Program | Digital Capitalism

Confrence, October 29th and 30th 2019 at FES in Berlin

Building 1


Hiroshimastraße 17, 10785 Berlin

Building 1


Roland Schmidt, Managing Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Thomas Fischer,  Head of Department at the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB)

Building 1


Digital capitalism – more than a new business model?

Philipp Staab, Humboldt University Berlin
Nick Srnicek, King's College London
Francesca Bria, Decode Project

Moderator: Julia Kropf
Co-Moderator: Franziska Klaren

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Data, platforms, artificial intelligence – digitalisation is changing our economy
rapidly. But is it only the technology that is new? Or does the transformation
go much deeper? What are the features of digital capitalism? And how can
we utilise the possibilities of the new technologies to shape our economy
more democratically, more fairly and more sustainably?

20:00 - 21:00
FES Building 1


FES Building 1


Hiroshimastraße 17, 10785 Berlin

Building 1, Conference Hall


Comments on the conference schedule
Stefanie Moser and Andreas Wille, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Building 1, Conference Hall


Polarisation on the labour market 4.0 – decent work only for a few?

Sabine Pfeiffer, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
Jens Südekum, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf
Christian Kellermann, Institute for the History and Future of Labour
Daniela Kolbe, Member of the German Bundestag
László Andor, Foundation for European Progressive Studies

Moderator: Julia Kropf
Co-Moderator: Franziska Klaren

Although it’s true that more and more research is being done on the effects of digitalisation on the world of work, it remains uncertain whether digitalisation will replace or create jobs, upgrade or downgrade them.

But does this familiar thesis of a digitally-driven polarisation of the working world really stand up? Is traditional skilled work with intermediate-level qualifications really on the way out? And what can be done politically to boost decent digital work and alleviate upheavals on the labour market?

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 12:00
Building 1 and 2


Building 1, Room 120


Social security for platform workers

Enzo Weber, Institute for Employment Research
Thorben Albrecht, Federal Manager of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Robert Fuß, IG Metall

Moderator: Melanie Stein, journalist

Digital social security (DSS) offers a solution to the problem of serious gaps in the provision of social security for platform workers. The basic idea is that digital platforms would pay a percentage of the agreed remuneration directly into the employee’s international DSS account. From there, accrued contributions would be transferred regularly to the relevant national social security system.

What do platform workers think about the DSS idea? What can (national and international) policymakers do to promote it? What is required for successful implementation of DSS in practice?

Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Monopolies and financial markets – why digitalisation is about distribution

Miriam Rehm, University of Duisburg-Essen
Hagen Krämer, University of Applied Science, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences
Matthias Kollatz, Minister of Finance, State of Berlin

Moderator: Arno Brandt, Forum für Politik und Kultur e.V.

Tech companies dominate the world economy. Seven of the world’s top 10 listed companies (by value) are digital companies. But even beyond the superstar firms capital markets play a central role in the digital economy, with far-reaching consequences for the distribution of income and wealth.

What mechanisms underlie the tech companies’ power? Is digitalisation turboboosting financial capitalism? And what can policymakers do about these trends and the inequality that results from them?

What can be done to prevent this form of corporate culture from taking root in Europe? How can we create an international solidarity that transcends borders? What means can we employ to keep technology-centred employee surveillance in check?

Building 2, Conference Hall 2


The state as an entrepreneur? Innovation and industrial policy in China and Europe

Zheng Han, Tongji University
Dominik Piétron, Humboldt University Berlin
Florian Butollo, Weizenbaum Institute

Moderator: Eva-Maria Nyckel, Humboldt University Berlin

China’s success over the past 20 years in building up its own ICT sector, thereby escaping the pull of Google, Facebook et al., is unprecedented.

How have Chinese policymakers, as promoters and regulators, enabled national companies to make the breakthrough? What lessons can Germany and Europe learn from the rise of digital capitalism »with Chinese characteristics«? Is an »entrepreneurial state« taking shape even here in Germany?

Building 2, Room 6.09


»Google, pay!« – Ideas for a modern company taxation

Wolfgang Schmidt, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance
Cansel Kiziltepe, Member of the German Bundestag
Christoph Trautvetter, Tax Justice Network

Moderator: Sarah Ganter, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

The displacement of profit-making from the traditional local value creation of industry or services to digital platforms and the accompanying exacerbation of inequality have kindled the discussion of how to tax these platforms and those who run them.

