IndI project workshop on co-creation and AI interventions

On 15 May 2024, the IndI project team met at a workshop to discuss the progress of the project and further work steps. Dr Bettina Schmietow from the project management agency and Dr Katharina Gerl, coordinator of the “Integrated Research” cluster, were also present.

Seven months after the start of the project, the DIID researchers involved in the IndI project Maike Behrendt, Tobias Escher, Dennis Frieß, Viviana Warnken and Marc Ziegele met for the third internal project workshop. As part of the BMBF-funded project, the interdisciplinary team is researching the question of how AI can be used to make online discussions more inclusive. The aim of the workshop was to present the progress made in the sub-projects and to develop these further within the group. This time, the focus was on the theoretical concept of “discursive integration” and the co-creation formats planned in the project. Dr Bettina Schmietow from the project sponsor VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH took the opportunity to get to know the research team, gain an overview of the project’s progress and provide some information on the Integrated Research funding cluster and the sponsor’s working methods.

Viviana Warnken and Prof Dr Marc Ziegele (social science sub-unit) explained the current state of the theoretical concept of discursive integration. Discursive integration is understood both as a process within and as a result of online discussions. In order to theoretically underpin the working definition of “arguing without hating each other”, various theoretical perspectives on integration were evaluated and modelled into a heuristic. In this context, the group discussed the different norms and values on which the heuristic is based, as well as the associated operationalisations for measuring discursive integration.

The heuristics developed will also be discussed with the participants of the co-creation formats in the further course of the project. Based on this, we will establish what discursive integration means for the respective stakeholder groups. Stakeholders in the context of online discussions are actors from politics, administration, civil society and journalism, service providers in the field of online participation and citizens. Within the planned formats, the aim is to work with these groups to gain insights into what constitutes inclusive online discussions and whether and how these can be promoted using AI-based interventions. Three different formats are planned for September 2024. Project coordinator Dr Dennis Frieß presented these and then developed them further with the project team.

Finally, Maike Behrendt and Junior Professor Dr Tobias Escher from the computer science sub-unit reported on what such AI interventions could look like in the context of online discussions. This time, the focus was on AI-supported interventions that emphasise similarities and differences between the comments made in a discussion. In the further course of the project, it is important to clarify whether these interventions are perceived by participants as integrating or what alternatives are conceivable from the participants’ perspective.

Finally, the next steps in the project and the milestones outlined in the work plan were discussed. The next workshop is expected to take place in August.