Rethinking Software Engineering Education and Research in the Light of Digital Humanism

Prof. Carlo Ghezzi, Politecnico di Milano

Prof. Carlo Ghezzi, Politecnico di Milano

Date: 22 September 2023 (Friday)
Time: 11:10am-12:10pm HKT
Venue: IAS4042 Seminar Room, Lo Ka Chung Building, HKUST
Title: Rethinking Software Engineering Education and Research in the Light of Digital Humanism
Speaker: Prof. Carlo Ghezzi, Politecnico di Milano


The world in which we live relies on digital technologies, and in particular on software, which operates and interacts with the physical world and humans. In the digital era, software engineers are the demiurges who are creating a new cyber-physical world, where humans, autonomous agents powered by AI, and physical entities live together in a new kind of society. Already in the late 1990's constitutionalist L. Lessig said that software is the law that governs the world and asked for reflection and action, because of the potential disruptive consequences. This is even more urgent today, due to to the phenomenal progress of AI and AI-generated software, which led to an increasing pervasiveness of software-enabled functions, with more and more intimate relation with humans and society. This raises the urgent need for re-thinking the competences and responsibilities of technologists who conceive and develop software, and the skills they should acquire through education. Rethinking should start by asking questions like: Should software engineers care about the human values involved while conceiving/developing new applications? About possible future uses and ethical implications? Can they do it by themselves? What kind of skills would they need?

The talk mainly aims at setting the stage for opening a much needed and urgent discussion, which should involve software researchers and educators and has to be be broad and open, especially to social science and humanities.


Carlo Ghezzi is an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, where he is currently Chair of the Ethical Committee. He is ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, member of Academia Europaea, member of the Italian Academy of Sciences (Istituto Lombardo). He has been awarded the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award, the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award, and the IEEE TCSE Distinguished Education Award. He has been on the board of several international research programs and institutions in Europe, China, Japan, and the USA. He has been President of Informatics Europe, the association of computer science departments and research laboratories in Europe and neighboring areas.

Carlo Ghezzi has been Program Co-Chair and General chair of several prestigious conferences (including the two flagship conferences on Software Engineering, ICSE and ESEC) and member of the program committee of many international conferences. He has been Editor in Chief of the ACM Trans. on Software Engineering and Methodology, Associate Editor of Communications of the ACM, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Science of Computer Programming. His research has been focusing on software engineering and programming languages. He co-authored over 200 papers and 11 books, and coordinated several national and international research projects. He was a recipient of a prestigious Advanced Grant from the European Research Council. He is currently a Steering Committee member of the Digital Humanism Initiative and has recently co-edited a widely circulating open-access book on digital humanism.