International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Maria Pawelec

Society, Culture and Technological Change

Maria Pawelec studied Politics and Public Administration and Contemporary European Studies in Konstanz, Istanbul, Bath and Berlin. SIn 2016, she joined the IZEW as a Research Associate working on media and technology ethics. She is currently researching the prevention of digital desinformation campaigns within the project PREVENT, with a special focus on deepfakes.


Maria Pawelec studied Politics and Public Administration and Contemporary European Studies in Konstanz, Istanbul, Bath and Berlin. She then worked in the department for “International Relations Europe and its Neighbors” of the Robert Bosch Foundation in Stuttgart. From 2016-2019, she worked as a Research Associate at the IZEW on the project “Ethical implications of IT-export to sub-Saharan Africa (ELISA)”. Additionally, she supported the project Privacy-Arena in and coordinated the preparation of an expert report on behalf of the German Bundestag on the social and psychological impact of technological surveillance. In 2020, she worked on the project “Technological Innovation: Social Science and Ethical Analyses on Governance (TANGO)”. Since 2021, Maria Pawelec has been studying the “Ethical and societal implications of ‘deepfakes’ and opportunities for their regulation” within the project "Digitalization in dialogue (digilog@bw)". Since 2022, she is researching the prevention of digital desinformation campaign within the project PREVENT. In 2024, she also advised the Federal Agency for Civic Education on the creation of a dossier on AI and social media.


Pawelec, Maria; Bieß, Cora (2021): Deepfakes — Technikfolgen und Regulierungsfragen aus ethischer und sozialwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. Mit einer interaktiven Lehreinheit von Cora Bieß. [Deepfakes —Technology assessment and questions of regulation from an ethical and social sciences perspective. With an interactive teaching unit by Cora Bieß.] Baden-Baden: Nomos.
Journal articles
Book chapters and conference contributions
  • Stieglitz, Stefan; Fromm, Jennifer; Kocur, Alexander; Rostalski, Frauke; Duda, Michelle; Evans, Alison; Rieskamp, Jonas; Sievi, Luzia; Pawelec, Maria; Heesen, Jessica; Loh, Wulf; Fuchß, Christopher; Eyilmez, Kaan (2023)What Measures Can Government Institutions in Germany Take Against Digital Disinformation? A Systematic Literature Review and Ethical-Legal Discussion. Conference Paper, WI23: 18th International Conference on Business Informatics, Paderborn, Germany.
  • Pawelec, Maria (2022): Deepfakes als Chance für die Demokratie? (Deepfakes as an opportunity for democracy?) In: Alexander Bogner, Michael Decker, Michael Nentwich, Constanze Scherz (eds.): Digitalisierung und die Zukunft der Demokratie - Beiträge aus der Technikfolgenabschätzung (Digitalisation and the future of democracy - Contributions from technology assessment), pp. 89-101.
  • Pawelec, Maria; Schopp, Kerstin; Heesen, Jessica (2021): Information justice in Africa: Insights on Information Ethics connected to Nelson Mandela's thinking. In: Coetzee Bester, Johannes Britz, Rafael Capurro und Rachel Fischer (Eds.): Nelson Mandela –  A Reader on Information Ethics in cooperation with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, pp. 87-132.
  • Baur-Ahrens, Andreas; Hagendorff, Thilo; Pawelec, Maria (2017): Kryptografie. In: Joel Baumann and Jörn Lamla (ed.): Privacy Arena. Kontroversen um Privatheit im digitalen Zeitalter. Kassel: Kassel University Press, pp. 40-55.
  • Baur-Ahrens, Andreas; Hagendorff, Thilo; Pawelec, Maria (2017): Big Data. In: Joel Baumann and Jörn Lamla (ed.): Privacy Arena. Kontroversen um Privatheit im digitalen Zeitalter. Kassel: Kassel University Press, pp. 96-113.
  • Upadhyay, Dinoj Kumar; Pawelec, Maria (2016): State-building and police reform in Afghanistan: EU and US engagement in comparative perspective. In: Ingo Peters (ed.): The European Union's Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective: Beyond the "Actorness" and "Power" Debate. London: Routledge, pp. 165-186.
Project reports
Further contributions


