5th Turkish-German Frontiers of Social Science Symposium 2019

Design of the Symposium

What spaces will we live in?

This session addresses digital transformation from the perspective of its potential effects on how we organize, experience and relate to space. The objective is to discuss the positive and negative potentials of new technologies, to identify how they are already changing the spaces that we inhabit and to reflect on how we will likely live in the future. This objective is pertinent as it points to the social and cultural implications of digital transformation. Given this objective, the guiding questions that interrogate the presentations in this session are the following: What purposes does the application of digital technologies currently serve in the spatial domain? What could they help us achieve and how do we assess the implications of their impact on society at large? The presentations in this session will aim to address these questions by providing a descriptive and a critical account of the transformative potential of digital technologies in terms of spatial organization and urban planning, expanding cities, distinctions between public and private space, accentuated mobilities and the characteristics policing of urban spaces.

Digital Capitalism and the future of human work

The current debate on the "future of work" turns on the catchwords “Digital work”, “Industry 4.0” or “High-Tech-Strategy”. It is not yet clear whether “digital work” is primarily linked to new forms of organisation of work, the elimination of some professions and the emergence of new jobs, or whether the working society itself has to reinvent itself in this development. Are we running out of “human work”? And if so - what does that mean for income, participation and life chances?

Accordingly, the prospects for what we know as paid work are sometimes less, sometimes more optimistic in this discourse: Less if, for example, it is extrapolated that one in four workplaces could be lost in the course of the "technical revolution" and that the question arises as to how social cohesion can be ensured in the future. More, if the technical development of the work and the digitization of production processes as a winning term will be used for those who are higher qualified – and in addition to the promise that the hard, arduous work can now be increasingly taken over by machines. On top of that, current technological developments especially in the field of artificial intelligence raises questions regarding the way in which human workers will work in the future. If computer systems and human users become more and more intertwined in ways one can call “human-in-the-loop era”, it becomes less clear whether users operate computer systems or if computer systems influence users. Following this idea, our idea of “human working capacities” might need major revisions.

Against the background of these debates the session will provide an insight in the current meaning of digital work, its extent and its effects. Core questions are: What is really happening with work and employment in the course of digitization? What kind of work changes in which ways?

In particular, the session aims at focusing on the specific impact of digitisation processes on work. Particular emphasis will be given to four dimensions of work: space, time, employment and qualification, as well as transversal aspects such as corporate governance she develops a framework for a more differentiated look at what is behind the catchword of digitization. The session also aims at inequalities in the current technical developments in the field of work. The background argument is that ideological framing of the newly emerging new forms of labour – especially the idea that work is attributed to fun and not longer to selling the workforce within a capitalist economy – aims at making people to accept social inequalities. Moreover, the discussions will include digital work organization in elderly care by focusing on the implications for unequal gendered work pattern, in particular digital work organization through the implementation of robotics, electronic data documentation, digital assistance systems and telecare. Finally, the session aims at focusing on work processes in the Human-Machine System, in particular, the analysis of Brain Computer/Machine Interfaces (BCI/BMI) and how labour is more and more divided between humans and machines. A discussion of techno-cerebral action loop will be presented within an analytical framework, that might provide a better understanding of Human-Computer workshare environments.

In summary, the session will (1) analyze the status quo of work in times of digitalization. It will (2) look at the potentials and risks of current changes and (3) discuss the implications of intrusive computer systems for the future of work.

The Future of Education: Revolution or Disruption?

The so-called digital revolution shouldn’t come as a surprise to todays’ teachers, educational decision makers and policy makers since it started long ago. We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Arpanet, the predecessor of the Internet and 30 years ago the commercialization of the Internet started by introducing the World Wide Web. Apple’s iPhone, the archetype of a portable smart device, was presented to the public in 2007 and nowadays, at least in first world countries, children start exploring the possibilities of technology as early as Kindergarten. Thus, talking about a digital revolution in formal education shouldn’t be something new to us. However, it still seems to be a huge challenge for teachers, educational decision makers and parents alike.

On one hand, the discussion about using digital technology for learning in secondary classrooms and higher education is often dominated by fears regarding how the topics and quality of learning will be affected. Some are concerned that the use of digital technology will be the end of basic skills like calculation and fine motor skills. Teachers are concerned that introducing programming or computational thinking as compulsory topics into an already tight school timetable can only mean that the importance of other topics such as Latin or Geography will be diminished. Similarly, these teachers may experience concern about the pace of change, and the resulting uncertainty in how formal education will function in the future. Furthermore, Universities are moderately successful in exploiting the potential of online learning. Despite this negative outlook, there are those who embrace the potential for change, in flipped classrooms, computer-supported collaborative learning, augmented and virtual reality learning scenarios, for example. While promising, these experiments are not necessarily the norm in educational approaches.

On the other hand, we should ask ourselves if what we want and what is facing us is a “digital revolution”. The changes that are needed and that should be brought into the classrooms could possibly rather be seen as a digital disruption as postulated by Clayton M. Christensen in his book “Disrupting Class” (2010). Futurologists like Prof. Dr. Gunther Dueck already put forth that we should re-think our curriculum in a radical way in order to teach digital literacy and other so-called 21st century skills and requirements for the digital jobs of the future (Gunter Dueck: Disruptive Zeiten. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017). But this would also mean that we probably need to take up a completely new stance when discussing changes and challenges educational decision makers, teachers and policy makers will be facing in the upcoming years.

By discussing examples of a flipped university, approaches of using virtual and augmented reality for teaching and learning and the question of how the so-called 4th technological revolution will shape the development of the 21st-century skills, this panel will seek to approach the above described questions about what expectations we have, which changes we will be facing and what answers we already have or still need to develop regarding digital disruption and innovation in the future of learning by considering the viewpoints of German and Turkish society.

How the young and the elderly will interact with AI?

Tool use is one of the most significant hallmarks of Homo Sapiens. We have come a long way from using sticks for survival to taking selfies in space. We are currently experiencing an exponential growth of technology with the advances in electronics, internet and artificial intelligence. Technology has many advantages; it is the main driver of growth, it is making our lives easier, increasing average age, making us healthier etc. On the other hand, the technological advances have already outpaced our understanding of how it is changing and challenging our society. Even with all the available automation, we are working more than ever – the average retirement age has been steadily increasing. The generational gaps, income inequality and ideological differences are being felt more than ever. Nowadays, infants can use tablets, whereas elderly people are having difficulty using phones.
Technology has much to offer to every member of our society and we owe it to ourselves to understand how to use it so. Towards this end, we need to address multiple questions such as:

  • Will the children growing with the latest technology be too dependent on it? Will it change their behaviour? How can we make sure that these children will grow up to be functional members of our society?
  • What technological advances should we concentrate on to make them usable and enjoyable by everybody? How can we use technology to increase the wellbeing of the poor, the sick and the aged and avoid their feelings of being left behind?
  • Can we build emotional intelligence such that every member of our society can interact with and benefit from technology?
  • What will be the security and the privacy implications of increasing adoption rate of data driven AI?
  • What are the legal and social implications of healthcare and elderly care automation?
  • Can we ensure peaceful and ethical use of technology?

The young and the elderly make use of technology in vastly different ways. Younger people are very technologically savvy and get used to new advances very fast. However, they often overlook the security and privacy implications. Elder people sometimes have a hard time adapting to the new advances; even simple teleconferencing can appear to be complicated. We want to explore the implications of technology on the young and the elderly, and discuss the surrounding ethical, legal and social issues.


Stephanie Dill
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Markgrafenstraße 37
10117 Berlin


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