How can digital and analogue superstar firms doing business around the world be effectively taxed? Do national or regional approaches make sense? Or should other means be used, for example unbundling, in order to rein in the power of these companies and curb their tax avoidance?

Building 2, Room 6.01


Nothing is for free – do we need new rules for data?

Jens Zimmermann,  Member of the German Bundestag
Paul Nemitz, Member of the German Data Ethics Committee
Ulrich Sendler, freelance author
Adriana Groh, Prototype Fund

Moderator: Stefanie Moser, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Many digital-economy business models are reminiscent of the era when Spanish conquistadors exchanged glass beads for gold with native Americans. In order to be able to use the tech companies’ digital offerings we hand over more and more data to them on both ourselves and our behaviour. Whether it be personalised advertisements or artificial intelligence, we produce the raw materials for the billion-dollar businesses of the data economy.

Should limits be imposed on data monetisation? Do we need proprietary rights over our data or would it be better to treat it as part of the commons? What would a new approach to data look like, one that promotes innovation, enables informational self-determination and reinforces the commons?

Building 1, Room 121/122


Smart city, stupid citizen? Digital sovereignty and public services

Peter Bihr, The Waving Cat
Elvan Korkmaz, Member of the German Bundestag
Katharina Meyer, Prototype Fund
Hans-Martin Neumann, Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT)

Moderator: Justin Nogarede, Foundation for European Progressive Studies

Analogue cities are today scarcely imaginable. Digital technologies play a key role in urban lighting and public transport, but also increasingly in crime prevention and policing or in the health and care sectors. Cities and municipalities tend to palm off the development and operations of these systems – as well as the data generated by them – to private companies. The residents affected are, as a result, no longer able to grasp the influence of such technologies on their everyday lives or to have some say in their functioning.

How can we establish a digital infrastructure at municipal level that is inclusive and transparent? What conditions need to be put in place so that the potential of digitalisation is realised within the framework of sustainable and citizen-friendly urban development?


Building 1, Room 119


Climate (protection) in the algorithms

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Felix Creutzig, Technische Universität Berlin

Moderator: Sabine Gilleßen, Gillessen Strategy Politics

The effects of digitalisation on environmental and climate protection and on nature conservation have long been underestimated. Digital technologies provide a wide range of options in combating climate change. At the same time,  their growing energy and natural resource requirements threaten to exacerbate climate change.

In what fields of application could artificial intelligence be set to work to help the climate? How could algorithms be regulated to take systematic account of climate protection? What national and European approaches to this are emerging?

12:00 - 13:00


Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Digital capitalism »made in China«

Yu Hong, Zheijang University

Moderator: Marc Brost, Die Zeit
Co-Moderator: Franziska Klaren

China is becoming a digital superpower. Yet what characterizes digital capitalism "made in China"? How far does the digital transformation in China differ from the ones in the US and Europe? What role does the Chinese state play in digitalizing the economy and society?

Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Missed connection?! Digital industrial policy in Germany and Europe

Christiane Benner, Second Chairperson, IG Metall
Isabella Groegor-Cechowicz, SVP, Global General Manager Public Services, SAP SE

Moderator: Marc Brost, Die Zeit

Digitalisation has been a game-changer in the world economy. The proportion of European companies in the platform economy is small. Previously unchallenged market leaders such as the German automobile industry, however, are finding it hard to keep up with change in their sector.

Do we need a digital industrial policy to be competitive in digital capitalism? What role can and should the state play in competition or research policy? And what might a European digital industrial policy look like, not least as distinct from those of the United States and China?

14:30 - 14:45


14:45 - 16:00
Building 1 and 2


Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Who controls whom? AI in the working environment

Nadine Müller, ver.di
Peter Wedde, Frankfurt University for Applied Sciences
Giovanni Suriano, General Works Council, Deutsche Telekom Service GmbH

Moderator: Kai Lindemann, German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)

Start-ups are already working on AI technologies that are supposed to be able to recognise human emotions on the basis of people’s vital signs. But even AI applications already in use in, for example, customer services affect working conditions and employees’ personal rights.

What is happening with AI today? What legal conditions are in place regarding its use in the workplace? What kind of approaches are trade unions taking to reconcile AI and the decent work agenda?

Building 1, Room 121/122


Funds for progress? Regulate and benefit from financial markets!

