Digital Humanists Day

Saturday, September 11, 2021

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The 21st century needs Digital Humanists!

Flipping the light switch is a thing of the past. With voice-controlled AI systems, such actions can be carried out in a much more modern way. All it takes is an “Alexa!? …” or a “Siri!? …” and various smart assistants will prick up their ears, access Internet-based databases and turn the lights up and down for us, play music, show movies, order food or anything else that “others have also bought”. The question remains, do Alexa and Siri only listen to us when they’re supposed to? Their manufacturers say yes. But how credible is that?

In the age of Big Data and AI, we need to fundamentally clarify how we want to handle our data, who owns it, and who is allowed to determine how it is used. At the same time, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What is urgently needed is a broad social discourse on what a digital society can look like that leaves behind the “data capitalism” of the IT monopolists as well as the “data totalitarianism” of authoritarian regimes and respects the self-determination of its users. Cultural diversity instead of infrastructural uniformity, one could say in a nutshell. The result of such a discourse could in any case be a “digital humanism” from which framework conditions and rules for the digital society of the 21st century could be derived. This is what the European Platform for Digital Humanism, to which Ars Electronica and a whole series of other renowned institutions in the European art and cultural landscape belong, believes and demands.

What the use of technologies such as AI means for us, what opportunities it opens up for us as a society, but also what problems we have to face in this context, is also the subject of another major EU project: the “European Artificial Intelligence Lab“.

The “AI Lab Conference Day” will provide insight into the current discourse around. The program includes several panels on different topics:

  • The first panel is dedicated to “Media Literacy”. Kyriaki Goni (GR), Meredith Broussard (US), Martina Mara (AT) and Kanta Dihal (NL) will take part, moderated by Katrin-Cécile Ziegler (DE).
  • The second panel is all about music – Ali Nikrang (AT) moderates the conversation with Davide Quayola (IT), Paola Torres Núñez del Prado (PE), Leslie Garcia (MX).
  • Panel no. 3 is about the “Civil Society” – with them are Caroline Sinders (US/UK), Kilian Kleinschmidt (DE), Glacier Kwong (HK/DE) and Simon Weckert (DE), the panel is moderated by Julia Kloiber (DE).
  • The fourth and final panel of the full-day conference will focus on “Digital Feudalism” – Frederike Kaltheuner (DE/UK) will interview Evgeny Morozov (BY/US), Sophie Zhang (US) and Renata Avila (GT).

The fact that we live in a time of transition – not only challenging, but also quite exciting – is also the topic of an unusual workshop. Adriana Knouf (US) invites us to consider the many, many small deviations and disruptions to our daily lives that emanate from the great general upheavals. The goal of the workshop: “Preparing to Become Transxxeno“!

So for what lies ahead, we need the ability to act. But we also need room for maneuver. The latter will certainly not be granted to us voluntarily. On the contrary. We will have to demand this room for maneuver and – of course in accordance with democratic rules of the game – enforce them. The communities and activists that are usually referred to as “civil society” play a central role in this. Many of them – Fridays for Future – are “under 19” and represent the first generation that is in danger of feeling the full force of climate change and its social, economic and political consequences.

This year’s edition of create your world is as serious as it is light-hearted, focusing on the “New Digital Deal”. The great ideas and concepts buzzing around in young minds will be underscored first thing in the morning by the “u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD Ceremony” at which the Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners will be presented with their prizes and, of course, the “Golden Nica”.

As a platform and playground, the “Festival inside the Festival” offers young people above all the opportunity to exchange ideas about the present and the future, to network and to tackle joint projects. Laughter is allowed and trust should and can be built up – again.

Trust in each other and one’s own ideas also plays an important role at the all-day symposium “Co-Creation“, which the association ziwi – die Zivilgesellschaft is organizing. Participation alone is too little, is the announcement, urgently needed are new strategies and spaces to develop, discuss and finally implement ideas together. While – inside – lectures and best practice projects are presented and discussed at the symposium, – outside – more than 60 initiatives, associations and organizations invite young and old to make the diverse and sometimes unusual variants of voluntary engagement.

This creative, innovative and, in the best sense of the word, chaotic neighborhood of create your world, die ziwi and Festival University is joined during the morning by organic farmers from all over Upper Austria. They offer products that first of all taste “damn good”, but at the same time also point out how important the ecosystem soil is not only for nature, but above all for ourselves.

In the evening, concerts by “Mrs. Sammer” and Gregor Ladenhauf are first on the program in Kepler’s Garden, and later the “<strong>Linzer Klangwolke 21” (Sound Cloud) attracts visitors to the banks of the Danube, in the park between the Brucknerhaus and the LENTOS Kunstmuseum. “PANTA RHEI” is the motto of the open-air production by Robert Dornhelm, Christoph Engel and Roman Kariolou, in which the boundaries between illusion and reality blur…

More info…

The Festival Days at a Glance