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HFDT Lectures

The research network Human Factor in Digital Transformation organises HFDT Lectures on current issues and problems in the field of digital transformation at regular intervals. After the lectures, there is the opportunity to exchange views on the topic.




Prof. Burkhard Schafer gave an HFDT Lecture on the 16th of October 2023 on the topic "When sorry is the hardest game to play, - Wittgenstein, robotics-apologies and the law".

Zum Vortrag:

Apologies play a central role in trust recovery. Apologies also play a central role in the law - in the criminal justice system of many countries, an apologetic perpetrator can expect a reduced sentence, while in-house lawyers often discourage employe's from apologising as this can be interpreted as an admission of liability. Increasingly, their power has also been recognised by HCI researchers that imbue machines with the ability to “utter apologies” under certain conditions.  But what should we make of machine-apologies? Are they merely a form of deception that mimics human apologies, but should not get the same reception let alone legal recognition? Or are there ways to think of machine-apologies as valid speech acts, at least under some conditions? The talk will draw on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, in particular his thoughts on psychology, theology and linguistics, to make sense of robot-apologies, and draw some tentative conclusions for their legal and ethical ramification.

Zur Vortragenden:

Burkhard Schafer is Professor of Computational Legal Theory at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the SCIPT Centre in IT and IP Law. He studied logic, theory of science, computer linguistic and law at the universities of Main, Munich and Lancaster before joining the School of Law of the University of Edinburgh in 1996. His research interests straddle the use of technology in the justice system (legal informatics/Rechtsinformatik) and the legal regulation of technology (IT law, Informationsrecht), both from an interdisciplinary and comparative-legal perspective. He was Pi or Co-I in projects funded through FP7, EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC and Nordforsk totalling over £12m, most recently the RCUK funded large R&D Cluster “Creative Informatics” which supports the use of data science for individual artists and companies in the creative industries in Scotland.


Prof. Dr. Kerstin Radde-Antweiler gave a HFDT Lecture on 17 June 2021 on the topic "Religion as Communicative Figuration. Transformations of Religious Communication in Times of Profound Mediatisation".

About the lecture:

In times of profound mediatisation, religious actors also use digital media to (re)present and negotiate their religious identity. Therefore, on the one hand, media reflect cultural and social construction processes as well as their changes, on the other hand, they also shape, change or create these constructions themselves. But how do communicative practices change in times when actors live in a qualitatively and quantitatively expanded media environment and are confronted with trends of profound mediatisation such as datafication or increased connectivity through media? From an actor-centred perspective, it will be asked to what extent this has an impact on the understanding of religion. The lecture will address the question of how we can determine and analyse the relationship between the transformation processes of religion and media on different levels from the perspective of both religious studies and communication studies. In doing so, he will present current discussions and theoretical contributions on the topic of "profound mediatisation" and "communicative figurations" and discuss them using three case studies from the field of the Roman Catholic Church. The fundamental question is how we can determine and analyse the relationship between the transformation processes of religion and media on different levels.

About the lecturer:

Kerstin Radde-Antweiler, Prof. Dr., is professor for the field of work "Literatures and Media of Religions" at the Institute for Religious Studies and Religious Education at the University of Bremen. Her research focuses on mediatisation and religion, recent Catholicism, ritual theory, and religion and video gaming. Recent publications: "Handbook for Religion and Journalism" Routledge 2020 (with X. Zeiler), "Mediatized Religion in Asia: Studies on Digital Media and Religion" Routledge 2019 (with X. Zeiler), "Methods for Studying Video Games and Religion." Routledge 2018 (co-edited with V. Sisler & X. Zeiler). She is also the editor of the online journal GAMEVIRONMENTS.


Date: 27th April 2020: 3 pm to 4 pm
Location: Skype for Business Meeting

About the lecture:

Technology assessment (TA) is a relatively young concept of interdisciplinary, scientific policy advice. On the one hand, it is about understanding the interdependencies of technology (development) and society, on the other hand, it is about understanding and analysing the development of technology and, based on this, about political and social advice. In this lecture, the main features of TA will be presented and made tangible using concrete examples.

Questions such as "What topics does the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) deal with?"; "What methodological concepts and instruments does TA use?" or "Who are the addressees and how can they best be reached?" will be addressed and exemplarily answered from the practice of ITA.

About the speaker:

Walter Peissl is Deputy Director of the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He was one of the first staff members of the Research Unit for Technology Assessment at the ÖAW, which was founded in 1988, and since then has been involved with issues at the interface of technology, society and politics. His work focuses on the new information society, digitisation, protection of privacy and methodological issues in technology assessment. However, he has already worked on or led projects in practically all of ITA's thematic areas.

