TU Wien Informatics

Digital Humanism: The Poysdorf Declaration

  • By Claudia Vitt
  • 2021-08-05
  • News
  • Social Responsibility

The ministers of foreign affairs of Austria, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic signed the Poysdorf Declaration on Digital Humanism.

Digital Humanism: The Poysdorf Declaration
Picture: BMEIA, Gruber

Digital Humanism is a response to people’s fears concerning the harms of technology. It provides us with a framework to navigate digitalization towards a human-centered approach and regulate technologies like artificial intelligence. Concerns about novel technologies are shaping the current political debates. The gap between the beneficiaries of the ongoing digitalization and the number of people feeling marginalized is growing.

Political Response

On June 30, 2021, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg met with his Czech and Slovak counterparts Jakub Kulhánek and Ivan Korčok, as well as Lower Austria’s Governor Johanna Mikl Leitner, who hosted the event. The conference, part of the Slavkov/Austerlitz format, focused on Digital Humanism and also marked the end of Austria’s chairmanship of the group.

At their meeting, the three foreign ministers signed the Poysdorf Declaration on Digital Humanism, a joint declaration that acknowledges the opportunities of digitalization while respecting human rights. The foreign ministers condemn the misuse of digital technologies for disinformation and emphasize the need for human-centered technologies. In addition, the topic of digital humanism was discussed in several events.

“What we want is a world in which new technologies are based on the values and principles that are the building blocks of our societies: Self-determination, freedom, respect for human rights and democracy. The virtual space must not be a lawless space,” said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during his address. Czech Foreign Minister Kulhánek also warned against unintended consequences of digitalization: “We should make people the yardstick of digitalization again. Technology should serve us and not the other way around.” Ivan Korčok cautioned that social rules must also apply in the virtual space. “We have to make sure that the digital transformation happens within the legal framework, safely and also ethically correct.” The European Union could also play a vital role in this, he added.

The Digital Humanism Initiative

The Digital Humanism Initiative is an international collaboration seeking to build a community of scholars, policymakers, and industrial players who are focused on ensuring that technology development remains centered on human interests.

The Slavkov or Austerlitz Format

Named after the place of its origin in 2015, it is a regional cooperation format between Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Regular exchanges take place at all political levels. The Czech Republic will hold the chairmanship of the three-country Slavkov/Austerlitz format from July 1, 2021.