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IT will not stop
and about Digital Humanism
Hannes Werthner
University of Klagenfurt
June 8, 2022
This is absolute nonsense
Response at the first ENTER conference on IT & Tourism in Innsbruck, 1994.
• Beat Schmid (University of St. Gallen) on Internet and electronic markets
• Larry Press (UCLA) on digital agents as copies of ourselves
• We live in a digital – physical world
• It is public space: participation (almost) mandatory, not to be excluded
3
Today
Today
• Digital transformation = Informatization of our societies
complex socio-economic technical process changing us and the world
• Internet / Web global infrastructure
• Informatics / its tools „operating system“ of our society
Pandemic showed power of Internet / Web, but also shortcomings
• limitations w.r.t. to social / organisational embeddedness
• few technical problems
War against Ukraine
• Web and social media an amplifier for Ukraine – successful
Informatics
• Very short history, from first study programs in 70s to Latin of today - A. Loprieno (Chair ASC)
• Computer Science / Informatics (its methods, paradigm, artefacts) broad and foundational
• Science and engineering, its artefacts no physical constraints
i) Informatics as subject, ii) Informatics in subject
• Kristen Nygaard: Informatics as the science that has as its domain information, information
processes and related phenomena in artifacts, society and nature
Interesting: algorithmic solution of problems vs understanding of human thinking:
•Simulation (e.g., IAS Computer Von Neumann, simulation and weather forecast)
•Turing with his Turing Test / defining intelligence?
Informatics cont
• Technical view :
• Systems consist of a stack of different pieces (hard and software)
• Increasingly delegation to software -> virtualization, provides flexibility
• Example car - 2019 VW founded SW company Car-Software
• Everything touched by SW becomes a computer
• Metamorphosis from a computer to global machine (sometimes nearly invisible)
• Not to forget: Digital divide
Internet / Web: more than Technology
• Economic transformation (companies, markets)
• Social „expansion“
• Law and politics
• Physical spaces
• Psychology
Augsburg
Vilnius
The Web
• Internet / Web also rooted in the US counterculture (e.g., Declaration of the independence
of the cyberspace), see also (Vardi, 2018)
• Free information sharing - > huge amount of information and rise of search engines
• To sustain (monetize): advertising based business model, extended by
• Personalization (“If we have 4.5 million customers, we have 4.5 million stores” J. Bezos)
• Recommendation (e.g., Amazon Marketplace and its 350 Mio products)
• Emotional engagement to optimize click rates
• Changing user behavior following recommendations (Russell 2021)
• Pay with our data -> surveillance (Zuboff, 2019)
• From citizen to consumer (Stanger, 2020)
• We are user, product and producer (nearly an economic perpetuum mobile)
Web - cont
• We seem to have absolute individual freedom
• Individual freedom as fiction: what I see, what I get, what I do is defined by the
distance measure of a similarity matrix
• Algorithmic interdependence between the individual (and its self-referentiality) and
the general/common
• But also this “common” is a fiction; it is an aggregation of previously individualized
views
• Algorithm (mostly unknown) instead of conscious decision of the human being
• Fiction of individual freedom, fiction of the seemingly common
• Vision of individual freedom and democratic participation -> the system is failing
(Berners-Lee)
Web Business Landscape
• Google 1998
• YouTube 2005
• Skype 2003
• Amazon 1994
• Twitter 2006
• Facebook 2004
• LinkedIn 2003
• Uber 2009
• Airbnb 2008
• Instagram 2010
• Platform companies
• Basis: user network and information from / about users as well as markets
• Virtualization of business (not only technology)
• Innovation from outside, permanently new "players”
Platforms and Market Capitalization
List of top publicly traded companies - based Financial Times Global 500, no investment companies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by_market_capitalization#2021
March 2022, Mio USD
Apple 2,850,000
Microsoft 2,311,000
Alphabet (Google) 1,846,000
Amazon 1,659,000
Tesla 1,114,000
Berkshire Hathaway 779,150
Nvidia 684,880
Meta (facebook) 605,250
TSMC 540,670
UnitedHealth 479,830
March 2011, Mio USD
Exxon Mobil 417,166
PetroChina 326,199
Apple Inc. 321,072
ICBC 251,078
Petrobras 247,417
BHP Billiton 247,079
China Construction Bank 232,608
Royal Dutch Shell 226,128
Chevron Corporation 215,780
Microsoft 213,336