Interviews and media appearances

  •  „Unmöglich, sich zu schützen“: Erschreckend viele Frauen werden Opfer von Deepfake-Pornografie ["Impossible to protect oneself": A alarming number of women becomes victim of deepfake pornography]. Article by Anika Zuschke, Frankfurter Rundschau, 2 April 2024
  • «Superwahljahr 2024»: Open AI sagt, Chat-GPT könne nicht für politische Kampagnen eingesetzt werden. Diese Recherche zeigt das Gegenteil. ["Super election year 2024": Open AI says chat GPT cannot be used for political campaigns. This investigation shows the opposite]. Article by Gioia da Silva, Neue Züricher Zeitung, 14 February 2024.
  • Erste Parteien machen in Sachsen Politik mit künstlicher Intelligenz - Experten warnen. [First parties in Saxony are using artificial intelligence in politics - experts warn]. Article by Jim Kerzig, Freie Presse Sachsen, 22 January 2024.
  • Wir generieren uns eine eigene Realität. [We are generating our own reality]. Article by Olaf Pollaske in the CHIP magazine 01/2024, 5 January 2024.
  • Pizza beim Parteitag der Grünen: So bewerten Experten den KI-Fake vom Grünen-Parteitag [Pizza at the Green Party conference: How experts assess the AI fake from the Green Party conference]. Article by Sascha Maier in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 30 November 2023.
  • Let's assume that artificial intelligence replaces us. What then? tagesschau future podcast "mal angenommen" by Kristin Becker and Gábor Halász, 5 October 5 2023.
  • Dangers of Deepfakes for Media Credibility. Interview on Radio Bremen Zwei, 22 September 22 2023.
  • Deepfakes – Mediale Glaubwürdigkeit in Gefahr (A threat to media credibility). Interview with Sebastian Wellendorf in the programme "mediasres", 21 September 2023.
  • Deepfake Music? Wie die Technologie Einfluss auf die Musik nehmen kann. [How the technology can influence music.] 4-part mini-series by Kathrin Schunn, Karlsruhe University of Music, published on the Junge Kulturkanal, 3 September 2023.
  • You as a clone! Fraud using your voice, report (in German) by Tasnim Rödder for the regional public broadcasting corporation SWR as part of the documentary series "VOLLBILD", 18 July 2023.
  • Deepfakes: What are the risks, but also the opportunities for our society? Report by Maximilian Brose for the programme "Systemfragen", 1 July 2023 (more information here).
  • Wie groß ist die Gefahr von Deepfakes? [How big is the danger posed by deepfakes really?], Podcast by the project digilog@bw with Uwe Gradwohl, 17 December 2021.
  • Deepfakes als Gefahr für die Demokratie: Wie digitale Bild- und Tonfälschungen unser Vertrauen untergraben [Deepfakes as a threat to democracy: How digital image and audio fakes undermine our trust], interview with Ulla Ebner for the Ö1-series Digital.Leben, 6 July 2021.
  • #meetdigilog: Von Politik bis Pornografie: Gefahren (und Chancen) von Deepfakes [#meetdigilog: From politics to pornography: Risks (and opportunities) of deepfakes], live on Instagram, discussion with Sabine Faller, ZKM, 15 April 2021.
  • Von Politik bis Pornografie: Gefahren (und Chancen) von Deepfakes [From politics to pornography: Risks (and opportunities) of deepfakes], digiloglounge, YouTube-interview with Sabine Faller, ZKM, 8 April 2021 (with Jessica Heesen).
  • Audio-Deepfakes: Was, wenn wir unseren Ohren nicht mehr trauen können? (Audio Deepfakes: What happens if we can no longer trust our ears?) Feature by Julius Stucke in Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 3 Dezember 2020 (with Cora Bieß) 

