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.

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Apr 20, 2021
5:00 – 6:00 PM
(17:00) CEST
Lecture Series
“Vaccination Passports – a tool for liberation or the opposite?”

The European Commission and its member states are discussing “Green Passports” as a way of opening up after lockdown. They have been proposed as tools to verify the Covid immunization status and thus help to accelerate the path to normality. However, similar to the contact tracing apps there are numerous issues and concerns about what these apps should be and how to make them safe, reliable, and privacy-preserving. Director Ron Roozendaal from the Dutch Ministry of Health will talk about digital solutions, important design decisions, and the way forward. As a respondent, Prof. Nikolaus Forgo from the Department of Innovation and Digitalisation in Law will be our respondent.


Speaker: Ron Roozendaal (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, The Netherlands)
Respondent: Nikolaus Forgo (University of Vienna, Austria)
Moderator: Walter Hötzendorfer (Research Institute – Digital Human Rights Center)
Online ‘Fireside Chat’ of the Digital Enlightenment Forum
A Fireside Chat is an online informal chat of 1 -1.5 hours. Participants are 6-10 young, promising PhD or masters’ level students/researchers or young professionals and a senior person from the world of policy, politics, industry or academia. The senior person as a host will kick-off on a theme, followed by an open discussion. You will also exchange on the professional life experiences of the host. And get to know some new people!
Call for Submissions on Digital Humanism
Contributions on research (with peer review), practice, and policy are very welcome.

In recent years, an Ethics (Nida-Rümelin/Weidenfeld 2018) and Media Ethics (Barberi 2020), and a theoretical foundations (Schmoelz 2020) on Digital Humanism as well as the Vienna Manifesto for Digital Humanism (Werthner 2019) have been published. This issue of MEDIENIMPULSE invites to build on this groundwork and further study the relation between digitalization and humanity.

Deadline: 15. May 2021
Further information & submission: here

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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.

Schedule YouTube Channel

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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