DSI Fellows

The fellowship program of the UZH Digital Society Initiative aims to promote interdisciplinary cooperation at the University of Zurich regarding all questions concerning the impact of digitalization on society and science.

DSI Fellows

Dr. George Bruseker

Dr. Sarah Ebling

Dr. Sarah Ebling is DSI Fellow from January to September 2019 and will work on the following topic:

Towards Automatic Text Simplification for German

While digital transformation has brought about positive change for many people, it has also introduced additional barriers. For example, the fact that more and more information is conveyed in written form as a result of digitization presents an obstacle to persons with reduced reading abilities. Simplified language can provide access to information and communication for these persons. Simplified language is characterized by reduced lexical and syntactic complexity, the addition of explanations for difficult words, and clearly structured layout.

The goal of this DSI fellowship project is to conduct research towards the development of an automatic text simplification system for German that employs machine translation and is based on a parallel corpus of texts in German/simplified German.

Website: Dr. Sarah Ebling

Dr. Alfred Früh

Dr. Alfred Früh is a DSI Fellow from January to December 2019 and works on the topic "Transparency in the Digital Economy". Transparency has become a keyword in legal deliberations on the new phenomena of the digital economy such as platforms, artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technology. While it is obvious that transparency's effects are ambiguous, its normative content remains opaque. It is also very unclear how transparency translates to existing legal and technical concepts. The project addresses these questions and ultimately aims to determine how much transparency is desirable in a given circumstance and which legal and technical means can be used to provide the adequate amount of transparency.

Website: Dr. Alfred Früh

Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Gilardi

During the DSI-Fellowship from January to December 2019, Fabrizio Gilardi will work on building up a Digital Democracy Lab at the University of Zurich. The Digital Democracy Lab will support computational social science research on the implications of digital technology for democracy. It was established in September 2018 at the University of Zurich by Fabrizio Gilardi, Anita Gohdes, and Lucas Leemann, with the generous support of the Swiss National Science Foundation. The Digital Democracy Lab has two components: the Computational Social Science Hub and the d-Dem platform. The Computational Social Science Hub is an infrastructure to collect, store, process, and analyze text and social media data, and survey response data via an online panel. It supports data collection and analysis for scientific research. The d-Dem platform tracks political debates and opinions online and offline, and presents analyses in a format accessible to the general public. Due to the nature of the funding, in the short term (2018-2019) the Digital Democracy Lab will be focused primarily on Switzerland. The medium-term goal is to establish the Digital Democracy Lab as a leading research center for the study of the interaction between digital technology and politics.

Website: Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Gilardi

Dr. Gianluca Miscione

Dr. Gianluca Miscione is working on the following project from December 2018 until May 2019:

The objective of this project is linking research in challenge areas addressed by the Digital Society Initiative and blockchain-related research. It aims at this goal by identifying possible synergies between the DSI and blockchain research in two steps: first, reviewing the academic literature on blockchain and DSI areas in order to identify main open research issues. Second, networking DSI and Blockchain Center's (blockchain.uzh.ch) members, and possibly the industry, on the basis of possible synergies to address those issues.

Website: Dr. Gianluca Miscione

PD Dr. Birte Platow

PD Dr. Birte Platow is a DSI Fellow from January to December 2019 and will deal with the following topic: 

Anthropomorphic Transferences as Constitutive of the Encounter between Man and Artificial Intelligence

How do individuals perceive themselves in dealing with artificial intelligence, and how do they behave as a result? This is the central question of my Fellow Project "Anthropomorphic Transferences as Constitutive of the Encounter between Man and Artificial Intelligence", which I am allowed to realize at the DSI in interdisciplinary exchange under optimal conditions.

The reason for my research is the observation that in the encounter between man and artificial intelligence the traditional frame of reference of anthropological descriptions of man changes implicitly and unconsciously, that the self-images and the corresponding behaviour of man are determined by new points of reference. To the extent that the individual is increasingly represented digitally, man and AI become complementary dimensions of a single and usually functionally determined reference system.

On the basis of a qualitative-empirical study, I would like to describe ideal-typical encounter situations between humans and Al as well as the patterns and strategies of self-perception and perception of Al that become recognizable in these situations. I interpret the findings and further questions arising from this study as a theologian against the background of Christian anthropology in order to contribute to the question of what ethics we need in a future in which the significance and scope of AI will be even greater than today.  

