Technology Assessment (TFA, area key competencies: 2 SWS, 3 CP)

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Main topic in winter semester 23/24: AI

The main topics to be discussed this time are the impact of the latest AI developments in machine learning, large language models, current shortcomings and backgrounds, and embodiment.

What does the future hold? What prospects do we have? How can we help decide and shape it?

What does the future hold? What prospects do we have? How can we help decide and shape it?

This seminar is aimed at students from the third semester onwards. In addition to preparing and giving a presentation, special emphasis will be placed on describing technology and critical discussion.

What happens to research and development results when they leave the walls of the laboratory? How is their use controlled? What is the responsibility of science, inventors and discoverers?

It has always been part of the self-image of engineers and scientists to also deal with these questions and to find answers to them as well. Of course, this also means that prospective engineers have to be confronted with these questions - and in the process find their own way and approach.

Is it none of my business? In our field, there are certainly topics in research and development that carry the potential for abuse and harm - and you yourselves may be working on them without realizing it. But you should also not lose sight of developments that are not being pursued here. This seminar is designed to sharpen our awareness of the problems, but also of the opportunities presented by technology and engineering, and to develop a critical approach to dealing with them.

Theidea for this seminar arose from the discussion about the introduction of a civil clause at the University of Kassel and from the preliminary realization that it might not be enough to just write a nice sentence in a PDF file. Responsibility must be lived and is thereby laborious. But there is no alternative! One of the few places where this word is really appropriate!


If possible, the topics will be distributed at the first meeting (depending on the number of participants). You are welcome to propose a topic yourself, but it should be thematically related to our department (or at least STEM) in a narrower sense. In the second half of the lecture period, there will be an optional preparatory meeting to discuss the progress of the work. Towards the end of the lecture period or at the beginning of the semester break, the actual seminar date will take place. Depending on the number of participants (up to 12), 20-minute individual presentations followed by a discussion (about 10 minutes) will be given or, if the number is very large (up to 20), a panel discussion with 5-8 minute thesis presentations each followed by a joint discussion. In both cases, interested audience members will be allowed. Contributions from non-participants may also be included for a panel discussion; these do not require submission and will not be evaluated.

A written paper in a professional format must be submitted one week before the presentation. The associated slide set must also be handed in as a PDF no later than the day before the presentation. The rules of good scientific work apply, without exception.

Details about the text (page number, font, file format) can be found in the menu on the left under the item Elaboration.

Attention: The key data (4-6 pages continuous text, <=12pt, serif font, as PDF) given here earlier had to be changed unfortunately! Please note the new requirements!

Possible topics

If you would like to propose your own topic, please discuss it with us well in advance! Your own topics are very welcome.

The distribution of topics will take place via the Moodle course for the seminar, please register there as soon as possible.


Armin Grunwald: Technikfolgenabschätzung - eine Einführung, Edition Sigma (June 15, 2010), ISBN-10: 3894049502

Renn, Ortwin (1999), Methodological approaches in technology assessment. in: Bröchler, Stephan; Simonis, Georg; Sundermann, Karsten (eds.) (1999): Handbook of Technology Assessment Vol. 2 Berlin (edition sigma), pp. 609-616.

Michael Decker (editor), Armin Grunwald (editor), Martin Knapp (editor): The systems view of innovation: technology assessment in technology design, Edition Sigma; Edition: 1st, ed. (April 20, 2012), ISBN-10: 3894049464

A list of further literature can be found in the menu on the left or here; some of the titles mentioned there can also be used directly as a topic (by arrangement).