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ENS Professor Ulrike Klinger among Thomas Mann Fellows 2024

The 2024 cohort connects intellectuals addressing the vulnerability of democracy

Ulrike Klinger, Professor for Digital Democracy at the European New School of Digital Studies / European University Viadrina, will be one of thirteen Thomas Mann Fellows in 2024. In the context of the 2024 election year in the United States, the Fellows will explore issues of democracy and vulnerability. During their stays of several months at the former exile residence of the Mann family, the Thomas Mann House, they will work on their projects in exchange with US experts and the public.

Ulrike Klinger will take a transatlantic perspective on the 2024 election campaigns. In 2024, there will be elections for a new European Parliament in May and U.S. presidential and congressional elections in November. Her project will focus on actors and allegations that challenge the legitimacy of elections themselves, on election fraud campaigns and disinformation about the electoral process.

The Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles is a lively place for transatlantic debate, where outstanding personalities and innovative thinkers explore fundamental political, social, and cultural issues and concerns facing our world today and in the coming years. The Thomas Mann Fellowships enable academics, pioneering thinkers, and intellectuals who live, or have lived, in Germany to tackle the pressing challenges of our time and to foster the intellectual and cultural exchange between Germany and the United States. For a complete list of the 2024 Fellows, click here

Ulrike Klinger joined ENS as Professor for Digital Democracy in October 2020. She is also Associated Researcher at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin. Before joining ENS, she was Professor for Digital Communication at Freie Universität Berlin and head of the research group on “News, campaigns and the rationality of public discourse” at the Weizenbaum Institute. Her research focuses on political communication, the transformation of digital publics, and the role of technologies in democratic societies.

Workshop: Legal and technical challenges of large generative AI models

4-5 July 2023, Geneva / online. Co-organized by ENS Professor Philipp Hacker

Large Generative AI Models, such as ChatGPT, GPT-4 or Stable Diffusion, are revolutionizing the way we communicate, create, and work. They are rapidly and profoundly impacting all sectors of society, from business development to medicine, from education to research, and from coding to the arts. Like many other transformative technologies, they offer enormous potential, but may also carry significant risks regarding, inter alia, opacity, bias, or fake news.

Against this background, the workshop brings together leading scholars to discuss the far-reaching technical, legal, regulatory and social implications of recent advances in generative AI systems.

It is organized by Professor Sarah Hammer (University of Pennsylvania Law School, USA) and Professor Philipp Hacker (ENS / European University Viadrina). The organizers acknowledge the generous support of the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.

ENS Research Seminar with Professor Brent Mittelstadt from Oxford

Tuesday, 13 June 2023, 4:15 PM: Join via Zoom!

We are proud to welcome another special guest to our ENS Research Seminar: Next Tuesday, 13 June at 4:15 PM, you will be able to listen to one of the most renowned researchers in the field of AI ethics, Professor Brent Mittelstadt from the University of Oxford. His lecture "The Unfairness of Machine Learning: Levelling down and strict egalitarianism by default" will be held in a hybrid format - everyone is welcome to join via Zoom.

In recent years, fairness in machine learning (ML) has emerged as a highly active area of research and development. In this talk, Professor Mittelstadt will examine the causes and prevalence of levelling down across fair machine learning and explore possible justifications and criticisms based on philosophical and legal theories of equality and distributive justice, as well as equality law jurisprudence. He will propose a first step towards substantive equality in fair machine learning: "levelling up" systems by design through enforcement of minimum acceptable harm thresholds, or "minimum rate constraints," as fairness constraints.

Professor Brent Mittelstadt is the Oxford Internet Institute’s Director of Research, an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow. He founded the Governance of Emerging Technologies (GET) research programme which works across ethics, law, and emerging information technologies. He is a leading data ethicist and philosopher specializing in AI ethics, professional ethics, and technology law and policy. He currently leads the Trustworthiness Auditing for AI project which looks across ethics, law, computer science, and psychology to determine how to create and maintain trustworthy AI systems.

His research stay at the ENS is part of the ENS fellowship program "Datafication in European Societies" funded by the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.

