What Do We Want?
Dimensions of a New Digital Humanism

Since November 2016, the Vienna Biennale Circle, a think tank of mostly Vienna-based personages from various creative segments, has been analyzing some of the central issues and perspectives of our age. Using the form of the Manifesto, the Vienna Biennale Circle postulates possible approaches to a future world we would want to live in. The Manifesto entitled What Do We Want? Dimensions of a New Digital Humanism serves as a catalyst for a reorientation of our society in light of the increasing interaction between humans and digital machines. After extensive debates, we have agreed on 11 questions and come up with a set of key tags and answers addressing these questions. The Vienna Biennale Circle invites you to take the time to re ect on these fundamental questions of life in Digital Modernity.

The Vienna Biennale Circle invites you to take the time to re ect on these fundamental questions of life in Digital Modernity. You are invited to send us your comments and suggestions.

Download the VIENNA BIENNALE app and join in! The app is programmed so that you can create your own digital Manifesto by dismissing the answers you do not like and retaining those you can subscribe to.


#conscious #emotional #humorous #social #in love #intelligent #(e)quality #diversity #caring #responsible  #challenged #enlightened #curious

How do we want to be human?

  • We want to be human and imperfect, not superhuman and perfect.
  • We want to ask questions and be able to learn about the world and its complex ecosystem.
  • We want to be able to create our own goals and have a reasonable chance of executing them.
  • We want to be able to be happy, pursue greatness, and choose between the two when necessary.
  • We desire human connection. As a result, we want to understand each other, often through art.
  • We want to reinvent ourselves constantly.
  • We want to rest whenever we feel like it.
  • We want to have meaningful choices in our lives, both big and consequential and small and mundane.
  • We want to change society. We want to feel like we have a purpose and a place in the world, which has been one of the drivers of history and the basis for the continuing influence of religion, even today’s secular ones.
  • We want human characteristics and values to be shaped by technology and vice versa.

#convenience #empowerment #(e)quality #health #safety/security #access  #transparency #imagination #options

What do we want from technology?

  • To serve us and to cooperate, not to enslave us.
  • To enlighten us about ourselves and help us better coexist with others, including our neighbors.
  • To stop climate change und help us preserve—rather than destroy—our planet.
  • To reduce inequality.
  • To give us options.
  • To allow us to accomplish our goals better, more cheaply (including more quickly), or both.
  • To reveal what we did not know exists, expanding our horizons of what is possible and therefore changing our goals.
  • To never make us net obsolete. In other words, it is OK to make us obsolete somewhere as long as we are made just as useful, if not more so, somewhere else.
  • To be filled with wonder and be inspired by the people who invent technologies.
  • To turn us into makers.
  • To make us better understand that technology has value in itself.
  • To allow us to experiment.
  • We want technology to have appropriate safeguards and limits. We do not want it to be rolled out quickly and indiscriminately, especially to critical systems. However, we need to keep in mind that it is not only technology that can be hacked: so can we, and we should not overreact to the failing of a technology. We should view technology as an aid to our own failings as well as something that can itself fail.

#empathy #solidarity #peaceful #respect #resonant #tolerant #sharing #attachment  #feminist empowerment #participation #commoning #freedom #sex #(e)quality

How do we want to live together?

  • Technologies shape societies. We must never divorce technology from social questions.
  • We want to live as a world population that understands local and global needs, differences and solidarities. We should see differences not as obstacles, but as means for mutual enrichment.
  • We tend to want to exert control over others while being free from control ourselves. We need a system that forces us to work together on collective problems while also being free from influence in areas where we do not affect each other in a consequential way.
  • We want all sorts of options: from being close to others to practicing splendid isolation. Technology can help us find the right degree of proximity and distance.
  • We want to be able to find, and coalesce around, leaders. Some of us want to be recognized as leaders. We also want mentors to find people who should be leaders and help get them there.
  • We want to be able to have independence and creative control over at least part of our life.
  • We want to be able to make families and friends. We also want to be able to do fun things with them. Usually, we want to help people.
  • Some people do not want to live together because they fear their society’s ability to absorb too many new people. Nonetheless society thrives on diversity.
  • We want to form associations within societies, like trade groups, schools, friend groups, and even other governing organizations (like a city within a state). We want to be able to form an identity around at least one community.

