Pioneering concepts for a future-oriented, networked society

Digitalisation has been accompanied by a structural change that is affecting a wide range of areas in our society. Whether we’re talking about politics, business, education or science, the development of digital infrastructures is prompting new questions every day. The Foundation for Internet and Society understands reflection on the tension between internet and society as a prerequisite for bringing about developments, unleashing potential, but also recognising risks and proposing solutions for a digital transformation aimed at the common good. These considerations form the basis for its work in helping research organisations to generate the necessary knowledge to do so.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our highly interconnected, dynamic world hard. Although digitalisation has gained momentum due to global attempts to contain the virus, we still need to better understand what this profound mediatisation means for our coexistence. At present, the exchange of data, information and knowledge appears to be essential for tackling this pressing global challenge. The need to embark on the path of “learning from each other” and jointly developing transnational solutions has rarely been more obvious. But what comes after that? What does this mean for individuals and organisations in a networked world? What kind of digital future would we like to live in as we age? What course do we need to set now so that the generations after us can live well? It is important to use this opportunity for change, to learn from the current crisis and to be able to react more resiliently to sudden changes in the future.

As a non-profit foundation, we want to use this momentum to find innovative solutions to future global problems and events that will challenge our global community.  Excellent research is a prerequisite for empowering society and individuals to make informed and responsible decisions. It is already apparent that universities and non-university research institutions are not prepared for this. They will only be able to create real added social value through good knowledge transfer. As a foundation, we are particularly committed to creating new formats and organisational forms to support knowledge work.

The purpose of the foundation is to promote a European-focused international debate on the social changes with and through the internet, not only from a technological but also from a legal, social scientific and economic perspective. We give science the freedom to work across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. We believe in unconventional ideas and their potential for exploring the issues of our networked present and future. 

The primary task of the foundation is to support the non-profit Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), headquartered in Berlin, with ideas and funding. Additionally, the foundation is able to directly conduct its own projects, initiatives and events, like the Center for Digital Urban Health & Aging I DUHA or the AI & Society Lab, and to support other non-profits.

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The HIIG was awarded by the Stifterverband.