[Photo source: University of Oxford]

Migle Bareikyte appointed Assistant Professor for Digital Studies at ENS

We are happy to share the news that Migle Bareikyte has joined the ENS team as Professor for Digital Studies. The media scholar conducts research on situated phenomena of digitalization, including algorithmic-driven work, digital aspects of war and accountability, and a focus on Eastern Europe.

Migle Bareikyte studied "Communication and Information Studies" in Vilnius, Lithuania, and completed a master's degree in "Social and Political Critical Studies" in Kaunas. She also studied Media and Communication Studies at Freie Universität Berlin until 2015. The development of digitalization in Eastern Europe has become her research focus at least since she received her doctorate. At Leuphana University of Lüneburg, she had studied Internet infrastructures in post-socialist Lithuania as part of her doctoral thesis at the DFG Research Training Group "Cultures of Critique" and completed her work in 2020 with "magna cum laude".

Shortly before Russia expanded its war against Ukraine in February 2022, Migle Bareikyte was at the Center for Urban History in Lviv for a research stay. "The digital dimension of war has been one of my research topics ever since," she says. She is concerned with various war-related practices in social media, as well as digital ways of recording and exploring war experiences. Together with researchers in and from Ukraine, such as the Center for Urban History of East and Central Europe in Lviv, as well as other countries, she is researching and developing methods to examine war-related content on social media. "This collaborative work is very important to me and I am very happy to now become part of the European University Viadrina," she says shortly after the appointment by Viadrina President Professor Eva Kocher.

Students will be able to meet her in her first semester in a seminar on disinformation, among other things.

[Photo Credits: Heide Fest]

Webinar: How ChatGPT will change the Classroom

31 March 2023: ENS staff and students among panelists

Are you wondering about the future of technologies like ChatGPT in the classroom? Then this upcoming AI for Good webinar is for you!

On 31 March 2023 from 2-4PM, you can join leading #AI experts, researchers and students for first-hand insights and vivid discussions on the pros and cons of this cutting-edge language model. Panelists include Professor Sandra Wachter from Oxford University, ENS Professor Philipp Hacker as well as two of our Master of Digital Entrepreneurship (MoDE) students. 

The live session includes a 30-minute networking event hosted on the AI for Good Neural Network. This is your opportunity to ask questions, interact with the panelists and participants and build connections with the AI for Good community.

Particpiation is free for everyone interested - just make sure to register beforehand.

Professor Jan-Hendrik Passoth Appointed New ENS Director

Professor Jan-Hendrik Passoth is the new Director of the European New School of Digital Studies. Following the nomination by the European University Viadrina's Academic Senate, he was appointed by Viadrina President Professor Eva Kocher on 26 January 2023.

Professor Jan-Hendrik Passoth succeeds Professor Jürgen Neyer, who had headed the ENS since its foundation in November 2020 when it was jointly initiated by the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan.

Viadrina President Professor Eva Kocher: "Jürgen Neyer has confidently led the European New School through its founding phase in the midst of the Corona pandemic and has played a decisive role in shaping it. I would like to thank him for his extraordinary commitment, which goes far back to the time before the founding. Since 2020, we have successfully enrolled three cohorts of students. About 100 young people from 37 countries are currently studying at ENS and we had our first alumni last year. I am convinced that we have found an excellent new leader in Jan-Hendrik Passoth."

Jan-Hendrik Passoth is Professor for Sociology of Technology and heading the "Science & Technology Studies" group at ENS. His research focuses on the role of digital infrastructures in democracy and politics, software development as a responsible social practice and possibilities of intervention in and criticism of digitalization projects through critical design.

Fake News & Disinformation: Public Lecture with Prof. Dariusz Jemielniak

24 February 2023, Fürstenwalde (Spree)

Disinformation has surrounded us not only since the pandemic. But how are myths created? Why do they work so well? And who is vulnerable to them? These are the questions addressed in a public lecture in Fürstenwalde (Festsaal, Markt 1, 15517 Fürstenwalde/Spree) on Friday, 24 February 2023, 6 PM. Professor Dariusz Jemielniak of Kozminski University in Warsaw and former ENS fellow, will give insights into his research and latest developments.

The event will take place in English with a simultaneous translation into German being provided. Participation is free – please register online. After the presentation, participants are invited to ask questions and discuss the topic further.