• Companies active in several markets with shares of 50-90%, very profitable
• Acquisitions of companies (not always taking advantage of innovations)
• Investing in R&D ("brain") - competing with universities
• Winners of the pandemic, expand unlike most traditional firms
Platforms
• Platform: virtual place where suppliers and consumers meet
• Technology/service for an "open ecosystem" of users and companies
• Organizational arrangement, governed by common rules and architecture
• Network effects - value grows with number of participants -> Winner takes it all
Two Sides
• IT keeps the system running
• Important for democratic movements and humanitarian activities
• Essential to solve fundamental problems
Two Sides
Critical issues = mutually dependent
• Concentration and monopolies in the Web
• Sovereignty – role of states as well as individuals – see Corona Apps
• Echo chambers and fake news – with its impact on political discourse
• AI and decision making (role of humans)
• Privacy and surveillance (Zuboff, 2019)
• Robots and warfare
• Work situation and automation (Casilli 2022, gig economy)
The system is failing – Tim Berners-Lee, 2018
Digitale Humanism – Workshop in 2019
• 100 participants - worldwide – informatics, philosophy, history, anthropology, law, economics,
political science, mathematics, sociology
• Triggered by an Advisory Board Meeting of Informatics Faculty in 2018
• See. https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at/
Popper (1969) “Moral Responsibility of the Scientist”
Approach to describe, analyze and, above all, to try to influence the complex
interplay between IT and humanity - for a society that fully respects universal
human rights
Digital Humanism
Complex social economic technical process, with its own dynamics
But it is not automatic and “god-given”
• Technology according to our values and needs, we are the designers &
developers
• We humans (all) have the freedom, right and responsibility to use our own minds
• We are the authors of our own lives, with personal autonomy and agency
• This is a prerequisite for a democratic society
• Refers – in addition to humanism – to enlightenment (see also Nida-Rümelin &
Weidenfeld, 2018)
• I see DigHum as rational democratic answer to the anything goes paradigm of
the Web
• It is a call for reflection and action, also a research program
• Some core principles:
Democracy
• Digital technologies should be designed to promote democracy and inclusion
• Fairness, responsibility and transparency of software programs and algorithms
Regulation
• Action / intervention against tech monopolies
• Decisions affecting human rights must be made by humans
The role of Research, Science, and Academia
• The connection of different scientific disciplines is essential
• Universities (create new knowledge, enhance critical thinking) have a particular responsibility
Education
• Academic teaching needs to combine humanities, social sciences and engineering
• Education on Informatics and its societal impact must start as early as possible
30 online lectures, four workshops
Large amount of knowledge
Over 70 hours online accessible lectures, will be semantically annotated
https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at/
Since then
4th DIGHUM WS Towards a Research and Innovation
Roadmap
Since then - 2
• Lectures on
• Efficiency and resilience
• AI and ethics
• Sovereignty
• Privacy
• AI Regulation Europe
• Automation and Work
• IT, Democracy and Geopolitics
• Manifesto – signatures from 45 countries, we have 8 languages
• In Austrian government program, and in Viennese government program (incl.
“Institute for Digitale Humanism”)
• Poysdorf Declaration on Digital Humanism (Austria, Slowakia, Czech Republic)
• Activities of Austrian Ministries
• Research programs in Vienna
• IWM fellowship program
Since then - 3
• Created an international intellectual interdisciplinary core (authors of manifesto,
members of lecture’s Program Committee)
• Perspectives on Digital Humanism over 160 k downloads
• Roadmap for Research, Innovation and Teaching (incl. European Master)
Things are Changing
On international political level:
• US: several antitrust cases
• Europe: several „acts“ and proposals (Market Act, Service Act, AI regulation,
GDPR)
• Specific DigHum activities at EU level - initiated by Austria
• UN / Internet as global public good, OECD’s principles on AI, UNESCO, G20 AI
principles, Global Partnership on AI, …
• Many international civil society based and academic initiatives
e.g. HAI - Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford, Center for
Humane Technology, Dutch Digital Society, Digital Enlightenment Forum, …..
