What effects of digitization on the social as well as on the economic level do we have to consider? And how should the framework conditions be shaped so that the risks of digitization become opportunities? These questions were addressed by the project "Beautiful Digital World", which the OeKB carried out together with the Club of Rome - Austrian Chapter and SERI. The closing event for the project took place on February 28th.

Deeply in discussion (from left to right): Moderator Fred Luks (WU), Ehsan Booseh (ACREDIA), Julia Bock-Schappelwein (WIFO), Harald Welzer (futurzwei), Hannes Swoboda (Club of Rome) and Angelika Sommer-Hemetsberger (OeKB)

Concise speeches and a controversial discussion

At the closing event very different aspects of the topic became visible. Dangers and potentials were examined from various perspectives.

Two keynote addresses opened the discussion: While Ehsan Booseh, Digital Officer at credit insurer ACREDIA, looked into the opportunities of digitization, social psychologist Harald Welzer worked   out dangers for society.

In the ensuing podium discussion, the two experts debated with Angelika Sommer-Hemetsberger, OeKB board member, Julia Bock-Schappelwein, specialist in digitization and work at WIFO, and Hannes Swoboda, vice-president of the Austrian Chapter of the Club of Rome. Above all, it was about the challenges that digitization poses for our society and  economy. New business models, changes in the world of work, artificial intelligence and data as the new currency were discused. The monitoring of citizens and the dangers of a highly technological world for the resilience of a society were further topics.

Interesting statements from the audience rounded off the discussion and underlined the multi-layeredness and complexity of the subject of digitization.

What does it take to make the digital world beautiful?

Here are some findings of the discussion:

  • Digitalization is basically nothing more than a tool that is at the center of the rapid change of our time.
  • As such, it needs to be used and shaped with care for its many repercussion on social cohesion and the environment. In this way, digitization can help to shape the development of the economy and society in a positive way. In addition to politics, this also requires the commitment of companies and each and every one of us.
  • The world itself is analogue and so a beautiful new world can only be analogue - with digitization as an essential tool the development and use of which we all have to consciously participate in determining.

Beautiful digital world as e-book and video

An e-book with the results of the project, including key findings from the event, is available as a free download on the project's website. There you will also find a video recording of the closing event.