The Digital Humanism Initiative

The Digital Humanism Initiative is an international collaboration seeking to build a community of scholars, policy makers, and industrial players who are focused on ensuring that technology development remain centered on human interests.


December 6, 2022 2:00 – 3:00 PM (14:00) CET Lecture Series “The Uselessness of AI Ethics”

In this discussion, Luke Munn and Erich Prem consider the apparent uselessness of AI ethics. As the awareness of AI’s power and danger has risen, the dominant response has been a turn to ethical principles. A flood of AI guidelines have been released in both the public and private sector in the last several years. Systematic reviews of these frameworks reveal that most of them are instances of principlism. Unfortunately, such principles are often meaningless and vague, they lack “teeth” or enforcement, and they are situated in an industry that often ignores ethics. The question then is how to leverage ethical principles, to move from what to how. There have been numerous proposals for tools, techniques, and algorithms to create ethical AI systems. Will this be the solution or will we need completely new pathways to building and operating AI systems that align with societal values?

Speakers: Luke Munn (University of Queensland) and Erich Prem (Universität Wien & eutema)
November 22, 2022
18:00 CET
Open Societies and Democratic Sustainability in the Shadow of Big Tech
Lecture of the IWM Digital Humanism Fellowship Program.


November 23, 2022
9:30 – 12:00 CET
In the Shadow of Big Tech
IWM Workshop with Allison Stanger, Paul Timmers, George Metakides and Guests


November 25, 2022
13:00 – 15:00 CET
Who Elected Big Tech?
IWM Digital Humanism Fellow Allison Stanger speaks about technological innovation and power shifts.


Support of Ukraine Open letter of Russian scientists and science journalists against the war with Ukraine 


Support of Ukraine Statement on Russia’s Unjustified and Unprovoked Attack on Ukraine

Perspectives on Digital Humanism
Our book “Perspectives on Digital Humanism” is now available at
New Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML)
Opening (December 2, 2021) of the new TU Wien Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with a keynote by Turing Award winner Leslie Valiant.

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Seminar Series on Digital Humanism

A roughly bi-weekly seminar offers presentations and panels from worldwide thought leaders. It is typically held on Tuesday afternoons at 17:00 CET.

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The Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism

The Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism is a position statement signed by over 1000 leaders worldwide that lays out the motivation and goals for the Digital Humanism Initiative.  

Sign the Manifesto

Digital Humanism

The Corona-Crisis shows that IT keeps the system running. But at the same time IT is changing our society. We are in the midst of the digital transformation, with computer science and its artifacts as a major driver. We experienced the metamorphosis from the stand-alone computer to the global operating system of our world, a journey leading to yet another industrial revolution: digitizing everything and automating work and thinking.

This digital and global operating system integrates, links, and permeates everything: work, leisure, politics, the personal, the professional, and the private. It influences or even shapes actions on a technical, economic, military and political level.

Whereas digitalization is opening unprecedented opportunities, it also raising serious concerns: the monopolization of the Web, the rise of extremism orchestrated by social media, the formation of filter bubbles, the loss of privacy, the spread of digital surveillance, automated decision making, and the potential loss of jobs due to automation. This is also expressed by Tim Berners-Lee (The Guardian, 16 November 2017) with his

“The system is failing”

We are at a crossroads for our future, and the issue is which direction to take, or in positive terms, how to put the human at the center and how to combine technological with social innovation in a democratic process.

This is the context of our Digital Humanism initiative. We argue for a Digital Humanism that analyzes, and, most importantly, influences the complex interplay of technology and humankind, for a better society and life, fully respecting universal human rights. We must shape technologies in accordance with human values and needs. Our task is not only to rein in the downsides, but also to encourage human-centered innovation.

Such an approach starts from several key points:

  • IT forms a critical building block for our society; it facilitates and drives change, but it also needs rules and guidance.
  • To understand, to reflect, and to influence this development, we need a multi and interdisciplinary approach, looking at the individual and the society.
  • It is a global international issue.
  • The approach needs to be scientific, in the tradition of the enlightenment – and fact based in the best sense.
  • People are the central focus. Technology is for people and not the other way round. We need to put “humankind” at the center of our work.

The challenge of building a just and democratic society with humans at the center of technological progress needs to be addressed. The Digital Humanism initiative is supported by a growing group of internationally renowned experts. They are engaged in a series of (on- and offline) events, pointing towards a positive future!

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