We live and work in the exciting age of digital transformation. The University of Twente’s mission as a people-first university of technology places us in the crossfire of digital advancement and the disruption it can cause. As scientists and tech pioneers, our task is to drive digitalization. As cross-disciplinarian connectors, we must take care that reality and virtuality are integrated safely, sustainably, and inclusively. As societal impactors, we face unpredictable forces and chart unknown territory, always intent on researching and co-designing solutions that will create a humane cyberworld. We are the Digital Society Institute.

With transformation comes vulnerability. As digitalization spreads further into the fabric of society, it is reshaping systems, redistributing power, and shaking up long-held notions of privacy, autonomy, democracy. As its influence grows less visible and more incomprehensible, we may approach a tipping point, beyond which people no longer manage digital technologies to influence and shape their surroundings, but our digitalized surroundings, almost unnoticeably, manage and manipulate us.  

And with great power comes great responsibility. As experts in the field, we acknowledge the disruptive force of digitalization on societies, markets, and the lives of individual people – not least those belonging to population groups at risk, such as children, the elderly, the undereducated, and those living in the world’s least-developed countries. Against this backdrop, our mission at the Digital Society Institute is to play a leading role in establishing a humane cyberworld for everyone: a digital society that is technologically progressive and robust, as well as transparent, safe, sustainable, and inclusive. It is up to us to outsmart even our smartest innovations. To disrupt disruption. To avoid the divisiveness and wastefulness of digital dead-ends and mere technical prowess – and instead to research, develop and roll out solutions that will contribute to long-term societal, economic, and ecological gains.

We see the promise of the emerging digital landscape. And in order to open up and settle the new land, we pave the way for society with three vital strata:

  • Developing reliable digital technology;
  • Establishing informed decision-making;
  • And ensuring safe, sustainable and inclusive societal embedding.

We do this through open science and engineering, and by anticipating and responding to the real needs of our planet, our industries, and our societies – including low-urbanized, rural and agricultural regions.

We understand and embrace the complexity of digitalization. The Digital Society Institute is uniquely positioned for the task described here. We have:

  • A world-class team of scientists, educators and entrepreneurs with outstanding academic track records and vital skills in cross-disciplinary collaboration;
  • Leading expertise in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, eHealth, Robotics, Smart Industry, and Security;
  • A unique High Tech Human Touch philosophy that fuses science, engineering, and technology with social sciences and a relentless drive to impact society;
  • A robust platform for empowering affiliated researchers across their different domains, and for increasing the internal and external visibility – and therefore the accessibility – of their work;
  • A rich network, in which we collaborate and co-create with regional, national and international partners;
  • A curious and entrepreneurial spirit that keep us in constant search of deeper scientific understanding and new ways of applying it.

We pioneer a humane cyberworld. In a world straining towards a resilient and inclusive future, we blaze new trails and loop back to pick up people groups, domains or regions at risk of falling behind. We conduct research that is needed by society. We create, innovate, and develop digital technologies. We harness their potential for everyday needs, desires and tasks. We recognize and mitigate risk, exposing developments that are detrimental to people or the planet. We add value and build trust, engineering and re-engineering for the greater good.