TU Wien Informatics

Digital Superpowers and Geopolitics

  • By Claudia Vitt (edt.)
  • 2021-01-26
  • Public Lecture
  • News
  • Panel Discussion
  • Social Responsibility

This panel will focus on the modern colonial powers in cyberspace—global concerns controlling digital platforms and social networks.

Digital Superpowers and Geopolitics

  • This is an online-only event.
    See description for details.

Digital Superpowers and Geopolitics

Panel Discussion with June Lowery-Kingston (European Commission), Jan-Hendrik Passoth (European University Viadrina, Germany), and Michael Veale (University College London, UK)

Moderator: James Larus (EPFL, Switzerland)


In Cyberspace, the modern “colonial powers” are not nations but multinational companies, mostly American but with strong competition emerging in China. These companies control the digital platforms central to most peoples’ social networks, communications, entertainment, and commerce and, through them, have collected and continue to collect limitless information about our friends, colleagues, preferences, opinions, and secrets.

With the knowledge obtained by processing this information/data, these companies have built some of the world’s more profitable businesses, turning little pieces of information given to them by uninformed users in return for “free services”, into extremely valuable, targeted advertising. These companies, moreover, endeavor to operate in the space between countries, with very limited responsibility and accountability to governments. At the same time, governments such as in China and the US have laws requiring such companies to divulge data obtained from their customers anywhere in the world. Does this pose a threat to national or European sovereignty? This panel will endeavor to appraise the current situation, assess the potential impact of actions already initiated as well as explore new ones.


To participate, go to the following link, Password: 0dzqxqiy.

All talks will be streamed and recorded on the Digital Humanism YouTube channel. For announcements and slides see the website.

About the Series

Digital humanism deals with the complex relationship between man and machine. It acknowledges the potential of Informatics and IT. At the same time, it points to related apparent threats such as privacy violations, ethical concerns with AI, automation, and loss of jobs, and the ongoing monopolization on the Web. The Corona crisis has shown these two faces of the accelerated digitalization—we are in a crucial moment in time.

For this reason, we started a new initiative—DIGHUM lectures—with regular online events to discuss the different aspects of Digital Humanism. We will have a speaker on a specific topic (30 minutes) followed by a discussion of 30 minutes every second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 PM CEST. This crisis does seriously affect our mobility, but it also offers the possibility to participate in events from all over the world—let’s take this chance to meet virtually.

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