Further information (Link: German only):

Date: 22nd October 2019: 10am to 12pm
Location: Sitzungszimmer 15.22, Universitätsstraße 15, Bauteil G, 2. OG

About the lecture:

The development of robots and their use in the world of work is progressing. Due to the technological progress of the last decades, robots increasingly have functions that enable them to learn from experience, make decisions and move in more complex environments. In the future, these features should help robots shed their primarily tool-based role and collaborate with humans in a wide variety of contexts, providing a service or manufacturing a product together with humans. Trust plays an essential role in such close cooperation between humans and robots. The lecture explores the question of how trust is a relevant category in human-robot collaboration and which factors influence human-robot trust.

About the speaker:

Bettina Kubicek is a Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology at the University of Graz. In her research, Prof. Dr Bettina Kubicek deals with the intensification, flexibilisation and robotisation of work. Specifically, she investigates the effects of intensified work demands as well as time and place flexibility on the well-being, motivation and learning of working people and the role of personal and organisational resources in dealing with these demands. She is currently leading research projects on the topics of "cognitive demands of flexible work", "boundary management between work and private life" and "trust in human-robot interaction". She is also setting up an interaction laboratory to research collaborative human-robot relationships.

Date: 10th May 2019: 8.30 am to 10 am
Location: HS 47.01 (Regilind und Irmingard von Admont), Heinrichstraße 78 A, Erdgeschoß

About the lecture:

Data-carrying technologies have successfully found their way into the classrooms of this world today (e.g. smartphones, search engines or social media). These are now - at least in part - highly complex agents with artificial consciousness that process information and link it at different levels and with different communities of interest. But: hasn't consciousness always been a quality that we reserved for humans? What does it mean when the trust we place in integrated information carriers (especially since the advent of the Internet of Things) changes our values? Things that we consider partly unacceptable in an analogue world - especially when it comes to our privacy - are becoming more and more accepted digitally. What is the impact on our trust in intelligent systems when we integrate them into our education systems and when learning is no longer a quality exclusive to humans?

In this talk, Otrel-Cass discusses the need for a rethink by also reinterpreting the interconnections between technical and human systems, and how research should deal with these entangled connections ethically, scientifically and culturally.

About the speaker:

Kathrin Otrel-Cass is a professor at the Institute for Educational Professionalisation at the University of Graz. She has spent the past two decades in New Zealand and Denmark studying the interface between people and technology, specifically in the school setting. Using a techno-anthropological approach, she has sought to critically engage with the entry of technology into schools and what this might mean for our notion of education. Her book Hyperconnectivity and digital reality: Towards the Eutopia of being human (Springer) will be published in 2019.

Date: 8th May 2019: 3.30pm to 5pm
Location: Sitzungszimmer 15.22, Universitätsstraße 15, Bauteil G, 2. OG

About the lecture:

Information technologies (IT) have permeated large parts of our everyday lives. While in the early days of IT we were still very aware of where IT was being used, this is increasingly difficult to assess. We trust IT for cancer detection, braking in cars, autopilot on planes, recommending the best restaurant or product, etc. But what does trust mean in the context of IT and how can we survey it?
In business informatics, the core focus of research is the interaction of people in their accomplishment of tasks in business situations using technology. With the help of design science research, technology artefacts are developed and evaluated with people in their contexts. Trust in technology plays a central role in this.
The lecture will present the view of business informatics on trust and the conceptualisation in design science research. Current challenges of the concept of trust in embedded technologies and artificial intelligence applications will be discussed. Also the transfer of the concept of trust to software agents, which can then trust other software agents again.

About the speaker:

Stefan Thalmann is a professor at the University of Graz and head of the Business Analytics and Data Science-Center - Max Jung-Labor (BANDAS-Center). Previously, he led a research group on Cognitive Decision Support at the Pro2Future research centre and worked as a post-doc at TU Graz and the University of Innsbruck. As a business information scientist, he investigates the use of data-based technologies in business, but also their impact on work and society.

Date: 3rd April 2019: 1pm to 3pm
Location: Universität Graz, Zentrum für Weiterbildung, Harrachgasse 23, 2. Obergeschoß, SR 38.21

About the lecture:

Tim Cole draws a comparison between the American Wild West, which was characterised by lawlessness, the law of the strongest and the resulting monopolies of the so-called "robber barons", and today's internet, which is just as dominated by a handful of GAFA monopolies (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) that help themselves to our data to their heart's content, shamelessly play out their power and thus cause immeasurable damage to society in the long term.

In his book "Wild Wild Web", he pleads for a 'civilisation' of the internet. It is time to rethink, to no longer take the development of the digital transformation in the economy and society for granted and to no longer accept the exploitation of our data without resistance. But without a new, digital ethic, we will stumble disoriented into the digital age. It is high time to act.

About the speaker:

Tim Cole is a German-American internet publicist, columnist and author. He is co-founder and editor of the digital culture-focused blog Czyslansky and editor-in-chief of the business magazine Smart Industry, which specialises in the "Internet of Things". His latest books are "Wild Wild Web" and "Digital Transformation".

Netzwerk - Human Factor in Digital Transformation

Univ.-Prof. Dr. phil.

Kathrin Marie Otrel-Cass


Institute of Education Research and Teacher Education

Contact person

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