In previous research on the design of the interface between humans and technical systems, ethical issues such as conflicts of values have hardly been taken into account. They occur, for example, where decisions are made about the distribution of work tasks between humans and technical systems in the socio-technical constellation, which then as the "digital twin" decisively shape process chains of a real decision-making instance. The decisions made in this way between trade-offs of different control characteristics have a direct effect on the (change of) value and appreciation of human work in different professions and fields of activity as well as on possibilities of direct interpersonal interaction in process chains.
These "digital twins" can follow different preferences, images of people and ideas about technology; the advantages and disadvantages of algorithms as controllers and decision-makers are currently the subject of controversy. The technically feasible - and possibly also the most efficient - can prevent human-centred consideration of the strengths of man and the technical system and transfer decision-making authority to technical systems that contradict existing notions of responsibility and autonomy. Arguments in favour of more efficient control thus stand in the way of concerns about dehumanisation and concerns about the devaluation of employees.
For example, conflicts of values arise where decisions on the distribution of work tasks in socio-technical constellations favour certain working groups and disadvantage others.Opportunities for the elimination of discrimination, for example according to gender or migration background, in decision-making processes using algorithms are countered by the argument that algorithms establish discrimination and thereby consolidate existing inequalities or create new inequalities.
The reduction of direct interpersonal interaction in the distribution of work tasks in socio-technical constellations and the resulting lower chance of exchange of esteem and support in working life also represents a conflict of values. Within the framework of the doctoral project, variants of "digital twins" are to be examined, particularly with regard to the distribution of control and decision between the employee and the technical system. With the help of a vignette experiment, which illustrates these variants of "digital twins", on the one hand it is to be examined how different scenarios of the distribution of control and decision-making authority between employees and the technical system are evaluated by different interest groups (e.g. development, company management, trade union, employees).
On the other hand, it is asked to what extent the distribution of control between people and the technical system in socio-technical constellations is accompanied by a) an appreciation or depreciation of occupations (e.g. consequences for autonomy, income) and b) less interpersonal interaction in companies (e.g. loss of superiors, little personal exchange with colleagues) and how this is evaluated. In particular, the extent to which this c) varies between companies (e.g. from different sectors) and between different groups of employees within the same work context (e.g. depending on status, gender) is taken into account. One possibility of empirical access is to develop a spin-off project from the current data collection of the third wave of the linked employer-employee data set LEEP-B3. In the context of the spin-off project, companies in which digital control plays a role are to be identified on the basis of the new questionnaire for the digitisation of work in order to investigate the above-mentioned questions in more in-depth case studies. This will also allow conclusions to be drawn as to how value conflicts in the distribution of control between people and technical systems are decided as a function of occupational and company framework conditions.
In addition, initial conclusions can be drawn as to the extent to which mechanisms of inequality genesis (e.g. hoarding of opportunities) play a role in the distribution of work between people and the technical system and their effects on employees' opportunities for gratification chances.
In addition, the extent to which value conflicts occur in other doctorates of the Forschungskolleg and whether the results achieved in the above example can be transferred to other scenarios will be investigated.
Contact: Jun-Prof. Dr. Anja Abendroth, Fakultät für Soziologie, anja.abendroth[at}uni-bielefeld.de, Universität Bielefeld