Monday, October 24, 2011 | 1:03 PM
In February of this year, our Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt announced that we would support the establishment of an Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. This Tuesday, we’re thrilled to announce the Institute’s official opening at the Humboldt University. Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Google Senior Vice President David Drummond will speak. More than 400 politicians, academics and civil society representatives are expected to attend.
We are proud to have attracted four renowned partners from German academia for the Institute: the Humboldt University, the University of the Arts, and the Social Science Research Center Berlin. The Hamburg Hans Bredow Institute joins as a co-operation partner. Each institution is seconding a distinguished academic.
Humboldt’s Prof. Dr. h.c. Ingolf Pernice will study constitutional aspects of the Internet. The Social Science Research Center’s Dr. Jeanette Hofmann will probe Internet policy, while the University of the Arts’s Prof. Dr. Thomas Schildhauer will look at the Internet and innovation and Hamburg’s Dr. Wolfgang Schulz will weigh in on the Internet’s impact on media.
Humboldt University will house the Institute’s offices. Alexander von Humboldt, the Institute’s namesake, was once described by Charles Darwin as "the greatest scientific traveler who ever lived". He is remembered as one of the founders of modern geography, thought leader of the Enlightenment and an explorer whose travels, experiments, and knowledge transformed science in the nineteenth century.
From October 26-28 the Institute will host an international academic symposium "Exploring the Digital Future." Distinguished academics from all around the globe will appear, including the Director of the Harvard’s Berkman Center Urs Gasser, St. Gallen University’s Oliver Gassmann, Haifa University’s Niva Elkin-Koren, and many others.
This week’s symposium will discuss the initial research agenda for the Institute. The goal is to carry out “hands on” research rather than just analysis and reflection. The Institute will seek solutions to today’s challenges, using insights from policy makers, netizens, users, as well as technology companies like Google.
Importantly, the Institute will not advocate a simplistic “pro-Internet” stance. Instead, it will critically review current practices. For example, how can we foster the use of the Internet to advance civil liberties? Experts will pose questions like these about free expression as well as privacy and democratic processes.
This is not a "Google Institute.” It is an independent academic body. Google will not interfere with the research. Of course, Google is keenly interested in better understanding the interaction between the web, academia and society. But we need experts to help us all understand how the web is changing our world. We have found great institutions and great personalities as partners. We now look forward to seeing the first scientific papers from the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society.
- Photos from the opening event posted below.
- Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was unfortunately unable to attend the opening event due to urgent negotiations ahead of the Euro Area Summit in Brussels, but Secretary of State Dr. Birgit Grundmann kindly stood in for the Minister and gave an excellent, inspiring speech.