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Colloquium: Information Technology for the Anthropocene

Event Details:

  • Date:          Thursday, 4 May 2023
  • Time:         Starts: 16:00
  • Venue:       Novel Technologies Laboratory (NTL), 1st Floor, Events Room, Athalassa Campus, The Cyprus Institute.
                      This is a hybrid event, so you are also welcome to join us online on The Cyprus Institute YouTube channel and our Facebook event page.
  • Speaker:    Prof. Norberto Patrignani, Politecnico of Torino, Italy

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This colloquium is co-organized with the Embassy of Italy in Nicosia on the occasion of the ‘Italian Research Day in the World’




The ethical dilemmas of computing were very clear even in the 1950s, at the dawn of the digital era. For example, to Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), founder of Cybernetics. Just to name some of the main ethical dilemmas: computer reliability and security, artificial "intelligence" and natural intelligence, computers and warfare, decarbonization and environmental impact of digital systems. This reflection generated a new discipline, Computer Ethics, included in the Computer Science study plans since 1991. For an active citizenship, digital literacy is necessary but is no longer sufficient; it becomes necessary also to develop the capacity for a just evaluation of the social, ethical, and environmental implications of computing.

What are the guiding principles for facing these ethical challenges? Since technology is not neutral (technology and society co-shape each other), also digital technologies are now an integral part of the challenges of the Anthropocene. A systemic view is needed for developing socially desirable, environmentally sustainable, and ethically acceptable socio-technical systems: computer professionals know how a system is made and how it works, it's time to wonder: How and why to design it? Who will use it, and for what purposes? Until the crucial question: whether to design it.

Digital technologies can help in addressing the challenges of the Anthropocene, like climate change, but they also have a growing environmental impact. It is now urgent to "use bits to consume less", but digital technologies also have an increasing need for materials and energy for their production and for their operation, and generate a growing amount of electronic waste. As a result, it is becoming urgent also to "consume less to use bits". How to deal with these difficult dilemmas?


About the Speaker

Norberto Patrignani Photo
Norberto Patrignani is Professor of Computer Ethics at Politecnico of Torino, Italian national representative at the TC9-Technology and Society of the IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Committee on Professional Ethics and of the ACM SIGCAS (Special Interest Group on Computers and Society), and Member of the Ethics Advisory Board of EU Flagship Project "Graphene".

From 1974 to 1999 he worked at the Olivetti Research & Development in Ivrea (Italy).

He holds a diploma in Electronics from Technical Institute "Montani" of Fermo (Italy), a degree in Computer Science from the University of Torino (Italy), and a PhD in Computer Ethics from Uppsala University (Sweden).

Recent books:

* Patrignani, N. (2020). Teaching Computer Ethics. Steps towards Slow Tech, a Good, Clean, and Fair ICT. Uppsala University.
* Patrignani, N., Mazzarini, M., Cappelletti, D. (2018). Il Ladro dei numeri. Loccioni.
* Patrignani, N. (2018). La quarta rivoluzione industriale, tra innovazione tecnologica e responsabilità sociale, in "Le competenze per costruire il futuro", Istituto Adriano Olivetti- ISTAO 1967-2017. Edizioni Comunità, 2018.
* Patrignani, N., Whitehouse, D. (2018). Slow Tech and ICT. A Responsible, Sustainable and Ethical Approach. Palgrave.



The colloquium will be in English and the event is open to the public.
This event is hybrid. You may connect to our live stream of the discussion, available on YouTube.
Images and/or recordings of our open public events may be used by The Cyprus Institute for dissemination purposes including print and digital media such as websites, press-releases, social media, and live streaming.


This event contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

E Goal 04 1024x1024  Sustainable Development Goal 09Industry

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Additional Info

  • Date: Thursday, 4 May 2023
  • Time: Starts: 16:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Norberto Patrignani, Politecnico of Torino, Italy

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