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Can digitalisation be designed in a humane way? PLUS project receives 350,000 euro research grant

19 January 2024
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To what extent is digitalisation shaping our image of humanity, i.e. the ideas we have about people? Ethicist Michael Zichy and legal philosopher Stephan Kirste, both professors at the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg (PLUS), are investigating this question in the project ”Digitalisation, Human Image and Dignity” (as part of the ”Digital Humanities Initiative”). The project, funded by the state of Salzburg with 350,000 euros, focuses on the utilisation of care robots and the use of data profiles. The aim is to formulate recommendations for humane digitalisation.
from left to right: David Jost, Theres Bock, Stephan Kirste, Marco Leitner, Michael Zichy
Photo © Kolarik

Zichy, along with Kirste, head of the Department of Legal Theory, International and European Law, wants to discover what needs to be taken into account in the project if digitalisation is to be designed in a humane way.

Modern societies claim that human dignity is their guiding value. Human dignity is a very vague concept, but it can be understood using different concepts of humanity, says Zichy.

Care robots and human dignity

The subject of care robots and human dignity is at the centre of the work of philosopher and project member David Jost, a doctoral candidate at the PLUS. He is investigating how the concept of the human image is actually used in the various nursing textbooks and communicated to nursing staff. A second thematic focus of the project supervised by Kirste focuses on data profiles.

Legal philosopher and project member Marco Leitner, also from the Department of Legal Theory, International and European Law at the PLUS, is investigating how data profiles can be used in a way that respects human dignity.

The project also includes a focus on digitalisation in living spaces, also known as the smart home. The philosopher and interior designer Theres Bock is researching how intelligent "thinking" home environments are changing the meaning of living and well-being effects.

Discover all the details in the original story, in German.