Computational Social Sciences


RWTH researchers have published an article on algorithmically infused societies in Nature. 


In a recent paper, researchers from RWTH Aachen University, Northwestern University (USA), Northeastern University (USA), and Microsoft Research Lab (the USA and Canada) examine the methodological challenges of researching algorithmically infused societies. These are societies that are significantly influenced by algorithms, i.e., whose character is shaped by algorithmic and human behavior. The researcher’s findings have now been published in the article Measuring Algorithmically Infused Societies in the renowned science journal Nature.

It has been the historic responsibility of the social sciences to investigate human societies. Fulfilling this responsibility requires social theories, measurement models, and social data. However, most of these existing theories and models were not developed with the deep social reach of algorithms in mind. According to the article, the emergence of algorithmically infused societies raises three key challenges: the insufficient quality of current social science measurements, the complex consequences of mismeasurement, and the limits of existing social theories.

Tackling these challenges requires new theories that account for the impact of algorithmic systems on social realities. To develop such theories, new methodologies for integrating data and measurements into theory construction are needed. "Such measurement models should be trustworthy, auditable, and just. To achieve this, the development of measurements should be transparent and participatory and include mechanisms to ensure measurement quality and identify possible errors," explains Professor Markus Strohmaier from the Chair of Computational Social Sciences and Humanities of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The research focuses on understanding socio-technical phenomena such as inequality, discrimination, polarization, as well as other societal challenges in algorithmically infused societies and the methodological problems that arise in empirical studies of these phenomena. In these investigations, the social limits of deploying algorithms and their effects on our societies play an essential role.


RWTH Aachen University – Chair of Computational Social Sciences and Humanities
GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

RWTH Aachen University – Chair of Applied Computational Social Sciences
GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Source: Press and Communications