DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt

 
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION
      and
   SOCIETY
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

                             »Digital technologies
                                are naturally
                                 no panacea«
                    Interview with Friedericke Hardering, labour market sociologist

                                                           By Anke Sauter

The coronavirus crisis has changed            – analogously to Silicon Valley – Silicon      yet missed the boat. Germany is still
a lot of things – in the working              Germany. People recognize that the topic       very innovative in many fields. We still
world too. However, above all it              is important. In education, there’s the        file a huge number of patents and are
                                              Digital Pact for Schools, which targets        still leading in some areas. There too, we
has strengthened our awareness
                                              faster internet and better technical equip­    still have great opportunities to strengthen
of where digital technology really            ment in schools. In times of the corona­       our position in certain niches. However,
makes sense and where face-to-                virus crisis, of course, the demand for        this must naturally also be wanted and
face communication is only hard to            faster action is increasing.                   supported accordingly.
replace.
                                              In your view, what are the reasons for         The state must do its duty here.
                                              Germany failing to keep up with develop-
Anke Sauter: Germany, as the media            ments?                                         Absolutely. Without state help, Silicon
always say, is lagging behind as far as                                                      Valley wouldn’t exist as it does today
digitalization is concerned. Is that really   It could be reservations, for instance         either: It didn’t evolve thanks to entre­
the case?                                     regarding security. But much is also           preneurial initiative but instead only on
                                              driven by necessity. In the Scandinavian       the basis of massive subsidies. It cannot
Friedericke Hardering: We’ve slept through    countries, for example, there are far          work without a good infrastructure and
digitalization to some extent. The Scan­      more rural areas, so the benefits of digital   corresponding support.
dinavian countries, for example, but          solutions can be seen much more clearly.
also Estonia, New Zealand and Israel are      Additionally, the German government’s          What role does the coronavirus crisis
much further advanced. There, certain         focus has long been on old industries          play in the advancement of digitalization?
digital processes, for instance digital       such as the automotive sector. As a con­
administration, are more easily possible.     sequence, we’ve been able to blank out         Awareness has definitely grown. This
Here at home, even infrastructure is          the topic of digitalization and put it to      process has been evident for some years
already part of the problem. A good           the back of our minds for longer, while        now, but there are naturally still some
internet connection is not yet a matter       others have adapted their structures           deficits. The crisis has contributed to a
of course everywhere in Germany.              accordingly.                                   better understanding of what is really
                                                                                             needed and what digital technologies
Is the internet, to mention a frequently      And that puts us now at a competitive          can do.
quoted statement by Angela Merkel, still      disadvantage.
»uncharted territory«?                                                                       Do we really need online video confer-
                                              Yes, we must attempt to catch up now in        ences when there are no distancing
No. There are meanwhile quite enough          certain areas. I still believe though – or     rules and contact ban?
stakeholders who want to make Germany         perhaps it’s more a hope – that we haven’t

                                                                                                                 Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
»A balancing act for workers«: Lots of people    technologies are naturally no panacea.       as material assets are concerned, society
are working from home during the coronavirus     When other crises come, for instance         is very divided, but also in relation to
crisis and looking after their children at the
                                                 cyberattacks that threaten our entire        skills. Digitalization is making inequali­
same time.
                                                 system, we’re equally fragile but in a       ties appear in a new light and become
                                                 completely different way. We shouldn’t       even more pronounced.
                                                 therefore think that all solutions to cri­   An extension of the »knowledge gap«
Under normal conditions – without the            ses of whatever kind lie in us being bet­    hypothesis relating to the reception of
coronavirus crisis – we always need a            ter networked digitally.                     mass media in the 1970s?
combination of online and offline, in the
working world but beyond it too. The             You’re a labour market sociologist.          Exactly. We need to keep an eye on
coronavirus crisis has heightened the            zDo you have the impression that             this. Not only when we think of rich
demand for information and communi­              working from home is a good way to           and poor, but also of young and old,
cation technologies. But naturally we            resolve the situation?                       there are lines of division everywhere
also need these technologies when we                                                          with regard to digital technologies, and
return at some time to normal opera­             That greatly varies. Many employees          these are being exacerbated even further
tions. However, we’ll also then need our         use a lot of technology. Above all the       now during the peak phase of digital
normal interrelationships in the working         more affluent and well-educated who          use.
world, that is, normal offline contacts.         work, for example, in knowledge-based
                                                 professions and were already able to         Many people also find the juxtaposition
My question was also concerned with              work from home before: They have             of professional and family life when
decision-makers in politics and the              both the expertise as well as the equip­     working from home a great burden.
economy: Did it need the jolt of the             ment at home and can work equally
coronavirus pandemic to get things               well in this situation. But many other       This is naturally an extreme situation at
tackled faster?                                  households don’t own a computer and          the moment, especially for young fami­
                                                 a printer and perhaps don’t have the         lies with small children or single parents
The urgency has certainly now become             corresponding software and skills to         who have to work from home and look
clear. We have the opportunity now to            use them either. Then working from           after their children at the same time.
catch up on certain processes in politics        home doesn’t work. What we’re seeing         This is by no means the normal situation
and organizations. However, digital              now in the crisis is the following: As far   when working from home and is now

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

really putting people to the test. In gen­           clickworker platforms such as Amazon            Does digitalization exacerbate precarious
eral, we always have these transient                 Mechanical Turk, you’ll find relatively         employment situations?
boundaries when working from home,                   simple tasks. To that extent, it’s interest­
normally of course with properly func­               ing that in Germany it tends to be higher       Yes, digitalization can exacerbate them.
tioning childcare. But working from                  qualified people who try out these              New actors and platforms are emerging
home is characterized by a far higher                ­services. However, very little is known        and even before regulations have been
degree of self-organization compared to               about this labour market because it’s dif­     checked, for instance how the legal situ­
activities at the regular place of work.              ficult to obtain good data. But it’s defi­     ation is in general in the case of players
And this is always a balancing act for                nitely a growing area, which also poses        such as Amazon Mechanical Turk,
workers, as research also shows.                      major challenges for the trade unions.         ­several thousands of people have already
                                                      As we know, solo self-employment is             worked there. This means that we’re
Have you conducted studies on this                    always a relatively unprotected area            always lagging behind the latest
yourself?                                             with a lot of uncertainties and precarities,    developments.
                                                      irrespective of digital technology. This
I recently wrote a review on the topic,               constellation becomes even more exacer­        But back to the traditional labour market:
in particular on how digital technologies             bated on such platforms.                       How can it be that in some countries
in the working world have an impact                                                                  paying in the supermarket is already fully
on gender relations. On the one hand,                Creating regulations here is probably off       automated but Germans, now as in the
it could be seen that digitalization                 the legislator’s radar.                         past, like best of all to go to the cashier?
makes it easier to combine work and
family life, but on the other hand there             Partly. The trade unions are staying on         I think there are several reasons for this.
is extremely high time pressure when                 the ball. They are also reaching out to         As we know, Germans love cash, but
working from home, so that the feeling               crowdworkers and recognize the prob­            now several things are changing during
of being overburdened is very high. It’s             lems. But the question is, how can we           the crisis because they must change.
not the simple path to a better working              motivate the solo self-employed to act          More people are paying by debit card
world, but rather the course has to be               collectively? Overall, certain workers’         now or with their smartphone. Other
set very carefully so that working from              rights in Germany and in Europe have            countries have had self-service check­
home also means good-quality work.                   been continuously stripped back over the        outs far longer, and the customers there
There are currently a lot of studies that            last years and job security reduced. In         have long been confronted with them.
are watching – on the basis of the coro­             fact, all we see now is a field of new, rad­    People have to become accustomed to
navirus crisis – how the situation of                ically precarious employment in digital         new technologies and learn to trust
working from home is developing. I’m                 clickwork and crowdwork.                        them.
already looking forward to seeing the
data.

