Reatching into the Rabbit Hole at Schweizer Jugend forscht

Filter bubbles, shit-storms and ever more polarised opinions: Is the democratic discourse broken? It is time to actively design the architecture and dynamics of opinion networks for the sake of democracy - and to do so, we will look at powergrid control systems for inspiration.

Filter bubbles, shit-storms and ever more polarised opinions: Is the democratic discourse broken? We can no longer blame the individual citizen for a lack of media competence or education—because technology is changing the very nature of how public debate works. Instead, it might be time to consider and actively design the architecture and dynamics of opinion networks.

Scientific methods have already proven invaluable for controlling another man made and highly complex network: the power-grid. Power-grids face various, often conflicting pressures. For economic reasons, we maximise their load. For ecological reasons, we connect unreliable renewables. For safety reasons, we want robustness to attacks and failures. The field of power-grid control designs tools to meet these requirements.

No one doubts the importance of a robust and well-functioning power-grid. But isn’t the the democratic discourse equally important to society? And if so, why haven’t we applied these insights to opinion-dynamics? After an input on power-grid control, we travel through the rabbit-hole into a world where these techniques are applied to form public opinion! Learn, experience, discuss—join the journey!

Reatching into the Rabbit Hole uses solid scientific knowledge to develop lofty ideas about tomorrow - in order to gain insights for today. Jannes Jegminat, member of the reatch board and PhD student at the Institute of Neuroinformatics (UZH/ETHZ), chaired this very special journey through the rabbit hole in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Schweizer Jugend forscht

Impressions