On May 15, 2023, the UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism was inaugurated at TU Wien’s Faculty of Informatics in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology (BMK), the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (BMEIA), and the City of Vienna. TU Wien Informatics is the first Faculty of Informatics in Austria to hold a UNESCO Chair, focusing on digital technologies' ethical, social, and political implications.
"Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are on the rise and are influencing our everyday lives in many areas," says TU Wien Rector Sabine Seidler, "we need to ensure that these changes are compatible with our societal rules and values. The Chair on Digital Humanism will help ensure that we shape this transformation in an ethically responsible way."
"What is a desirable future?" Federal Minister Polaschek welcomes the establishment of the new UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism. "The establishment of this chair is an important milestone in ensuring that the digital transformation is shaped in a way that puts people at the center of technological progress."
The Secretary-General of the Austrian Commission for UNESCO, Martin Fritz, welcomes TU Wien to the UNESCO network: "Digital technologies are part of our everyday life and our coexistence. Their use must therefore take place within an ethical framework and serve the well-being of people and the environment. The UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism at TU Wien will make valuable contributions to this, and we are pleased to welcome it to the global network of UNESCO Chairs."
Peter Knees (chair) and Julia Neidhardt (co-chair) will be inaugurated as chairholders. Both are AI & Recommender Systems experts and have been active in Digital Humanism for several years. "Technology offers enormous opportunities for society’s development," says Peter Knees, "but only if we respect the dignity and freedom of every person. With the chair, we want to create scientific foundations for meaningful regulations and educate tomorrow's IT experts with an interdisciplinary mindset."
The chair acts as a hub for research cooperation. Activities with partner universities, especially in the Global South, the international Digital Humanism Initiative, and the cross-faculty Center for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (CAIML) are linked. In addition, the team will develop curricula and research guidelines based on UNESCO's recommendations on AI ethics.
TU Wien is thus becoming a pioneer for the ethically responsible use of digital technologies – in Austria and beyond. "The establishment of the UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism is an important step towards positioning Vienna as a center of humanistic engagement with technology, 100 years after the Vienna Circle," says Gerti Kappel, Dean of TU Wien Informatics.
About UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs
The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chair program has been promoting university research and development through cross-border cooperation since 1992. Today, more than 850 institutions in 117 countries participate in the program. There are currently eleven UNESCO Chairs in Austria, coordinated by the Austrian Commission for UNESCO.
- Inauguration of the UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism: https://informatics.tuwien.ac.at/stories/2383/
- TU Wien Informatics: https://informatics.tuwien.ac.at
- DIGHUM – The Digital Humanism Initiative: https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at
- Austrian Commission for UNESCO: https://www.unesco.at
Theresa Aichinger-Fankhauser, MA BA BA
Head of Communications | TU Wien Informatics
+43 1 58801 199309 | +43 664 605881953