Digitalization also spawns new forms
of work organization, such as crowd-
working platforms. Have you already
seen this in Germany too?

We have something like crowdwork and
microwork here too. There are more
and more solo self-employed people
working in this domain, but overall
it’s still a small area. Mostly they are
younger persons and students, but also
highly qualified people. If you look at

»Germans love cash«: In times of social distancing
too, people in this country prefer to go to the
cashier than pay at a self-service checkout.

                                                                                                                         Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

Especially services are being delegated        ation processes look – and this at differ­
more and more to the customer.                 ent qualification levels.

Yes. In their consumer behaviour, normal       What, then, would be an alienation
people are more and more becoming              phenomenon?
workers. For example, when booking
flights. We’re taking on more and more         An alienation phenomenon would be,
of the work that used to be done by            for example, if people reported that
employees. As a result, you need less          there had been a certain type of group
and less employees. Obviously, flights         spirit at work in the past which now, as
are getting slightly cheaper. But we’re        a result of acceleration processes, for
not just paying for this with a loss of        example, no longer exists due to ever-in­
jobs. It also means that certain interactive   creasing time pressure and pressure to
situations, which are also important for       perform. Work is always also a place of
many people, are decreasing; a little chat     social interaction and thus very impor­
at the checkouts is an important element       tant for appropriating the world. And if
of everyday life for many people. That’s       workers report that there is no longer
why we should campaign to ensure that          any exchange among colleagues because
there are always several options and           of changes, that they feel isolated and
that we can continue to choose. There          suffer greatly under pressure of work,
should always be a non-digital way to          then this would mean they are experi­
solve things.                                  encing alienation. But it might naturally
                                               also be that work is losing its complexity.
It’s already been the case for a long time     Perhaps in the past you monitored cer­
with bank transfers: Do it online or pay       tain processes from A to Z but now there
extra.                                         is a new device and you just check at the
                                               end whether the device has done a good
This is, of course, discriminating because     job. This changes your work completely.
online banking is impossible without           Nice parts of the task disappear, and
certain material prerequisites. Or for         you’re only entrusted with a remaining
groups with limitations. That the only         task that is less complex and thus makes
way to do certain things is online consti­     your work less attractive.
tutes a real problem. It’s contingent on
too many factors and ignores the realities     Thank you very much for this interview,
of people’s lives.                             Ms Hardering.

At the beginning, you mentioned your
current research project on the aliena-
tion of people from work that goes hand
in hand with digitalization. This sounds a
bit Marxist.

Marx made a lasting impact on the con­                                                       About Friedericke Hardering
cept of alienation, but it has a longer
                                                                                             Friedericke Hardering, 39, studied
tradition and goes back to Rousseau,
­
                                                                                             in Aachen and earned her doctoral
among others. In our project, we have a
                                                                                             degree with a thesis on increasing
somewhat broader concept of aliena­                                                          insecurities in the working world.
tion. We’re looking at workers’ experi­                                                      She has been working as a post-
ences with regard to digitalization, how                                                     doctoral researcher in the field of
they appropriate work under the condi­                                                       sociology of work at Goethe
tions of new digital technology. Appro­                                                      University since 2012. Since 2019
priation is the antonym for alienation:                                                      she has headed a research project
How we can connect with new forms of                                                         funded by the German Research
work, how this can succeed and under                                                         Foundation on the digital alienation
which circumstances it also fails. We’re                                                     of work, which is being implemented
                                                                                             in cooperation with Professor
examining areas of the old economy,
                                                                                             Oliver Nachtwey of the University
such as insurance or retail, but also ones
                                                                                             of Basel.
in the new digital economies. We want
to see how these appropriation or alien­                                                     f.hardering@soz.uni-frankfurt.de

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Of shitstorms and
                                     »candystorms«
                                     Interview with sociologist Christian Stegbauer

As a network researcher,            Dirk Frank: Professor Stegbauer, the            In your book about shitstorms, you say
sociologist Professor Christian     noughties saw some very ambitious               the following: »The narrative of the
Stegbauer also deals with           expectations in terms of what the               internet, that it facilitates a better world,
communication in social media.      internet and social media could achieve         has survived into the present«:
That people prefer to stay in a     with regard to participation and democ-         Remarkable that we’re talking here today
                                    racy. Even representatives of the digital       more about the negative effects.
bubble with like-minded others
                                    Bohème, such as Sascha Lobo, are
rather than get to grips with       meanwhile critical observers of Facebook,       The narrative still exists in the case of
different opinions and ways of      etc. Has the utopia transmuted to a             major internet companies such as Apple
thinking was in his view inherent   dystopia?                                       and Facebook. They tell us that with
to digital communication from                                                       their products they’re creating a better
the outset. He considers many of    Prof. Christian Stegbauer: When the             world, from which we all supposedly
                                    internet started to take off back in the        profit. And despite all the negative
the utopian ideas of a digital
                                    1990s and the first web browser became          aspects of the internet we can also say,
culture of participation to be      available, lots of people thought that a        of course, that access to information has
exaggerated.                        type of communication would now be              considerably improved. In the frame­
                                    possible which was free of prejudices.          work of a study, I dealt with Wikipedia,
                                    Attributions regarding a person’s appear­       which can be seen as a positive alterna­
                                    ance, origin, etc. supposedly no longer         tive to the large internet companies
                                    played a role. Many people in sociology         because lots of people create knowledge
                                    shared this utopia too. However, if you         there that serves the community as a
                                          had thought about it for a while,         whole. By contrast, Facebook and Google
                                                  you would have realized           appropriate things that others create and
                                                  even back then that this          make enormous profits with them.
                                                cannot be. A structure of
                                               inequality forms on the inter­       One criticism of Facebook refers to
                                              net too, but it looks a bit differ­   the fact that we don’t learn anything
                                            ent from when the people com­           anymore about some of our friends. The
                                    municating with each other are present          multiplier effect makes sure that we only
                                    face to face.                                   communicate with friends where there is
                                                                                    lively exchange, the others are sidelined.