Dariusz Jemielniak has been involved in online knowledge sharing research over the past 15 years. More recently, he has been studying misinformation within three large grant projects on medical misinformation, climate change denialism, as well as misinformation bot detection. He holds a professorship of Management in Networked and Digital Societies at Kozminski University in Warsaw and is a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

How does TikTok tick? - donate your data to support research!

2nd round of our joint research project DataSkop

TikTok has grown to become one of the most influential platforms in the world. In the second round of our data donation project DataSkop, we will be looking into what kind of content the "TikTok's for You" recommender is showing users. The project team will analyze real user data in order to investigate how and where trends and niches pop up on TikTok. Are there any indications that the platform features certain content more prominently than others?

From 26 January until the end of March, TikTok users are invited to donate their data to our project. By analyzing these data sets, we will gain deeper insight into how the platform’s recommender system works.

In order to take part, users download an open-source software which requests their data from TikTok. According to the GDPR, platforms must hand over such private usage data once it is requested by users. As soon as it becomes available, DataSkop retrieves the data and will present participants with visualizations that illustrate their TikTok usage behavior as well as the option to donate their data.

DataSkop is a joint project of AlgorithmWatch, the ENS, the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, the University of Paderborn and the association Mediale Pfade.

ChatGPT and its legal challenges: New article by Philipp Hacker

Understanding and Regulating ChatGPT and Other Large Generative AI Models

A legal text on ChatGPT – (partly) written by ChatGPT? Definitely nothing an ENS Professor wouldn’t do!

In his latest article published on 'Verfassungsblog' in collaboration with Andreas Engel (Heidelberg University) and Theresa List (LMU Munich), Philipp Hacker provides one of the first comprehensive analyses on the legal challenges posed by the new chatbot and other large generative AI models. After introducing the technical foundations of ChatGPT, the article turns to two crucial legal challenges: its relationship to the #AI Act and content moderation.

Philipp Hacker: “We are happy to say that we used ChatGPT for writing the piece, more specifically the part on technical foundations. I believe that, from now on, we have to embrace AI writing tools instead of banning them (which will be futile, anyways). We need to develop proper policies for AI writing. In our post, we clearly mark all the sentences produced by ChatGPT, and disclose the prompts and the time they were collected.”

Online Talk: "Finetuning the Platform Work Directive"

Guest Lecture by Prof. Jeremias Adams-Prassl (Oxford University)

The European Commission’s draft Directive on working conditions in the platform (or ‘gig’) economy is a promising addition to the social acquis. It addresses key risks facing gig workers, including employment status misclassification, algorithmic management, and the enforcement of existing rules. The Directive’s focus on harms which stem from algorithmic management, from automatic pay-docking and shift scheduling to automated termination, is particularly welcome.

Join us next Tuesday, 17 January 2023, 5:00-6:30 PM (CET), for an online talk on the latest developments concerning the Platform Work Directive (PWD) by Oxford's Jeremias Adams-Prassl. Jeremias is a leading expert and an ERC grant and Leverhulme Prize holder on the topic. In his talk, he will explore the PWD and discuss related, emerging issues at the intersection of AI, algorithmic management, the gig economy, and the GDPR. The talk is part of the weekly ENS Research Seminar.

The zoom link will be provided upon registration. Looking forward to seeing you!

"The ENS is a great place for border research"

Interview with first ENS research fellow Dr. Nina Amelung

The ENS fellowship program "Datafication in European Societies" offers a temporary academic home for international researchers studying digitalization and data in Europe. Dr. Nina Amelung was the first fellow to visit ENS in March and April 2022. She is investigating the social and political consequences of collecting biometric data from migrants at the EU's external borders.

Nina Amelung used the months of the fellowship for her field research and conducted interviews with actors from the asylum administration, police authorities and migrant organizations. In her research project, she compares the situation in Germany and Portugal. After many months of research under pandemic conditions, the two-month fellowship at the German-Polish border came just in time. For the sociologist from the University of Lisbon, the ENS is located in a great area for border research. Not least, she appreciated the opportunities for collegial exchange with researchers who are also doing critical migration and border research.

Funded by the Dieter Schwarz Foundation, the ENS fellowship program "Datafication in European Societies" is designed for postdoctoral researchers active in one of the ENS core disciplines (economics, law, social and political sciences).