Programme | Digital Capitalism – All power to the corporations?

November 6-7, 2018 in Berlin

English translation will be available for the accompanying programme as well as for selected forums.
To find out which forums are offered in English, please consult the programme.

Registration here

  • Day 1
  • Day 2


Kurt Beck, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung



The Internet: Requiem for a dream?

Is the dream of a free internet over?
What is the path away from monopolisation?
What can politics do? What can society do?

Keynote: Adam Greenfield, Autor
Moderation: Sandra Schulz, Deutschlandfunk



20:00 - 21:30


  • Day 1
  • Day 2
09:00 - 10:30


Digital Monopolies - Big data, big money, big problem?

Does digital capitalism automatically lead to the formation of monopolies?
What are the hidden dangers of monopolisation?
Should we regulate, break up and nationalise the digital monopolists?



How do we regulate digital monopolies?
Achim Wambach, President of the German Monopolies Commission



Ulrich Sendler, writer and consultant
Achim Wambach, President of the German Monopolies Commission
Christina Kampmann, member of the North Rhine-Westphalia parliament, spokeswoman for digital policy
Henning Tillmann, member of the executive board, D64 Zentrum für Digitalen Fortschritt
Reiner Hoffmann, chairman of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)

Moderator: Sandra Schulz

10:45 - 12:00




How can we shape the digital transformation through progressive economic policy?

Werner Widuckel, University of Nuremberg-Erlangen
Katja Rietzler, Institute for Macroecononics and Growth Research (IMK)
Kevin Kühnert, Federal Chairman of JUSOS (Young Socialists in the SPD)
Arno Brandt (NDS 3.0)

Digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence are transforming the economy and our society in fundamental ways. Only with the help of political-economic interventions will it be possible to prevent less qualified workers from being left behind.

What are the most important social challenges presented by digital capitalism? How will the winners and losers be spread across society? What can we do to shape an economic policy of solidarity, one which steers digital capitalism in a civilised direction?


FORUM 1.2  [German only]

How do trade unions tackle US-style digital capitalism?

Johannes Schulten, work in progress journalism office
Thomas Gürlebeck, ver.di Bavaria

Moderator: Kai Lindemann, DGB

For five years, Ver.di has been embroiled in a conflict with the US corporation Amazon about a collective labour agreement. Labour unions are seen as “intruders” into the company's supposedly internal affairs. But not just the conflict culture differs from European patterns. The same applies to such companies' HR departments, which place enormous pressure on workers

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?



Taxation in the digital era – a global challenge?

Markus Meinzer, Tax Justice Network
Tove Ryding, Eurodat, Brussels
Rolf Bösinger, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance (TBC)

Moderator: Sarah Ganter

As economies are rapidly transforming, the international tax system, rooted in the early twentieth century, is not catching up.

What does a digital economy mean for tax bases, value creation and the future of international taxation? What does all this mean for the Global South and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?


FORUM 1.4  [German only]

Agriculture and pharma: from old to new monopolies?

Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam Germany
Heidi Bank, LobbyControl (TBC)
Jörg Schaaber, BUKO Pharma-Kampagne

Moderator: Annett Mängel, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik

Rather than causing “disruption“, the digital transformation of the agro and pharma sectors simply intensifies existing processes of concentration. Lobbying and cartels are growing significantly. This damages democracy and exacerbates social inequality – not least in the Global South.

How do the processes of market concentration in the New Economy differ from those of traditional sectors within the context of digitalisation? How can we limit coporate power? What lessons can be derived from past struggles against monopolies?


FORUM 1.5  [German only]

Is a European artificial intelligence possible?

Eva-Maria Nyckel, Locating Media post-graduate programme, University of Siegen
Thomas Wagenknecht, Accenture

Moderator: Philipp Staab, University of Kassel / IGZA

AI requires huge amounts of data. Several large corporations like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce already enjoy a huge advantage in this supposedly promising future field.

Which new economic strategies are these corporations pursuing with their AI applications?
Is an independent European initiative thinkable in this field?
What role could a politically guaranteed neutrality of access to Big Data play?


FORUM 1.6  [German only]

Digital work – potential for a new humanisation or job killer?

Björn Böhning, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
Kai Burmeister, IG Metall Baden-Württemberg
Timo Daum, writer

Moderator: Christina Schildmann, Hans Böckler Foundation

The world of work stands before a fundamental transformation brought on by digitalisation. As was the case with earlier technologies, it is difficult to predict the consequences on both the quantity and quality of work in the future.

New freedoms or increasing consolidation of productivity – which way is the pendulum swinging? What opportunities are arising for a new humanisation of work? What must politics and labour unions do to ensure good work in the digital age?



The Internet between emancipation and dystopia?

Florian Butollo, WZB
Anita Gurumurthy, IT For Change, India
Nanjira Sambuli, Webfoundation, Kenya
Geraldine de Bastion, Konnektiv

Moderator: Daniel Leisegang, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik

The Internet has become a space of surveillance, control and censorship. Responsible are not only the corporations of Silicon Valley, but also state authorities and secret services. Here, the focus is usually on countries such as Russia, China or India. However, online surveillance and monitoring of citizens is also increasing massively in Western democracies.

How does digitalisation impact the Global South, with regards to both surveillance and to emancipation and development? How do these impacts differ from those in the North? How can the utopia of a democratic, open internet still be realised?