• International standardization organizations: e.g., IEEE Software Engineering
Standard
Challenges
• Digital Humanism is a fundamental concept
• May serve as a European model (vs USA and China)
• But there are also other parts of the world!
• Heterogeneous audience: academia, industry, citizens decision makers, politicians
• Digital Humanism needs a multidimensional framework - challenges on three levels:
• Different problem areas: from platforms to AI, privacy or work
• Different disciplines: Informatics and technical / engineering disciplines, social
science and humanities; from analysis to construction, issue of interdisciplinarity
• Different activities: applied and basic research, development and experiments,
innovation education, communication, political action?
Conclusions
• IT will not stop
• Further technology and „service“ waves - > complexity (both structure and
technology)
• Continuing transformation processes
• But: Technology is not „god given”, primacy of politics
• Responsibility of scientists, with need of interdisciplinary approaches and
cooperations
Thank you!
https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at
•Readings
•J. Nida-Rümelin, N. Weidenfeld (2018): Digitaler Humanismus; Eine Ethik für das
Zeitalter der Künstlichen Intelligenz. Piper Verlag
•H. Werthner (2020): The Vienna Manifest on Digital Humanism. in: Hengstschläger M.
/ Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development (Eds.) (2020). Digital
Transformation and Ethics. Salzburg, München: Ecowin Verlag
•H. Werthner (2022): From absolute nonsense to the world’s operating system.
electronic markets vol 22, 2022.
•H. Werthner, E. Prem, C. Ghezzi, E. Lee (2022): Perspectives on Digital Humanism.
Online und Print – Springer Verlag

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IT does not stop

  • 1. IT will not stop and about Digital Humanism Hannes Werthner University of Klagenfurt June 8, 2022
  • 2. This is absolute nonsense Response at the first ENTER conference on IT & Tourism in Innsbruck, 1994. • Beat Schmid (University of St. Gallen) on Internet and electronic markets • Larry Press (UCLA) on digital agents as copies of ourselves
  • 3. • We live in a digital – physical world • It is public space: participation (almost) mandatory, not to be excluded 3 Today
  • 4. Today • Digital transformation = Informatization of our societies complex socio-economic technical process changing us and the world • Internet / Web global infrastructure • Informatics / its tools „operating system“ of our society Pandemic showed power of Internet / Web, but also shortcomings • limitations w.r.t. to social / organisational embeddedness • few technical problems War against Ukraine • Web and social media an amplifier for Ukraine – successful
  • 5. Informatics • Very short history, from first study programs in 70s to Latin of today - A. Loprieno (Chair ASC) • Computer Science / Informatics (its methods, paradigm, artefacts) broad and foundational • Science and engineering, its artefacts no physical constraints i) Informatics as subject, ii) Informatics in subject • Kristen Nygaard: Informatics as the science that has as its domain information, information processes and related phenomena in artifacts, society and nature Interesting: algorithmic solution of problems vs understanding of human thinking: •Simulation (e.g., IAS Computer Von Neumann, simulation and weather forecast) •Turing with his Turing Test / defining intelligence?
