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  • © 2024

Introduction to Digital Humanism

A Textbook

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access.

  • Discusses digital humanism in contexts such as AI, platform power, surveillance, democracy and technology ethics

  • Each chapter focuses on a specific topic and includes questions to be answered and an annotated reading list

  • Chapters are written by computer scientists, philosophers, social scientists, political journalists and law experts

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Table of contents (39 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xiii
  2. Background

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Humanism and Enlightenment

      • Julian Nida-Rümelin, Dorothea Winter
      Pages 3-16Open Access
    3. Philosophical Foundations of Digital Humanism

      • Julian Nida-Rümelin, Klaus Staudacher
      Pages 17-30Open Access
    4. Evolution of Computing

      • James R. Larus
      Pages 31-45Open Access
    5. The Digital Revolution in a Historical Perspective

      • Misha Glenny
      Pages 47-63Open Access
    6. No Digital Citizens Without Digital Humanism

      • Enrico Nardelli
      Pages 99-114Open Access
    7. Digital Transformation, Digital Humanism: What Needs to Be Done

      • Hannes Werthner
      Pages 115-132Open Access
  3. Digital Humanism: A System’s View

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 133-133
    2. Are We in Control?

      • Edward A. Lee
      Pages 165-174Open Access
    3. AI @ Work: Human Empowerment or Disempowerment?

      • Sabine T. Koeszegi
      Pages 175-196Open Access
    4. The Re-enchanted Universe of AI: The Place for Human Agency

      • Helga Nowotny
      Pages 197-209Open Access
    5. Approaches to Ethical AI

      • Erich Prem
      Pages 225-239Open Access
    6. Artificial Intelligence and Large-Scale Threats to Humanity

      • Guglielmo Tamburrini
      Pages 241-254Open Access
    7. Promises and Perils in Moralizing Technologies

      • Viola Schiaffonati
      Pages 255-265Open Access

About this book

This open access textbook introduces and defines digital humanism from a diverse range of disciplines. Following the 2019 Vienna Manifesto, the book calls for a digital humanism that describes, analyzes, and, most importantly, influences the complex interplay of technology and humankind, for a better society and life, fully respecting universal human rights.

The book is organized in three parts: Part I “Background” provides the multidisciplinary background needed to understand digital humanism in its philosophical, cultural, technological, historical, social, and economic dimensions. The goal is to present the necessary knowledge upon which an effective interdisciplinary discourse on digital humanism can be founded. Part II “Digital Humanism – a System’s View” focuses on an in-depth presentation and discussion of the main digital humanism concerns arising in current digital systems. The goal of this part is to make readers aware and sensitive to these issues, including e.g. the control and autonomy of AI systems, privacy and security, and the role of governance. Part III “Critical and Societal Issues of Digital Systems” delves into critical societal issues raised by advances of digital technologies. While the public debate in the past has often focused on them separately, especially when they became visible through sensational events the aim here is to shed light on the entire landscape and show their interconnected relationships. This includes issues such as AI and ethics, fairness and bias, privacy and surveillance, platform power and democracy.

This textbook is intended for students, teachers, and policy makers interested in digital humanism. It is designed for stand-alone and for complementary courses in computer science, or curricula in science, engineering, humanities and social sciences. Each chapter includes questions for students and an annotated reading list to dive deeper into the associated chapter material. The book aims to provide readers with as wide an exposure as possible to digital advances and their consequences for humanity. It includes constructive ideas and approaches that seek to ensure that our collective digital future is determined through human agency.



Introduction to Digital Humanism articulates a powerful case for a human-centric digital transformation. It makes an invaluable contribution to one of the most critical debates of our time.” (Anu Bradford, Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA)

“The spectacular rise of AI implies considerable potential benefits, but also upheavals and risks that could call into question man's privileged role as master of his own destiny, thanks to the development and application of knowledge. Will we be able to make the most of this technology while preserving the fundamental values of our civilization? The publication of this book is a timely contribution to a debate that will continue for years to come, and whose outcome will be decisive for mankind.” (Joseph Sifakis, Université Grenoble Alpes, France)

“At last, the first step toward an operating manual for how to be human in a digital world. If you want to be effectively in action preserving people and planet, this is a MUST READ.” (Mei Lin Fung, Co-Chair (co-founder with Vint Cerf) of the People Centered Internet, Palo Alto, CA, USA)

“Humanists must play a leading role in helping humanity coexist successfully with increasingly powerful technology. Reading this supremely fascinating collection is the best way I know of to prepare for that task.” (Stuart J. Russell, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)

“More than ever we need to seriously think about the impact and challenges posed by digital technology on mankind. This landmark, much-welcomed book provides comprehensive coverage, by recognized experts, of the issues along its multiple dimensions.  Essential reading for students of all disciplines!” (Axel van Lamsweerde, University of Louvain, Belgium)

