Headline: Digitalisation

Recent years have seen a proliferation of digital technologies throughout the economy and in everyday life. The challenges and opportunities presented by this development are the subject of increasing debate in the media, society, and the policy community. Prominent themes within these debates include the emerging challenges to privacy, the future of work and cyber-security as well as efforts to enhance efficiency, conserve resources and enhance economic growth. At present it remains uncertain whether and to what extent the digitalisation of communication, services, and industrial production will foster or impede transformations towards sustainable development.

What role can digital technologies play in the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? How will the digitalisation of industrial production processes affect energy and resource use? How will it change the working environment? What effect do these new, digital forms of communication have on democratic participation processes? What opportunities and challenges does digitalisation present for developing countries and emerging economies? These questions lie at the heart of research relating to this topic at the IASS.

Using transdisciplinary research methods, these projects aim to provide robust scientific assessments of the impact of digital technologies and services. Our researchers will identify the potential risks and benefits of digital technologies for transformations towards sustainable economies and societies. The outcomes of this research will include scientific papers as well as recommendations for policymakers actors in the private sector, civil society and organisations for international cooperation.

News

Transdisciplinary Project to Investigate the Unintended Side Effects of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is changing how we live, but not only for the better: In addition to giving rise to new products, opportunities and services, it’s also having unintended side effects. The project “Digital Data as a Subject of Transdisciplinary Processes” (DiDaT) focuses on both the opportunities and the undesired consequences of digitalisation. It aims to identify and analyse side effects and make concrete proposals for coping with them. At an event to kick-start the project at the end of March, researchers and practitioners came together in Potsdam to define the main areas the project will focus on and outline potential solutions.

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Blog Posts

Thoughts on the Digital Agenda of the Federal Ministry of Environment

The issue of digitalisation and sustainable development has – finally! – reached a wider public. When IASS launched a research project on digitalisation five years ago, only a few researchers were concerned about the relationship between the digital transition and sustainability. However, the number of publications and events on this topic has increased noticeably, especially in the last year. In April of this year, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) then presented its flagship report entitled "Towards our Common Digital Future". Just a few weeks later at the annual re:publica conference the duo of digitalisation and sustainability was already inseparable. There, the Federal Minister of the Environment, Svenja Schulze, presented a green paper outlining a digital policy agenda for the environment.

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Industry 4.0 – taking efficiency to new heights?

The term Industry 4.0 has been bandied about increasingly since it was established in 2011. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 describes the growing use of digital technologies to link manufacturing technologies and facilitate continuous real-time data exchange. These manufacturing systems are based on interconnected cyber-physical systems with the capacity to independently organize and optimize their performance. Industry 4.0 promises to fundamentally transform manufacturing industry.

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