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Rainer Rehak — Researcher Highlight

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

Rainer Rehak is a doctoral researcher at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, the German Internet Institute, and the Berlin Social Science Center. He studied computer science at Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin and Philosophy at Freie Universitat Berlin. Through his dissertation work, Rehak seeks to advance societal understanding of how democratic principles can be implemented and safeguarded within IT systems.

The Network for the Digital Economy and the Environment is excited to engage with researchers like Rehak. He combines varied interests in areas such as privacy and data protection, computer science and society, automation and artificial intelligence, sustainability and holistic system design, and philosophy of mind, language, and science. He interrogates techno-utopian promises that are so pervasive within public discourse and illuminates their actual societal and sustainability implications. He uses technical analysis, social science methods, and discourse analysis to examine novel technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and Coronavirus apps to inform scientific, political, and public debates.

Rehak is the co-Founder of “Bits&Bäume,” the largest conference about digitalization and sustainability in Germany. The conference brings together researchers, activists, policy-makers, and the business community to advance the cause of sustainability in the digital age. In the context of this conference, he has published articles on the sustainability implications of smart cities and of technological systems design.

Rehak is currently a member of two research groups, namely, “Quantification and Social Regulation,” and, “Responsibility and the Internet of Things.” Quantification and Social Regulation is a research group that investigates how regulation is shaped by novel automated information and decision-making systems. The group combines social science and computer science to explore the role that ubiquitous computing, big data, and artificial intelligence can and will have on regulation and democracy.

Responsibility and the Internet of Things is a research group that examines the responsibility of technical actors in society — with a special focus on liability and regulation — and the philosophical and ethical questions that underpin these discussions. The group engages in a comprehensive discourse analysis where the research questions being asked include: What does journalistic reporting look like for this topic? Which narratives are observed? Who participates in the discourse and what role does civic technology play in shaping public participation? What role does the technology itself play?


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