Interdisciplinary Institute for Societal Computing (I2SC)
at Saarland University
Technology and new communication tools have permeated virtually all aspects of our lives. This “digitization of everything” has radically altered how we work, socialize, and even find romantic relationships. But these tectonic shifts have also created new fault lines, with the unconnected falling behind with fewer opportunities, and democracy itself seemingly at risk due to fake news, online hate speech, and political polarization. On the other hand, data about this world has never been more abundant as many of our (inter-)actions leave digital traces from web search logs to Whatsapp messages, and as satellites and other sensors give us an ever-clearer picture of the physical world around us at a global scale. To address the challenges and opportunities that these technologies afford, both for understanding societal processes as well as for shaping them, Saarland University is launching the Interdisciplinary Institute for Societal Computing (I2SC) led by Daniela Braun (Political Science) and Ingmar Weber (Computer Science). I2SC will advance critical research on the most pressing questions at the intersection of society and technology, encompassing both (i) computing of society, i.e., using computational methods to understand societal phenomena, and (ii) computingfor society, i.e., using digitally assisted interventions to improve society. Forging partnerships with a diverse set of actors on the ground, civil society organizations, businesses, and governments, the I2SC sets out to create research with impact that radiates within academia and beyond.