The annual re:publica event in Berlin has revealed its official motto for 2023 as “Cash: Let’s talk about money!” The event will explore the mindset of Silicon Valley and the prepper attitudes of the super-rich. Unofficially, the motto could centre around artificial intelligence (AI) which has been the subject of a number of discussions and lectures. However, the event’s founders have called on visitors to look beyond the hype surrounding AI and to speak more softly and practically about the technology. Topics under the AI banner include generative AI and the use of AI in sports broadcasting.
While digital culture is now pervasive in most parts of modern life, there remains much work to be done to extend its reach to areas such as education and civic services. This is the opinion of Markus Beckedahl, one of the event founders. He points out that AI is already infiltrating society, creating a disparity in access to services between those who can easily engage with the technology and others who cannot.
One keynote speaker, Meredith Whittaker, the President of Signal Foundation and an AI ethical expert, was critical of the use of data by big tech. Notably, she called out OpenAI’s use of cheap labour to train ChatGPT and highlighted the potential health impact on people participating in the project. She also criticised the use of art without authorisation to train image generators. Whittaker questions the proposed hardware solution to future AI development, such as Neuralink’s chip, which Elon Musk suggests will allow humans to compete with AI.
The event covered a variety of topics beyond AI, including toilets and the question of whether poop can save the world. Film-makers Valentin Thurn and Ruben Abruna are investigating the use of legacies and nutrients in human waste. The issue of cash was also on the agenda, with Theresa Brückner drawing attention to the gender care gap and the fact that women account for 52% more care work than men. Ramona Pop of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations discussed the issue of the digital euro and how people want to pay for goods and services.