Informatics, TU Vienna

Global and Societal Challenges for Computer Science

In TUtheSky, up in the 11th floor of TU Wien at Getreidemarkt, renowed computer scientists discussed the global and societal impacts of new technologies and the responsibility of academia and universities.

On May, 8 the panel discussion of the Faculty of Informatics, moderated by Margret Childs (Metropole) focused on topics like the role of computer science regarding cutting edge technologies and the global competition of innovation leadership. On the occasion of bestowing honorary doctorates to Henry Fuchs (University of North Carolina/TU Wien) and Moshe Y. Vardi (Rice University) by the Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien) the two renowned computer scientists addressed current challenges of fundamental research.
Together with Christiane Floyd (University of Hamburg / TU Wien), who is committed to promoting the use of information and communication technologies for development (ICT) in Ethiopia, and Hannes Werthner, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics (TU Wien) the panellists discussed the role of computer science and universities in the transformative interaction of academic excellence and societal responsibility.

In her address of welcome Gerti Kappel, member of the Dean's team, pointed out the importance of societal responsibility of Computer Science and the necessity of a broad public discourse about ethical questions.

Crucial role of education

One of the main aspects of the discussion was the question, if more regulations on the so-called "big five" - Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon – is needed. “The big five are running the world with almost no regulations”, Moshe Vardi criticised. Hannes Werthner, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics, strengthened this argument by calling politics for regulations on a national, but also on an international level.
Christiane Floyd addressed the aspect of ICT for development, drawing the attention on the importance of cultural contextualization when speaking about the development of technologies and its implications for society.
Henry Fuchs pointed out the crucial role of education of prospective computer scientists. Students should be encouraged and enabled to not only focus on tech, but to get inspired by art, literature and history in order to increase their sensitivity for ethical concerns.