ARS ELECTRONICA Festival / Linz 2018

Überwachter Öffentlicher Raum: Algorithmen urteilen über menschliches „Fehlverhalten“.

06.09. – 10.09.2018; Linz.
Festival for art, technology and society.

What is divergent behaviour? What is an error? Who can assess this? According to which criteria? On what grounds? And: How will it affect our society if divergent behaviour is increasingly sanctioned by surveillance systems which are based on artificial intelligence?.

This year’s “Ars Electronica Festival“ deals with these questions under the motto “Error – The Art of Imperfection“.

The more undemocratic societies get, the more they strive to have everything under control. To not allow any “errors” or deviations. The “Social-Credit-System” that China is establishing serves this purpose. It aims to stop divergent, undesirable behaviour in advance by implementing continuous surveillance. This ever more complete surveillance is made possible by automated self-learning surveillance systems, which detect deviations from patters and sanction or reward automated processes.

In this way human beings are ultimately converted into objects, whose main purpose is to act as a political means of production and to refrain from showing any malfunction.

A system which strives to be “error free” will lead to a loss of democracy and freedom of opinion, but it will also have to bear another consequence: the loss of creativity. A society’s innovativeness and creativity are directly connected to its tolerance of divergent behaviour and errors. In the long-term run no society can survive without these qualities.

Apparently the Chinese who designed the “Social-Credit-System” have not yet noticed this small error in reasoning. Sooner or later they will have to pay a price for it. Penicillin, Teflon, car tyres, Vaseline and silicium solar cells all have something in common: They would not exist without previous errors, coincidences and approaches which deviated from the norm.

This year’s Ars Electronica Festival explores the potential of societies which commit to imperfection and improvisation. We Austrians consider ourselves to be masters of these skills. In this sense: “Wird schon schiefgehen”. (Austrian expression for: It’s bound to turn out alright somehow).

06.09. – 10.09.2018
Various locations