In these days, a whole new festival celebrating human-centric technology and all its consequences take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is not the biggest or most sensational tech festival. Neither does it show what the new iPhones look like. But it faces the problems that come when humans and technology meet, and that is why you should read this article.
By Rebecca Birch and Sing Lee
Tech Festival Copenhagen raises and discusses questions on what happens when humans and technology meet.
Since we use more and more technology, these questions become more and more relevant.
One of the bigger events took place on the 6th of September – Peter Sunde, the founder of the world famous and controversial website ‘’The Pirate Bay’’ held a speech at the ‘Open Air Talk’ section.
He addressed his concern on the centralization of the online service people use and the ownership of the resources, which may harm the democratic future of the internet.
“This crazy western idea we had before that everything was anarchy, you can do whatever you want on the internet, it is not true anymore. I want to at least acknowledge that things are broken. We need to talk about that,” he said.
Peter pointed out that people nowadays are ‘totally dependent on a centralized service’ like Amazon and Google, which have 95% of the content on the internet. He added that less than ten companies own more than 90% of fiber cable the internet is built on, which is different from the landscape ten years ago.
He says that when citizens use a large service like Facebook, which they much rely on, they have no rights to decide the rules of these platforms.
“I have been fighting quite a lot about Mark Zuckerberg because I am calling him a dictator. He might be a good one, but he has a lot of influence on us and he decides everything and we don’t have a say on it,” he said.
In the historical surroundings of the meat packing district, a crowd spend their night listening to Peter Sundes, founder of the Pirate Bay.
Technology is made – not found
Another aspect of technology is how it’s made by humans with different intentions.
On September 7th at the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) an auditorium was filled with both Danes and internationals coming from China, UK, Switzerland, and Estonia.
They took part of the event ‘’Digital citizenship and the future of democracy’’, led by Martina Mahnke, a Course manager at ITU.
The event had 3 speakers, Martina Mahnke, Alessandro Bruni, an expert in digital elections and Anders Løvlie, an expert in debates on social media.
But before their talks could begin, we first were introduced to the day’s theme and schedule by a robot.
A stick on a wheel with a screen on top showing the face of Martina Mahnke. Instead of telling us, that technology and human work together, she demonstrated it.
Paper wins the election
In a democracy, elections are essential. But digital elections are not popular. They are simply not trustworthy enough.
Alessandro Bruni, an expert in this field, explained why we can’t trust digital elections.
‘’You tell the computer, what you want to vote – but you don’t know what the computer tells the system,’’ he explains and continues:
‘’The people don’t understand what happens when they go digital. They understand what happens when they put a cross on a piece of paper, and they put it in a container. There is a huge difference.’’
Therefore he doesn’t believe that digital elections are the future.
Overall Tech Festival reaches out to +15.000 participants, over the five days.
In the video below you can see the surroundings and get a bit of the atmosphere.