Matthias Schulze

Percepticon? Purpose of this blog

This is a blog about technology and politics. To be more precise, its about the interplay of digital technologies, the Internet, cyberspace and security policy. I am interested in the ongoing securitization and militarization of the digital world. These fancy terms come from social science and describe how digital technologies are more and more perceived and utilized as matters of national security. This trend leads to phenomena such as increasing Internet surveillance and the use of digital technologies for state conflict (what people call cyber war, although I prefere the more nuanced term cyber conflict). Naturally, cyber security is also an interest of mine. I intentionally did not say information security or computer security, since these are terms used by computer science and IT-professionals. I am neither of those. My background is in political science, international relations, security studies and science and technology studies. This shapes my perspective on the topic.

Copyright Jana Neumann

I believe in democracy, the rule of law the importance of checks & balances. However, every democracy requires critical observation by its citizens, open public discourse that guarantee that it stays a democracy.  I understay my role as an observer and a critic. This leads me to the title of my blog because you might ask, what the heck is a perception? Some kind of transformer? No. It is the combination of the following words:

perception – noun: The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses

Panopticon – noun, historical: A circular prison with cells arranged arround a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed. Origin mid 18th century from: pan – [all] + Greek optikon – [optic]

The panopticon is a metaphor for a surveillance technology, a circular prison that allows observation from the inmates during all times of days. It was designed by Jeremy Bentham and picked up by French philosopher Michel Foucault. Foucault describes pantopticism as political paradigm or ideology of power projection. Being under constant surveillance leads the inmates to self-censor their behavior because they assume that they are being monitored, even they are not. The target of surveillance disciplines itself under these conditions, without the need for a watcher.

Dr. Matthias Schulze

I am researcher at the security division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs – SWP, where he is the co-coordinator of the cyber-research cluster.

My research covers numerous topics within the field of international cyber-security since 2010. I focus on the dark side of digitalization, namely the strategic use of cyber-capabilities in international relations, such as cyber-conflicts, cyber-espionage, information operations, and cyber-crime. Regionally, I am particularly interested in how key cyber-powers such as the USA, EU, Russia, China, and North Korea operate in the cyber-domain. I also work on numerous domestic policy-related topics such as encryption, vulnerability disclosure, government hacking, and lawful access. I also advance the theoretical debate, for example on cyber-deterrence and cyber-norms of responsible state behavior and cyber-arms control.

I have participated in various national and international discussions, working groups and track 1.5 dialogues on cyber-security. I regularly give talks for relevant cyber-security stakeholders. I authored numerous research papers, and commentaries and has often been featured in the international media, including The Economist, Deutsche Welle and German newspapers such as der Spiegel.

Previously, I worked for five years at Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany as a lecturer and research assistant in international relations. There I gave numerous courses on cyber-security in international relations. In 2015 I was a visiting research fellow at Citizen Lab in Canada.

I hold a Ph.D. with magna cum laude from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena. My thesis analyzed how the Internet evolved from a cyber-utopia into a cyber-war dystopia. I also hold a Magister Degree in political science, sociology, and philosophy from the University in Jena.


  • August 2017: Ph.D. defense, Magna cum laude. Title: From cyber-utopia to cyber-war. normative change in cyberspace.
  • April 2017: Researcher at German Institute for International and Security Affairs
  • July – October 2015: Research visit at Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
  • September 2012: Research Assistant at the Department of International Relations, Jena University
  • July 2012: Master thesis award of the Institute of Political Science Jena friends association
  • November 2011: MagisterDegree in Political Science, Sociology and Philosophy. Master thesis about “The language of insecurity. The construction of threats in the German political discourse about data-retention and electronic surveillance”
  • July – September 2009: Intern at Frankfurt Peace Research Institute, research on recent developments in Swedish foreign policy
  • August 2008 – June 2009: Erasmus exchange program, stay at Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden
  • October 2005 – November 2011: Magister Program in Political Science, Philosophy and Sociology at Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena


Link to research

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