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“Net September” Social Technologies Conference
Dance of the Algorithms

Performance by Av3ry, a virtual character that creates music, poetry and picture.
Performance by Av3ry, a virtual character that creates music, poetry and picture. | Photo (detail): Maria Pospelova

In early September, Teplitsa. Technologies for Social Good and the Goethe-Institut Moscow held an online conference on the social implications of digitisation: “Net September” dealt with the challenges and possibilities of new technologies.

Algorithms are increasingly influencing our decisions and have an impact on almost all parts of our lives: on social and political processes, finance, the world of work, our perceptions and communications. How can algorithms be designed so that their use is transparent and traceable and serves the common good of society? And how can people be made aware of this issue, its opportunities and risks?
 
“Net September” was divided up so that two tracks were conceived by the educational project Teplitsa. Technologies for Social Good, which focused on digital civil rights and the effects of digitisation on NGOs. The other two tracks were designed and programmed by the Goethe-Institut Moscow: “Dance of the Algorithms”. Two experts from Germany, Michael Puntschuh and Fabio Chiusi, were invited to take part in it.

Dr Ekaterina Sivyakova talked about regulating algorithms for the common good. Dr Ekaterina Sivyakova talked about regulating algorithms for the common good. | Photo (detail): Maria Pospelova
They took part in a joint panel discussion and gave workshops on the subject of algorithms and the  “Algo.Rules”, which Michael Puntschuh helped to develop. The “Algo.Rules” are nine design criteria developed by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the iRights.Lab. They establish a basis for ethical considerations and for the implementation and enforcement of legal frameworks. The Goethe-Institut’s EU project “The Earth Is Flat – How to Read Media” on the subject of media literacy and Mediale Pfade was also on board with a workshop.
 
As a platform, “Dance of the Algorithms” offered experts as well as an interested public a forum and aimed to bring different perspectives – whether from art, journalism and media, sociology or political science, philosophy, business or IT – into a constructive dialogue.
 
The central questions were: How do digitisation and artificial intelligence change processes in the world of work, in the media and in art? What influence do the internet and social media have on communication, perception and social cohesion? What does digitisation mean for our democracies?
Tanzen zu Algorithmen auf dem „Algorave“. Dancing to algorithms at the “Algorave.” | Photo (detail): Maria Pospelova
The project offered a productive interface to the digital communication of the Goethe-Institut in Moscow: media professionals, journalists, bloggers, disseminators and influencers from the cultural and media sectors were won over to blog live from the conference, to tweet or produce recordings and share them on their channels. Media partnerships with colta.ru and Postnauka were implemented so that the topics and questions, discussions and findings found their way to the public.

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