Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

MOTRA-TM – Technology monitoring as part of the collaborative project “Monitoring System and Transfer Platform Radicalization”

Project description


Especially in the context of digitalization, new technologies can expand the possibilities for disseminating extremist ideas, facilitate the networking of extremist actors, and support radicalization processes or even acts of violence. At the same time, they also provide security authorities that want to prevent such acts of violence with new possibilities for control and surveillance.

The MOTRA research association, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims at the prevention of and fight against violent radicalization. The overall project aims at analyzing radicalization processes, interlinking governmental and non-governmental actors, and strengthening the practical prevention work in Germany.

Within this framework, ITAS is responsible for the sub-project “Technology monitoring” and its objective of assessing the development potentials and trends of new technologies regarding violent radicalization processes and the fight against them. On the one hand, the project is about facilitating the identification and categorization of new technologies that can drive or curb such radicalization processes. On the other hand, both the impacts of extremist networking on crucial elements of society and the societal side effects and ethical aspects of technology-based preventive measures are taken into account.

The project analyzes the dimensions of technology monitoring as a constellation of system-environment relations in which governmental and non-governmental actors have to deal with different problems and, if necessary, resort to technologies.

The focal problem of security authorities is the observation of radicalizing actors in order to prevent extremist radicalizations and violent acts. However, possible solutions to this problem often raise legal and ethical questions regarding the impacts on society as a whole, not least because radicalization does not automatically lead to extremism and the willingness to use violence.

The focal problem of extremist actors is the protection of their communication against observation. When they disseminate extremist ideas, they want to protect their identity. In case of the joint planning of violent acts they also want to protect the content of their communication. If such actors succeed, possibly with the help of technologies, in attacking vulnerable infrastructures, institutions or settings, their activities can have massive impacts on society as a whole.

Based on this conceptualization of the constellation of actors, it is possible to use elements of innovation research in technology monitoring and, in a first step, to identify those needs of the different actors that could be answered by new technologies. In doing so, we distinguish between different degrees of novelty, ranging from the improper use of an existing technology to the recombination of several technologies to genuinely new technologies. On this basis and by using different sources of knowledge (literature, internet documents, databases and research results from other partners of the collaborative project, expert interviews and workshops) the project will develop relevance criteria and evaluation schemes to realize a monitoring of relevant technologies.


Kusche, I.
MOTRA-Technologiemonitoring : Eine Einführung.
2020. MOTRA-K #1 - Jahreskonferenz des Forschungsverbundes Monitoringsystem und Transferplattform Radikalisierung (2020), Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1, 2020 
Kusche, I.; Büscher, C.
Technologiemonitoring zur Prävention von Extremismus und terroristischer Gewalt.
2020. 40. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS-Kongress 2020), Online, September 14–24, 2020 


PD Dr. Isabel Kusche
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-22549