World experts in digital processing and the socio-economic impact of technological change have called for concrete action to ensure the protection and promotion of people’s rights.


This was the message coming from the recent “Humanism in the digital age: the urban contribution” event in Barcelona, a city that is fast becoming a global leader in technological human-centred perspective.

Digital Future Society’s director, Cristina Colom, inaugurated the event encouraging a call to action:

“We need to shift some of our priorities to focus on some key social pressing challenges. The way we tackle these challenges, the way we seek solutions, the way we foster international cooperation, will determine the digital future, will determine our digital future,” Colom said.

By her side, the writer and philosopher of the Institute of Ethics at the IA at Oxford University, Carissa Véliz, emphasised the right to data protection and control, stating: “our democracy is at stake.”

Focus also fell on the use of data as a fight against digital divides. The New York CTO, John Paul Farmer, opted for a strategy that considers access, connectivity, infrastructure, and affordability, since “tech is not a luxury, rather a necessity and connectivity must be universal.”

The Director of ONTSI, Lucía Velasco, pointed out the growing digital frustration by stressing that “we ask citizens to interact with digital administrations regardless of users and their experience or access.”

The Executive Director Alliance for Affordable Internet, Sonia Jorge, shifted her attention on gender divides, stating that “the world has missed out an opportunity of $1 billion for not including girls in digital societies.”

Also, Núria Oliver of the Data-Pop Alliance reflected on the lack of STEM women, stating:

“Any field lacking in diversity will not unlock its full potential and solutions will never be fully inclusive.”

Regarding facial recognition in cities, the European Digital Rights Initiative advisor Sarah Chander said: “We need to understand human risk, who will be impacted, how and why.”

Similarly, the rapporteur and AI Act, Brando Benifei encouraged the European Parliament to “declare a clear position” on this technology, as the regulation continues “having many interpretations.”

In the same vein, the researcher on Human Rights Watch, Amos Toh pointed out the need to “empower citizens to understand how technology is designed and its limits.”

To address the regulation of AI, the cabinet member of the Vice-President of the European Commission, Werner Stengg, declared that “AI is not necessarily the enemy of technological innovation.”