Suleika Reiners, freelance author
Maximilian Krahé, Dezernat Zukunft

Moderator: Thilo Scholle, spw

The intermeshing of finance capitalism and digital capitalism, as in the case of Uber, AirBnB and other digital platforms, is all too evident. On the other hand, many sustainability projects today are also financed by, for example, crowdfunding. German Minister of Economic Affairs Altmeier is calling for a state fund for strategic industries.

The question of power arises also in digitalised finance capitalism: in other words, who makes the decisions on investments? Do not the logic and structure of the wealth fund economy also harbour the potential for social-ecological economic governance?

Building 2, Room 6.09


Fair play in digital commerce

Evelyne Gebhardt, Member of the European Parliament
Sven Hilbig, Bread for the World
Thomas Schauf, #cnetz - Verein für Netzpolitik

Moderator: Sarah Ganter, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

In the arena of international trade the leading economic powers are exerting enormous pressure to liberalise online commerce and digital data traffic for the benefit of their high-tech companies. Ranged against them are a relative majority of many – although far from all – developing countries that reject enshrining such liberalisation in treaty form. 

To what extent does digital commerce exacerbate existing inequalities and to what extent does it harbour new development opportunities? How should fair trade agreements be framed under the aegis of increasing digitalisation?

Building 1, Room 120


Electronic waste – the dark side of digitalisation

Kai Löffelbein, photo-journalist
Johanna Sydow, Germanwatch
Nora Griefahn, Cradle to Cradle e.V.

Moderator: Daniel Leisegang, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik

Year in, year out, more than 150,000 tonnes of German electronic waste end up in Africa and Asia. Actually, new directives and stricter controls are supposed to limit illegal exports. Nevertheless this dangerous business handling our consumer waste continues to thrive. Indeed, according to the United Nations the quantity of discarded electrical appliances will only increase further in the coming years, all over the world.

What do these illegal exports mean for people and the environment in the Global South? How could they be stopped effectively? What approaches could be taken to reduce the quantity of electronic waste and curb resource consumption?

With a photo presentation by Kai Löffelbein.

Building 2, Room 6.01


Brave new learning culture – on the role of education in digital capitalism

Thomas Höhne, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg
Andrea Lange-Vester,  University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover
Ernst-Dieter Rossmann, Member of the German Bundestag

Moderator: Max Reinhardt, spw

Lifelong learning will become increasingly important to enable employees to keep pace with the digital transformation and stave off unemployment. But the question arises, not only of what kind of qualifications we will need for the working world of the future. We also need to know what kind of educational goals we should pursue in digital capitalism.

What role will the pressure towards constant self-optimisation play in people’s future educational careers? And how can we prevent education from exacerbating social inequalities within the framework of digitalisation?

Building 2, Conference Hall 2


Does social scoring undermine democracy and solidarity?

Aleksandra Sowa, Member of the SPD´s Committee on Fundamental Values
Serena Holm, SCHUFA Holding AG

Moderator: Alina Fuchs, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

»If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it« – this pearl of management wisdom no longer applies only to the business world. The automated analysis of enormous quantities of data makes it possible to measure and evaluate individual consumers and their lifestyles: some say to minimise risk and build trust, while others lament the damage inflicted on freedom and solidarity.

But what are the dangers of social scoring and what might be the social gain? What are the effects of ranking individuals on social solidarity, freedom of the individual and democratic self-determination? Do we need more regulation – and if we do, what?

16:00 - 16:30


Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Market. Power. Monopoly. How should we regulate the digital economy?

Matt Stoller
, Open Markets Institute

Matt Stoller, Open Markets Institute
Björn Böhning, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
Markus Kalliola, SITRA - The Finnish Innovation Fund

Moderator: Julia Kropf
Co-Moderator: Franziska Klaren

The digital economy is dominated by just a handful of tech companies. The increasing concentration of market power not only threatens competition, but also to impoverish society. This is because monopolies hinder innovation and exacerbate inequalities of income and wealth. The clamour for policymakers to do something about this is becoming ever louder on both sides of the Atlantic.

Why do monopolies tend to form in digital markets? What proposals are currently being discussed in the United States concerning the regulation of digital companies? And what might a progressive competition regime for Europe look like?


Building 1, Conference Hall 1


Competition and Cooperation in Digital Capitalism

Evgeny Morozov, author and researcher

18:30 - 20:00
Building 1, Conference Hall


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