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

From 2017 to 2022, the Ethics of Algorithms project explored the societal consequences of automated decision-making processes. The project’s objective was to put the digital transformation at the service of society. It was founded in the belief that the guiding principle should not be what is technically feasible, but what is best for society.