ITeG Lec­tures 2020/21

Banner draws attention to the online event Digital Society - A Design Challenge in 2020/2021

For several years now, ITeG has been organizing an interdisciplinary lecture series in the winter term. The title of ITeG Lectures is "Digital Society - a Design Challenge". The series usually comprises five lectures, each of which presents interdisciplinary examples of design research on the digital society. Lecturers come from various fields like computer science or social and human sciences or integrative approaches.

The lectures take place online (via Zoom) once a month, on Wednesdays usually at 5 pm. (except for January 27, start at 6 pm.).

11. Novem­ber 2020

Prof. Dr. Antonio Fernández Anta,
IMDEA Networks Institute, Madrid

"CoronaSurveys: Using Indirect Reporting to Estimate the Incidence of Epidemics"

11. November 2020: Read More

27. Januar 2021

Prof. Dr. Dirk Helbing,
ETH Zürich

"Digital revolution: danger and opportunities for democracy"

27. Januar 2021: Read More

3. März 2021

Prof. Dr. Georg von Krogh,
ETH Zürich

"AI in Organizations"

3. März 2021: Read More

2. Dezem­ber 2020

Neema Iyer, Founder/Executive,
Director POLLICY, Kampala

"Creating an (Afro)Feminist Internet"

2. Dezember 2020: Read More

10. Feb­ruar 2021

Prof. Michael Bernstein, Ph.D.
Stanford University

"Computation and Organization: The Future of Work and Workers"

10. Februar 2021: Read More

More in­form­a­tion about the present­a­tions:

"CoronaSurveys: Using Indirect Reporting to Estimate the Incidence of Epidemics"


The world is suffering from a pandemic called COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. National governments have problems evaluating the reach of the epidemic, due to having limited resources and tests at their disposal. This problem is especially acute in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Hence, any simple, cheap and flexible means of evaluating the incidence and evolution of the epidemic in a given country with a reasonable level of accuracy is useful. In this talk, I will present the CoronaSurveys project. CoronaSurveys uses a technique based on (anonymous) surveys in which participants report on the health status of their contacts. This indirect reporting technique, known in the literature as network scale-up method, preserves the privacy of the participants and their contacts, and collects information from a larger fraction of the population (as compared to individual surveys). The CoronaSurveys project has been collecting reports for the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. Results obtained by CoronaSurveys show the power and flexibility of the approach, suggesting that it could be an inexpensive and powerful tool to track the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it especially interesting and useful for LMICs.


Antonio Fernández Anta is a Research Professor at IMDEA Networks, Madrid. Previously he was a Full Professor at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) and was on the Faculty of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), where he received an award for his research productivity. He was a postdoc at MIT from 1995 to 1997, and spent sabbatical years at Bell Labs Murray Hill and MIT Media Lab. He has more than 25 years of research experience, and more than 200 scientific publications. He was the Chair of the Steering Committee of DISC and has served in the TPC of numerous conferences and workshops. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of SW Louisiana in 1992 and 1994, respectively. He completed his undergraduate studies at the UPM, having received awards at the university and national level for his academic performance. He is a Senior Member of ACM and IEEE.


"Creating an (Afro)Feminist Internet"

For the past decade, internet connectivity has been praised for its potential to close the gender gap in Africa. Among the many benefits of digitalization, digital tools enable groups that are marginalized across the intersections of gender, race, sex, class, religion, ability and nationality to produce and access new forms of knowledge and conceive counter-discourses. However, the internet, once viewed as a utopia for equality, is proving to be the embodiment of old systems of oppression and violence. Discriminatory gendered practices are shaped by social, economic, cultural and political structures in the physical world and are similarly reproduced online across digital platforms.

In this series, I will talk about findings from research on the online lived experiences of women living in five African countries, about how gendered disinformation impacts women’s participation and why we need to collaboratively create inclusive and ethical digital futures.


Neema Iyer is an artist, a designer and a technologist. She is an active do-er and speaker on data, digital rights and building products to improve service delivery. Neema is the founder and director of a civic technology company, based in Kampala, Uganda: Pollicy. Pollicy uses data, design and technology to improve how citizens and government engage around public service delivery. Neema has a Masters in Public Health from Emory University in Atlanta and has worked on large-scale mobile and digital projects across Africa.

"Computation and Organization: The Future of Work and Workers"

The future of work is increasingly computational, raising both the possibility of dramatically new forms of organization and the specter of algorithmic worker disenfranchisement. In this talk, I chart both paths. I will describe techniques that articulate a future of "experts in a click", including organizations that fluidly assemble and continuously adapt their efforts. I will then turn to the negative implications of this future, ranging from algorithmic wage theft to systematic disempowerment of workers, and describe techniques we have developed to steer away from those negative outcomes, including platforms for worker collective action, mentorship, and fair wage guarantees. Noting the limits of each of these systems in effecting change, I will lay out the paths that I see in front of us at the intersection of technology and policy.

