Digital Humanism and AI

Chapter 13 of the Handbook of Critical Studies of Artificial Intelligence, edited by Simon Lindgren, published by Edward Elgar at UK and USA at the end of 2023, provides a contribution on digital humanism and AI, authored by Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Heinz-Jörg Kreowski.

The authors emphasise that digital humanism is not merely a variant of human-centred technology, but is only ascribed its specific role in the age of global threats. AI technology can either pose a threat itself to an ongoing evolution of humanity or turn out as a game changer for a peaceful future. The latter option requires a digitalisation that is limited to humanistic goals only.

The authors conclude:

Given the existential threats to humanity, any technology designed, developed, disseminated, deployed and drawn on is prompted to help avert them. This calls for setting survival and human flourishing as indispensable values. This also holds for AI. Digital Humanism, focussing on shaping digitalisation according to human values, needs to explicitly address the function of technology to help avert the threats. For that reason, the critical thinking presented here updates Digital Humanism and identifies objective and subjective conditions that must be realised to underpin the social, eco-social and techno-social transformation of societies into a Global Sustainable Information Society. This represents an overarching framework system that can successfully combat the threats. This approach also formulates objective logics that shall replace the logics that are the root cause of the existential threats. This includes rooting out detrimental AI technologies. It also postulates imperatives for social co-operation, communication and cognition on a planetary scale. The role of those imperatives is to provide subjective information functions that help guide action towards the realisation of the objective condition. Based on that, the Global Sustainable Information Society can postulate imperatives for AI tools that support the subjective information functions. Accordingly, the role of AI cannot be seen in letting it gain autonomy at the expense of human and social systems. Rather, AI is a tool – an important one – that has been, is and will be subject to humanity.

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