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bidt-Forschungsprojekt Digitaler Humanismus

Digital humanism

The project aims to contribute to ensuring that the process of digital transformation in Bavaria and Europe is aligned with human needs and ethical values in the spirit of the core ideas of humanist philosophy and practice. Against the background of the humanistic image of man on which it is based, it takes a stand on various issues of human-machine interaction.

Project description

The “Digital Humanism” project is conceived as part of the initiative of the same name. The initiative aims to promote human-centred and ethical-value-driven digital developments in Bavaria and Europe in cooperation with other European cities and regions; the initiative’s focus should specifically incorporate perspectives from philosophy, humanities, and cultural studies as well as consider the artistic and cultural dimensions of these developments.

The project aims to contribute to this goal by building a network on the topic of “Digital Humanism”, as well as by coordinating and supporting suitable internal and external research projects.

Another task of the project is to contribute in lectures and publications to the further development of the conceptual, philosophical-anthropological and ethical-political foundations of Digital Humanism.

Digital Humanism is an ethics for the Digital Age that interprets and shapes the process of digital transformation in accordance with the core concepts of humanist philosophy and practice. What is particularly important here is the concept of human authorship, which can be characterized by the way in which we attribute responsibility to one another and thus treat ourselves as rational and, at least in principle, free and autonomous beings. Against the background of this image of man, the project takes a stand on various questions of human-machine interaction, rejecting an extension of authorship to machines. It argues for an instrumental approach to digital technologies — how can human judgment and decision-making competence be strengthened by digital tools, what can be economically, socially and culturally useful, and where, on the other hand, do potential dangers lurk?

Our basic social and legal norms are based on the core elements of humanist philosophy and practice. By taking a stand on ethically relevant issues of digital transformation in accordance with the humanistic view of man, the project aims to help ensure that the transformation process takes place within the framework of these basic norms and thus remains socially compatible, so that no one has to feel overwhelmed by digital change. The decisive factor here is always whether digital technologies expand human development opportunities or restrict them — even if only with regard to a small group.

In addition, the humanistic view of man also provides us with the decisive criterion for liability issues in the event of damage caused by AI: since even complex AI systems lack the degree of reason, freedom and autonomy required for the attribution of responsibility, a concept of the e-person that regards machines as accountable actors who can be held responsible for their behaviour must be rejected.

Project team

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Julian Nida-Rümelin

Member of bidt's Board of Directors, Professor emeritus of Philosophy and Political Theory | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich

Dr. Maria Staudte

Research Coordinator, bidt

Klaus Staudacher

Researcher "Digital Humanism", bidt