Website: PD Dr. Birte Platow

Dr. Mike Stuart

Website: Dr. Mike Stuart

PD Dr. Eva Weber-Guskar

Dr. Lonneke van der Plas

 

 

DSI Projects

PD Dr. Markus Christen

Website: PD Dr. Markus Christen

 

 

Dr. Markus Kneer

Website: Dr. Markus Kneer

 

Dr. Michele Loi

Website: Dr. Michele Loi

 

Dr. Sara Maggi

Website: Dr. Sara Maggi

 

Dr. Tyler Thrash

GeoViSense-Project

My previous work has focused on empirical investigations of spatial cognition and navigation but spans several different fields, including psychology, geography, biology, computer science, and statistics. As part of the GeoViSense project, I am currently pursuing research on geographic information displays (GIDs) that are human- and context-responsive. One theoretical consideration is the extent to which the responsiveness of GIDs (e.g., to a stressful situation, to a disoriented user) can improve user experience during navigation. Better user experience may then translate into a more successful mobile application or increased patronage at a particular public space. In addition, there is some evidence that modern navigation aids can hinder spatial learning, but progress in the development of such technologies will inevitably continue. As part of the Digital Society Initiative, I will attempt to determine whether we can design GIDs to facilitate navigation efficiency without sacrificing spatial memory. In order to address these challenges, we will employ a combination of virtual reality experiments and real-world observations.

Website: Dr. Tyler Thrash

CV Tyler Thrash (PDF, 52 KB)

Dr. Eleonora Viganò

Dr. Bruno Wüest

Website: Dr. Bruno Wüest

 

 

DSI Directors

Prof. Dr. Abraham Bernstein

Prof. Dr. Sara Irina Fabrikant

Prof. Dr. Mike Martin

Healthy Ageing

Our aim is to have a contextualizable overall picture of health and quality of life in old age. Digitalization now enables an inexpensive and innovative extension of the monitoring of quality of life and health. The existing data are poor in situational and contextual information, and are relatively rarely collected. In order to systematically and comprehensively implement the central functional capacity of individual persons as a supply target in the WHO model of "Healthy Ageing" (2016), close observations in the real-world context are required. This requires an investment in a research infrastructure for responsible health research with high data density, in digital competences of older people to use their health data and in transdisciplinary research groups consisting of health, technology, legal and context/humanities scientists to develop causal relationships between the collected information. These causal models are a prerequisite for reducing care costs in the area of coordination-intensive illnesses alone by hundreds of millions of Swiss francs a year.

 

Participatory Health Research

With digitalization and open science, more and more information is being made available to an increasing number of people for health decisions. Competences for the selection and critical evaluation of research results must therefore also be available to all in society. We are working together with the Center for Gerontology and the UZH/ETH Citizen Science Center Zurich to create the framework conditions for the participatory evaluation, conception and implementation of health research projects.

 

Website: Prof. Dr. Mike Martin

Prof. Dr. Florent Thouvenin

 

 

Former DSI Fellows

Prof. Dr. Thomas Friemel

Prof. Dr. Thomas Friemel has been working at the DSI in FS18 and HS18 on 3 projects:

  • Development of an interdisciplinary SNF application within the Digital Lives call.
  • Conception and realisation of the first DSI lecture series on "Communicative Challenges in Digital Societies".
  • Development of a continuing education program (CAS) that ensures knowledge transfer and intensifies cooperation with society, politics and business.

Website: Prof. Dr. Thomas Friemel

Prof. Dr. Antônio Sérgio Guimarães

Prof. Dr. Antônio Sérgio Guimarães was a DSI Fellow at the UZH in August 2018 and worked with Dr. med. Dominik Ettlin.

