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The Adventure Equation - 17/02

We're all still here. We guess that's something noteworthy in 2017, the year of shitty wonders. But d

The Adventure Equation

February 27 · Issue #5 · View online
Notions from around the planet by Max Krüger and Simon Höher.

We’re all still here. We guess that’s something noteworthy in 2017, the year of shitty wonders. But despite the justified outcry and ranting of the past weeks, change seems to be happening a little more slow and/or subtle than we feared. That’s okay, it gives us a some more time to figure out what to do. Like, say, reading a fun newsletter by your friends!

From 'Unnamed Road' by Korean photographer Jungjin Lee
From 'Unnamed Road' by Korean photographer Jungjin Lee
Three things we did last month
Founding a Verein:
In good ol’ German manner, we got the family together and finally made ThingsCon a legal entity (well we’re getting there at least). We did so to push forward ThingsCon’s mission to promote and advocate for a responsible IoT and move the whole thing into a more “official” and neutral position, than just “a bunch of friends”. Besides the legal stuff, this also, and more excitingly, includes more events: On March 23 we’ll have a ThingsCon Salon in Berlin, featuring Jon Rogers among others and being hosted by our friends over at Mozilla. It will coincide with the Amsterdam edition - and in April ThingsCon will head to Shenzhen (join us), where the crew from  the Netherlands is also cooking up a tour to explore the Shenzhen IoT ecosystem.
Planning a citizen future’s day in Cologne
On April 22, we’re putting together a whole day to explore desirable futures for citizens from their eyes: How do you wish to live, work, love, and play in the future? What role does your city, your family, your country or continent play in that future? And what can people, politics, or technology do for us all to get there? We’ll host a open workshop in Cologne and finish off with a ThingsCon Cologne edition that focuses on designing and thinking about technology for public spaces and processes. This project is tying into a project that started off late last year and has just been funded by the European Policy Center’s Futurelab Europe program. (yippie!) There will also be a follow up workshop in Copenhagen and a closing event in Brussels later this year. In any case: Mark your calendars, you should come!
Starting the Human Tech Radar
At the last ThingsCon in Amsterdam someone came up with the idea (we think it was Monique) to leverage our combined networks to learn and showcase what is happening in the world in terms of responsible tech with social good and human wellbeing in mind. To that extent we are starting a new newsletter. The first episode will go out in a few days, featuring emerging tech ideas, projects, and thoughts from around the globe. It is strongly suggested that you sign up immediately. You can do so here.
Never Work
Im still getting used to my new work situation and I have not been able to do much outside of this day job. I am working with a 100 year old German manufacturing company to figure out what futures full of connected technologies look like for these traditional business called the Mittelstand. To me it’s about much more than technology and smart factories. One thing that inspires me is this book about the future of work (and the absence of work) in a world going through a technological revolution. Corresponding and great is this conversation between Azeem Azhar and the author Ryan Avent. 
Something else that currently really excites me is this book on Designing for Happiness. Only two chapters are out, the rest follows until September, but I feel like it is already worth the money. She is digging into what makes us happy, not just in a hedonistic way on the surface but a more substantial, lasting, deeper happiness, which calls for a new, different approach to design. 
- Max
A student's life
I happened to be doing a lot of writing these days, for uni and work. Interestingly most of the papers and essays I wrote dealt with AI and IoT and how it impacts society. I wrote an essay for the “Trendradar”, a yearly publication by Berlin’s betterplace lab, on the potential of the IoT on development cooperation. It’ll be published in May and in German, but I’ll try and publish the gist of it soon. I also wrote about how we could introduce “AI-free zones” to safe society from becoming an unequal and unjust meritocracy. The argument was that by leaving more and more crucial decisions (who gets the job, who gets the subsidy, who gets the loan, etc.) to algorithms that calculate probabilities based on observations (rather than reason), we structurally deprive ourselves of being capable of morale, since morale needs intent and respect, and ultimately reason - genuinely human traits that our fancy AI-companions will by design never be able to possess. I uploaded a version of it on medium, check it out if you like.
While these thoughts (and this way of thinking) still feel rather accidental and mixed up, I thoroughly enjoy diving in deep in these discussions and have the time to reflect and discuss them with likeminded folks. Btw, still more papers coming up - if you got some ideas about any of this, drop me a line ;)
In other news
Lauren McCarthy came up with a brilliant and creepy and wonderful project called Follower, that basically gets you stalked by a well hidden person for a day, weird sneaky fare-well photo included.
We also loved to watch this beautiful story of the life of Sun Ra, recounted by the wonderful Little Simz. And talking about music, there are quite a few new records out these days that we should all listen to: From Thundercat to Karriem Riggins to weird Bread Music from the eighties, as well as these wonderful recordings of Sufi music from Pakistan
We really love Jungjin Lee’s images and the sense of loneliness and beauty and touch they embody.  And finally - already a little older but recently re-dediscovered and still gold is DJ Shadow’s video for Nobody Speak (and reminding us far too much of your regular news story these days).
Max & Simon
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