Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed.)

Julia Krüger and Konrad Lischka

Machines in the Service of humankind?

Creating AI that sustains and supports social needs

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Date of publication
1. edition
84 pages, Brochure
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In our “Machines in the Service of Humankind” working paper, we (Konrad Lischka and Julia Krüger) counter this kind of fatalistic tech-determinism by drawing on dozens of ideas circulating among stakeholders in science, civil society, business, and policymaking that demonstrate what can be done to make sure algorithmic processes support social needs. There are several ideas, some of which are already concrete and practical. Our paper answers the following questions: What challenges to society do algorithmic systems pose? What are our options in addressing these challenges?


The following four action areas are the subject of closer analysis in our working paper.


1. Verifying that algorithmic systems’ goals are compatible with social norms.

2. Reviewing the implementation of goals within systems.

3. Facilitating a diversity of systems, goals and operators.

4. Creating the framework conditions necessary for the inclusion-promoting use of algorithmic systems, which includes developing algorithmic literacy among data subjects and users as well as establishing state regulatory oversight.

Related projects

Cover Ethics of algorithms

In the “Ethics of Algorithms” project, we are taking a close look at the consequences of algorithmic decision-making on society. We aim to help inform and advance algorithmic systems that facilitate greater social inclusion. This involves committing to what is best for a society rather than what’s technically possible.