923 – 2008), who critically examined the relationship between human beings and machines. His call for a responsible use of technology is emblematic of the work of the Weizenbaum Institute: studying and shaping the internet and digitalisation for the good of society.
|12.00 - 12.30||Arrival|
|12.30 - 1.00||Welcome and introduction|
Juliane Camfield, Deutsches Haus at NYU
Ricarda Opitz, Weizenbaum Institute
Juliane Wilhelm, TU Berlin's Alumni Program
Jan Lüdert, German Center for Research and Innovation New York
|1.00 - 2.30||Panel 1: "Algorithmic platforms and information quality"|
This panel approaches the role algorithmic platforms like social media and messenger services play in the spread of verified and unverified information in digital societies.
Felicia Loecherbach, New York University
Jeff Allen, Integrity Institute
Jakob Ohme, Weizenbaum Institute
|2.30 - 3.00||Coffee Break|
|3.00 - 4.30||Panel 2: "Platforms, Ecosystems, and Our Digital Future – Regulatory Policies for the Digital Economy"|
In this session, we explore the complex terrain of policy challenges that arise as we navigate our way towards a digital future. By adopting an economic viewpoint, we delve into the roles of hypergiant corporations, their platforms, and ecosystems within the digital economy. We engage in a comprehensive discussion about their effects on competition and innovation, while considering the pertinent implications for regulatory policy measures and the efforts taken in the US and the EU.
William Lehr, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Pinar Yildirim, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Volker Stocker, Weizenbaum Institute
|4.30 - 5.00||Coffee Break|
|5.00 - 6.30||Keynote Speech "Towards a Techno-Feminist Refusal" by Sarah Sharma, University of Toronto (open to the general public)|
|6.30 - 7.30||Transfer to restaurant|
|7.30 - 10.00||Symposium Dinner|
|8.30 - 9.00||Arrival|
|9.00 - 10.00||Panel 3: "Joseph Weizenbaum: Past and Present of Critical Thinking on AI"|
In the year that Joseph Weizenbaum would have turned 100, a number of scholars have joined forces to examine his professional life as a scientist and public intellectual, his work, and his intellectual environments. Christian Strippel and Magnus Rust will provide insights into the archival work and present initial findings, loose ends, and open questions of that research. Since then, the development and proliferation of artificial neural network algorithms has multiplied many times, and has become embedded in a wide range of technologies. Hannah Fitsch and Alexandra Keiner will re-examine Weizenbaum's Critique of Instrumental Reason and highlight what kind of decisions can be made by AI and what epistemological premises are embedded in them.
Christian Strippel, Weizenbaum Institute
Magnus Rust, University of Basel
Alexandra Keiner, Weizenbaum Institute
Hannah Fitsch, TU Berlin
|10.00 - 11.30||Panel 4: "Certainly no computer can be made to confront genuine human problems in human terms"|
When Joseph Weizenbaum wrote these words, probably his focus was not primarily on human-made ecological problems; rather he thought of the impact new technologies have on individuals and societies. In recent years, however, resource consumption and reckless human behavior toward the environment have become equally significant drivers of the societal discourse in the digitalization context. In this panel, we will critically reflect on the issue of AI development and usage from both social and environmental perspectives. Also, we intend to devote a forward-looking discussion to sensitization of individuals and societies and formulate competency requirements for empowering a self-determined and sustainable behavior of designers and users. This step indeed is critical to the creation of a mutual and prospering coexistence.
André Ullrich, Weizenbaum Institute
Gergana Vladova, Weizenbaum Institute
Dave Rejeski, Environmental Law Institute
Caroline Woolard, Open Collective
|11.30 - 12.00||Coffee Break|
|12.00 - 1.30||Panel 5: "The labor that fuels AI"|
This conversation will explore the crucial role of human workers in the AI industry. We will delve into the labor-intensive tasks involved in producing data, training models, verifying algorithmic outputs, and also shed light on a lesser known aspect: the need for human workers to impersonate AI systems.
Milagros Miceli, Weizenbaum Institute
Julian Posada, Yale University
Adriana Alvarado, IBM Research
|1.30 - 3.00||Wrap-up, Farewell and Lunch|
|3.00 - 5.30/5.45||Guided Walking Tour (optional):|
"Jewish life in New York City: German-Jewish emigration to the USA in the years 1933-1945"
The symposium was targeted at alumni of the universities and non university research institutions which are involved in the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society: Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK), Universität Potsdam (UP), as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS) and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). The keynote speech on Thursday, 28 September is open to the general public.
The event venue was Deutsches Haus at NYU, 42 Washington Mews (corner of University Place) New York, NY 10003.
The registration deadline was 24 September 2023.
Should have any questions please contact TU Berlin's Alumni Team at alumni(at)tu-berlin.de.