July 01, 2021

Short presentation of the nine winning projects

WWTF Digital Humanism Call 2020

Research priority: €3.6 million for Digital Humanism

WWTF Digital Humanism Call 2020 funds nine interdisciplinary research projects

Vienna (OTS) - The Call Digital Humanism, announced by the Vienna Science, Research and Technology Fund WWTF in the fall of 2020, funds nine strongly interdisciplinary research projects dealing with social networks, questions of democracy policy or the use of artificial intelligence in care. The Call, with a total volume of €3.59 million, is jointly funded by WWTF's own resources and funds from the City of Vienna; two projects are also co-financed by the Province of Lower Austria.

"Vienna is set to become a digitization capital and needs top-level research to achieve this. For us, the focus is on ensuring that the path of digitization is underpinned by civilized dialogue, inclusive development, rule-of-law principles and protection of the weaker." With this announcement, Culture and Science City Councilor of the City of Vienna Veronica Kaup-Hasler sets the direction for Digital Humanism: "The upheavals brought about by the platform economy and Big Data must not be allowed to jeopardize democracy, fairness, standards and togetherness. Support is therefore needed for the development of creative ideas that put people at the center, even in the digital age."

Stefan Gara, Spokesperson for Science & Research of NEOS Vienna adds, "How relationships between humans and digital machines will be shaped in the future is a key question of 'Digital Modernity'. The selected research projects on Digital Humanism are an important contribution to sustainably building knowledge and establishing Vienna's international thematic leadership in this field. Our universities and research institutions are making an important contribution here. But politicians are also called upon to address the essential questions of new sociopolitical frameworks, value systems and fundamental rights in connection with digitization."

An important element of the Digital Humanism initiative in Vienna is the large-scale facilitation of interdisciplinary research: the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies must work together with computer sciences from the ground up on new theories, approaches and possible solutions. This is what the WWTF's current project call guarantees. "The Viennese community can draw from expertise in a broad variety of fields, and we are very pleased with the lively interest in our call," says Michael Stampfer, executive director of the WWTF.

A total of 99 short proposals were submitted to the WWTF. An internationally renowned eight-member jury chaired by Prof. Sally Wyatt (Maastricht University, The Netherlands) has recommended nine projects with a total volume of €3.59 million for funding on the basis of a global peer review. Funding levels for the selected projects range from €350,000 to €450,000 with a project duration of three to four years.

"The call for proposals and the funded projects continue the long tradition of making Vienna a city worth living in for everyone. This must also apply in the digital age, and in doing so we have two major tasks: We have to take care of our togetherness and we have to use the opportunities of digitalization," says WWTF President Michael Häupl.

Five research teams from the University of Vienna, two groups led by the Complexity Science Hub (CSH) and one project each at the Vienna University of Technology and MODUL University Vienna were awarded prizes. All projects are characterized by the fact that researchers from the social sciences and humanities cooperate closely with computer scientists in order to develop joint solution approaches. Particularly noteworthy are the facts that the projects are mostly carried out by younger scientists and the high proportion of women in the scientific core teams of the projects.

The funded projects in detail

Four projects deal with aspects of social media and online forums:

The project led by Prof. Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna) addresses the problems of toxic language in social media and investigates the effects on political trust and participation.

  • Prof. Ulrike Zartler's project (University of Vienna) seeks to develop strategies of counter speech in online forums.
  • Dr. Hanna Metzler (Complexity Science Hub) addresses the question of emotion and misinformation in social media.
  • The question of algorithms and the biases built into them is the focus of Dr. Fariba Karimi's (Complexity Science Hub) project.

Two projects deal with the impact of digitalization in the context of work:

  • Prof. Jörg Flecker (University of Vienna) and his team are researching the opportunities and risks of self-optimization tools in work environments.
  • Dr. Martin Kampel (Vienna University of Technology) and his team are looking into the use of artificial intelligence in care.

Transparency in the communication of complex issues and the role of digitalization in this is the topic of two other projects:

  • The project led by Prof. Sebastian Tschiatschek (University of Vienna) explores the societal consequences of intelligent and complex models that are increasingly being used for decision-making processes. Examples are the AMS algorithm or simulation models on COVID. The goal is to make such models more transparent and explainable.
  • Prof. Torsten Möller (University of Vienna) and his team are working on visualizations, which are increasingly used to communicate facts based on data.

The ninth project deals with the measurement of quality of life:

  • The project, led by Prof. Arno Scharl (MODUL Private University Vienna), has an explicit Vienna focus: Vienna has repeatedly been named the world's most livable city, and for this, the well-being of the population is a crucial indicator. In order to survey this in a timely manner, traditional indicators, which are usually collected by means of surveys, are to be supplemented by a digital, AI-based evaluation of existing data.

Original text press release (in German): https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20210527_OTS0056/forschungsschwerpunkt-36-mio-fuer-digitalen-humanismus


List of funded projects:

ICT20-015: Transparent Automated Content Moderation (TACo). Team: Sophie Lecheler, University of Vienna; Allan Hanbury. TU Vienna. Funding amount: € 348,240.

ICT20-016: Young People Against Online Hate: Computer-assisted Strategies for Facilitating Citizen-generated Counter Speech. Team: Ulrike Zartler, University of Vienna; Matthias Zeppelzauer, FH St. Pölten; Christiane Atzmüller, University of Vienna. Funding amount: € 449,680 (Joint Project Lower Austria-Vienna).

ICT20-028: Emotional Misinformation - The Interplay of Emotion and Misinformation Spreading on Social Media. Team: Hannah Metzler, Complexity Science Hub; Annie Waldherr, University of Vienna; David Garcia, Complexity Science Hub. Funding amount: € 399,540.

ICT20-034: ShapeTech - Shaping technology: biometric data, collective empowerment and humanization of work. Team: Jörg Flecker, University of Vienna; Nima Taherinejad, Vienna University of Technology; Cornelia Gerdenitsch, AIT. Funding amount: € 399,750.

ICT20-055: Algorithmic governance of care. Team: Martin Kampel, TU Vienna; Roger von Laufenberg, VICESSE; Vera Gallistl, Karl Landsteiner Private University. Funding: € 429.940 (Joint Project Lower Austria-Vienna).

ICT20-058: Interpretability and Explainability as Drivers to Democracy. Team: Sebastian Tschiatschek, University of Vienna; Torsten Möller, University of Vienna; Mark Coeckelbergh, University of Vienna. Funding amount: € 397,330.

ICT20-065: Talking charts. Team: Torsten Möller, University of Vienna; Laura Koesten, University of Vienna; Kathleen Gregory, University of Vienna. Funding amount: € 387,940.

ICT20-079: Humanized Algorithms: Identifying and Mitigating Algorithmic Biases in Social Networks. Team: Fariba Karimi, Complexity Science Hub; Markus Strohmaier. RWTH Aachen, Anna Koltai, Center for Social Sciences, HU. Funding amount: € 386,660.

ICT20-096: A Digital Well-Being Index for Vienna - Extracting Regional Indicators of Subjective Well-Being from Digital Content Streams. Team: Arno Scharl, MODUL Private University; Ivo Ponocny, MODUL Private University; Sabine Sedlacek, MODUL Private University. Funding amount: € 3940.600.

For further questions please contact Michael Stampfer or Michael Strassnig.




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