Rethinking software engineering research and education in the light of digital humanism

Decanato - Facoltà di scienze informatiche

Data: 29 Febbraio 2024 / 14:30 - 15:30

USI Campus Est, room D1.14, Sector D // Online on Microsoft Teams


Carlo Ghezzi, Politecnico di Milano, Italy


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 way we do research, 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 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. 
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 ( and a new textbook (

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In February 2019, the Software Institute started its SI Seminar Series. Every Thursday afternoon, a researcher of the Institute will publicly give a short talk on a software engineering argument of their choice. Examples include, but are not limited to novel interesting papers, seminal papers, personal research overview, discussion of preliminary research ideas, tutorials, and small experiments.

On our YouTube playlist you can watch some of the past seminars. On the SI website you can find more details on the next seminar, the upcoming seminars, and an archive of the past speakers.


Andrea Mocci