DSI fellowships for translating the web-based interdisciplinary symptom evalua-tion1 (WISE) tool into Portuguese, thus enabling collection of transcultural “big data” for improving the understanding of risk factors for chronic orofacial pain 

Patient reported outcome measures gain increasing importance in various medical areas. We re-cently designed and constructed a web-based interdisciplinary symptom evaluation (WISE) for patients suffering from orofacial pain and temporomandibular disorders1. For worldwide applica-bility and to avoid copyright infringements, open source software tools and free validated ques-tionnaires available in multiple languages were used. Highly secure data storage limits access strict-ly to those who use the tool for collecting, storing, and evaluating their data. By combining a symptom- burden checklist with in-depth questionnaires serving as case-finding instruments, an algorithm was developed that assists in clarifying case complexity and need for targeted expert evaluation. This novel modular approach provides a personalized, response-tailored instrument for the time- and cost-effective collection of symptom-burden focused quantitative data. The tool includes body drawing options and instructional videos. It is applicable for biopsychosocial evalu-ation in a variety of clinical settings and offers direct feedback by a case report summary. The tool thus enables personalized medicine, facilitates interprofessional education and collaboration, and allows for multicenter patient-reported outcomes research.

Almost 1,000 patients of the interdisciplinary pain unit of the Center of Dental Medicine of the University of Zurich already completed the WISE prior to their initial consultation. Data analysis for research projects is in process and manuscripts are submitted to scientific journals or in prepara-tion. In order to enable the translation of the WISE for use in other countries, the DSI Board of Directors had financed two fellows in August 2018, Prof. Antônio Sérgio Guimarães (University Leopoldo Mandic, Campinas, Brazil) and Prof. Miguel Gonçalves Meira e Cruz (University of Lis-bon, Portugal). The two were joined by Prof. Kanokporn Bhalang (Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand) who had been able to raise other funds for her stay in Zurich. The team of three worked intensively for 7 days on the translation of the software into their respective lan-guages and the work was successfully completed within the given timeframe. After work, family members joined for leisure time (photo).

Team orofacial pain
Left to right: S. Guimaraes, Ray (husband of N. Bhalang), Maria (daughter of M. Meira e Cruz), Ruth (mother of M. Meira e Cruz),  M. Meira e Cruz, N. Bhalang, D. Ettlin 

Website: Prof. Dr. Antônio Sérgio Guimarães

Prof. Dr. Miguel Gonçalves Meira e Cruz

Prof. Dr. Miguel Gonçalves Meira e Cruz was visiting Zurich and the DSI in August 2018 to work with Dr. med. Dominik Ettlin.

DSI fellowships for translating the web-based interdisciplinary symptom evalua-tion1 (WISE) tool into Portuguese, thus enabling collection of transcultural “big data” for improving the understanding of risk factors for chronic orofacial pain 

Patient reported outcome measures gain increasing importance in various medical areas. We re-cently designed and constructed a web-based interdisciplinary symptom evaluation (WISE) for patients suffering from orofacial pain and temporomandibular disorders1. For worldwide applica-bility and to avoid copyright infringements, open source software tools and free validated ques-tionnaires available in multiple languages were used. Highly secure data storage limits access strict-ly to those who use the tool for collecting, storing, and evaluating their data. By combining a symptom- burden checklist with in-depth questionnaires serving as case-finding instruments, an algorithm was developed that assists in clarifying case complexity and need for targeted expert evaluation. This novel modular approach provides a personalized, response-tailored instrument for the time- and cost-effective collection of symptom-burden focused quantitative data. The tool includes body drawing options and instructional videos. It is applicable for biopsychosocial evalu-ation in a variety of clinical settings and offers direct feedback by a case report summary. The tool thus enables personalized medicine, facilitates interprofessional education and collaboration, and allows for multicenter patient-reported outcomes research.

Almost 1,000 patients of the interdisciplinary pain unit of the Center of Dental Medicine of the University of Zurich already completed the WISE prior to their initial consultation. Data analysis for research projects is in process and manuscripts are submitted to scientific journals or in prepara-tion. In order to enable the translation of the WISE for use in other countries, the DSI Board of Directors had financed two fellows in August 2018, Prof. Antônio Sérgio Guimarães (University Leopoldo Mandic, Campinas, Brazil) and Prof. Miguel Gonçalves Meira e Cruz (University of Lis-bon, Portugal). The two were joined by Prof. Kanokporn Bhalang (Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand) who had been able to raise other funds for her stay in Zurich. The team of three worked intensively for 7 days on the translation of the software into their respective lan-guages and the work was successfully completed within the given timeframe. After work, family members joined for leisure time (photo).