#love #respect #care #protection

What do we want for our planet?

  • We want better environmental education.
  • We want to treat our planet and the gifts it gives us as we would treat a small and precious community garden: sustainable co-use of its resources, conservation/maintenance, fairness and access for all, co-responsibility.
  • We want the smartest technologies to protect our planet, e.g. by allowing us to factor in negative externalities.
  • We want the best laws and agreements to protect our planet.
  • We want to enjoy our planet and be able to travel it.
  • We should respect nature.

#affordable quality #sustainably #responsibly #fairly #basic needs #prosumers

How do we want to consume?

  • Instantly.
  • Less!
  • We want the objects of our consumption to help define our identity and help us find people who have similar tastes.
  • Sustainably, according to demand and not supply: What do I/we need to live? rather than: What can be sold and bought?
  • Shopping is not entertainment.
  • We want some products to be social, some to be personal and private, and for the lines between those to be clear.
  • We want affordable things that are beautiful, of high quality, and well designed.
  • We want less ownership and more genuine sharing.
  • We don’t want what we buy to own us.
  • We want to consume things we think are ethical from actors who are ethical.
  • We want to be able to choose, but not from so many options as to be overwhelming.
  • We want to feel in control of the objects of our consumption. We need to have addictive influences kept in check.
  • We need better artificial intelligence for the rise of the Commons (both not-for-profit and in the market).
  • Education is key to triggering a consumer revolution.
  • As consumers we desire not to be manipulated. 

#creativity #literacy #agency #humanities #values #sustainability #open source

What do we want to learn?

  • Everything we want to know.
  • Who we are.
  • More about each other and the human condition, especially through great art.  
  • Through others, to better understand ourselves and the world.
  • What it means to stay human in the digital era—and how not to unlearn it.
  • To widen our horizon and expand our capabilities.
  • What and how to consume.
  • To live, and live together, in a different way.
  • Some people want to learn more about nature.
  • Many people want to learn more about something, whether it is history, rock formations, hunting, physics, or literature.
  • Some people truly don’t want to learn, but it is not clear whether this is a reasonable desire that should be honored.
  • We want to learn practical things that will allow us to adapt and survive in a world where we need an income. But this also stems from the need to feel important.
  • We want it to be quick and simple to learn practical instructions.
  • Many people want to be hobbyists, and a surprising number of hobbies include constant study.
  • How to share our knowledge.

#choice #meaningful #(e)quality #diversity #(co)creative

How do we want to work?

  • We as humans define what counts as work.
  • We want work that fascinates us, work that we are passionate about, work that we would also do without pay.
  • We want work to live and not live to work. We want, however, the option of a universal basic income to be further explored.
  • We want our work to improve other people’s lives.
  • We want to work with other humans.
  • We want to imagine new work.
  • We need time and resources to find a new place once we are displaced, as well as robots designed to work with humans.
  • We want progress to continue unabated, and even more quickly, but we want to make sure we  have a place in it.
  • We want our work to be challenging enough that what we do is a struggle but doable enough that we can succeed.
  • We want the people we work with to be our partners or mentors and look out for our best interests, to be collaborative, to be supportive, and to be friendly.
  • Some people want complex work and some people want simple work.
  • We want potential contacts to be open enough to meet new people and give them chances.
  • We want industries to have reasonable entry-level jobs so that people can switch industries and so that young people can start their careers.
  • We want to be able to do work outside of our jobs, whether that work is art or a side project.
  • We want the freedom to take risks without the potential punishment of an unbearable life in failure, which recognizes the benefits of allowing people to internalize the rewards of their risk-taking while using the state to limit the downside of risk.
  • We want to expand the notion of work. All reproduction, care, and maintenance work (at home or not) must be considered to be full work, and rewarded as such.

#convivial #leisure #shelter #comfortable #resonant #affordable

How do we want to dwell?

