Christian Pentzold

A defining—yet understudied—feature of digital communication is automation: the production of content, the distribution of information and messages, the curation of media use and the governance of content are all increasingly shaped and influenced by automated processes and automated actors. The conferences addresses two sides of the story of automating communication: the few who are shaping, designing, programming and implementing algorithms and other technologies, and the many who are using and are impacted by automated communication. In this regard, automation raises questions of power and power relations. Automating core features of democracy such as the assignment of relevance and legitimacy to issues, actors, and specific content, based on data and algorithms controlled and operated by a few private companies, challenges notions of transparency, due process, and legitimacy. What are the regulatory measures to curb this power? And are automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence really meaningful answers to social problems?

The conference took place from November 6-8, 2019 in Berlin. The event was hosted by the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (FU Berlin) and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. More information on the website