“Personal Contact is Still of Central Importance”

Abraham Bernstein, Professor of Informatics at the University of Zurich, offers online courses, but believes that human interaction is still of central importance.
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Professor Bernstein, you are Director of the Department of Informatics at the University of Zurich (UZH), and are conducting research on the Semantic Web. Hence the question: Which three keywords should we associate with Zurich, and why?

High quality of living, excellent education and research institutions, and business friendliness. For Zurich is large enough to accommodate the necessary infrastructure and institutions, but small enough to offer a high standard of living and direct access (or short distances) to decision makers. 

Zurich is indeed a city of short distances – but is that really a locational advantage in today’s digital world?

Yes, of course. In the digital world, too, personal contacts and human interaction are still of central importance for successful innovation, education, research, and development.

Abraham Bernstein is an expert on the Semantic Web, Machine Learning, and Data Mining. The Zurich computer science professor is calling for more experiments with digital democracy.

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Professor Abraham Bernstein

With your Manifesto for Digital Democracy, you are advocating direct democracy, a typical characteristic of Switzerland. What potential do you think digitalization has in this respect?

Many of our democratic processes came about in a world where the mail coach was the fastest means of transferring information. Nowadays, everything happens much faster, and we need to learn how we can use this better to strengthen our democracy. For this is one of the main factors guaranteeing our prosperity.

When you want to encourage Business Angels to invest in ICT in Zurich, where do you take them first?

To the University of Zurich Tower. From here, you can see the city with its innovation centers, its history, and its quality of living, and you can feel the closeness to the buzzing everyday life at the universities.

Where in Zurich and region would you treat yourself to a day of “digital detox”? Without your mobile phone, PC, tablet – just yourself!

By, on, and around the lake. The lake and the surrounding region offer countless possibilities to relax surrounded by nature, to settle down with a good book, or to spend time with friends and family.