Digital transformation and ethics

How can the digital transformation contribute to the well-being of society? A new book tries to answer this question.

The digitalisation of our everyday life is progressing: algorithms determine our life on the net, fake news spreads like wildfire, tele-working has become an indispensable source of income for many people. But that's not all, social media are changing the political discourse. This has profound consequences.

Alexander Bogner and Stefan Strauß from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) of the Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) take a closer look in their contribution to the recently published volume "Digitalisation and Ethics", edited by Markus Hengstschläger and the Council for Research and Technology Development. The book features four areas: "Science, Technology and Society", "Artificial Intelligence", "Digital Change in the Health Sector" and "Shaping the Future". Among others there are contributions from Sepp Hochreiter, Sarah Spiekermann or Charlotte Stix.

Digitalisation – a threat to liberal democracy?

"This book is important because it brings together ethics and digital change," emphasises Alexander Bogner. "As long as you believe that digitisation only means useful progress, you don't need ethics. Today, digitisation is no longer seen exclusively as progress, as a hope for a new, better age of communication, as a hope for democratisation. Today, fears are raising – fear of the monopolies and power of big corporations; fear of the power of the algorithms that control our choice of information and thus our perception of the world; fear of a surveillance capitalism that threatens our privacy".

In their contribution, Bogner and Strauß discuss the democratic challenges posed by digital change. "We can currently observe that digitalisation and social media represent real challenges in terms of democratic policy. The danger is that an unmoderated, unmediated form of political communication is playing into the hands of populism because a genuine, pluralistic debate is lacking in which the various positions really have to relate to each other.

An overview including a reading sample and a link to purchase the e-book can be found here