Paula Helm: Democratizing the Digital: Problems, Solutions, Consequences

Debates about the negative consequences of digitalization, datafication and AI are stirring up. In a number of works that could roughly be attributed to the field of critical data studies it has been shown how bias in algorithmic decision-making is automating and thus increasing inequalities, and how the commodification of personal communication is pressuring informational self-determination. In light of these critical perspectives, calls for solutions are rising up. To date, we can roughly identify four problem-solving regimes: informed consent, anonymity, open data and digital education. While these regimes are successful in certain respects, they are also insufficient, often ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive. This is because they are not equipped to properly foresee the dynamics created when digital technologies intervene with social life and vice versa. Therefore, we need to put more effort in studying social-technical dynamics before implementing the tools we create.