Two New Projects on Social Impacts of AI Started

As part of a new research program for the common good-oriented handling of artificial intelligence (AI) three projects of the University of Mannheim are funded by the Baden-Württemberg Foundation.

AI plays an increasingly important role in many areas of life – and raises fundamental legal and ethical questions. The Baden-Württemberg Foundation has now launched a new funding program on the topic of “Responsible Artificial Intelligence” and has awarded ten projects – two of the co-led by Heiko Paulheim from the Data and Web Science Group Group:

Illegal online price fixing
As part of the project “Antitrust-Compliant AI (KarekoKI)”, Prof. Dr. Thomas Fetzer and Prof. Dr. Heiko Paulheim, holder of the chair for data science, develop legal framework and strategies for the technical prevention of AI-based price fixing. The background: AI systems are increasingly being used on online platforms such as Amazon, which monitor the prices of competitors and set their own prices on this basis. “This raises legal and technical questions about how AI should deal with the potential of illegal price fixing,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Fetzer, Chair of Public Law, Regulatory Law and Tax Law. The team receives funding of 383,000 euros for its research.

Social polarization through online news
The project “Responsible News Recommender Systems” (ReNewRS) by Prof. Dr. Heiko Paulheim and Dr. Philipp Müller from the Institute for Media and Communication Science in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Harald Sack (FIZ Karlsruhe) and Prof. Dr. Christof Weinhardt (KIT Karlsruhe) receives almost 700,000 euros, around half of which goes to the University of Mannheim. Message recommendation systems are used in social media platforms and on online news portals and recommend messages to users based on their previous use of the platform. The researchers want to investigate the effects of such systems on social polarization processes, political participation and prosocial behavior. For this purpose, different versions of such recommendation systems are to be developed in the project and their effects will be tested in online and laboratory studies.

In addition to those two projects, a third project, FairADM, led by Prof. Dr. Frauke Kreuter from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Mannheim, was also selected for funding. Thus, in total, the Baden-Württemberg Foundation funds research evolving around the societal impact of artificial intelligence at our university with a total 850,000 Euros.