This report is published as part of the Automating Society project, a cooperation between the Bertelsmann Stiftung and AlgorithmWatch. This “preview report” is fully dedicated to an initial mapping and exploration of ADM systems deployed throughout Europe as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak. Especially given the uncertainties around the resurgence of the virus that are present at the time of writing, we felt it was necessary and urgent to provide a first snapshot of the socio-technical systems deployed against the virus in the 16 European countries investigated in the ‘Automating Society’ project.
Some comparison will be drawn between the main features of ADM-based responses within the EU and outside of it, highlighting some significant differences in how the interplay of technology and rights is conceived in different parts of the world. At the same time, the report will show how and why “technological solutionism”, a flawed ideology that conceives of every social problem as a “bug” in need of a “fix” through technology, is common to many such diverse endeavours instead — even in the face of scant evidence in favour of the effectiveness of existing anti-COVID ADM systems.
A more detailed country-by-country analysis is presented in the second part of this report, thanks to the efforts of the outstanding network of researchers that has been working on the Automating Society project over the last year, thus providing unique on the ground insights from each of them.