Talks and presentations

  • (Wie) Sollten Behörden und Organisationen mit Sicherheitsaufgaben (BOS) gegen Falschinformationen in den sozialen Medien umgehen? Ethische und demokratietheoretische Perspektiven [(How) Should security authorities and organisations deal with false information on social media? Ethical and democracy theoretical perspectives] (with Luzia Sievi), workshop at the Fachtagung Katastrophenvorsorge 2024, 23 April 2024 (link to recording).
  • KI im Gespräch (Talking about AI): Deepfakes – Risks and Opportunities, panel discussion with Tim Rebig, moderated by Nadia Vohwinkel, as part of the StudiNight discussion series at the KI-Makerspace (AI Makerspace) in Tübingen, 6 June 2023
  • Maßnahmen von BOS gegen sicherheitsrelevante Falschinformationen und ihre ethische Bewertung [Measures taken by security organisations and authorities against false information and their ethical assessment] (with Luzia Sievi), presentation at the Graduate Network for Civil Security, 28 June 2023.
  • Ethical deepfakes? The values held by deepfake developers and service providers, and their governance potential, CEPE 2023 (International Conference on Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry), virtual conference, 24 May 2023 (link to recording)
  • Ethical implications of immersive technologies and deepfakes in art and culture. Keynote together with Céline Gressel at the workshop "Immersive technologies in arts and culture" of the Goethe Instituts, 14-18 November 2022 in Taschkent/Usbekistan. Keynote online. 17 November 2022. Slides.
  • Deepfakes, Demokratie und öffentliche Kommunikation: Gefahren und Chancen [Deepfakes, Democracy and Public Communication: Challenges and Opportunities], NTA9-TA21 Conference "Digital, direkt, demokratisch? Technikfolgenabschätzung und die Zukunft der Demokratie" [Digital, direct, democratic? Technology assessment and the future of democracy] of the German network for Technology Assessment (NTA) and the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna/virtual event, 11 May 2021.
  • Deepfakes as a blessing and a curse – and how to govern their use in public communication, DACH 21 - Three-Country Conference on Communication Science "#Communication #(R)Evolution: Changing Communication in a Digital Society", Zurich/virtual event, 9 April 2021. 
  • Encouraging the Development of Ethically and Societally ‘Desirable’ Technologies Through Innovation Governance, ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020 (European Consortium for Political Research), virtual event, 27 August 2020 (with Cora Bieß and Alexander Orlowski).
  • Governing technology innovation processes for ethically “desirable” societal transformation EASST/4S 2020 conference (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology), Prague/virtual, 18 August 2020 (with Cora Bieß and Alexander Orlowski).

Science communication

  • Short interview on Instagram with digilog@bw: ‘What is the most important security problem in your field? What to do?", April 2024.
  • Interviews for interactive platform on deepfakes (in German), created by MA students of media studies at the University of Tübingen, 2024.
  • Participation in the science communication project "I'm a Scientist" enabling students to ask scientists questions, organised by "Wissenschaft im Dialog" (science in dialogue), round on "AI and films", January 2023.


2021: Student Best Paper Award of the conference CEPE/IACAP 2021 for the paper "Deepfakes and Democracy (Theory): How Synthetic Audio-Visual Media for Disinformation and Hate Speech Threatens Core Democratic Functions".

Completed projects

  • digilog@bw (2021-2022, Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts): 'Digitalization in Dialogue'
  • TANGO (2020, BMBF): ‘Technological Innovation: Social Science and Ethical Analyses on Governance (TANGO)’
  • ELISA (2016-2019): ‘Ethical Implications of IT-Exports to Sub-Sahara Africa‘
  • Expert report on behalf of the German Bundestag on the social and psychological impact of technological surveillance (2017)
  • Privacy-Arena (2016, BMBF): ‘Research Project for a Cartography and Analysis of the Privacy-Arena’