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

As a network researcher, I would say            which actually makes a person is first of     ing not only needy people free entry in
that Facebook is doing something here           all his relationships. These determine        the framework of a special deal but asylum
which accommodates our needs very               what he thinks and how he behaves. In         seekers too. The company published the
well. The algorithm tries to make life eas­     qualitative research, by contrast, the        letter on Facebook and a huge »candys­
ier for us by primarily displaying mes­         focus lies on the individual and his sub­     torm« followed.
sages from people with whom we’ve pre­          jectivity and the relationship aspect is
viously interacted. Facebook wouldn’t be        thus neglected.                               You say that shitstorms occur when
possible otherwise because we wouldn’t                                                        the demarcation from other groups
be able to process the countless mes­           To call something a »shitstorm«, it’s often   increases to such an extent that we no
sages in our network. What Facebook             enough that someone is pilloried in a few     longer encounter any other way of
does here accommodates the user. How­           comments on the internet. But doesn’t         thinking.
ever, the algorithm has a side effect, so to    there, in your understanding, have to be
speak, which we call a filter bubble.           a certain quantitative factor for a           I’ve studied a forum called Multikulti-
                                                shitstorm?                                    Watch where it explicitly says: »Anyone
This filter bubble hypothesis is quite                                                        who does not believe that we ­Germans
controversial.                                  I wouldn’t know how we could define           are discriminated against compared to
                                                the term exactly or demarcate it. In some     asylum seekers and foreigners will be
That’s right, critics say that most people      cases, a few attacks are sufficient if the    blocked without prior warning.« That’s
not only gather information via Face­           person on the receiving end of the shit­      an official threat: If someone speaks out
book. I would, however, argue to the            storm feels strongly affected. Sometimes,     against it, he’ll be kicked out. As an indi­
contrary: It doesn’t just depend on the         shitstorms are even useful. ING-DiBa’s        vidual, the fact that people contradict
filter bubble. In network research, the         advertising clip with former basketball       you is apparently hard to bear. From a
concept of homophily is very promi­             player Dirk Nowitzki is a well-known          social science perspective, however, it
nent; according to this, we surround            example. In the video, Nowitzki is            can be explained by the theory of struc­
ourselves with people who are similar to        handed a slice of ham by a butcher who        tural balancing: If you have a liberal
us and have the same opinions. If I             asks him: »What did I always says to you      opinion and everyone in your own circle
express an opinion that my environ­             back then?« And Nowitzki answers: »So         is against foreigners, then you could
ment doesn’t share, I run the risk of           that I grow up big and strong«. A wave of     suddenly have a whole bunch of people
being shut out. What’s more: Not every­         indignation from vegans and vegetarians       against you. Indeed, different-minded
one gets involved to an equal degree.           ensued. The agency which made the clip        people are frequently unfriended on
There are activists who are much more           for ING-DiBa later reported that lots of      social platforms. This is a social mecha­
strongly represented with their opinions        customers had taken the bank’s side in        nism that also leads to opinions in the
and thus shape my perception of what            these shitstorms.                             social domain aligning themselves with
my Facebook friends think. It’s therefore                                                     the ostensible majority opinion.
not the case that everyone has the same         In Germany, this positive feedback is
voice, but instead there is a kind of pow­      known as a »candystorm«.                      In your opinion, do shitstorms cause
er-law distribution. As a result, we get                                                      lasting damage?
the erroneous impression that the opinion       Yes, there are several examples for this.
of particularly active people is also the       The Miniatur Wunderland theme park            Negative communication destroys the
opinion of all the others in our respective     in Hamburg received a letter from some­       basis for a possible discourse. You can
circle of acquaintances.                        one who had spoken out against allow­         argue your point, provided you both

What advantage do network research
tools offer in this context?

People are not alone in the world; they
base their actions on others. This is at the
heart of network research when we
examine the structure of relationships.
Because traditional social research does
not consider this, network research is an
alternative to traditional social research
methods. This applies above all for stand­
ardized surveys in quantitative research,
                                                                                               Wave of indignation:
where no relationship between inter­                                                           The ING-DiBa clip with
viewees nor between interviewer and                                                            Dirk Nowitzki triggered
interviewee is allowed because that could                                                      a shitstorm and a
falsify the results in the sense of a natural                                                  »candystorm«.
science measurement. However, that

