Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016
Luxury Communism

June 3-4, 2016
Weimar, Neufert-Box & Deutsches Nationaltheater

The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 invites you to engage with us in the thought experiment of Luxury Communism: a society in which the productivity of intelligent computing and automated industries will not just increase the profits of a small techno-capitalist elite but benefit all its members equally. Where machines relieve the people from the burden of paid labour altogether.

In this vision of the future, what is the role of transhumanists, cyborgs, Peer2Peer enthusiasts and the urban garden of the commons? We tap into the current state of the digital discourse, gathering thinkers and doers for a critical debate around topics including automation, algorithms, smart machines & dreams of technological singularity.

Together, we will address the next big design challenges: What society do we want to live in? Will AI make us more or less human? How to deal with the end of work as we know it? And how to distribute the wealth created by accelerating automation?

Join us in Weimar this summer for two exciting days of lectures and workshops, debates and dialogues, playful explorations and intense intellectual exchanges.


Tracks (Day 1)

Cyberproles: Life in the Post-Automation Economy

(Host: Philipp Albers)

The age of algorithms has created a new cyber proletariat: from Uber drivers to clickworkers, an unorganised mass of low-paid workers all around the world toils under the algorithmic regime of Silicon Valley platforms – only to lose these unstable gig economy jobs once their manual and cognitive tasks are mastered by robots and software in the not-too-distant future.
Does this foreshadow the general development of work in an economy on the path to full automation?  Or can we envision a different, a brighter future? One in which work is not a necessary burden to make a living anymore, but something else? How will we work and  – since self-driving cars don’t buy self-driving cars – consume in the robot economy?


Exoskeletons: Smart vs. Sexy Urban Algorithms

(Host: Jule Hass)

The exoskeleton is rattling in need of its algorithmic fix. Make me newer, make me better, make me smarter! Smart Technology, Smart Design, Smart City. You doctors of art and design: heed the call! Turn the urban infrastructure into an orgy of cybernetic innovation! We need open source, digital disruption, participation and self-organisation. Let a thousand smart solutions bloom in our communities and urban gardens! The city is smart, the city is creative, the city is happy.
Or is it? Sometimes it just feels boring. Sedated. Is this what happens when we leave the design of our exoskeleton to the computer? Or are the machines just badly programmed? What does the increasing fusion of real and virtual space do to our perception? Have we lost our sense for aesthetics? What happened to Goethe’s chromatics? What about Runge, Modulor, Neufert? Who defines the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of proportion and taste in Luxury Communism? How much open source can good design stomach? Is everyone a designer? Is every computer a designer?


Teknokomrades: Scaling Luxury, Intelligence and Immortality

(Host: Heather Moore)

TeknoKomrades, let us stand united against the past! New advances in technology are being embraced by the radical decentralists, as well as the financial and political establishment. A new era of digital consensus is upon us… join the ranks!

Yet behold… a text message from a long deceased ancestor cries out… ‚The future is a series of smart contracts. These advances in collaboration, wisdom and a universal consciousness will make way for our new AI overlords.  Your leap of human intellect is a leap into slavery!‘
Collective superintelligence? Or skynet? Is there room for subculture in the hive future? And will the transhumanists be the first to return to implement their last will and testament?
Themes: blockchain, decentralised production, P2P everything, alternative currencies, ethics in automated algorithms, internet of things, cognitive enhancement, collective intelligence, transhumanism


Conference (Day 2)

(Hosts: Sebastian Olma and Matthias Weber)


Conference Theme I

A Better Place: Reshuffling the Means of Production

„If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality“ (Stephen Hawking).

Imagine a social design that gets the distribution of machine-produced wealth right! Fully Automated Luxury Communism is our conceptual placeholder for this kind of design. But would it even be desirable? And if so, how do we get there? Is there a way to democratise  post-industrial production? Can the wealth of corporate big data be equally distributed? Do we need a politics of the machine? Or will the machines automate politics?


Conference Theme II

Never Mind The Cyborg – Here Comes Der Neue Mensch

The Bauhaus was driven by the idea to create a new kind of human being through the design of a revolutionary social infrastructure. Der neue Mensch Gropius and his colleagues envisioned was to be shaped by the rational, functionalist and essentially democratic architecture (and commodities) that surrounded them.

Nearly a century later, we need a new vision of the neue Mensch. Our digital environment has closed the door on the emancipated, sovereign individual the Bauhaus dreamt of. Punching the clock has been replaced by all kinds of prediction-based services (think Google Now), quantified selves and a growing dependency on smart technologies in everyday life. What are the challenges and opportunities this digital environment harbours for the birth a new neue Mensch? Are peer2peer communities, multitudes or organised networks forms of social organisation that can tame the power of Big Data and algorithms for the sake of a better future? Or shall we simply get ready to dance to the well-measured beat of algorithmic boogie?


Impressions from DBS 2015: