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Digital Society Initiative


News list

  • Fourth Parldigi MasterClass at the Federal Palace

    Should Swiss legislators respond to the challenges of artificial intelligence? The Digital Society Initiative offered background information and food for thought on this and other questions in this fourth masterclass for parliamentarians.
    UZH News attended the closing event at the Federal Palace and asked the participants what they got out of the Parldigi Masterclass. 

  • Ideas-Lab

    Uncontrollable data traces on the internet, manipulation and discrimination through algorithms: How can art and culture sensitise the population to these challenges of digitalisation? The Ideas-Lab promotes the development and testing of surprising, courageous, creative projects.

  • New index for digital participation in politics

    The Centre for Democracy Aarau (ZDA), in which the University of Zurich is involved, and the Procivis think tank have launched the Digital Political Participation Index. On a scale of from 0 to 100, the extent to which it is possible to participate digitally in the political process in Swiss cantons is recorded annually. Digital political participation is measured with the help of a total of seven indicators for the three dimensions of opinion-forming, participation and decision-making. The first ranking of the cantons, published in October 2021, shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement. The highest score is achieved by the canton of Geneva with 55 points. 

    The project is headed by Prof. Uwe Serdült and Costa Vayenas and is supported by the Mercator Foundation. The aim is to initiate a debate on digital forms of participation in politics and to inform decision-makers about best practices.

  • Talk of Ning Wang at ICRC

    On 3 December 2021, from 13:30-14:30 CEST, Ning Wang, Member of the DSI network, will give a talk at the ICRC Analysis and Evidence Week about the FEAHD project.

  • DSI Insights: Mobility and Digitalization

    People's lifestyles have shifted toward physically inactive lifestyles.
    Read DSI Postdoc Hoda Allahbakhshi's column in Inside IT to learn how digital technologies can help people move more and more often in their daily lives, helping to reduce healthcare costs.

  • Broad interest in the regulation of AI

    The results of the first DSI Strategy Lab generated great interest: more than 120 people followed the presentation of the position paper “A Legal Framework for Artificial Intelligence” at an event at the Digital Society Initiative of the University of Zurich.

  • Best Paper Award for Prof. Jürgen Bernard

    Prof. Jürgen Bernard has received the Best Paper Award at IEEE VIS 2021 for his paper "IRVINE: A Design Study on Analyzing Correlation Patterns of Electrical Engines", together with his colleagues Joscha Eirich, Jakob Bonart, Dominik Jäckle, Michael Sedlmair, Ute Schmid, Kai Fischbach, and Tobias Schreck.

    The paper is the result of collaboration with BMW and the University of Graz.

    The paper was presented at IEEE VIS, the premier forum for advances in visualization and visual analytics in New Orleans (virtual), October 26 2021.


    Prof. Bernard's research group (IVDA) page: click here.

  • New Publication: Guilty Artificial Minds

    While philosophers hold that it is patently absurd to blame robots or hold them morally responsible, a series of recent empirical studies suggest that people do ascribe blame to AI systems and robots in certain contexts. This is disconcerting: Blame might be shifted from the owners, users or designers of AI systems to the systems themselves, leading to the diminished accountability of the responsible human agents. 

    In this new paper, Markus Kneer (former DSI Fellow) and Michael Stuart explore one of the potential underlying reasons for robot blame, namely the folk's willingness to ascribe inculpating mental states or "mens rea" to robots.

  • Open Positions at the Department of Banking and Finance: Research Assistant and Postdoctoral Researcher

    Within the framework of a cross-national and cross-institutional research project (DACH project; Switzerland-Germany; University of Zurich and Zeppelin University) of Prof. Dr. Carmen Tanner and Prof. Dr. Alexander Wagner, two third party funded position are available as research assistant and postdoctoral researcher. You will be part of an interdisciplinary team (psychology, finance, economics) that works together with the "Center for Responsibility in Finance", among others.

  • The Virtual University in Times of Corona

    "Finally, an event in attendance mode again!" - that's what all of the 50 participants of the two-day workshop probably thought. The festive colloquium for philosopher Walther Ch. Zimmerli, DSI Fellow and CHESS member, which had been postponed several times, was supposed to deal with the "recursive digitalisation" of universities in the wake of his 75th birthday and could now take place live, as hoped. Academia's thirst for a real exchange of ideas with real people in real time was evident not least from the intensity of the discussions on the theses presented by top-class speakers from Switzerland and abroad.

  • New Publication: "Can a Robot Lie? Exploring the Folk Concept of Lying as Applied to Artificial Agents"

    Former DSI Fellow Markus Kneer published a new paper on the subject "Can a Robot Lie?". The focus of his experimental paper lies on robot lying for nonbeneficial purposes as judged from the human point of view.

  • DSI Insights: What can trust contribute to the digitalization of society?

    Digitalization means collecting and using personal data. This requires trust. How the necessary trust can be established is explained by DSI Postdoc Felix Gille in his guest article at Inside IT.
    Among other things, the following questions are addressed: How do I communicate that a technology can be trusted? How does a technology become trustworthy? And why is a technology (not) trusted?

  • New DSI Infrastructure & Lab Call

    The Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Universities (DIZH) and the Digital Society Initiative (DSI) are announcing a new Call for DSI Infrastructures & Labs. The focus of the DSI Infrastructure & Lab Call is on the establishment of jointly usable infrastructures or structural vessels to promote collaborative settings for research that touches upon the idea of digital transformation. The bundling of existing competencies and persons should enable synergies and new forms of cooperation.

  • New Calls in the DIZH Innovation Program

    Two new calls have been announced in the Innovation Program of the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH): the "Call for rapid action proposals" and the "Call for structure proposals". The DIZH Innovation Program promotes projects that give rise to innovation while seizing or expanding the opportunities offered by digital transformation.

  • Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care (IfIS): Launch Event and Masterclass

    Did you ever wonder how do we evolve from a scientific breakthrough improving medical care to its application in ‘real life’? Implementation Science is a discipline which cares about transferring research results into health care. Indeed, we know currenty it is taking an average of 15 years for evidence-based practice to become a widespread use. How do we reduce this time?

  • New publication by Ning Wang et al: Ethical Considerations Associated with “Humanitarian Drones”: A Scoping Literature Review

    Ning Wang (DSI Member), Markus Christen (DSI Managing Director) and Matthew Hunt published a new paper "Ethical Considerations Associated with “Humanitarian Drones”: A Scoping Literature Review" at Science and Engineering Ethics by Springer. This review offers an assessment of the ethical considerations discussed in the academic and gray literature based on a screening of 1,188 articles, from which 47 articles were selected and analyzed. In particular, the authors used a hybrid approach of qualitative content analysis, along with quantitative landscape mapping, to inductively develop a typology of ethical considerations associated with humanitarian drones.

  • Open PhD Student Position: Agent-Based Spatial Accessibility Modeling

    We are inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD position for 3.5 years (with the possibility of extension to 4 years) in the area of spatial accessibility analytics. The PhD position is part of the DIZH-funded research project «SISAL: Situation-Aware Individualized Spatial Accessibility Analytics». The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Hoda Allahbakhshi (Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital Society Initiative, University of Zurich) and Prof. Robert Weibel (Head of GIS Unit, Department of Geography, University of Zurich).

  • Open PhD Postions at the Interactive Visual Data Analysis Group

    The Interactive Visual Data Analysis Group at the University of Zurich (UZH) is looking for motivated research assistants (m/f/d) in the areas of visual analytics, interactive data science, and interactive machine learning for PhD projects. The Interactive Visual Data Analysis Group is lead by DSI Professor Jürgen Bernard.

  • DSI Insights: Can we trust a trustless technology?

    Money without a bank? Notary services without a notary? Blockchain technology promises to eliminate the need for trust. Really?
    In her DSI Insights guest post at Inside IT, DSI postdoc Liudmila Zavolokina addresses these questions around blockchain, trust and trust creation.

  • Survey: “How to approach unstructured data”

    Have you ever worked with unstructured data and tried to combine it with other datasets? What were the challenges? What support would you need to undertake such an endeavour? We would like to learn more about your experiences and needs.

    We invite you to take part in the survey “How to approach unstructured data” to share with us your experience with and opinion on working with unstructured data in your research. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the survey. Your answers will help to identify knowledge- and/or resource gaps and will inform future research activities.

    Please use the following link to access the survey:

  • Call for applications for research fellowships at Zentralbibliothek Zürich

    With Willy Bretscher Fellowships, the Zentralbibliothek Zürich supports researchers who pursue a digital humanities approach in their project, have a temporal focus on the 20th century and draw on holdings or data of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

  • Advance notice: Rapid Action Call and Call for proposals for ecosystem creation

    DIZH will launch two calls at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester: a Rapid Action Call and a Structure Call. The deadline for submissions for the second DSI Infrastructure & Lab Call has been set for December 1, 2021.

  • EuroVis 2021 Young Researcher Award presented to Jürgen Bernard

    DSI Professor Jürgen Bernard has been awarded the EuroVis 2021 Young Researcher Award "in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the characterization, design and evaluation of visual-interactive interfaces to combine the strengths of both humans and algorithms in interactive machine learning and data science applications".

  • Premiere: First DSI Summer School for PhDs

    From July 5 to 9, 2021, the first Summer School within the DSI Excellence Program for PhD will take place. The Summer School will be held as a hybrid event with face-to-face and online parts.

  • The DIZH funds ten innovation projects with four million francs

    Developing and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges of digital transformation: This is the goal of the ten projects approved by the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH) innovation program. With four million Swiss francs, the canton and the universities are promoting close collaboration between research and practice in areas such as health, education and sustainability.

  • New Publication: "Cheap talk? Follower sarcasm reduces leader overpay by increasing accountability"

    The publication “Cheap talk? Follower sarcasm reduces leader overpay by increasing accountability” from former DSI Fellow Jamie Gloor was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Jamie Gloor tested how a specific follower communication – sarcasm expression – affects a particularly costly behavior: leader overpay.

  • «Automated Decision-Making Systems in the Public Sector: An Impact Assessment Tool for Public Authorities»

    AlgorithmWatch Switzerland and AlgorithmWatch have published the new paper "Automated Decision-Making Systems in the Public Sector: An Impact Assessment Tool for Public Authorities". The publication was written by DSI team member Michele Loi in collaboration with Anna Mätzener, Angela Müller, and Matthias Spielkamp.

  • "Drug Trafficking - The Internet as a Problem and as a Solution"

    In the latest DSI Insights column, DSI PostDoc Melanie Knieps reports on the role of digitalization in the opioid epidemic. The Inside IT guest post "Drug Trafficking - The Internet as a Problem and as a Solution" discusses the trafficking of fentanyl, which benefits from both a lack of transparency and the possibilities of the digital age.

  • Pilot Project: Creative Tech for Good

    With the pilot project, «Creative Tech for Good», Stadt Zürich Kultur is looking to support new art forms that have not previously been the focus of municipal funding. The pilot project supports cultural practitioners and creatives who are using technology in new ways and looking at how technology is changing society.

  • New Project: Prevalence of Hate Speech on Twitter in Switzerland and Strategies to Counter It

    The new project financed by BAKOM combines natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning with civil society engagement to analyse the prevalence of online hate speech on Twitter in Switzerland and to identify effective strategies to counter it. The project is a collaboration between alliance F (Federation of Swiss Women’s Associations), the Digital Democracy Lab (UZH) and the Immigration Policy Lab (ETH).

  • Decision Support for Blockchain Use in Administration

    On June 1, a seminar will be held on the topic of Decision Support for Blockchain Use in Administration. The State Chancellery of the Canton of Zurich, in collaboration with the Blockchain Center of the University of Zurich and Ergon Informatik, has produced a guide for assessing the use of blockchain technology in cantonal administration. Dr. Liudmila Zavolokina (DSI Postdoc), Florian Spychiger and Benjamin Lehmann will present the tools of this guide and show how they can be practically applied.

  • Innovators Camp 2021

    Do you want to drive innovation for impact? Do you want to work in an interdisciplinary team to develop ideas for a better future? Then you should join this year’s Innovators Camp – a joint innovation initiative for students and researchers from UZH, ZHdK and ETH.
    Expect to be guided by experienced facilitators, inspired by changemakers and supported with a toolbox for experimentation that will unlock and develop your ideas. 

  • Participation in Smartphone map app use research wanted

    In the context of a research project of the DSI, the Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis (GIVA) group aims to better understand when, how, and where people use mobile map apps. Such knowledge of mobile map use behaviour in everyday activities may help to design future map apps that more effectively and efficiently support people's mobility.

  • Launch of the Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media

    On April 26, the Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media (JQD:DM), an open access and peer-reviewed scholarly journal will be launched. The JQD:DM is co-founded by DSI members Andy Guess (Princeton University), Eszter Hargittai (University of Zurich) and Kevin Munger (Pennsylvania State University). The journal publishes quantitative descriptive social science and is co-sponsored by the DSI.

  • Ning Wang invited to speak at the ICRC DigitHarium

    DSI member Ning Wang will speak at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on “Aid in the Sky: Remote Sensing in Humanitarian Operations”, at the DigitHarium event on April 28, 2021. The event will be livestreamed on the ICRC website.

