University of Helsinki

“Moral Machines? Ethics and Politics of the Digital World” conference addresses the ethical and political issues of digitalization


As our contemporary world is increasingly digitalized, the ethical, moral and political issues it encompasses require our immediate attention. These issues are discussed in the conference “Moral Machines? Ethics and Politics of the Digital World” on March 6th – 8th hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.

Photo: Minerva Juolahti
Photo: Minerva Juolahti

The international conference “Moral Machines? Ethics and Politics of the Digital World” concentrates on the various aspects of the contemporary digital world. We are especially interested in the idea that despite everything they can do, the machines do not really think, at least not like us. So, what is thinking in the digital world? How does the digital machine “think”?

Bringing together perspectives of philosophy, literature, art, and social and political sciences, the international conference addresses the timely issues of the morality of machines, thinking in the digital world and the ways of controlling that world.

“Moral Machines? Ethics and Politics of the Digital World” conference is held at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24, 3rd floor) as well as in Think Corner (Yliopistonkatu 4).There is also an artistic evening programme which is open to the public on Wednesday March 6th from 6pm to 8pm on Think Corner Stage. The conference is in English.

The main keynote speakers N. Katherine Hayles (Duke University) and Bernard Stiegler (University of Compiègne) have both specialized in digitalization. Hayles has shown that for a long time, computers were built with the assumption that they imitate human thought – while in fact, the machine’s capability of non-embodied and non-conscious cognition sets it apart from everything we call thinking. For his part, Bernard Stiegler has shown how technics in general and digital technologies in particular are specific forms of memory that is externalized and made public – and that, at the same time, becomes very different from and alien to individual human consciousness. In addition to Hayles and Stiegler, the conference includes keynotes from Erich Hörl (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Maria Mäkelä (Tampere University), Frédéric Neyrat (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and François-David Sebbah(Paris Nanterre University).

The conference has received funding from the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies (Tieteellisten seurain valtuuskunta), Institut Français de Finlande (Ranskan instituutti) and the project Creative Adaptation to Wicked Socio-environmental Disruptions (WISE; Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland in Tampere University).



Susanna Lindberg, +358 50 448 2075, email

Hanna-Riikka Roine, +358 50 415 4503, email


Photo: Minerva Juolahti
Photo: Minerva Juolahti


About University of Helsinki

University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
P.O. Box 4 (Yliopistonkatu 3)
00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

The University of Helsinki is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research universities, renowned for its high-quality teaching, research and innovation. It is proud to be constantly ranked among the top one hundred best universities in the world.

The university has an enrollment of over 35 000 students and it offers a wide range of Master’s programmes taught in English. Established in 1640, the University of Helsinki is the oldest university in Finland.

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