When Machines Dream the Future. Festival on Living with Artificial Intelligence

Online and at the Hygiene Museum Dresden, 12.-14.11.2021

Super Smart? © Lena Ziyal How intelligent is artificial intelligence in fact? What dangers and risks does it harbour? What problems can it solve, and what problems should and do we want to leave to it at all?

To mark both the opening of the special exhibition Machine Learning Human Dreams at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden and the conclusion of the Goethe-Institut’s project Generation A=Algorithm, both institutions are jointly organising a hybrid festival entitled “When Machines Dream the Future. Festival on Living with Artificial Intelligence”.

From 12-14 November 2021, the festival will use a range of formats - keynotes, discussion panels, workshops, a Long Night of AI and theatre performances - to explore the question of what happens when the functional logic of algorithmically controlled technology encounters the inherent logics of culture and society. The "Festival on Living with Artificial Intelligence” aims to dispel myths around AI, presents alternatives to the status quo and invites better practices for living with AI in a participatory way.

Questions for AI - answered by experts

In the course of the festival, starting from the question of whether approaches to measuring society and ideas about the statistically average human being have made a phenomenon like AI possible in the first place, multiple aspects of AI will be reflected upon both critically and in utopian terms: What is implied by the term “intelligence”? To what extent is it a problem that technology used by millions, if not billions, of people every day is being developed by specific privileged social groups who inscribe their projection of universal concerns and needs into this technology? Can machines really decipher emotions? What problems arise for democratic societies from sorting algorithms that determine what news we consume? What does it mean for users if they are “at the mercy” of a few trans-nationally operating platform companies? Do we have plans for a future life with AI apart from the profit motive and power interests?

Online visitors to the festival can follow the live-stream from Dresden as well as participate in digital panels and workshops and the Ideathon. Live digital tours of the Dresden exhibition will also be offered. 

Review of “Generation A=Algorithm”

One important part of the festival is a review of two years of Generation A=Algorithm. As part of the project, artists, coders, scientists and young people from throughout Europe explored the question of how the use of AI will change our society.

Using a range of different formats and events, the project has taken the discussion on AI to various levels of society, contributed to critical examination of AI and to testing the participants' own technical and artistic solutions: in the Couch Lessons, international AI experts discussed a broad range of aspects of AI with a wide audience. Despite closed borders,robots have travelled throughout Europe and facilitated interchange between coders and artists. Data experts and artists led week-long dialogues on Europe's digital future. Over a period of six months, twelve European teams in a fellowship programme addressed the question of how the digital society should be shaped in terms of the public interest. In 13 European cities, an AI residency programme enabled and continues to enable 16 visual artists to gain deeper insights into AI institutions. Other formats such as a survey among young Europeans on AI, a Climate Hackathon as well as a number of Detox Workshopscomplete the cycle of multiple events surrounding the topic of AI.

The festival plans to combine the results of the individual formats in a final event and to bring together some of the participants of the project in Dresden. Under the heading “Reclaim our Future”, they will present their visions of a future life with AI at the Hygiene Museum.

Special exhibition: “Machine Learning Human Dreams”


The exhibition by the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum – curated by Yasemin Keskintepe – highlights specifically how the use of AI systems is likely to gradually alter our understanding of everyday life, mobility, work, health, and politics. On 800 m² of exhibition space, cultural-historical exhibits, scientific objects and contributions as well as audiovisual media will offer all sorts of insights into the current state of AI development, but also how we approach AI. What’s more, the perspectives afforded by the works of international contemporary artists will provide just as many opportunities to reflect on the influence this technology has on our lives. The exhibition will not only look at the dreams of the past and the possibilities and impossibilities of our present, but also consider the question of how we intend to use Artificial Intelligence for our own ends in the future.

During the Festival analogue and digital exhibition tours will be offered.


Festival website

To the festival website.

To the festival programme of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum.

The festival is a collaborative project of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum and the Goethe Institute.

Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden