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Foreign Minister Schallenberg Presents Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

AUSTRIA, September 8 - On 9 September 2022, during the annual Ars Electronica Festival, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg presented the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity. This award, created by the Foreign Ministry in 2021, recognises projects that demonstrate the significance of cultural exchange in developing a society-oriented, digital world. The Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity comes with 10,000 euros in prize money and is sponsored by the Foreign Ministry’s International Culture department. This year’s winner is “The Data Nutrition Project”, a trans-disciplinary initiative working to facilitate faster, better evaluation of training data sets for artificial intelligence. During the ceremony in Linz, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also mentioned the “State of the ART(ist)” competition, through which Austrian cultural diplomacy and Ars Electronica support artists living under repressive systems.

The development of artificial intelligence will have momentous effects on our society. From autonomous robots that can identify and pick ripe strawberries to heat-resistant drone swarms that can fight forest fires more efficiently as well as self-driving cars, this technology is being used more and more frequently. However, new technologies like artificial intelligence can also be used to harm people. This is particularly apparent, for instance, in the case of autonomous weapons systems. The Foreign Ministry works to ensure that international fora take humanitarian issues into consideration in these processes right from the start. Through the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity, the Foreign Ministry supports a people-centred approach to innovative technologies.

Technical progress cannot and should not be stopped. But it is essential that the technology be oriented towards the needs of people and nature, and not the other way around,

 said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during the presentation of the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity.

At the same time, new technologies like artificial intelligence are not the only thing with the potential to curtail our privacy or human rights. Persecution and repression in authoritarian systems can also restrict universal rights such as freedom of opinion and artistic expression. Through the “State of the ART(ist)” competition, the Foreign Ministry supports artists in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and worldwide whose commitment to peace, freedom, and self-determination cannot be exercised where they live, or only under great threat. Austrian international cultural policy has a clear commitment to solidarity with artists and creative workers who cannot work, or who must do so almost invisibly, due to political or societal circumstances.

With State of the ART(ist), we have created an instrument for artists around the world to show what their respective life circumstances would not otherwise allow,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

The annual Ars Electronica Festival is a festival for art, technology, and society that brings together representatives of science, business, the creative and art scene from all around the world to share their perspectives on future issues. This year’s festival will take place from 7 to 11 September 2022, under the motto “Welcome to Planet B – A different life is possible. But how?”