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.


June 8, 2021
5:00 – 6:00 PM
(17:00) CEST
Lecture Series
“The New EU Proposal for AI Regulation”

The European Commission has published its proposal for a new AI regulation. It takes a risk-based approach with different rules for low-risk applications of AI, stricter rules for riskier systems, and a complete ban for specified types of AI applications. Regulatory measures include data governance, transparency, information to users, and human oversight. The proposal also includes measures for supporting AI innovation through regulatory sandboxes. The proposed regulation was met with great interest and criticism. It started an intense debate about its appropriateness, omissions, specificity, and practicability. With this lecture and the following discussion, we aim to improve the understanding of the proposal’s main objectives, methods, and instruments and contribute to the public debate of how AI should be regulated in the future.

Speaker: Irina Orssich (European Commission)
Moderator & Respondent: Erich Prem (eutema & TU Wien, Austria)

June 15, 2021
5:00 – 6:00 PM
(17:00) CEST
Lecture Series
“Digital Humanism and Democracy in Geopolitical Context”

Government and corporate surveillance in autocracies have very different ethical ramifications than the same actions do in liberal democracies. Open societies protect individual rights and distinguish between the public and private spheres. Neither condition pertains in China, an instantiation of what the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson calls private government. Ignoring the significance of such differences, which are only reinforced by differing business-government relationships in the United States, EU, and China, is likely to undercut both liberal democratic values and US-European national security.

Speaker: Allison Stanger (Middlebury College, USA)
Moderator & Respondent: Moshe Y. Vardi (Rice University, USA)

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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Contact us: dighum[at]