on Digital Humanism

In May 2019, a consortium of scientists published the Vienna Manifesto for Digital Humanism, formulating demands on society and politics in order to reconcile digital technologies, democracy and basic values such as freedom of speech and privacy.


Based on the statement that the system is failing (The system is failing – Tim Berners-Lee), a discourse should be started on how a joint and equal evolution of technology and people could be proactively designed and accompanied.

The tenor of the manifesto is to define social values and rules that guarantee fairness and prevent monopolies. It seems obvious, that this requires a broad discussion in which the sciences of the technical disciplines are invited to cooperate with the social, human and natural sciences. Furthermore the participation of decision-makers and practitioners from business, education and social institutions is required. In particular the finding that the use of technologies is not neutral, indicates, that despite all the possible advantages, any negative developments should absolutely be avoided.

Education should be combined with the humanistic spirit, so that aspects affecting society and people beyond technology can be percieved.

“All life is problem-solving” Karl Popper already had remarked – the solution of a problem starts the next challenge, which – on increasing complexity – can be bigger than the problem just solved. This should not prevent us from intending to solve problems, but rather calls on us to combine knowledge and experience from transdisciplinary areas.

All life is problem-solving

Popper, Karl R.: Alles Leben ist Problemlösen. 15. Auflage. München: Piper Verlag GmbH, 2012 german edition

This knowledge has been around for a long time, also in connection with the development of digital transformation. As early as in 1972, Georges Elgozy described the advantages and disadvantages of using computers and technologies based on computers with the following words:

“Perhaps the greatest advance in post-industrial societies will be the realization that all technological progress remains meaningless unless the person is put first; and that man’s happiness does not depend on a machine, no matter how perfect this machine is, but depends solely on himself – a knowledge that should actually give us courage,( p. 229 Georges

( p. 229 Georges
Elgozy: Le Desordinateur. Le peril informatique – Der Computerwahn – Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag
Frankfurt/Main – german edition 1975)

So we are challenged to think technology and people / society in harmony and to consider technical solutions for many aspects of everyday life – but we should also be aware that technology cannot be the solution for all problems that arise.