Team orofacial pain
Left to right: S. Guimaraes, Ray (husband of N. Bhalang), Maria (daughter of M. Meira e Cruz), Ruth (mother of M. Meira e Cruz),  M. Meira e Cruz, N. Bhalang, D. Ettlin 

Website: Prof. Dr. Miguel Gonçalves Meira e Cruz

Dr. Juliane Lischka

Dr. Juliane Lischka was a DSI Fellow during FS18 and HS18 and worked on the topic "About Black Sheep and Sheeple - Deviant Agents, Counterknowledge, and the Good Information Society".

Website: Dr. Juliane Lischka

Dr. Julian Mausbach

Dynamic electronic consent and de-anonymization

Digitisation when including people and health data in research

The first area of the project is devoted to the question of whether the self-determined (intended) involvement in research can be made more favourable by digitalising the consent process. In terms of content, the main focus of the study is on making the process more dynamic. With respect to formal aspects, the focus is placed on the question of whether the process as a whole can be designed electronically.

The second area of the project approaches the involvement in research from the opposite direction, so to speak. It is dedicated to unwanted inclusion and does not focus on design possibilities, but rather on design needs due to digitalisation. Specifically, the question is whether the possible de-anonymisation of research data by digitalisation leads to a re-identified person being able to derive rights from it or to obligations arising for researchers as a result.

Website: Dr. Julian Mausbach

Article in inside-IT: Einwilligung in Forschung ist keine Einbahn­strasse!

Prof. Dr. Matthias Mehl

Prof. Dr. Matthias Mehl will be a guest at the DSI and the UFSP in July 2018:

The main project I pursued within my DSI fellowship was to help identify ways in which the ambient audio samples collected via the uTrail can be converted into meaningful indicators of daily social activity. We recently published a paper in the journal Psychological Science demonstrating that the simple metric of “percentage of time talking” is a robust behavioral marker of wellbeing (Milek et al., 2018). As a first step, then, it would be important to develop ways to automatically and accurately extract voice activity information from the ambient audio. Other interesting candidate indicators could be emotional expressions (e.g., laughing, sighing, crying) captured by the ambient audio recordings as well as prevalent daily activities such as watching TV, cooking and eating, commuting, etc. Interestingly, this task, that is the task that is currently most pressing with respect to analyzing data collected with the uTrail, happens to also be a highly timely task for and a rapidly advancing research area in the field of computer science. 

The field of behavioral and speech signal processing from naturalistic audio recordings is in the process of becoming a vibrant research area. This year, a group of researchers around Dan Ellis, a former Professor at Columbia University who has since transitioned to Google, published a seminal handbook that establishes the Computational Analysis of Sound Scenes and Events (Virtanen, Plumbley, & Ellis, 2018) as an active research area with great potential for significant scientific contributions in computer science and electrical engineering. The purpose of this field is to elevate audio signal processing to the level of sophistication of other “sibling” areas such as visual signal processing (e.g., face and object detection). Currently, the field is struggling to identify realistic data sources that are inherently important and provide the kind of “high noise” data that one encounters in everyday life. One recent attempt, Google AudioSet (Gemmeke, Ellis, et al., 2017), has focused on sampled snippets of YouTube clips which are realistic in nature but, arguably, capture only a limited, thin slice of people’s daily social lives. What the field is currently lacking is (1) a data base of naturalistic, real-world audio events that covers the full spectrum of lived daily life and that can be used to train computational models for the classification of a range of behaviorally important sound events (e.g., talking, laughing, sighing, eating) and (2) a data base of such audio events that is annotated for “ground truth” variables. 

With the data that is currently being collected via the uTrail device as part of a large ongoing project on healthy aging at the UFSP (200 participants wear the device for 4 weeks), we have access to an at-scale data base (ten thousands of sound bites) of real-world ambient audio clips sampled representatively from the full range of participants’ daily lives, morning to night, Monday through Sunday. And within the existing long-term collaboration between Dr. Martin and myself, we have access to a very large, “ground-truth” annotated data base of audio data based on the close to 20 years of research that Prof. Mehl has conducted with the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) method (Mehl et al., 2001; Mehl 2017). During my month as DSI fellow, I helped lay the groundwork for a collaboration that can take the computational analysis of everyday sound and speech events to the next scientific level. 