  • 6. Informatics cont • Technical view : • Systems consist of a stack of different pieces (hard and software) • Increasingly delegation to software -> virtualization, provides flexibility • Example car - 2019 VW founded SW company Car-Software • Everything touched by SW becomes a computer • Metamorphosis from a computer to global machine (sometimes nearly invisible) • Not to forget: Digital divide
  • 7. Internet / Web: more than Technology • Economic transformation (companies, markets) • Social „expansion“ • Law and politics • Physical spaces • Psychology Augsburg Vilnius
  • 8. The Web • Internet / Web also rooted in the US counterculture (e.g., Declaration of the independence of the cyberspace), see also (Vardi, 2018) • Free information sharing - > huge amount of information and rise of search engines • To sustain (monetize): advertising based business model, extended by • Personalization (“If we have 4.5 million customers, we have 4.5 million stores” J. Bezos) • Recommendation (e.g., Amazon Marketplace and its 350 Mio products) • Emotional engagement to optimize click rates • Changing user behavior following recommendations (Russell 2021) • Pay with our data -> surveillance (Zuboff, 2019) • From citizen to consumer (Stanger, 2020) • We are user, product and producer (nearly an economic perpetuum mobile)
  • 9. Web - cont • We seem to have absolute individual freedom • Individual freedom as fiction: what I see, what I get, what I do is defined by the distance measure of a similarity matrix • Algorithmic interdependence between the individual (and its self-referentiality) and the general/common • But also this “common” is a fiction; it is an aggregation of previously individualized views • Algorithm (mostly unknown) instead of conscious decision of the human being • Fiction of individual freedom, fiction of the seemingly common • Vision of individual freedom and democratic participation -> the system is failing (Berners-Lee)
  • 10. Web Business Landscape • Google 1998 • YouTube 2005 • Skype 2003 • Amazon 1994 • Twitter 2006 • Facebook 2004 • LinkedIn 2003 • Uber 2009 • Airbnb 2008 • Instagram 2010 • Platform companies • Basis: user network and information from / about users as well as markets • Virtualization of business (not only technology) • Innovation from outside, permanently new "players”
  • 11. Platforms and Market Capitalization List of top publicly traded companies - based Financial Times Global 500, no investment companies https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by_market_capitalization#2021 March 2022, Mio USD Apple 2,850,000 Microsoft 2,311,000 Alphabet (Google) 1,846,000 Amazon 1,659,000 Tesla 1,114,000 Berkshire Hathaway 779,150 Nvidia 684,880 Meta (facebook) 605,250 TSMC 540,670 UnitedHealth 479,830 March 2011, Mio USD Exxon Mobil 417,166 PetroChina 326,199 Apple Inc. 321,072 ICBC 251,078 Petrobras 247,417 BHP Billiton 247,079 China Construction Bank 232,608 Royal Dutch Shell 226,128 Chevron Corporation 215,780 Microsoft 213,336
  • 12. • Companies active in several markets with shares of 50-90%, very profitable • Acquisitions of companies (not always taking advantage of innovations) • Investing in R&D ("brain") - competing with universities • Winners of the pandemic, expand unlike most traditional firms Platforms • Platform: virtual place where suppliers and consumers meet • Technology/service for an "open ecosystem" of users and companies • Organizational arrangement, governed by common rules and architecture • Network effects - value grows with number of participants -> Winner takes it all
  • 13. Two Sides • IT keeps the system running • Important for democratic movements and humanitarian activities • Essential to solve fundamental problems
  • 14. Two Sides Critical issues = mutually dependent • Concentration and monopolies in the Web • Sovereignty – role of states as well as individuals – see Corona Apps • Echo chambers and fake news – with its impact on political discourse • AI and decision making (role of humans) • Privacy and surveillance (Zuboff, 2019) • Robots and warfare • Work situation and automation (Casilli 2022, gig economy) The system is failing – Tim Berners-Lee, 2018
  • 15. Digitale Humanism – Workshop in 2019 • 100 participants - worldwide – informatics, philosophy, history, anthropology, law, economics, political science, mathematics, sociology • Triggered by an Advisory Board Meeting of Informatics Faculty in 2018 • See. https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at/ Popper (1969) “Moral Responsibility of the Scientist”
  • 16. Approach to describe, analyze and, above all, to try to influence the complex interplay between IT and humanity - for a society that fully respects universal human rights Digital Humanism Complex social economic technical process, with its own dynamics But it is not automatic and “god-given”