                                                                                                                    Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

acknowledge each other and each other’s
opinion. At that moment when the
basis is destroyed, a negative reciprocity
emerges or a reciprocity in conflict, as                             Christian Stegbauer
Georg Simmel once called it. In fact, we                             Shitstorms.
should try to be forbearing and not join                             Der Zusammenprall
in at the same level. However, that is in                            digitaler Kulturen
fact against the social rule of paying back                          Springer, 2018
like with like. In the case of famous people,
such shitstorms mostly subside after a
couple of days. But with politicians who        When examining a shitstorm against the         At one point in your book you say that
have taken a stance against the right           Hessenpark museum, I came across some          the indignation exhibited on the internet
wing, for example, it’s likely to be more       extreme cases of threats of violence.          stands not only for the »broken promises
protracted.                                     When the solution offered is to »just          of future technology« but also for their
                                                burn Hessenpark down« and employees            »partial fulfilment«. Does the internet
I guess we just shouldn't simply allow          there are threatened, this stirs up hate.      also give citizens a certain »power«?
everything. But that’s exactly what you’re      You ask yourself when this violence will
also lamenting, that many mass media            one day erupt in reality. In the rhetoric of   As a citizen, you no longer have to hide
switch off the comments function due to         the Alternative for Germany political          from »those at the top«, the authorities.
vast public pressure.                           party, for example, people like to talk        In terms of democracy, that is something
                                                about »knifemen«. That does not now            fundamentally positive. There are shit­
For the media, it’s often the only possibil­    mean that the people who talk like that        storm-like protests which are positive in
ity to moderate this in a very regulated        necessarily resort to violence themselves.     a certain sense because they campaign,
manner. However, moderation is expen­           But it creates a mood that gives a certain     for example, for consumer rights. If a
sive, and then – under certain circum­          backing to those ready to do so. Right-        company has brought a product onto the
stances – an accusation of censorship           wing groups attempt every day to scan­         market that does not deliver what it
follows.                                        dalize topics, which also includes staging     promises, through massive protests con­
                                                shitstorms. Sometimes such an operation        sumers can get the company to back
You also mention in your book that criticism    transfers out of a small circle of sympa­      down. But in a constitutional state, you
of right-wing populist positions is very        thizers to a wider public. In the case of      also need certain protection for specific
often associated with people’s limited          the Hessenpark museum, the complaint           groups as well as respect for institutions.
abilities to express themselves in writing.     was that asylum seekers were allowed in        We should therefore not tear down all
                                                free of charge, while Germans, even            barriers, even if that would sometimes be
In milieus such as the middle-class and         those on income support, had to pay.           desirable from the perspective of radical
conservative FAZ newspaper, for exam­           Now we could, of course, say that in a         democratization.
ple, readers who write letters to the edi­      certain way this was unfair. On the other
tor attach great importance to meticu­          hand, for the purpose of integration it’s
lously respecting every full stop, comma        important that migrants learn something        The interview was conducted by Dirk Frank.
and upper and lower case. There, you’re         about the culture of the country that has
only acknowledged if you write cor­             taken them in. The line of argument then
rectly. However, as a matter of principle       looks quite different again.
we should not disparage people because
of their education. The better educated
are at an advantage in terms of political
                                                                                  About Christian Stegbauer
participation anyway. However, as far as
communication on the internet is con­                                             Already in the 1980s as a student assistant at Goethe
cerned, the threshold has lowered. Peo­                                           University, Christian Stegbauer was entrusted with a
ple without the ability to express them­                                          small study on mailboxes. Later he wrote an article for
selves in sophisticated language will                                             Forschung Frankfurt (Issue 4, 1995) on the introduction
surround themselves accordingly with                                              of email there: He is now an associate professor for
people to whom that’s not so important.                                           sociology at Goethe University and currently conduct-
                                                                                  ing research on the formation of microcultures in
However, this widens the social divide
                                                                                  social situations. How this occurs is explained in the
even further.
                                                                                  book »Grundlagen der Netzwerkforschung: Situationen,
                                                                                  Mikronetzwerke und Kultur« on the basis of everyday
A very topical issue right now is right-                                          behaviour. His book on »Shitstorms« shows under
wing radicalism, whose representatives                                            which conditions shitstorms develop.
also and above all organize themselves                                            stegbauer@soz.uni-frankfurt.de
on the internet. Does network research
have something to say about this
phenomenon?

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalisation and
       sustainability –
            not a contradiction
       Energy-efficient computers such as that of Volker Lindenstruth
       and his team provide an ecological cushion for growing data hunger

       By Regina Kremer

       Coffee from a machine, the online edition
       of our daily newspaper, a traffic update:
       our day starts digitally and continues digitally.
       This requires energy, a lot of energy.
       But do we know how much?

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
DIGITALIZATION SOCIETY - and - Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

I
  n Germany alone, the use of the internet          successor to the Loewe-CSC – in 2017. An inno­
  releases as much CO2 every year as total air      vative construction principle that pairs high
  traffic. But how can the possibilities of IT be   energy savings with high performance forms the
exploited while saving environmental resources      basis. In February 2020, Lindenstruth and his
at the same time? The Frankfurt physicist, Pro­     team received a European patent for the overall
fessor Volker Lindenstruth has developed            concept of an energy-efficient cooling structure
impressive and pioneering technologies toward       for data centers. Now this concept can be used
this goal.                                          economically worldwide.
    Lindenstruth has been working as professor
for high performance computer architecture at       Enormous opportunities for the future
Goethe University since 2009. Using unusual         with digitalisation
ideas, creativity and confidence, he mastered       The developments of the past year have made it
the challenge of building a high-performance        clear: digitalisation offers enormous opportuni­
computer for the university’s research network      ties for the future, both globally as well as for
that is fast and high performing, and both          individuals. The economy, society and environ­
cost-saving and energy-efficient. In 2010           mental protection all stand to benefit. High per­
the supercomputer he developed, Loewe-CSC           formance computers (supercomputers) provide
located at the Hoechst Industry Park, took up       calculations, security and predictions in a vast
operation as the most energy efficient computer     number of areas such as:
in Europe at that time. At the same time the cor­
responding data center is one of the most effi­     • the
                                                      	 automobile industry for highly developed
cient ones world wide. It was followed by the         efficiency and security in driving,
Green IT Cube data center for the GSI in
Darmstadt in 2016, and the GOETHE-HR – as           • medicine for the prediction of diseases and
                                                     calculation of their progression (see Forschung
                                                     Frankfurt 2/2019 »Prevention is better than
                                                     healing«),

                                                    • meteorology,
                                                      	             with long-term prognoses for
                                                      economic planning for the economy, medi­
                                                      cine and politics – for farmers in the manage­
                                                      ment of arable land, for insurance companies
                                                      in adjusting premiums to probabilities of
                                                      unusual weather situations, but also for
                                                      hospitals for emergency planning in extreme
                                                      weather conditions,

                                                    • for
                                                      	 sustainability and climate protection with
                                                      computer simulations on the future of electric
                                                      cars and autonomous driving.

                                                         In the future, continually increasing amounts
                                                    of data will be collected by ground stations,
                                                    ships, airplanes and satellites with the help of
                                                    computers, and more and more data will be
                                                    stored, searched, distributed and visualised. The
                                                    worldwide ­    volume of data will continue to
                                                    grow. With 40 zettabytes in 2020, it is already 50
                                                    times greater than in 2017. (For comparison:
                                                    the maximum storage capacity of the human
                                                    brain corresponds to about 2.5 petabytes in          Green IT Cube, computer
                                                    ­digital units, with a petabyte being a 1 followed   centre of the GSI Helmholtz
                                                                                                         Centre for Heavy Ion Research
                                                     by 15 zeroes.) The demands made on the perfor­
                                                                                                         in Darmstadt.
                                                     mance of computers and processors, and on the
                                                     speed with which data is accessed and processed
                                                     are continually increasing. And there will also
                                                     be ever larger amounts of data to manage on
                                                     private computers, smartphones, tablets, exter­
                                                     nal hard drives and in the cloud.