  • In as many different forms as possible, from under the stars to smart cities. As nomads and residents. In cities or nature. Connected and disconnected. Together and individually.
  • In a sustainable way. Using the smallest space possible (single room) but with an open view.
  • With enough space in our dwellings to be comfortable.
  • Where we can also hide.
  • In natural beauty.
  • Where we can walk yet with access to the tools to quickly traverse great distances.
  • In places with enough diversity to try something new every now and then.
  • To be supported without being too regulated or taxed.
  • Eventually we will want our homes to adapt to us automatically.
  • New technology will create new forms of residential architecture.

#dignity #freedom #equality #security #openness #privacy #data souvereignty #self-determination #free access #net neutrality #pluralism and competition #right to be forgotten #education #work #intangible goods

(Source: Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights of the European Union)

Which digital fundamental rights do we want?

  • We want our rights in the digital realm to be equivalent to our rights in the physical world. For example, we want our privacy rights to be the same on our computer as in our home. We are aware that the content of these rights will change, but right now the pendulum is completely in the wrong direction.
  • We want the right to exist outside the digital sphere whenever we choose to.
  • We demand the right not to live in a state of total surveillance. Surveillance must be regulated and transparent.  
  • We want the right to be able to use the benefits of digital technologies and not be cut off by unscrupulous actors.
  • We are entitled to digital education. We are especially entitled to literacy of how we are being influenced by technologies and to disclosure of how they are being used to harm and help us.
  • We need critical digital platforms to have real due process in the face of accusations and a process for addressing abuse. Similarly, we need a process for rehabilitation and the ability to reenter digital society.

#common good #development

Which rights do we want for robots/artificial intelligence (AI)?

  • We want robots/AI to be treated sustainably.
  • The same rights any sentient species should have. When we have a true general AI, we will want to have a debate on whether it is some sort of person. At that time, we might want to afford it some rights.
  • Right now, we do not want machines to have rights in an equivalent way to humans.
  • We want them to be free from vandals.
  • We want them to be able to make and execute decisions in contexts where their decisions are well understood and of higher quality than human decision-makers. Furthermore, if humans and machines make different kinds of mistakes, we want robots to be able to work on human-robot teams.
  • The key right robots/AI should have is to work for the common good.
  • To dismantle digital monopolies.

#checks and balances #mutual respect #sense and sensibility #enlightenment #empathy #planetary intelligence

How do we want to deal with a superintelligence?

  • We do not want to serve a superintelligence.
  • Not in servitude or faith, but with the same intelligent devotion we want it to serve us.
  • Preferably, we do not want a superintelligence at all and we must proceed with utmost caution in our research, as a superintelligence may easily outsmart us.
  • If a superintelligence emerges we want it to guide us, to explain its reasoning, and make arguments, but ultimately we want to be the deciders. However, we also want a superintelligence that is not able to game us and learn how to be persuasive for its own goals.
  • We want its objective function to maximize our common good (not its own) on the basis of sustainable use of our planet’s resources.
  • We want a superintelligence that opens doors beyond our current imagination.
  • We want to know who owns a superintelligence and how decisions are made as to its development and priorities.
  • We want a superintelligence to be secure.
  • We want collective ownership of a superintelligence and to find sustainable ways to treat it as a commons.
  • In any case, we want to be able to influence and converse with it. We want to feel like it is not replacing us, even if it is.
  • We want a superintelligence to do jobs that feel boring and soulless.
  • Yes, we can imagine a superintelligence falling in love with us.

The Vienna Biennale Circle team

Christoph Thun-Hohenstein (editorial lead), Gerald Bast, Erwin K. Bauer, Mark Coeckelbergh, Janina Falkner, Anne Faucheret, Paul Feigelfeld, Gabriela Gantenbein, Harald Gruendl, Ulrike Haele, Miriam Kathrein, Beate Lex, Eva Meran, Elisabeth Noever-Ginthör, Hans-Jörg Otto, Bill Price, Doris Rothauer, Robert Trappl, Marlies Wirth, and Evan Zimmerman

Communication design: buero bauer


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