Future of digitalization research


  Dr. Matthias Begenat

Head of Knowledge Transfer and Public Relations

Future of digitalization research: Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) presents concept for new research institute in North Rhine-Westphalia

Düsseldorf, 11 February 2020

The Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) will present its concept for a new institute for digitalization research in North Rhine-Westphalia at the University of Düsseldorf on 11 February 2020. The institute’s goal is to help shape digitalization in society by conducting research that focuses on people. A Meet the Scientists event will present pilot projects on artificial intelligence, the digitalization of sustainable behavior, and the principles of transparent research.

To what extent do algorithms influence our behavior and social coexistence? What effects does digitalization have on democracy and the formation of public opinion? What conditions should be met by an artificial intelligence that can be trusted? Digital change poses great challenges for society, and science and research must also reposition themselves.

The Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) has developed the concept for a new institute for digitalization research in North Rhine-Westphalia. The institute will actively participate in shaping the digital transformation both socially and technologically. Research will focus on the potential and challenges of digitalization for people.

CAIS’s academic director, Prof. Dr. Michael Baurmann, emphasizes the holistic perspective in particular: “Different disciplines will be interlinked at the institute: from the social sciences and humanities to the technical sciences. Besides the technical aspects, this interdisciplinary cooperation will allow us to study in detail the ethical, legal, political, economic, and social aspects of digitalization. Such an all-round view is unique in this form”.

CAIS has received a total of around 5.6 million euros in funding from the Ministry of Culture and Science in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia since 2017. The pilot projects will receive special support from the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2020. Minister President Armin Laschet announced the establishment of the Institute for Digitalization Research for 2021 at the Federal Government’s Digital Summit.

Nathanael Liminski, Head of the State Chancellery and State Secretary responsible for media, emphasizes the importance of the new institute: “We want to shape digital change actively, with foresight and in a responsible manner. To do so, we must focus in addition to all the technological challenges on social and ethical issues. CAIS is already addressing these future issues and creating the link between human and machine. The state government’s goal is to develop CAIS into a research institute and to make it a beacon of digitalization research”.

Keynote, panel discussion, and Meet the Scientists event

The event offers a varied and top-class program. The keynote speech will be given by the internationally renowned scientist Professor Helen Margetts, Director of the Alan Turing Institute in London. A panel discussion featuring (among others) Dr. Frauke Gerlach (Director of the Grimme Institute) and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph M. Schmidt (President of the RWI) will deal with the challenges of digitalization research. A Meet the Scientists event will present the pilot projects in direct discussion with the guests.

Excellent partners support foundation of the institute

The support group for the planned Institute for Digitalization Research consists of the University of Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the University of Düsseldorf, the University of Münster, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences, the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, and the Grimme Institute.

Start of five pilot projects and a research incubator

In preparation for the founding of the institute, pilot projects will be carried out at CAIS in 2020:

  • Opinion Monitor Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial intelligence in government and administration
  • Artificial intelligence as an object of political control
  • Digitalization of sustainable behavior
  • Open Science strategies

An innovative research incubator will foster cooperation between projects and identify themes relevant to society.

Further information on the research projects is available at www.cais.nrw/en/research.