                                                                                                             Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
Digitalization and Society

                                                                                                Toward this end, data centres are being
                                                                                            developed and built all over the world, in which
    What is …?                                                                              computes from one or more companies are
                                                                                            located. Here, a server is a computer that sends,
    Hardware
                                                                                            receives and stores data to and from other com­
    the »body« of the computer, can only be
    changed by reconstruction. Hardware                                                     puters (clients) on request. The available IT
    includes:                                                                               resources are assigned according to an organised
                                                                                            schedule and ideally work to capacity, allowing
    • 	processor or CPU (Central Processing
      Unit), centrepiece: computing unit that                                               the simultaneous accessing of several data units
      carries out the assigned tasks/                                                       in these servers. In terms of dimension: experts
      computing operations, to date it                          Graphic card with           estimate that Facebook’s data centres comprise
      consists of multiple CPU cores                            ventilator for cooling.     30,000 computers.
    • CPU core Rechenkern: smallest
       computing unit of a processor                                                        Corona crisis: heyday for digitalisation
                                                                                            The most recent example of network use is the
    • 	graphic card,
      typically serves two functions. It generates the signals for the display              corona crisis: networks were used here to follow
      monitor and implements compute functionality to perform operations                    the course of the infection worldwide. With
      directly on the image data. In the computing context this computing                   the supercomputer of the GoetheUniversity,
      capability is used for processing. The video functionality of a graphics              the evolution of the pandemic was predicted.
      card remains unused in this context.                                                  This work was carried out by Dr. Maria
      • 	  CPU-dependent, converts data computed by the processor                          ­Barbarossa (FIAS) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Lippert
      • 	  GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)-dependent, computes data­                         (Goethe-University/FIAS). As a consequence of
            ­independent of CPU, works faster                                                the social distancing decreed by governments,
    Software – the »brain« of the computer                                                   digital forms of contact and leisure activities
    Programmes, responsible for system operations, information processing and                increased with a vengeance. The central Ger­
    all the data this produces. Can be changed by, for example, updates. Example:            man internet node DE-CIX in Frankfurt, the
    navigation system in a car                                                               largest exchange point for internet data traffic
    Server                                                                                   worldwide, reported a 50 percent increase in the
                                                                                             video conferencing rate and 25 percent increase
    A computer with typically several multi-core processors, large amounts of
    memory and a fast network. Servers are usually hosted in data centers.                   in online and cloud gaming.
                                                                                                  The TOP500 is a list of the highest perform­
    Data centre                                                                              ing computers in the world, compiled since
    Centralised facility for hosting a typically large number of servers including           1993 by four experts at the universities of
    mass storage servers. The storage, management and processing of data and
                                                                                             ­Tennessee and Mannheim. First place is taken
    information in servers is organised according to a certain area of knowledge
    or belonging to a specific company.                                                       by the high performance computer Fugaku at
                                                                                              RIKEN in Japan with a performance of 416
    Supercomputer – the giants among the computers                                            petaflops. Its areas of application are various
    Greatest possible computing power, difficult to imagine, »in its own league«              research fields such as nuclear physics and stem
    Performance is measured in FLOP: floating point operations per second,                    cell research. Its power consumption amounts
    Example: The fastest computer in the world, Fugaku in Japan has 415
                                                                                              to 28 334 megawatts. The computer Super­
    petaFLOP. One petaFLOP means a quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000 / 10 to the
    15th power!) floating point operations per second! 20,000 to 50,000 times               MUC-NG at the Leibniz Rechenzentrum in
    faster than a »normal« computer                                                         Munich is at 13th place. It carries out calcula­
                                                                                            tions for climate research, earthquake and seis­
    Internet nodes = Central train station/ Internet train station                          mology research.
    Merger of various networks or servers at central hubs, data exchange
    between the different networks
                                                                                            Growing electricity consumption due
                                                                                            to digitalisation
                                                   Global internet nodes, centres for the   Scientists believe that that by the year 2030, 13
                                                   organisation of data communication.      percent of worldwide electricity consumption
                                                                                            will be caused by data centres. The city of Frank­
                                                                                            furt, an extremely important exchange point
                                                                                            (»network node«) for internet data traffic,
                                                                                            already consumes 30 percent of total local elec­
                                                                                            tricity for data centres.
                                                                                                The Borderstep Institute in Berlin for inno­
                                                                                            vation and sustainability in the future calculated
                                                                                            the CO2 emissions: a thousand tons of CO2 are
                                                                                            formed by the sending of a million emails per
                                                                                            day in Germany, one gram per email. An hour
                                                                                            of video streaming produces the same amount

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

                                                                                             View of some of the GSI‘s 768
                                                                                             computer cabinets, resting on
                                                                                             green steel girders.

                                                    About Volker Lindenstruth
                                                    Volker Lindenstruth studied physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt.
                                                    From 1989 to 1993 he did research at the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion
                                                    Research (GSI) in Darmstadt, and received his doctorate degree at the Goethe
                                                    University Frankfurt. As part of a research fellowship, he went to the Ernest
                                                    Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, USA, for two years
                                                    as a postdoctoral fellow in computer science. From 1995 to 1997 he was a
                                                    member of the UC Space Science Laboratory, USA, before founding iCore
                                                    Technologies in 1997. Since 1998 Prof. Lindenstruth is back in Germany. Until 2009
                                                    he held the chair of Computer Engineering at the University of Heidelberg and
                                                    director of the Kirchhoff Institute. Since 2009 he is professor for High Perfor-
                                                    mance Computing Architecture at Goethe University. The chair focuses on the
                                                    architecture, application and further development of high-performance comput-
                                                    ers in the natural and life sciences. At the European Research Centre CERN near
                                                    Geneva he developed an intelligent readout technique for the data of the ALICE
                                                    experiment. He is also a member of the board of the Frankfurt Institute for
                                                    Advanced Studies (FIAS) at the Goethe University.
                                                    voli@fias.uni-frankfurt.de

of CO2 as a kilometre of driving. The search        for an effective computer architecture and
machine Google handles about 5.6 billion search     architecture of data centres, combined with the
requests per day worldwide, with an electricity     development of a high-performing, energy efficient
demand of 0.3 watthours per search request          and cost-saving supercomputer is composed of
according to Google – to make it easier to          different approaches:
imagine: with 200 search requests you could
iron a shirt.                                       • 	He takes a critical view of existing data
    In Lindenstruth’s view, this immense energy       centres with regard to energy efficiency,
consumption, and the cost intensity of the            degree of use, architecture and arrangement
machines cannot be attributed solely to use.          of the many computers. The software-based
Both aspects could already be positively influ­       servers must run day and night due to use,
enced in the constructions of these machines          but often at a work capacity of only 25
according to Lindenstruth. His innovative concept     percent. The data centres in Europe and the

                                                                                                                  Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
One of Google’s largest computer centres
worldwide in Douglas County (Georgia, USA),
not far from Atlanta.

