Data Ethics – Keynote at tdwi Confrence Seatle


We are generating data literally wherever we go and whatever we do—and not only about all our digital and mobile actions, like searches, purchases, preferences, and interests. In the Internet of Things, we leave behind a broad trace of all kinds of data that is often far more telling than results of classic social, psychological, or medical research, and we can hardly prevent this data from being accidentally collected, while passing by a WiFi router, for instance. Since a multitude of dimensions are tracked, the resulting profiles are so unique that they can no longer be anonymized. Persisting images of ourselves are created that we cannot control.

However, most people do not want to refuse the comfort and opportunities of our data-driven economy (benefits include online shopping, distributed energy production, and precision medicine, to name a few). Data sharing can create huge economic and social value. For example, compared to the average samples of a few hundred participants, real data could support medical research in an unprecedented way. Thus data sharing should be made attractive, but in order to do so, people must have confidence that their goodwill is not turned against them.

The first level in implementing data ethics is about shaping applications. Privacy by design is already a well-established concept, but it must be extended to data ethics by design, incorporating built-in prevention of potential discrimination, misclassification, and assaultive abuse. The design follows the simple patterns of data courtesy—being kind with people and avoiding presumptions. Such design can also be cast into law. In Europe, health insurance companies are legally prevented from using gender to determine pricing; likewise, it is illegal to include data from social media profiles to calculate credit risks.

Second, and even more important, we must be empowered to make use of our data ourselves. We should own our data and decide about its proliferation and use. Data should be as open as possible and shared as simply as possible. Collecting data has to be done in a fair way. Of course, no one can care about their data explicitly all the time. Thus, we need algorithmic agents to deal with this task on our behalf.

Third, we need to work even harder to maintain a just and liberal democratic system that offers legal remedies to everyone and enforces good conduct. Malign political leadership on digital steroids might be much worse than those in predigital times. At the same time, big data promises nothing less than a smart society with distributed, noncentralized infrastructure that could offer much more freedom to people. Even more than our data-driven economy, we should actively shape our data-driven public.

Token Summit: The Tokenization of Finance

The inaugural Token Summit Conference takes place on May 25th 2017 at NYU Stern Business School, New York, NY:

We present how blockchain leads from transaction and payment to the full scale of financial services, including loans and financing for businesses. Since the majority of the people world wide are unbanked, i.e. have no bank account or other streightforward access to financial services, the market for a blockchain solution providing banking for everyone is huge.

After having developed and deployed a digital asset management and accounting system for the United Nations World Food Programme, currently in use in refugee camps in Jordan, we continue working to bring token based financial services to the unbanked.

CFA Lecture: Blockchain: Revolutionäre Technologie oder Hype – Erfahrungsbericht eines Experten (München)

Datum: Donnerstag, 6. April 2017

Blockchain ist eine neue Technologie, die mit der digitalen Währung Bitcoin in 2008 zum Vorschein kam. Seitdem sind viele weitere Anwendungen entdeckt worden. Die Blockchain, als ‘distributed ledger’ kann sämtliche Vorgänge und Abläufe in einer Transaktion dokumentieren. Use Cases gibt es in der Versicherung, Immobilienwirtschaft für Banken, aber auch in vielen anderen Industrien der öffentlichen Verwaltung oder auch im intellektuell Property Management. Jörg Blumtritt hilft den Hype von dem was wirklich revolutionär ist zu trennen und gibt reale Beispiele aus seiner Berufspraxis.

Link: “CFA Lecutre: Blockchain”

Biopunk – Subervting Biopolitics. Session at SXSW 2017

DNA is called the code of life but computational metaphors underestimate the impact of biopolitics, which reaches far beyond anything digital. Biases of today’s culture are embedded in the wetware of tomorrow’s genome editing and profiling. As the biotechnical gaze makes us increasingly visible we become categorized, branded by the norm, sifted into racialized and gendered identities.

Biopunk is our way to subvert biopolitics, to take our bio-determined future into our own hands. Speakers will discuss bio-art and activism while revealing our own genetic secrets, and also that of some random strangers. Join this session in genome-panic and bio-culture from paranoia to poetry, to make biopolitics our own.

Joerg Blumtritt, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Simone Browne

Link to the event:

Blockchain is the new Internet – Lecture at NYU Tisch

“Blockchain is the new Internet” – something bigger is going on here, than just another form of digital payment like Bitcoin. The blockchain enthusiasts promise applications from smart contracts, to autonomous organizations, to anarchistic systems of government. How can this new technology live up to its promises, and can it deliver something beyond the Silicon Valley type libertarianism of disruption?

