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Apéro Philo Series

research areas

Digital Ethics
Technology & Society


2023 - 2023

The Apéro Philo Series events are regular gatherings for those who are interested in digital ethics to meet and discuss pressing issues related to digitalization, innovations, and society in a systematic and argumentative way.

Unlike formal academic settings, such as conferences or seminars, Apéro Philo facilitates discussions in a more relaxed, friendly, and inclusive environment, which gives more space for creativity and networking. Meanwhile, unlike informal social settings, such as lunch or tea breaks, Apéro Philo hosts discussions of a philosophical and thought-provoking nature, which can help researchers and students to engage in interdisciplinary scholarly exchanges and to enhance their reasoning and public speaking skills.

Our vision is to establish a flagship activity at the UZH DSI. It is open to not only researchers and students from UZH and sister universities, but also broader societal actors from outside academia. We aspire to create an enabling space as an incubator for inter-disciplinary exchanges as well as cross-sectoral collaborations across the Greater Zurich Area.

The events will be organized around predefined thematic topics, followed with a small Apéro, taking place at the UZH DSI. The discussions can develop in any direction as long as they are aligned with the event themes and are conveyed with well-structured argumentations. Please make sure to RSVP to the event of your interest via the following registration form.

3rd Apéro Philo Session

“Digitalisation Meets Sustainability”

2 November 2023 at 5-6 pm, Zurich Knowledge Center for Sustainability Development (ZKSD), Hardstrasse 235, Zurich

During the semi-finals of the XPRIZE Rainforest, each team had 24 hours to collect rainforest samples and 48 hours to analyse the findings and compile a report. 13 teams took part including the ETH BiodivX team, who won this round and will advance to the 2024 finals as one of 6 groups. How did the team scan the rainforest within 24 hours? What technology did they employ to sample environmental DNA (eDNA) from inside the canopy? How did the researchers test their technology and sampling techniques back in Zurich? What other digital technologies were used to collect data in the rainforest? And how many samples and species did the team identify eventually? Join Prof. Stefano Mintchev, a team member of the ETH BiodivX team and the lead of ETH Environmental Robotics Lab (ERL), to learn more! An apéro will be offered alongside an exciting talk and interactive discussions.

2nd Apéro Philo Session

“Exploring the Potential of Healthcare Conversational Agents”

20 September 2023 at 5-6 pm, Digital Library Space, 2 floor, Rämistrasse 69, Zurich

Conversational agents (CAs) have transcended their conventional roles, now emerging as indispensable companions and vital bridges between healthcare professionals and patients. In the second gathering of the Apéro Philo Series, we will discuss the role and challenges of conversational agents in healthcare with Paulina Lewandowska. Paulina’s talk delves into the impact of CAs in healthcare, particularly within the context of non-communicable diseases. The talk will be followed by a discussion and an Apéro.

1st Apéro Philo Session

“Digital Wellbeing: Conceptualization, Empirical Results, Challenges”

11 May 2023 at 5-6 pm, Digital Society Initiative, Rämistrasse 69, Zurich

Nowadays in the increasingly digital society in which we live, our good lives are highly affected by digital technologies. This leads us to ask what is digital well-being and whether digital technologies are more effective in improving our well-being than traditional ways, as well as what socio-ethical risks digital well-being technologies bring about. In the first gathering of the Apéro Philo Series, we will attempt to answer these questions with Prof. Michael Latzer (Professor of Media Change & Innovation at UZH) and Dr. Noemi Festic (Senior Research at the Department of Communication and Media Research at UZH). They will give a talk entitled “Digital Wellbeing: Conceptualization, Empirical Results, Challenges”, followed by a discussion and an Apéro.

Register here:

Registration Apéro Philo

Sample topics

  • Can and should robots and chatbots be human-like?
  • What is digital well-being and is it actually beneficial to us?
  • Why are urban use of flying robots controversial and what are the concerns of citizens?
  • What makes the implementation of scientific breakthroughs, such as geo-engineering or bio-engineering techniques, challenging from an ethical perspective?
  • How can the tech industry be better prepared for an increasing demand from society to design and develop “ethical technologies”?