TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Fostering Democracy in the Age of AI

  • 2024-01-16
  • Event

BMEIA, TU Wien Informatics, and the U.S. Embassy discuss AI’s impact on democracy, addressing challenges and potentials with international experts.

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ii501BYo5xg

You’ve probably heard: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing our lives forever. The release of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 was a breakthrough, showing us a first glimpse into what AI can do when accessible to the general public. But what does this mean for those of us who live in democratic nations?

AI allows citizens and policymakers alike to easily access knowledge and quickly analyze information and enhances the democratic process by enabling more active citizen participation and informed policymaking. At the same time, there are concerns about AI’s potentially detrimental impact on democracy and politics—from elections interference to misinformation to privacy and surveillance issues. How do democracies address the “dual nature” of AI and embrace its potential to spur innovation and enhance prosperity, but also address the perils and its threat to societal safety and national security?

On January 16, TU Wien Informatics will convene policymakers, scientists, students, and citizens for a discussion on how AI is shaping democracies. This special event, “Fostering Democracy in the Age of AI,” is the first in a series of discussions that are part of the new U.S.-Austria Citizen Dialogue organized by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (BMEIA) and the U.S. Embassy in Austria.This bilateral initiative aims to build people-to-people relations and encourage civic engagement; increase the dialogue around issues important to the citizens of both countries; and bring Austria and the United States closer together around our shared democratic values.


During this inaugural event, leading experts from the United States and Austria will discuss the regulatory, technological, and societal impacts of AI on democracy and explore how democracies can best adapt and address the challenges and opportunities presented by rapidly evolving modern technologies.

For experts and newcomers alike, “Fostering Democracy in the Age of AI” aims to foster a comprehensive understanding of AI’s role in democracy by asking questions such as:

  • How can AI encourage greater citizen participation in democracy?
  • What role can AI play in enhancing democratic transparency and accountability and what are the challenges?
  • How can we balance AI regulation and innovation?
  • How do we protect ourselves against AI-driven misinformation?
  • And how can the concept of “Digital Humanism” be useful in that context?

Come and discuss with our experts!


18:30 | Welcome Adresses

18:45 | Lightning Talks

  • Merve Hickok (USA): AI ethics and policy expert, founder of AIethicist.org, and President & Research Director at the Center for AI & Digital Policy
  • Peter Knees (AT): UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism, Associate Professor at TU Wien, and AI expert

19:25 | Open Discussion

Christiane Wendehorst, Co-Head of the Department of Innovation and Digitalisation in Law at the University of Vienna and Scientific Director of the European Law Institute, will moderate the discussion.


Merve Hickok

Merve Hickok is an esteemed expert in AI policy, ethics, and governance. She founded AIethicist.org and is the President and Research Director at the Center for AI & Digital Policy (CAIDP). Her focus is on the societal impact of AI, particularly regarding fundamental rights, democratic values, and social justice. Hickok is also a lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Information, a Responsible Data and AI Advisor at Michigan Institute for Data Science, and affiliated faculty at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Her global work includes educating on AI policy, testifying to the US Congress, and contributing to significant AI policy assessments. She is recognized for her role in advancing AI research for underrepresented groups and has been honored with awards such as the Lifetime Achievement Award – Women in AI of the Year 2023.

Peter Knees

Peter Knees is Computer Scientist and UNESCO Chair on Digital Humanism at TU Wien. As UNESCO Chair, he aims to shape the development of digital technologies and policies toward human rights, democracy, participation, inclusion, and diversity. Established in 2023, the chair fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and establishes strong links with partner universities, especially in the global south, through research and education. Knees is Associate Professor at the Research Unit for Data Science at TU Wien Informatics. His research interests focus on machine learning, recommender systems, and AI, especially on information retrieval and search engines in the fields of music, multimedia, text, and arts. In Fall 2022, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Music Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


This event is open to the public, but registration is required to attend in person. To register, please send a short email to dialog@bmeia.gv.at

Hybrid Event

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