  • 17. • Technology according to our values and needs, we are the designers & developers • We humans (all) have the freedom, right and responsibility to use our own minds • We are the authors of our own lives, with personal autonomy and agency • This is a prerequisite for a democratic society • Refers – in addition to humanism – to enlightenment (see also Nida-Rümelin & Weidenfeld, 2018) • I see DigHum as rational democratic answer to the anything goes paradigm of the Web
  • 18. • It is a call for reflection and action, also a research program • Some core principles: Democracy • Digital technologies should be designed to promote democracy and inclusion • Fairness, responsibility and transparency of software programs and algorithms Regulation • Action / intervention against tech monopolies • Decisions affecting human rights must be made by humans The role of Research, Science, and Academia • The connection of different scientific disciplines is essential • Universities (create new knowledge, enhance critical thinking) have a particular responsibility Education • Academic teaching needs to combine humanities, social sciences and engineering • Education on Informatics and its societal impact must start as early as possible
  • 19. 30 online lectures, four workshops Large amount of knowledge Over 70 hours online accessible lectures, will be semantically annotated https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at/ Since then 4th DIGHUM WS Towards a Research and Innovation Roadmap
  • 20. Since then - 2 • Lectures on • Efficiency and resilience • AI and ethics • Sovereignty • Privacy • AI Regulation Europe • Automation and Work • IT, Democracy and Geopolitics • Manifesto – signatures from 45 countries, we have 8 languages • In Austrian government program, and in Viennese government program (incl. “Institute for Digitale Humanism”) • Poysdorf Declaration on Digital Humanism (Austria, Slowakia, Czech Republic) • Activities of Austrian Ministries • Research programs in Vienna • IWM fellowship program
  • 21. Since then - 3 • Created an international intellectual interdisciplinary core (authors of manifesto, members of lecture’s Program Committee) • Perspectives on Digital Humanism over 160 k downloads • Roadmap for Research, Innovation and Teaching (incl. European Master)
  • 22.
  • 23.
  • 24. Things are Changing On international political level: • US: several antitrust cases • Europe: several „acts“ and proposals (Market Act, Service Act, AI regulation, GDPR) • Specific DigHum activities at EU level - initiated by Austria • UN / Internet as global public good, OECD’s principles on AI, UNESCO, G20 AI principles, Global Partnership on AI, … • Many international civil society based and academic initiatives e.g. HAI - Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford, Center for Humane Technology, Dutch Digital Society, Digital Enlightenment Forum, ….. • International standardization organizations: e.g., IEEE Software Engineering Standard
  • 25. Challenges • Digital Humanism is a fundamental concept • May serve as a European model (vs USA and China) • But there are also other parts of the world! • Heterogeneous audience: academia, industry, citizens decision makers, politicians • Digital Humanism needs a multidimensional framework - challenges on three levels: • Different problem areas: from platforms to AI, privacy or work • Different disciplines: Informatics and technical / engineering disciplines, social science and humanities; from analysis to construction, issue of interdisciplinarity • Different activities: applied and basic research, development and experiments, innovation education, communication, political action?
  • 26. Conclusions • IT will not stop • Further technology and „service“ waves - > complexity (both structure and technology) • Continuing transformation processes • But: Technology is not „god given”, primacy of politics • Responsibility of scientists, with need of interdisciplinary approaches and cooperations
  • 28. •Readings •J. Nida-Rümelin, N. Weidenfeld (2018): Digitaler Humanismus; Eine Ethik für das Zeitalter der Künstlichen Intelligenz. Piper Verlag •H. Werthner (2020): The Vienna Manifest on Digital Humanism. in: Hengstschläger M. / Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development (Eds.) (2020). Digital Transformation and Ethics. Salzburg, München: Ecowin Verlag •H. Werthner (2022): From absolute nonsense to the world’s operating system. electronic markets vol 22, 2022. •H. Werthner, E. Prem, C. Ghezzi, E. Lee (2022): Perspectives on Digital Humanism. Online und Print – Springer Verlag