Christian Pentzold

In a world where automation is thought to increase productivity and efficiency with less effort and at
lower costs, what happens to human flourishing when this logic is deployed to support decisions in the
welfare sector? AUTO-WELF investigates the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in
the welfare sector across Europe. It is the first to provide a comparative analysis of automated welfare
provision across European welfare regimes to examine the implications of algorithms and artificial
intelligence for the future of European citizens and societies. Data-based infrastructures for public
administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and prompt
questions of human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems, ethics and accountability, as
well as biases and inequalities. The project foregrounds the perspective of people implicated in the
automation process including software engineers, case workers and citizens. Implementing a multimethod,
interdisciplinary and cross-country comparative approach, the project will develop
groundbreaking knowledge on the consequences of automating welfare in two domains: a) core welfare
service and b) communal welfare infrastructures. These domains will be explored across eight European
countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden) representing four types
of the welfare state and its different stages of automated decision-making. The project provides an indepth
and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a European
perspective producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but
also harm human flourishing.

Project AUTO-WELF is supported by BMBF, Germany under the CHANSE ERA-NET Co-fund programme, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement no 101004509. Collaboration partners are Anne Kaun, Södertörn University Stockholm, Stine Lomborg, Copenhagen University, Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska, Polish Academy of Science, Doris Allhutter, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Alice Mattoni, University of Bologna & Ana Jorge, Lusófona University Lisbon.

Selected project publications:

Kaun, Anne; Lomborg, Stine; Alhutter, Doris, Pentzold, Christian; & Sztandar-Sztanderska, Karolina (2023): Welfare. In: Media, Culture, & Society, 45(4), 877-883.