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Digital Society Initiative

Social effects of artificial intelligence

Three institutions collaborate to analyse the challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) on behalf of the TA-Swiss Foundation. Focusing on the areas administration, consumption, education & research, media and work, the researchers investigate the consequences when decisions are increasingly made by algorithms.

The dynamics in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is great and there will probably be sensational successes and equally spectacular failures in the coming years. The study commissioned by the TA-Swiss Foundation evaluates the opportunities and risks of AI for exemplary areas of application. Researchers from the Digital Society Initiative of the University of Zurich, the Technology and Society Lab of the Empa and the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences are working together on this project.

The focus is on AI applications in which human decisions will be largely taken over by algorithms in the near future. After conceptual and technological delimitation of the topic, possible developments and the associated opportunities and risks are dealt with in detail using transdisciplinary methods in the areas of administration, consumption, education & research, media and work. Ethical and legal issues are analysed in depth across all areas. By involving international experts and examining globally relevant political, economic and scientific influences, international developments are examined, analysed and, in particular, their impact on Switzerland is described.

The key findings of the study are recommendations to Swiss policymakers on the regulation of AI applications and support for the positive use of AI, as well as scientific findings on the opportunities and risks of AI applications in these areas. Some of these recommendations will also be relevant to stakeholders at European and international level.


Project coordination

Dr. Markus Christen, UZH Digital Society Initiative, Universität Zürich,

Dr. Clemens Mader, Abteilung für Technologie und Gesellschaft, Empa,

Johann Čas, Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften,

Contracting authority 

TA-Swiss Stiftung für Technologiefolgen-Abschätzung