“How can we use our smart digital tools and technologies and at the same time ensure that they remain tools and do not mutate into authorities to which we subordinate ourselves due to lack of time, convenience or excessive demands? One answer to this question is digital humanism. It posits that humans not only remain “in the loop” when using AI algorithms, systems or models, but must be at the center of their development and application. The new volume impressively shows how big and varied the challenges we face are – but also how rich the pool of answers to these challenges already is: from approaches to realizing transparency, comprehensibility and correctability of artificial intelligence systems, to legal regulatory efforts and new forms of digital democracy. The volume provides not only a comprehensive and timely overview and introduction to a topical subject, but also a range of solution approaches. As such it will inform the discussions on artificial intelligence and its use that we need to have in the near future.” (Manuela Lenzen, Technology Writer and Author of “Der elektronische Spiegel”, Germany)

“An optimistic, refreshing perspective on Digital Humanism, focused on what we can do to change technology and our relation with it, instead of simply mitigating its effects or resorting to ineffective anti-technological barricades. Inspired by the tradition of the Vienna Circle, this book actively contributes to the recent developments around Digital Humanism and the Vienna Manifesto. It presents a wide diversity of views and opinions that serve as food for thought. The common structure of all chapters, with questions for students and further reading, makes this volume an indispensable source for courses in digital humanism and related topics, and many of its chapters are also of great value if used independently. If a New Enlightenment is what we need, this book will contribute decisively.” (José Hernández-Orallo, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, Cambridge, UK)

Editors and Affiliations

  • TU Wien, Vienna, Austria

    Hannes Werthner

  • DEIB, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy

    Carlo Ghezzi

  • Department of Computing, Imperial College London, London, UK

    Jeff Kramer

  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany

    Julian Nida-Rümelin

  • Lero & The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

    Bashar Nuseibeh

  • University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

    Erich Prem

  • Middlebury College and Santa Fe Institute, Middlebury, USA

    Allison Stanger

About the editors

Hannes Werthner is a retired computer science professor at TU Wien, where he also founded the Vienna PhD School of Informatics and the Informatics Innovation Center. His research focuses on e-commerce and e-tourism, recommender systems, and network analysis. He organized the first workshop on Digital Humanism in 2019 (that adopted the Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism), is a key figure behind the Digital Humanism Initiative and co-editor of the book "Perspectives on Digital Humanism" (Springer, 2022).

Carlo Ghezzi is Professor Emeritus at Politecnico di Milano. He is an ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, member of Academia Europaea, and member of the Italian Academy of Sciences (Istituto Lombardo). He received several awards, including the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award and the IEEE TCSE Distinguished Education Award. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from TU Wien. He has been doing research on software technology for more than 40 years and has more recently become active in digital humanism initiatives.

Jeff Kramer is Professor Emeritus of Computing at Imperial College London. His research work is primarily concerned with responsible software engineering, with particular focus on software architecture, requirements engineering, adaptive software systems, and ethical practice. In recognition of his research work and service, Jeff was awarded the 2005 ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award and the 2011 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the ACM, Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute, and a Member of Academia Europaea.

Julian Nida-Rümelin is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Political Theory at the University of Munich. He is Honorary Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, vice president of the German Ethics Council and President of the Humanistic University Berlin. In 2018 he published together with Nathalie Weidenfeld the book “Digital Humanism” that was translated into Korean, Italian, and English; a Spanish translation is on the way. He is a board member of the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation. In 2023 he published his philosophical opus magnum “A theory of Practical Reason” (Palgrave Macmillan).

Bashar Nuseibeh is Chief Scientist of Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, and Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Limerick (Ireland) and Professor of Computing at The Open University (UK). His research interests include software requirements and design, adaptive systems, and engineering security, privacy, and digital forensics. His interdisciplinary work on responsible software engineering explores cyber-physical and psycho-social dimensions of the development and use of socio-technical. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and Academia Europaea, and a fellow of the British and Irish Computer Societies and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Erich Prem is a computer scientist, research strategy and policy advisor. Erich has a degree in managerial economics and holds doctorates in Philosophy (Epistemology) and in Computer Science (AI). He teaches digital humanism at TU Vienna and data ethics at the University of Vienna. He holds a research position at the University of Vienna in the Philosophy of Media and Technology. He was a guest researcher at the MIT AI Lab and at the Austrian Research Institute of AI (OFAI). 

Allison Stanger is Co-Director and Principal Investigator, GETTING-Plurality Research Network, Harvard University; Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics, Middlebury College; founding member of the Digital Humanism Initiative; and an External Professor and Science Board member at the Santa Fe Institute. In November 2022, she was a visiting professor at TU Wien and a Digital Humanism Senior Fellow at IWM. Stanger is writing a book tentatively titled Who Elected Big Tech?

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Introduction to Digital Humanism

  • Book Subtitle: A Textbook

  • Editors: Hannes Werthner, Carlo Ghezzi, Jeff Kramer, Julian Nida-Rümelin, Bashar Nuseibeh, Erich Prem, Allison Stanger

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Computer Science, Computer Science (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2024

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-45303-8Published: 21 December 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-45306-9Published: 21 December 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-45304-5Published: 20 December 2023

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 637

  • Number of Illustrations: 13 b/w illustrations, 51 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Political Philosophy, Ethics, Computers and Society

Buy it now

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access