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IRIS Research

Critically reflecting on intelligent systems in politics, economics, education, and society
[Photo: fotografierende from Pexels]

IRIS Research

Interdisciplinary and interfaculty research in IRIS focuses on the societal impacts of intelligent systems within politics, literature, machine learning, economics, and education. Additionally, it bridges the research of IRIS members, IRIS3D, and SimTech. IRIS also connects to the Participation and Deliberation Labs (ZIRIUS) in addition to two projects which are funded by SimTech.

Research Topics in IRIS Include

  • Ethical and societal challenges of intelligent systems
  • Risks and benefits of automated decision-making in various fields of application
  • Participative/constructive technology assessment (p/cTA)
  • Scenarios analysing contexts and preconditions of the implementation of intelligent systems in society
  • Prerequisites for a socially desirable use of learning systems and autonomous decision support or decision-making
  • Responsible forms of Human-Computer-Interactions
  • Socioecological impacts of digitization
  • Limits and critical aspects of datafication, artificial intelligence, learning systems, and smartification

Research projects related to critically reflecting on intelligent systems

Funding: Volkswagen Foundation (funding scheme "Artificial Intelligence - Its Impact on Tomorrow's Society")

Applicants (related to IRIS): Prof. Dr. Jonas Kuhn

Duration: 10/2021 - 09/2025

More Information: Project description

Further Research by IRIS Members

Institute for Modelling and Simulation of Biomechanical Systems

This research focuses on human physical interaction with the environment using digital human body models.

Research Questions:

  • Do these models allow for unbiased and ideology-free decision-making?
  • Do these models enable improved human-centered and barrier-free design of the built environment?

IRIS Members Involved: Prof. Dr. Syn Schmitt

More Information: Research in Computational Biophysics and Biorobotics

Institute for Natural Language Processing

This research focuses on Natural Language Processing applications to support (and understand) deliberative processes (from political discourse to e-deliberation) and the Interpretability (and cognitive plausibility) of Natural Language Processing models.

IRIS Members Involved: Dr. Gabriella Lapesa

More Information: Powering up E-DELIBeration: towards AI-supported moderation

Research Projects with SimTech

Project focus

The transmission of infectious diseases depends on human behavior and their relations. However, current epidemiological models consider social structures only at a highly abstract level. To increase the predictive capability and explanatory power, models of human behavior incorporating social complexity are therefore urgently needed. We address this gap by developing an agent-based approach that utilizes comprehensive micro-level data of complete households. This allows us to create artificial societies that are representative for underlying social structures and contact networks. Based on comprehensive COVID-19 data, we then utilize Bayesian model calibration to estimate unknown parameters and quantify their uncertainty. Conducting various simulation experiments will then allow us to identify super-spreaders and assess the efficiency of interventions. Thus, the project makes not only a substantial contribution to a holistic ”Digital Human Model”, but is also a methodological response to the increasing demand for empirically-calibrated simulation models. However, computational models always bear the risk of incorporating biases. We will tackle this challenge, which is enhanced by potential stigmatization of super-spreaders, by incorporating sensitivity analyses and so pave the way for the development of systematic ”methods of reflection”.


07/2022 – 12/2025

Involved IRIS Members

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation within the Cluster of Excellence "Data-Integrated Simulation Science" (EXC 2075).

Project focus

The project aims to critically reflect on the societal implications of simulation science. This includes, but is not limited to, ethical and social concerns related to simulation science, such as data ethics, privacy issues, or the dual use of research findings; the function of various media (including literature and art) in critically reflecting on potential risks and impacts of simulation science; and empirically informed impact assessment of research approaches within EXC 2075. 


09/2022 - 08/2024

Involved IRIS Members

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation within the Cluster of Excellence "Data-Integrated Simulation Science" (EXC 2075).

IRIS Research Updates


This image shows Curtis Runstedler

Curtis Runstedler


Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

This image shows Lukas Erhard

Lukas Erhard


Academic staff member

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