Cologne Conference Futures

6.-7. October 2014, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum


In cooperation with the Institute for Media and Communications Policy, the Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur, the Deutsche Telekom’s Shareground, the Foundation Mercator, with the City of Cologne and with support from WDR – Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln.


The Present Shock and the Legend of the »Digital Society«

Currently, we experience, in a very practical and unique sense, the aftermath of a technological change that was foreshadowed by the development of information theory and cybernetics in the 1940s. Universal and mobile computerisation, intensified surveillance by a military intelligence apparatus, extraordinarily profitable data corporations of a new kind, especially in the United States – all of this does not only concern enterprises, governments or trend researchers, but every individual. Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff refers to this cluster of opportunities and problems as »Present Shock«, thereby expanding Alvin Toffler’s famous notion of the »Future Shock« from 1970.

The international symposium Cologne Conference Futures (CCF) provides a platform for discussing how this Present Shock (Rushkoff: »Why everything happens now«) can be explained by analyses of media and technological evolution. The current debates on »digitalisation« often don’t sufficiently specify the technological, sociological and politico-economic vectors – for example when using the popular but highly problematic phrase of a »digital society«.

For the third time, the Cologne Conference Futures will take place at the Stiftersaal of Cologne’s Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, offering an exchange of ideas with highly esteemed speakers, such as technology historian George Dyson (»Turing’s Cathedral«) and Oxford professor Nick Bostrom (»Superintelligence«). A concluding discussion will debate the geopolitical effects of new power structures in the global information and communication economy, and raise the question whether a »European identity« can and should exist inside this complex.

Montag, October 6

10.00-13.30 UhrOpening/Introduction

10.30-11.45 Uhr, Presentation
»Memes, Tremes and the Future of Consciousness«
Susan Blackmore

11.45-12:12 Uhr, Coffee Break

12.15-13.30 Uhr, Presentation
»From Analog to Digital and Back«
George Dyson

13.30-15.00 Uhr, Lunch

15.00-17.00 Uhr, Presentation
»Superintelligence«
Nick Bostrom

Dienstag, 07. Oktober

10.00-10.15 Uhr, Introduction

10.15-11.30 Uhr, Presentation
»As We May Communicate: Media Imprints on the Techno-Social Construction of Future Culture«
Gundolf S. Freyermuth

11.30-13.00 Uhr, Panel Discussion
»Europa und die Geopolitik des Internets«
Moderated by Hans-Jürgen Jakobs, Handelsblatt
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hagen
Matthias Machnig
Dr. Ulrike Guerot