ITP, NYU Tisch, March 3

Link: “Blockchain is the new Internet”

Culture Post Internet

Sessions on post-digital life and art with Addie Wagenknecht and Joerg Blumtritt
The Hague, Thursday July 7th 2016

“You have to make network culture classy on its own terms. You have to ennoble the vernacular – not by teaching people Latin, but by writing Dante’s Inferno!”
Bruce Sterling

“It lacks even the appeal of the apocalyps.”
William Gibson

Addie Wagenknecht and I will hold two sessions on culture and art in the post Internet age, on occasion of Bordersessions Conference at The Hague. First we will introduce into Cyberpunk [1], and discuss how to survive and maybe even live in our digitally enhanced reality. In the evening, we will give a lecture on aesthetics for the digital arts at Leiden University [2].

Come to us all who labor with cyber culture, and we will give you the rest.
Plus: You get free vaccination against nerve attenuation syndrome.

Cyberpunk Masterclass

Cyber is the condition of reality, Punk is our way to survive. What started as science ficton genre 30 years ago is today’s fight for reclaiming freedom in our cultural habitat: We are shaping culture, technology, and media ourself, we don’t go conform neither with mass consumerism nor with surveillance and authority. We take action. Join us!

Ten billion people will live on the earth soon. Today, half of all living humans have a mobile phone, two and a half billion have internet access via smartphone. Cybernetic systems have become mundane, from autonomous cars, to algorithmic content publishing, and smart implants into the body.

When the Net took off 25 years ago, we welcomed it as the promised land of unlimited access to culture and information for everybody, granting freedom of expression to all. However, the Net is indeed free more as in free beer and less than in freedom. All links of the chain seem either privately owned by global corporations or tightly controlled by the security apperatus.

The term cyberspace was coined by science fiction author Wiliam Gibson in his dystopic vision of an overpopulated globe of digitally connected people, governed by gargantuan conglomerates, with little left of civil society -high tech, low life. A grim metaphor what our world might already be evolving into – ‘The Jackpot’ (to quote Gibson’s latest novel). This genre, made popular by him together with Bruce Sterling, Richard K. Morgan, Neal Stephonson and many others, was soon called ‘Cyberpunk’. Since then, cyber has degraded to the prefix of cyber-bullying, cyber-crime, or cyber-terrorism.

But we want to use Cyberpunk for nothing less then as instructionons for shaping the things to come. For us, Cyberpunk is not fiction as entertainment, but as design fiction, thought experiments on a world that could happen soon.

Cyber will be the dominant part of our human condition, and our way to deal with it, to survive in such a world is punk. Punk means bricolage, streetfighting with everything that is handy to be used as our tool, and experimenting how it feels to live outside the cage without building a new one. Let’s see, how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Time: Thursday, July 7th, 1100
Location: Korzo theatre, Prinsestraat 42, The Hague

  • Aesthetics for the Art Post Internet

    Besides data as storytelling, journalism, and dashboards, data has grown into a medium for expression for a large spectrum of creative output. Parametric design, algorithmic architecture alongside rapid prototyping technologies have redefined the relationship between creator and artist tools. Generative art means using algorithms to create an object whose primary qualities are aesthetic. Although the products created by machine learning are not yet perfectly mimicing human creativity, it becomes increasingly hard to tell them appart. Even beyond the blunt journalistic hyperbole of AI related stories, algorithmic music, poetry, and generative visual art have evolved to such an extent that it became necessary to discuss a basic question once again: What do we think is art? Or better: What will be art?

    Contemporary artist are still struggling to find the language for a new contemporary output and practice in the post-internet genre. The online world is bingeing but is also a rapidly changing one. Does the next generation of digital artists, responding to their own experiences of the online world, threaten the way artist work and affect what is being known as a staunchly Web 1.0 aesthetic? Artistic expression within the digital arts has brought forward critical examination of the technology and its impact on society, such as surveillance and self-determination, and has often collaged quotations of all aspects of media and consumerism, questioning art market concepts like authorship and intellecutal property rights. Mediums range from video, software, websites, to hardware, kinetic machines, and robotics. Parametric or generative art emerge from algorithms without direct human intervention.

    We want to illustrate current developments with examples of recent bodies of work, and discuss how theoretical aproaches like object oriented aesthetics (Harman), parametricism (Schumacher), atemporality (Sterling) can contextulize the current emerging fields within contemporary art.

    Time: Thursday, July 7th, 1730
    Location: Living Lab, Faculty of Governance and Global affairs, Schouwburgstraat 2, The Hague