       What are the units a high performance computer works with?                         mance speed, comparing this to a car that
                                                                                          only drives in one gear. The unused capacity
       Bit: 		a binary figure or unit for information content or data                   of the computer is lost as heat. An increase in
                volume: alphanumeric symbols (0, 1 …, A,B …)                              the performance of the software by the factor
                                                                                          100 to 1,000 could be achieved by a revision
       Byte (B): 		measuring unit for digital technology and information                of the algorithms.
                     systems 1 byte = 8 bits
                                                                                         • Graphic
                                                                                           	       cards are necessary computational
       1 kilobyte (KB)       = 103 B (about a fourth of a printed page)                    tools for a computer to work. Today, all
       1 megabyte (MB) =	1 000 000 bytes (500 pages of text, for comparison:             graphic cards have their own storage. The
                           long-term stored information units in the brain of a 60         internal GPUs normally installed, however,
                           year-old 150 to 225 MB                                          are not super-fast. Moreover, the image
                                                                                           resolution is not very high. Lindenstruth
       1 gigabyte (GB)      =	109 bytes (storage capacity of USB sticks up to 64 GB)
                                                                                           prefers GPU graphic cards developed for
       1 terabyte (TB)      =	1012 B(current maximum storage capacity of an external     computer games that can operate inde­
                                hard drive 16 TB)                                          pendently of the computer’s processor. The
       1 petabyte (PB)      =	1015 B (memory content of all living 6 billion people      idea of integrating them in the computer as
                                today about 1350 petabytes as of the 1990’s)               independently working graphic cards has
                                                                                           proven to be pioneering and highly efficient.
       1 exabyte (EB)       =	1018 B (in 2019 customers of the mobile net O2 caused
                                                                                           They are particularly high performing with
                                more than an exabyte in traffic for the first time –
                                                                                           fast computing power, because the individual
                                this is more than 1 billion gigabytes)
                                                                                           computing power does not interact with
       1 zettabyte (ZB)      =	1021 B (presumably, the NSA stores data volumes of         others, and simultaneously-running algo­
                                several zettabytes)                                        rithms accelerate the computing process.
                                                                                           In addition, the computing power is produced
                                                                                           in its own GPU processor. The cost of these
                                                                                           graphic cards is manageable, as rising demand
                                        US alone have an energy use of 40 gigawatt.        means they are manufactured at low cost in
                                        »Forty gigawatts are equal to about the half       high number. Eight hundred of these graphic
                                        of total German electricity consumption,           cards were built into the first supercomputer
                                        which is about 70 GW. Overall, 10 GW               Loewe-CSC. At CERN, the European organi­
                                        worldwide could be saved alone by optimiz­         sation for nuclear research, Lindenstruth
                                        ing the data centers,« says Lindenstruth.          tripled the computing power of the two-mil­
                                                                                           lion euro computer by using graphic cards
                                      • 	He furthermore explains that due to poorly       with a value of 500 euro per card.
                                        written or outdated software, many comput­
                                        ers work at lower levels of performance, with    • Lindenstruth
                                                                                           	             sees one of the greatest need ­
                                        high energy consumption and low perfor­            for action in the cooling of the computer.

   1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
Digitalization and Society

 Whether desktop or high performing                  requires less than 7 percent of the total required
 ­computer, the processers emit heat while           energy of the data centre for cooling – compared
  working. Until now, cooling has been carried       to 30 percent for other cooling systems – making
  out by the intake and release of air which         Green IT Cube an important step toward sus­
  is passed on to the exterior air by the com­       tainable digitalisation.
  puter’s built-in fans. This leads to a rise in
  room temperature; in rooms containing              Without doubt: our future is digital
  supercomputers sometimes to more than 50           It opens possibilities to make the rapid eco­
  degrees Celsius. In addition, the fans them­       nomic, social and – no contradiction – climatic
  selves require about 4 percent of the energy       changes easier to plan and shape successfully.
  required by the processor itself.                  The unavoidable increase in energy consump­
                                                     tion does not have to be in conflict with sustain­
    The cooling system developed by Linden­          ing the natural foundation of life. The research
struth and patented in February 2020 is based        by Lindenstruth and his team, and of many
on a simple trick: a cold water cooling system is    other research groups in the field of green IT are
built into the back door of the rack containing      promising. Sustainable technology contributes
the computer by means of a heat exchanger.           to the protection of climate and natural resources.
The hot air of the system is transferred to the      Every individual can act in a »digitally sustain­
water and cooled. The heated water is cooled         able« way. Digitalisation and sustainability do
according to the principle of a refrigerator.        not have to be a contradiction. 
»When you sweat in the summer and the water
on your skin evaporates, you begin to shiver,«
Lindenstruth says, describing his concept. The
room temperature can be maintained at a con­
stant using this cooling system. The server’s
waste heat can be used to heat other rooms or
distributed beneficially through district heating
systems.

»Green IT Cube« as a guide to more
energy efficiency
With »Green IT Cube«, Lindenstruth was able to
achieve the ambitious goal of building a large
scale data center with these requirements. This
data centre was completed in January 2016 in
Darmstadt at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für
Schwerionenforschung. Stacked shelves stand
in the »cube« which measures 27 m x 30 m x
22 m, in which 768 computer cabinets can be
arranged on six levels. The three-dimensional
structure – next to each other, on top of each
other – is 10 times more compact than conven­
tional building methods. The connections – i.e.,
the cable lengths between circuits are therefore
shorter, signal transmission is faster, allowing
                                                         The author
experiments or simulations of extraordinary              Regina Kremer, born in 1956, studied biology
intensity and speed, and it is overall an environ­       and chemistry for secondary teaching degree
mentally friendly architecture. At least 300,000         at the University of Gießen. She teaches at the
computing engines Rechenkerne (1 processer               Claus-von-Stauffenberg-Schule, a secondary
contains several several computing units = com­          school in Rodgau in the district of Offenbach.
puting engine Rechenkern) are planned, with              As senior teacher, having contact to the nearby
storage space totalling up to 100 petabytes,             universities is important to her. She regularly
which is equal to 100.000 conventional com­              arranges for her students to participate in
                                                         scientific projects at the universities in Frankfurt,
puter hard drives. The data transmission rate for
                                                         Mainz and Darmstadt. She developed an
experimental computing processes is one tera­
                                                         affinity to IT through planning her classes and
byte per second, which is equal to 500 000               putting together the most up-to-date working
­private DSL connections. The cool water cooling         materials.
 system developed by Lindenstruth in the back
                                                         regikremer1@t-online.de
 doors of the computer cabinets cools 12 mega­
 watts of the total computer performance and

                                                                                                                     Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
LAW
and

ORDER
Law and Order

The »Criminal Law« of
predictive society
… or how »smart« algorithms (could) change the administration of criminal justice

By Christoph Burchard

Applying AI to criminal law and justice –
a threatening vision of the future or a utopia of
security and freedom?