Website: Prof. Dr. Matthias Mehl

Prof. Dr. Jean-Henry Morin

From September to December 2018 Prof. Dr. Jean-Henry Morin was a guest at the DSI and was working on the following topics:

Swiss Digital Transition and 2019 Federal Elections
In the context of the 2015 Federal Elections we joined forces with GovFaces to organise a public debate on the Swiss Digital Agenda trying to stimulate engagement on the issue among the parliamentarians, the political parties and the civil society (http://www.helvetic.govfaces.com/agenda-digital-suisse). While the debate did provide some interesting contributions and outcome, it failed to achieve the goal of including the issue in the political debate for the Federal Elections. Being one year away of the next Federal Elections in 2019 and given the still lagging public policy leadership on the issue that paved the way for the DigitalSwitzerland initiative (formerly Digital Zurich 2025) essentially driven by the economy, we think it it could be a very good opportunity to design a new initiative to counterbalance the economy-only driven approach and jointly work on a new initiative towards that goal in the context of the UNIGE-UZH DSI initiative. The State of Geneva with whom we are in close contact and collaboration through GenèveLab, the growing civictech area and the UZH contacts with the federal level are interesting supporting elements towards such a goal.

FacLab
The Centre Universitaire d’Informatique (CUI) at UNIGE has been working for several years towards creating an academic FabLab. Its goal is to introduce the now common fabrication and DIY approaches originating the the work at MIT (Neil Gershenfeld), into the university to leverage the “build to think” and “build to learn” approaches based on design thinking, rapid prototyping and user centred design. Such approaches hold tremendous potential towards transforming the way we teach, learn and do research. Moreover they offer interesting opportunities for joint work between academia and the civil society. Recently the FacLab project at UNIGE received interest from the Division de l’Information Scientifique (DIS), the Bureau de la Stratégie Numérique de l’UNIGE (BSN), the Division du Système et des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (DiSTIC) and several external organisations such as Lift Conference, Genève Lab of the State of Geneva, etc. During the last Open Geneva festival in April 2018 we organised a hackathon to co-design the FacLab where participants from UZH joined (Prof. Florent Thouvenin). This led to several actionable outcomes which we will leverage starting this Fall 2018 in Geneva. We think it it could be a very good opportunity to jointly work on this project trying to build a sister FacLab at UZH in the context of the UNIGE-UZH DSI initiative.

Digital Responsibility
Based on research carried out over many years in the area of Digital Rights Management, particularly in the context of enterprise security, Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Information Protection and Control (IPC), the issue of Digital Responsibility emerged as an important issue in the context of the Digital Transition and the responsible design of sustainable systems and services. The whole issue of cybersecurity and data protection is clearly in the need for profound changes in how the future of our digital society is to be shaped for the future (Morin 2014). 
Based on this, recent discussions took place with the Fondation Ethos in order to design a Digital Responsibility Criteria for their evaluations. This work will start in the Fall of 2018. In parallel, initial discussions with Johan Rochel
of Ethix (Lab für Innovationsethik) in Zurich. 
In this area, we think joining forces in the context of the UNIGE-UZH DSI initiative could accelerate and strengthen the impact in this important area towards a sustainable digital society.

Website: Prof. Dr. Jean-Henry Morin

Dr. Kristina Yordanova

Dr. Kristina Yordanova was a guest at the DSI and the UFSP Dynamics of Healthy Ageing in July and August 2018.

The main project I pursued within my DSI fellowship was the development of automated methods for situation knowledge extraction and interpretation of human behaviour. This involves the investigation of both different types of information sources and different computational solutions for the interpretation of heterogeneous data. In that context, I was able to propose a workflow for the automatic identification of social behaviours and environments from transcripts of daily conversations. The initial results suggested that it is possible to apply automated methods for coding transcripts of daily conversations with relevant psychological variables.  Another aspect of the project was identifying relevant factors that describe healthy ageing from a situation-aware perspective. These factors can later be used to reason about a person’s daily life, the evolvement of their situation and the effect these factors have on the long-term behaviour associated with healthy ageing.

Website: Dr. Kristina Yordanova