Prof Luciano Floridi. Photo: Tim Muntinga
Professor Luciano Floridi. Photo: Tim Muntinga

“We are neither online nor offline, but onlife”

These are the words of Professor Luciano Floridi, keynote speaker at our initiative seminar on Digitalisation, in March. We asked him to introduce his upcoming talk.

Keynote speaker Luciano Floridi will hold his presentation with the title: What is the Human Project for our Digital Future? at our initiative seminar Digitalisation – opportunities and challenges, 15-16 March 2017.


“Today, in many advanced information societies, asking whether one is online or offline has become meaningless. Imagine being asked whether you are online by someone who is talking to you through your smart phone, which is linked up to your car sound system through Bluetooth, while you are driving following the instructions of a GPS, which is also downloading information about traffic in real-time.

The truth is that we are neither online nor offline but onlife, that is, we increasingly live in that special space that is both analog and digital, both online and offline. An analogy may help. Imagine someone asking whether the water is sweet or salty in the estuary where the river meets the sea. That someone has not understood the special nature of the place.

Our information society is that place. And our technologies are perfectly evolved to take advantage of it, like mangroves growing in brackish water. In the mangrove society, all relevant (and sometimes the only) data available are machine-readable, and decisions as well as actions may be taken automatically, through sensors, actuators, and applications that can execute commands and output the corresponding procedures, from alerting or scanning a patient, to buying or selling some bonds.

The consequences of such radical transformation are many, but one is particularly significant and rich in consequences: what is the human project we should pursue in designing the mangrove society? This is the question I shall discuss in the talk, in view of exploring a possible answer.”

Prof Luciano Floridi, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford and Faculty Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute (ATI).

Luciano Floridi was recently appointed Chair of the Data Ethics research Group of the Alan Turing Institute.

Among his recent books, all published by Oxford University Press: The Fourth Revolution - How the infosphere is reshaping human reality (2014), The Ethics of Information (2013), The Philosophy of Information (2011).

He is a member of the EU's Ethics Advisory Group on Ethical Dimensions of Data Protection, of the Royal Society and British Academy Working Group on Data Governance, of Google Advisory Board on “the right to be forgotten”.

He is Chairman of the Ethics Advisory Board of the European Medical Information Framework and of the ATI’s Working Group on Data Ethics.

Published: Mon 09 Jan 2017.