I
  t is the year 2054. An imminent double mur-           data) in such a way that individual behaviour
  der, a crime of passion, is reported to the pre-cop   can be predicted with increasing accuracy.
  department of Washington D.C. After consult-              This has long been established in many areas
ing a face database and other databases, the            of life: who will buy what online? Who will
detective in charge quickly identifies the perpe-       with what probability be unable to repay their
trator and the crime scene. A pre-cop team              loan? These questions, directed at the future,
rushes over and at the last minute (the weapon          are answered algorithmically in the present, in
was already being raised for action), they are          order to be able to »re«-act immediately. In
able to prevent the crime from taking place. The        these areas, our society is being transformed
perpetrator is then arrested for the future killing     into something like algorithmic predictive soci-
of his wife and her lover. This is the opening of       ety. Traditionally, uncertainty about how the
Minority Report, a science fiction thriller from        future will develop is processed by human prog-
2002. In it, the pre-crime programme – preventing       noses, and also by trust in certain institutions,
crimes before they happen – has made crime a            especially the law. In predictive society, this task
thing of the past. »That which keeps us safe will       is assumed by probability calculations from
also keep us free« – this is how the programme          »smart« algorithms, whose capabilities far
is promoted: as the perfect reconciliation of           exceed human data processing capabilities. In
security and freedom.                                   predictive society, therefore, the accuracy of the
                                                        algorithms and the availability of the necessary
The future is now – even in criminal law                data are the actual currency, and consequently
and justice!                                            the actual source of societal power.
As fantastical as it seemed in the film – this              Criminal law is no exception here. The
future has already begun. However, whereas in           »criminal law« of predictive society is already in
Minority Report, Hollywood still had to depend          the making. Here are just a few examples:
on individuals with clairvoyant abilities, today
»smart« algorithms are employed. Driven by              • Predictive
                                                          	         and big-data policing promises to
artificial intelligence (AI) and ever faster com-         be able to identify crime scenes (abstract) as
putational possibilities, they are able to analyse        well as victims and perpetrators (individually)
large and apparently unconnected datasets (big            before the crime is committed. In this

                                                                                                               Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
Law and Order

                                manner, patrol cars should be able to be sent
                                to hotspots before break-ins etc. occur. These
                                kinds of programmes are being used globally,
                                including in Hessen, where we use software
                                from the US provider Palantir, making our-
                                selves to some extent dependent on such
                                firms in the process.

                               • 	Risk assessment programmes promise a more
                                 precise estimate of the harmlessness/danger-             Can crimes really
                                 ousness of criminals. Those posing a threat to      be predicted? In 2002,
                                                                                         Tom Cruise plays a
                                 society should removed from society longer,
                                                                                            police officer in
                                 harmless criminals released from custody           »Minority Report« who
                                 sooner or put on parole from the start.             himself gets caught in
                                 This not only provides security, it also saves        the machinery of the
                                                                                    pre-crime programme.
                                 money – which is the reason that these
                                                                                   The movie takes places
                                 programmes are already being widely applied         in the year 2054 and is
                                 in the USA.                                        based on a short story
                                                                                                  from 1956.
                               • 	Government agencies are not alone in relying
                                 on predictions to prevent crime; in fact, the
                                 government is a shrinking subset of predictive
                                 society. Crime prevention and even more              Algorithms in the administration of criminal
                                 importantly pre-emption are both being           justice may be accompanied by considerable
                                 »privatised«. Monitoring programmes              shifts in power, especially to the benefit of those
                                 are being developed for grocery stores among     actors »behind« the algorithms – such as the IT
                                 other things in order to identify shoplifters    company, which in the USA does not even have
                                 before they shoplift. And predictive policing    to make the algorithmic foundations of its risk
                                 algorithms can also be used by employers.        assessment programmes public (!). Democratic
                                 The buzzword is digital criminal compliance:     lawmakers must also be taken into considera-
                                 the digitally supported real-time prevention     tion, however. They would seem to be able to
                                 of compliance violations such as corruption in   »finally« govern completely through algo-
                                 business dealings or market manipulations.       rithms. Defending vested interests (»We have
                                                                                  always done it this way!«) is, however, not an
                               • 	But the risk emanating from potential          argument against the »criminal law« of predic-
                                 perpetrators is not the only future that can     tive society. Even less so, when this appears to
                                   be determined predictively. Judges and         fulfil the promises of criminal justice better than
                                 prosecutors are increasingly viewed as a risk    the original. Where criminal law can only oper-
                                 because they may evaluate subjectively and       ate contra-factually and normatively (»Thou
                                 with bias – be swayed, for example, by racial    shalt not kill! But you can.«), predictive society
                                 prejudice. There are considerations to review    promises factuality (»Thou cannot kill!«).
                                 the relative reasonableness of penalties by          Technically, these promises are still difficult
                                 algorithm before they are imposed. This falls    to fulfil. In the USA, predictive policing pro-
                                 on sympathetic ears in Germany, too. After       grammes have already been discontinued
                                 all, penalties vary significantly throughout     because they have not proven to be sufficiently
                                 Germany, and not just between north and          effective. Comprehensive face recognition is
                                 south.                                           switched off, because it is discriminating for
                                                                                  technical reasons. And it has become clear that
                               »Thou shalt not kill!«                             risk assessment algorithms are not – as had orig-
                                – becomes »Thou cannot kill!«                     inally been hoped for by citizen rights move-
                               How should one react to all these develop-         ments – a valid means for overcoming the
                               ments? A frequent reaction is the with the         deeply rooted racism in the US criminal justice
                               defence of one’s vested interests: »Algorithms     system. Predictions »today« are normally only
                               can’t do what experienced crime officers and       as neutral as the data that was collected »yester-
                               experts (judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys,   day«. If the data input is racist, the prediction
                               etc.) can do. Algorithms cannot grasp the com-     output is also racist (bias in, bias out – or more
                               plexities of penalties, not to mention let com-    bluntly: crap in, crap out). If this is coupled­
                               mon sense prevail.« So one hears, time and         with blind faith in technology, the bias – such as
                               again. But this is often just whistling in the     a racist bias – of the prediction goes socially
                               dark.                                              undetected.

