The development, interdependence and ever-increasing complexity of media and technologies has reached such a level that one comparison seems inevitable: natural evolution. New technologies emerge from old ones, computer chips auto-design the next generation of computer chips, and self-replicating robots won’t be science-fiction much longer. On top of that, neuroscience, bioinformatics, and genetic engineering erase the boundaries between the animate and the inanimate world, merging nature and technology in ways never seen before.
Describing technology in evolutionary terms as an ecosystem is more than just a metaphor. Kevin Kelly outlined the contours of this global super-organism, its life-cycles, its growth and its boundaries. The symposium discussed the consequences for us humans living alongside and within this technological organism and the ways we think about its possible and impossible futures.
The focus of Cologne Conference Futures in 2013 was “Future Biases”, exploring the scope and validity of prognostics in the field of emerging technologies. Can we know in which direction this weird creature Technology will be heading and how it will interact with humans? Is the singularity inevitable? Or are all predictions doomed to fail in light of increasing complexity, uncertainties and “black swans”? What are the blind spots in the forecast of future media and tech developments?
Speakers at CCF13 were Kevin Kelly, Dan Gardner, and Kathrin Passig.