> ABIDA – A New Research Cluster on big data at the ITM

In spring 2015 ITM starts the interdisciplinary research cluster ABIDA (Assessing Big Data). It is a project of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). ITM and the Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis in Karlsruhe (ITAS) organize and manage ABIDA in collaboration. Furthermore the Humboldt University of Berlin, Technical University Dortmund, Ludwig—Maximilians-University Munich and University of Hannover are associated with the project. ABIDA is financed with circa 6 Million Euro for 4 years.

Thematically the focus is on interdisciplinary collaboration between philosophers, economists, computer and political scientists and lawyers in the area of Big Data. Big Data is a keyword for the analyzability of large data amounts and the impact on related areas in the range of – for instance – privacy aspects, ability of owning data, data quality, database rights (current press discussion in relation to digital electric meter, data recorders in cars, Industry 4.0 etc). The BMBF promotes three cluster for this purpose – two computer science cluster coordinated by Saarbrücken and Berlin and the humanistic cluster, ABIDA, coordinated by Münster.

Generation, linking and analysis of huge quantities of data is rapidly growing in importance in almost all areas of life. This development also raises questions which have exceptional relevance to society as for example the protection of privacy and informational self-determination, commercial or state supervision, lack of transparency, abuse or defects due to data use or automated decisions. Social discussions have only recently begun concerning the potential for innovation and its realization on the one hand, and that individual and social values have to be considered sufficiently on the other. ABIDA contributes to the discussion through a series of joint research processes and as an instrument of dialogue. The core of the project is based on observation and assessment of current trends, determination of the citizens´ perspective, knowledge exchange of specialist disciplines as well as estimating future developments and courses of action.

Within the project multilayered developments of Bid Data-Applications, data flows and business models will be continuously observed and recorded. To determine and assess social changes interdisciplinary in-depth studies will be set up which are validated in expert workshops and discussed by accompanied focus groups. Envisaged are three Citizen Consultations and one representative population survey. This is to recognize the estimates and expectations of citizens. Working groups in fields of ethics, economy, sociology, law and political science will serve for that purpose. In addition a nationwide symposium is intended. Based on the research findings and the fact that future developments are to be assessed and discussed in scenarios and experts delphi, options for political action, research and development will be developed.