  • Can Artificial Intelligence Make Art?

    New preprint by DSI member Markus Kneer and Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė: "Can Artificial Intelligence Make Art? Folk Intuitions as to whether AI-driven Robots Can Be Viewed as Artists and Produce Art".

  • Open Position at the DSI Managing Office

    To support the DSI managing office, we are looking for a motivated, broadly interested person who has comprehensive knowledge and enjoys finance and controlling topics in the university environment. If desired, other tasks in the area of operational management of the DSI can also be taken on.

  • New Publication on Trolley Dilemma in the Sky

    DSI Managing Office Co-director Markus Christen and his research team published a new study "Trolley dilemma in the sky: Context matters when civilians and cadets make remotely piloted aircraft decisions". In this study, decision-making and emotional conflict of remotely piloted aircrafts operators within Trolley-Problem-like dilemma situations were analyzed.

  • New Publication: Ethical Considerations of Development Use of Drones for Delivery in Malawi

    DSI Collaborator and PhD Candidate Ning Wang published a new papaer: “As It Is Africa, It Is Ok”? Ethical Considerations of Development Use of Drones for Delivery in Malawi.


  • The SwissCovid App – Opportunities and Risks from the User's Perspective

    DSI Fellow Sarah Geber reports on the opportunities and risks of the SwissCovid App in a guest article on Inside IT. In this DSI Insights column she presents adoption types of the app and derives communication strategies to promote app use.


  • DSI Managing Office: New faces, new responsibilities

    Nothing is more constant than change. The DSI office cannot and will not close itself off to this. We are pleased to welcome two new staff members and have partially redistributed or expanded roles internally. In order to keep it clear for you who is the right contact person for which topic, we have summarised our competences and responsibilities briefly.

  • The Digital Challenge – On How We Live and Cope with Digital Dangers

    DSI member Sven Bisquolm published his dissertation (written under the supervision of Katja Rost) "The Digital Challenge – On How We Live and Cope with Digital Dangers". The thesis takes a closer look at digital dangers and at how people cope with them through an extensive literature review and a quantitative case study.

  • New in 2021: Programs to foster digital entrepreneurship

    Do you think the findings of your research or insights from your studies could contribute to solving a problem or fostering an opportunity related to the digital transformation? Are you motivated to be driving your solution? The University of Zurich enables students and researcher to build further on their ideas for digital innovations and explore the market potential while still at the University.

  • Women in Big Data: Online Workshop Series 2021

    Soft skills are increasingly important for success in the workplace. Women in Big Data is pleased to offer you live, online workshops with qualified coaches and instructors in March and April 2021. Benefit from some focused training to realize your full potential! 

  • New Paper: Playing the Blame Game with Robots

    Former DSI Fellows Markus Kneer and Mike Stuart published a new Paper on “Playing the Blame Game with Robots”. Recent research shows that people are willing to ascribe moral blame to AI-driven systems when they cause harm. In this paper, the researchers explore the moralpsychological underpinnings of these findings.

  • 4 Positions for Research Navigators at the University of Basel

    In its effort to better support scholars and social scientists in the context of the digital transformation, the University of Basel is establishing a new unit for Research and Infrastructure Support (RISE). The RISE team supports researchers in the humanities and social sciences and at the University Library of Basel in issues of computer-based research, the production and analysis of data, the user-oriented presentation as well as the sustainable and open availability of data.

  • New Article: Susceptibility of domain experts to color manipulation indicate a need for design principles in data visualization

    Markus Christen (DSI Managing Director), Peter Brugger (DSI Member) and Sara Irina Fabrikant (DSI Co-Director) published a new article on data visualisation in PLOS ONE. The authors examined the impact of various popular color schemes on experts’ and lay peoples’ map-based decisions in two, geography and neuroscience, scenarios, in an online visualization experiment.

  • Swiss Covid App Shows Effect

    The Swiss-Covid app is making a relevant contribution to combating the pandemic - that is the conclusion of Viktor von Wyl. The DSI Professor Viktor von Wyl is involved in various studies on the app and gives an overview on UZH News.

  • New CAS in "Psychology of Work and Health in the Digital World" at UZH

    Digitalisation creates new demands on work, but also new opportunities to change work. The CAS in Psychology of Work and Health in the Digital World combines research on work and health with digitalisation and the development of digital tools. For example, knowledge on health-promoting leadership is developed and combined with a digital tool for leadership development.