ConPolicy Newsletter 2022 – 7

Dear Reader,


In today's issue ConPolicy informs you about: 

We wish you an exciting read!

Kind regards!

Your ConPolicy team

  News about ConPolicy

Using artificial intelligence to promote sustainable consumption
Award of funding to the ZuSiNa research project

As part of the German government's AI strategy, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUV) is funding projects that use artificial intelligence to address ecological challenges and are exemplary for environmentally, climate, health and nature-friendly digitalization ('AI lighthouses'). A total of more than 300 ideas were submitted, of which 28 will be funded.

During an event organized by the BMUV, State Secretary Stefan Tidow also handed over the funding notification to the ZuSiNa project, among other projects. The overall aim of the project is to improve the accessibility and visibility of sustainability information in an online context. It initially focuses on the textile sector. The predecessor project KI4NK identified two major hurdles to greater sustainability in online consumption that can be removed with AI. First, on the part of companies: Currently, their costs of obtaining credible sustainability information are high. With ZuSiNa, the project will make it easier for companies to access information about credible certifications as well as other relevant sustainability information. This means that it will be less burdensome for companies to include this information in their product ranges and in the information they offer on search engines, price comparison portals and online stores. On the other hand, on the consumer side: Although Internet sites basically have the potential to simplify sustainable consumption for consumers, these possibilities are often not used today. ZuSiNa aims to show how consumers shopping on search engines, price comparison portals and online stores can be made easier to choose sustainable products and services through design and user guidance. This includes changes in the following areas:

  • The presentation of search results,
  • The selection and presentation of more sustainable product recommendations through proposal algorithms,
  • filtering options, and
  • The display and presentation of credible sustainability information more generally.

The 24-month project began in March 2022 and is being conducted jointly by the ConPolicy Institute, Fraunhofer IAO (CeRRI), Fraunhofer ISI, and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). In addition, wide-ranging partners from the business world have been recruited for the project, including Google Germany, idealo, Otto Group, Avocado-Store, Tchibo, Blauer Engel, GOTS and Oeko-Tex, as well as BEVH.

Further information about the grant notification can be found here (German). More infomation on project can be found here.

Together for digital corporate responsibility
ConPolicy input as part of the BMUV's CDR conference

On 05 July 2022, the Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection hosted a conference on digital corporate responsibility and shaping sustainable and digital transformation. At the conference, the CDR reports of the member companies were published for the first time. Members of the CDR Initiative committed themselves to prepare the reports when they signed the CDR Code.

Before the presentation of some of the CDR reports, Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexander Brink (University of Bayreuth, concern), Dr. Frank Esselmann (concern) and ConPolicy Managing Director Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun introduced the initiative’s CDR Code and the reporting obligations.

Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun emphasized that the CDR Code had made a significant contribution to providing a framework for the discourse on CDR responsibility. The Code defines five areas of action: data handling, education, climate and resource protection, employee involvement and inclusion, including the respective proposed measures. Regarding the reporting requirements, he emphasized that these serve to enable shared learning and contribute to greater commitment.

Integration of consumer research in the development of AI-based services
ConPolicy participates at the 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

Between June 26 and July 01, 2022, the 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) took place in Gothenburg, Sweden as a hybrid event. The HCI is a renowned forum for the dissemination and exchange of scientific results in the realm of Human Computer Interaction. Together with Frank Binder from the Institute for Applied Informatics at Leipzig University (InfAI) Project Manager Dr. Jana Diels presented the results of a joint research paper on 'Putting Users in the Loop: How User Research Can Guide AI Development for a Consumer-Oriented Self-service Portal'.

The paper is based on the completed research project 'Smart_HEC' for the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. It tackles the question on how consumer research should be integrated in the development of AI-based consumer services. The results show that by interlocking consumer- and AI-research throughout the whole development process, applications can emerge that satisfy both the consumers’ need for a powerful AI system and high functionality and consumer friendly interfaces.

The related publication can be downloaded here.

CO:DINA conference 2022
ConPolicy impulse on synergies between environmental and consumer policy in digitalization

On June 15, 2022, a conference was held as part of the project 'CO:DINA - Transformation Roadmap Digitalization and Sustainability' under the motto 'Shaping Digital-Ecological Transformation: System change by design or by disruption?' In the workshop 'Digital-ecological statecraft: platform regulation for sustainability transformation', ConPolicy project manager Dr. Otmar Lell presented an impulse for a reorientation of platform regulation under environmental and consumer policy perspectives.

In his impulse, Otmar Lell pleaded for proactively anchoring consumer interests and sustainability in digitalization. So far, consumer regulation of digitization has been geared toward selectively averting specific consumer risks. It is also necessary to oblige digital platforms to act in the public interest. A 'state of the art' regulation should contribute to this by obliging platforms to design their IT systems in the best possible way in the interests of the values concerned.

  Consumer policy news

Food waste of 11 million tons per year in Germany

Today, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) presented a new report on... Read more

Consumers can hand in old cell phones or flashlights at supermarkets free of charge from July on

As of July 01, 2022, consumers can return their discarded electrical appliances free of charge to many food retailers, discounters and supermarkets.... Read more

TikTok commits to EU consumer rules and thereby ends investigations

Today, the European Commission and the national consumer authorities (CPC Network) have announced to end their dialogue with the social media platform... Read more

German consumers open to digital wallet

The digital association Bitkom published new survey results on the so-called Digital Identity Wallet today – a virtual wallet in which all personal... Read more

More and more consumers affected by cybercrime

Today, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has published its second report on digital consumer protection. According to the... Read more

Almost all children and young people use smartphones or tablets every day – For an average of 111 minutes a day

Today, the digital association Bitkom presented new survey results on the digital device usage behavior of children and teenagers in Germany.... Read more

  Recommended reading

Gossen, M. et al.
Nudging sustainable consumption: A large-scale data analysis of sustainability labels for fashion in German online retail

A transition toward a sustainable way of living is more pressing than ever. One link to achieving this transition is to increase the currently low... Read more

Groß, C., V. Grimm & G. Wagner
Fair CO2 pricing makes it easy for consumers to make climate-friendly choices

The German government has placed climate protection at the top of its priorities for the current legislative period. The war in Ukraine has not... Read more

Valle N. D. & V. Czako
Empowering energy citizenship among the energy poor

The literature on energy citizenship highlights that for citizens to be protagonists of the energy transition meaningfully, they should partake... Read more

Muench, S. et al.
Towards a green & digital future: Key requirements for successful twin transitions in the European Union

The European Union aims to be sustainable, fair, and competitive. To keep the planet liveable and seize economic opportunities, the European Union is... Read more

Postpischil, R. et al.
Ecological financial reform: product-related incentives as drivers of environmentally friendly patterns of production and consumption

Within the framework of the research project on which this report is based, options for an ecological financial reform were elaborated that would... Read more

Binder, F. et al.
Putting users in the loop: How user research can guide AI development for a consumer-oriented self-service portal

This study investigates three challenges for developing machine learning-based self-service web apps for consumers. First, the authors argue that user... Read more

Von der Leyen Commission Mid-term review – Consumer track record

When Ursula von der Leyen took over the reins of the European Commission in 2019, she built her tenure on six pillars. Two of them are central to give... Read more

INSERT COIN – How the gaming industry exploits consumers using loot boxes

Loot boxes are 'mystery packages' of digital content in video games where consumers spend real money to receive random in-game content that gives them... Read more