Digital humanism is to be understood as the pursuit of supporting people through digital technologies, especially artificial intelligence, and of protecting people from adverse effects of these technologies. It stands for the claim to describe and analyse the complex interplay between digital technology and people, but above all for the attempt to influence this interplay in favour of a society that is fully committed to human rights. All decisions potentially affecting human rights must continue to be made by humans and that decision-makers must be responsible and accountable for their decisions. We have to ensure a human-centred and human-rights based approach to new technologies which guarantee the full and effective implementation of existing international legal norms in all spheres of life. Human rights are universal, and therefore equally valid both offline and online.
This keynote will showcase the Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism, and mention topics such as digital Humanism and diplomacy, digital humanism and engineering, and the way ahead for digital humanism.
Walter Gehr grew up in France and Austria and began his diplomatic career in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1989 after studying law. He was subsequently posted to Dublin, Geneva and Ankara. After the attacks of 11 September 2001, he headed the group of experts of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council. From the end of 2002, he worked for the Terrorism Prevention Division of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna and advised numerous governments and international organizations on legal issues relating to the fight against terrorism.
In 2011, he returned to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, where he was responsible for international investment protection treaties. In December 2017, he became Head of Cabinet of the Austrian Foreign Minister and subsequently Foreign Policy Advisor to the Vice Chancellor. Walter Gehr taught for many years at the Diplomatic Academy and the Vienna University of Economics. He is still a lecturer at the International School of Nuclear Law of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency. Walter Gehr is currently assigned to the Cultural Department of the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs where he is in charge of digital humanism.