12:00 - 13:00


13:00 - 14:00


Welfare state 4.0 – Security and solidarity amidst change

How can we ensure that more than just a privileged few have self-determined and socially secure work within digital capitalism? How should the welfare state be updated so that it offers security to everyone over the course of their lives within a constantly changing world of work? Does digital transformation require a new welfare state response that is less linked to gainful employment?

Anke Hassel, Director of the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI)
Hans-Peter Klös, Head of Science,  Cologne Institute for Economic Research

Moderator: Sandra Schulz

14:15 - 15:45



FORUM 2.1              

Digitalisation as driver of modernisation as regards the environment and climate change?

Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety


FORUM 2.2  [German only]          

Digital platforms as cooperatives and digital project communities?

Jan-Felix Schrape, University of Stuttgart
Thomas Gegenhuber, Leuphana University Lüneburg
Magdalena Ziomek-Frackowiak, managing director, SMartDe

Moderator: Melanie Stein

Amazon, Facebook & Co. – a growing portion of our digital infrastructure is controlled by a small number of corporations. In the spirit of open innovation and sharing culture, digital project communities and the pioneers of digital cooperatives are forming a counterpole to the “Big Five”.

How can these actors survive in the face of the big digital players? How can fair, democratic working conditions be created? How will the upcoming reforms to EU copyright law change power relations in the net?


FORUM 2.3  [German only]     

Agility and decent work: how can they fit together?

Nadine Müller, ver.di – specialist on innovation and good work
Jürgen Kriependorf, work council, T-Systems International
Philipp Rautenberg, Improuv

Moderator: Kai Lindemann, DGB

Digitalisation is linked to increased stress and psychological strain at the workplace. The proponents of agile methods propose that limits must be imposed on working times – while employers and personnel managers often assert that agile means flexible and that working time laws are obsolete.

Can agility as a principle guiding the organisation of work contribute to the concept of good work? What is the meaning of the principle of sustainable pace?


FORUM 2.4  [German only]

What might innovative working time policy and social security look like in the digital working world?

Horst Neumann and Christian Kellermann, Institute for the History and Future of Work (IGZA)
Rainer Zugehör, moving image 24 (TBC)

Moderator: Tanja Smolenski, IG Metall (TBC)

Today's social insurance and social welfare systems already contain the building blocks of universal insurance, basic income and lifetime working time accounts. Against the backdrop of the rising productivity of the digital revolution, shorter working times and a new model of labour relations, the transformation of these elements into universalist institutions ensuring basic social security in combination with an individual degree of freedom to pursue additional income will become possible in the 21st century.

So, has classic social security outlived its purpose? Should it be replaced by the UBI? Or would a welfare state 4.0 based on innovative working time models be more optimal?



Artificial intelligence and big data: the redundant human?

Manuela Lenzen, economics journalist, author
Lorena Jaume-Palasi,
Thomas Küchenmeister, Facing Finance (TBC)

Moderator: Daniel Leisegang, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik

In our digitalised world ever greater importance is being placed on artificial intelligence (AI). The consequences are drastic: on the one hand, “mechanical thinking” requires as much data about users as possible, resulting in a further concentration of power in internet corporations. On the other hand, decisions being made by algorithms are no longer comprehensible to end users.

What is driving the development of AI and what is the current status of development? What consequences do AI and Big Data have on our lives and on politics? Who takes responsibility when machines make crucial (life) decisions?



How prone to crisis is digital capitalism?

Aaron Sahr, Hamburg Institute for Social Research
Philipp Staab, Institute for the History and Future of Work

Moderator: Eva-Maria Nyckel, Graduiertenkolleg Locating Media der Universität Siegen

The close proximity of the digital economy and the financial sector are often overlooked. This applies not only to investments and technology transfers, but also with respect to similarly structured business models and market developments.

Is the susceptibility to crisis of the financial market being reproduced in the commercial internet? Where exactly do the economic risks of an online financial capitalism lie?


FORUM 2.7  [German only]

Is there socialist potential in digital capitalism?

Uwe Kremer, publisher of Zeitschrift für sozialistische Politik und Wirtschaft (spw)
Jan Dieren, Deputy Federal Chairman of JUSOS (Young Socialists in the SPD)
Janina Urban, DiEM25, Cologne

Moderator: Ole Erdmann, spw

Not only has capitalism entered a new era under the banner of digitalisation. We must also explore the potential for developments that follow the logic of an economy centred around solidarity and systematic budgeting. 

To what extent can structural reforms serve such a logic in the course of digitalisation? To what extent must socialist perspectives be reconsidered with regards to the goals, paths and methods? To what extent should digital infrastructure be subjected to socialisation?

15:45 - 16:00


16:00 - 17:30


The smart city – nightmare or blessing?

What potential do new technologies have to foster emancipatory and participatory city and regional politics?
What kind of digital strategy can ensure that the people can democratically determine the future of their municipality?



Francesca Bria, Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer, Barcelona City Council



Francesca Bria, Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer, Barcelona City Council
Jens Mühlner, T-Systems International GmbH (TBC)
Lothar Schröder, Verdi

Moderator: Sandra Schulz

17:30 - 18:00




Can we harness digital capitalism to the benefit of all?

Keynote: Susan Crawford, Harvard Law School



Susan Crawford, Harvard Law School
Andrea Nahles, Party Leader of the SPD
Christiane Benner, Second Chairperson of IG Metall

Moderator: Sandra Schulz

19:30 - 21:00


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