Recorded ZoomSession:

Michael Bernstein is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and STMicroelectronics Faculty Scholar at Stanford University, where he is a member of the Human-Computer Interaction group. His research focuses on the design of social computing and crowdsourcing systems. Michael has received eight best paper awards at premier computing venues, and he has been recognized with an NSF CAREER award and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. Michael holds a bachelor's degree in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University, as well as a master's degree and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT.

"Digital revolution: danger and opportunities for democracy"

The digital revolution has come with many disruptive innovations, and it often seems that the ambition of many tech leaders has been nothing less than to reinvent the world from scratch. In this connection, “democracy” has often been framed as “outdated technology”, and IT companies have worked on new “operating systems” for society, and deployed them in “smart cities” and “smart nations”. The constitutional state and human rights were questioned as well, sometimes in attempts to optimize the world and make it more sustainable in a data-driven and AI-controlled way. However, people have become increasingly concerned of the emerging technological totalitarianism. They expect a participatory framework, which allows them to co-create their future and environment. Moreover, the centralized control paradigm has a number of flaws. First, it assumes that everything, which is important, can be measured, while consciousness, human dignity and love, which are so crucial for being human, cannot be captured well by data. Second, an optimization approach needs to choose a goal function, but submitting the entire world to a one-dimensional utilitarian approach will not serve it well, due to its multi-dimensionality and complexity, and it will lead to the neglection of other goals. Instead, a co-evolutionary approach to a more sustainable and more resilient society is needed. The capacity to innovate is crucial for this, and this requires diversity and creative freedoms. Those need to be protected by human rights, as democracies do it. However, democracy needs to be digitally upgraded, to be more adaptive and more effective. For example, it is crucial to support the formation of collective intelligence. This could be done by platforms for massive open online deliberation (MOODs), but also by new participatory formats such as City Olympics, which will unleash the ideas of many minds and mobilize the talent and engagement of the people.

Presentation Slides: Digital Revolution: Danger and Opportunities for Democracy-Dirk Helbing

Dirk Helbing is Professor of Computational Social Science at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and affiliate of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich. In January 2014 Prof. Helbing received an honorary PhD from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). Since June 2015 he is affiliate professor at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft, where he leads the PhD school in "Engineering Social Technologies for a Responsible Digital Future". Dirk Helbing started as a physicist. With his diploma thesis, he initiated the area of pedestrian, crowd, and evacuation modeling and simulation. During his PhD and habilitation in physics, he helped to establish the fields of socio-​, econo-​ and traffic physics. He was also co-​founder of the Physics of Socio-​Economic Systems Division of the German Physical Society (DPG). The work of Prof. Helbing is documented by hundreds of media reports and publications, among them more than 10 papers in Nature, Science, and PNAS. He won various prizes, including the Idee Suisse Award. He co-​founded the Competence Center for Coping with Crises in Complex Socio-​Economic Systems, the Risk Center, the Institute for Science, Technology and Policy (ISTP) and the Decision Science Laboratory (DeSciL). While coordinating the FuturICT initiative (, he helped to establish data science and computational social science in Europe, as well as global systems science.

"Managing AI in Organizations"

The past decade has seen momentous scientific advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), “a system’s ability to interpret external data correctly, to learn from such data, and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation” (Haenlein & Kaplan, 2019). Powered by a surge in data generation and computing power, algorithms are becoming increasingly capable of digitally performing operations that efficiently and effectively emulate human learning, profound judgment and decision-making across a wide range of application areas. Such applications include optimization of internal business operations, product design, the capture of scarce external knowledge, and the screening and recruiting of talent. With these developments, management scholars have shown a growing interest in AI’s potential to support or transform organizations.

Yet, while the application of AI algorithms is by now widely studied across functional domains including engineering, human resource management, operations management, information systems, economics, finance, accounting, and marketing, much less attention has been devoted to understanding how the onset of AI changes the nature of strategizing—that is, the activities of people involved in the strategy process. In this talk, we will take stock of the promise and perils of AI in shaping the future of strategizing. We discuss applications known to us during the key stages in the strategy process and identify opportunities for future research on the strategy-AI nexus.

Presentation slides: Artificial Intelligence in Strategizing: Prospects and Challenges - Georg von Krogh

Georg von Krogh is a Professor at ETH Zurich and holds the Chair of Strategic Management and Innovation. Chairing the Global Advisory Board that advises the President of ETH Zurich in matters regarding its international strategy. He also serves on the Strategy Commission at ETH Zurich. Georg von Krogh specializes in competitive strategy, digital innovation, and organisational knowledge. He has conducted research in several industries including financial services, media, computer software and hardware, life -sciences, and consumer goods. His awards and recognitions include for example the Association of American Publishers' "Best Professional Business Book Award", Harvard Business Review's "Breakthrough Idea,” and ETH's Teaching Award "Goldene Eule."