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Artificial Intelligence

Insights taken directly from practice: ai:conomics investigates the impact of AI on work and employees in field experiments

Published on 23 Nov 2021

How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing today’s working world? How will it change tomorrow's? The ai:conomics, research project, supported by the Policy Lab, provides evidence-based answers drawn from practice: field experiments looking at the use of AI in companies and a co-creative process are delivering findings that will greatly benefit a wide range of players.

AI is changing the working world profoundly – and this change must be structured in a way which ensures that AI is used for the public good, now and in the future. It is therefore vital to develop an evidence-based understanding of the changes affecting employees in companies as a result of new requirements in the workplace. Essential to a successful technological transformation, furthermore, is the involvement of different interest groups. The ai:conomics research project addresses both aspects.


Research project ai:conomics

The aim of this research project, which is supported by the Policy Lab, is to provide decision makers from business, politics and civil society with new scientific findings relating to the human-centric use of AI for the public good. To date, what is known about the effects of the use of AI is still limited, although it already serves as a basis for decision-making and for the practical structuring of the digital transformation.

Researching the influence of AI where it is found: in companies

ai:conomics is a social sciences project using the methodology of “Insider Econometrics”, which entails incorporating empirical analysis into business practice. Field experiments involving a range of different AI applications are under way in three German corporations, measuring how the use of AI affects the work situation of the respective employees. The results are then compared to general developments in the German labour market, to determine how far the findings can be generalised.

Using co-creation to acquire a wide range of knowledge from which everyone can benefit

This practice-oriented approach also entails close collaboration between researchers and managers, technology experts, employee representatives and political decision makers. This co-creative approach permits the involvement of as many players as possible, all with differing perspectives on the use of AI in operational practice.

Collaboration on every level: the three consortium partners involved in ai:conomics

The project is implemented by an international consortium of three partners:

  • The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is managing the project and conducting the field experiments.
  • The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg is responsible for generalising the findings in order to derive conclusions for the German labour market.
  • The innovation agency zukunft zwei GmbH is in charge of communicating and transferring the insights gained and is devising peer learning formats and (social) partnership activities. This will increase the long-term usefulness, penetration and nationwide transferability of the project findings.

More about ai:conomics

ai:conomics is a project supported by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS/Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society). It follows the recommendation of the German Study Commission on AI that evidence-based research into the effects on employment of the use of AI ought to be conducted, thereby promoting the advancement of knowledge, managerial decision-making, social-partnership commitments and political debate. Support for this project is planned to cover a period of three years.

Further information