What values the Humane Digital Transformation needs

BFH is committed to a responsible and people-centred digital transformation. What does that mean in concrete terms? In particular, what factors enable us to assess whether the effects of digital transformation are positive for people? An outlook by Sarah Degallier Rochat, André Zdunek and Esther Abplanalp.

In a workshop involving representatives from all departments, the Virtual Academy and IT Services, we identified, prioritised and concretised the values of a humane digital transformation. The following four values were prioritised

  • the participation of all
  • the empowerment of all participants
  • digital sovereignty
  • Well-being and health

For these four values, we developed the following provisions in the workshops and in the follow-up

Participation of all

Everyone must be able to participate in the digital transformation and derive appropriate benefits from it. Participation is not just the use, but the widest possible inclusion in decisions about for what purposes and for whom digital developments are advanced. This includes the development of user-friendly and inclusive technologies as well as measures to ensure financial accessibility and to support disadvantaged population groups in the use of such technologies. Digitisation is a right, not a duty. Therefore, access to equivalent services in analogue form must be ensured

Empowerment of all stakeholders

All must be able to develop the skills to use digital technologies autonomously. This requires assessing the benefits and risks of digital technologies for users, as well as the skills needed to use the technologies. Inclusive forms of learning must be provided so that everyone is empowered to use the technologies autonomously. Digital technologies should empower users and encourage them to take responsibility for their use. Consideration needs to be given to the overload caused by the increase in the use of digital technologies and the possibility that digital technologies may also render skills redundant by replacing the application of skills that are judged to be valuable, thus interfering with their development and exercise

Digital sovereignty

Users of digital technologies must retain control over their digital identity, whether in terms of security, privacy or copyright. Infrastructure and regulation must ensure the design of safe and secure digital spaces. Transparency, access to information and its comprehensibility as well as the provision of non-digital or data-preserving alternatives are guiding considerations here. Independent orientation aids appropriate to the target group should be developed by experts, for example in the form of certifications, and made available to the public

Well-being and health

Digital technologies must promote the well-being and health of users. There are challenges and opportunities in areas such as mental health, the health system, social connections and civic participation. Users and stakeholders of digital technologies should be involved in the development of the technology to ensure that it is meaningful to them. Digital technologies should only be used if they add value for people or develop their competences and meet with their acceptance

With these four values and their definition of content, the BFH aims to provide orientation for concrete goals for its mission as a university of applied sciences to make an active contribution to social change. These four values orient the future strategic direction for the topic area of Human Digital Transformation

While technology enthusiasts see digital transformation as a tool for progress, as an instrument that enables us to transcend our limits, the sceptics argue that the new technologies are associated with risks and do not necessarily benefit the majority of society. At BFH, we therefore believe that a normative reflection on digital transformation is necessary to ensure the responsible development and integration of digital technologies

More about the topic area Human Digital Transformation

BFH has been researching and teaching about digital transformation for years. While technology was often the starting point in the past, today we primarily focus on people and their needs when developing new technologies. In the Human Digital Transformation thematic area, five focus topics examine how technology can best benefit us in a sustainable way and how it can achieve greater acceptance in important areas – such as the health sector

The five focus topics:

  1. Open Digital Knowledge
  2. Human Centered Augmented Intelligence
  3. Digital Engineering & Value Creation
  4. Digital Healthcare
  5. BeLearn
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AUTHOR: Sarah Degallier Rochat

Prof. Dr. Sarah Degallier Rochat is the Head of the strategic thematic field Humane Digital Transformation. Her research interests include the design of inclusive human-machine interfaces, the upskilling of the workforce and the impact of automation and augmentation on work conditions.

AUTHOR: André Zdunek

André Zdunek is head of the Institute of Professional Didactics, Professional Development and Digitalisation at the Department of Social Work at BFH.

AUTHOR: Esther Abplanalp

Esther Abplanalp is Head of Professional Development and Head of Teaching at the Department of Social Work at BFH.

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