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
As serious as these objections are, they are      mative. This applies all the more as algorithmic
ineffective overall against the new »criminal         predictions (so we are constantly promised) are
law« of predictive society. They act instead as       even better and more effective than law at pro-
arguments for technological development and           viding security in the future.
more innovation. The causes and justifications            The fact that the transition to predictive soci-
for more prediction in the administration of          ety means an increase in surveillance trends (no
criminal justice remain unaffected. Certainly,        predictions without data!) seems to be accept-
smart algorithms are like a black box, whose          able to many. What is decisive in this regard is
prognoses cannot be comprehended – but
doesn’t the court also make its sentencing deci-
sions in closed chambers? And yes, algorithms
may be prone to error and bias – but doesn’t this
apply even more to judges, who are also »only«             IN A NUTSHELL
human?
                                                           • We are underway toward becoming
Where does the need for algorithms come from?                an »algorithmic predictive society«:
                                                             artificial intelligence and big data lead
WWhat drives us, then, to »criminal law« in
                                                             to increasing algortihmic predicitons of
predictive society? A lot is probably due to the
                                                             future behaviour so that we can
complex relationship between »trust and conflict«.
                                                             »re«-act to them in the present.
It also has to do with how legal systems or algo-
rithms process and reduce social complexities –            • The more trust in the constitutional
future uncertainties, in other words.                        state diminishes, the more society
     The social acceptance of predictive society             relies on the purpoted efficiency and
goes hand in hand with the loss and shifting of              objectivity of algorthmic predictions to
trust. Trust in others is lost when they are no              generate future security.
long viewed as fellow citizens, politicians (law-          • Justice and police use prediction
makers) or judges (law appliers), but rather as              algorithms for the purpose of predicting
risks. This brings other actors into play (such as           crime and the dangerousness of
private »code makers« and »code appliers«). In               criminals, among other things
addition, mistrust toward law as a means of                • When analysing these algorithmic
reducing social complexity is growing – espe-                predictions scientifically, it is important
cially when law becomes politicised and is either            – as it is now in the corona crisis – to
unable or unwilling to negotiate social conflicts            reassess the relation betwen security
neutrally. The less social conflicts are able to be          and freedom anew. What measure of
confined as legal conflicts and thereby neutral-             security is a basic rerquirement for
ised, the greater the trust in the neutrality of             freedome? And when does the former
code and IT (»In code and technology we trust!«),            excessively curtail the latter?
even if code and IT are actually thoroughly nor-

                                                                                                             Forschung Frankfurt | 1.2020
Law and Order

                               that surveillance in the age of surveillance capi-    we need to review the issue with a cool head
                               talism (Zuboff) becomes ever more »liquefied«         without succumbing to techno phobia.
                               (Baumann): surveillance is difficult to grasp,            Whom, for example, does a predictive soci-
                               especially in the West, as it is no longer per-       ety act upon when it thinks of its members (one
                               ceived as authoritarian force, but as realization     should no longer speak of citizens) primarily as
                               of freedom (the digital traces we voluntarily         a risk – even as potential dangers? And what
                               leave in social networks come to mind). Moreo-        effect does this have on iron principles of crimi-
                               ver, for many citizens, whether their security        nal law – such as the presumption of innocence
                               fears are justified or not, it seems acceptable for   and the in dubio pro reo principle – if the algo-
                               them to be algorithmically evaluated as long as       rithmic probability calculation has precedence
                               others are, too. This is in keeping with the naive,   over the idea that judges should only convict
                               but effective motto: »Those who have nothing          when no reasonable doubt remains? And would
                               to hide have nothing to fear from algorithmic         this be such a terrible thing? After all, the idea of
                               surveillance and risk evaluation!«                    »without a reasonable doubt« is not immune to
                                                                                     abuse either? And what does this mean with
                               What remains of criminal law                          regard to the doctrine of probable cause as the
                               Not until we comprehend what propels us               necessary prerequisite for taking up criminal
                               toward the »criminal law« of predictive society       investigations if probable cause can visibly be
                               can we arrive at the crux of the matter. What is      generated automatically from big data? Moreo-
                               left of our current understanding of criminal         ver, can a democratically constituted predictive
                               law in predictive society? What is the »criminal      society do without the checks and balances of
                               law« – which is intentionally put into quotation      the law (as it is executed by humans)? (The fact
                               marks – of predictive society? What axioms does       that and how the Bundesverfassungsgericht –
                               it rest on? And can these axioms be defended?         the Federal Constitutional Court – recently top-
                               In keeping with the best of Frankfurt traditions,     pled the criminal prohibition against suicide
                                                                                     assistance comes to mind.) Finally: can and may
                                                                                     predictive society do without the postulate
                                                                                     (which is admittedly not constantly realistic)
                                                                                     that the one judging must also be able to be the
                                                                                     one being judged (something that is difficult
                                                                                     with algorithms)?

                                                                                     Do we have a right to violate the law?
                                                                                     But above all there is the question of freedom
                                                                                     in the »criminal law« of predictive society. In
                                                                                     Minority Report, a crime of passion was inten-
                                                                                     tionally placed at the beginning of the story. The
                                                                                     »criminal« (who did not even commit the
                               The author                                            crime!) was more or less spontaneously inspired
                                                                                     to commit the »crime« (which he did not even
                               Christoph Burchard, 44, is Professor for
                                                                                     complete!) when he found his wife in their mar-
                               Criminal Law and Criminal Procedural Law at
                               the Faculty of Law at Goethe University, and          ital bed with her lover. Crimes planned well in
                               Principal Investigator with the resesarch             advance no longer exist in Minority Report.
                               collaboration Normative Orders. He is a Goethe        »People have gotten the message!« – is how a
                               Fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissen-           protagonist describes it.
                               schaften Bad Homburg. Burchard’s research                  What sounds like a utopia in which security
                               includes changes in criminal justice through          (there is no more crime) and freedom (everyone
                               digitalisation and internationalisation, and the      enjoys legal certainty) are maximised can
                               current renationalisation of society. In 2019 his     quickly turn into a dystopia. This happens when
                               publications included »Die Konstitutionalisi-         the getting of »the message« turns into the una-
                               erung der gegenseitigen Anerkennung« (The
                                                                                     voidable internalisation of all algorithmic deter-
                               Constitutionalisation of Mutual Recognition)
                                                                                     minations and power structures they express;
                               (published by Klostermann) and »Künstliche
                               Intelligenz als Ende des Strafrechts? Zur             and when all criticism of the smart algorithms
                               algorithmischen Transformation der Gesellschaft«      on the grounds of anticipatory compliance with
                               (Artificial Intelligence as the End of Criminal       algorithmic predictions falls silent. This is where
                               Law? On the Algorithmic Transformation of             the emancipatory and authoritarian potential of
                               Society) (in the Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik         predictive society come together. And the ques-
                               (Yearbook for Law and Ethics)).                       tion arises: does the autonomy to be able to in
                               burchard@jur.uni-frankfurt.de                         fact commit crimes belong to the core of a free
                                                                                     democratic basic order? Is there a kind of right

1.2020 | Forschung Frankfurt
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