ISIS Summit Vienna 2015
THE INFORMATION SOCIETY AT THE CROSSROADS
Response and Responsibility of the Sciences of Information
Vienna University of Technology, June 3-7, 2015
The information society has come with a promise – the promise, with the help of technology, to restore information as a commons: generated and utilised by everyone; for the benefit of every single person and all humanity; unfettered, empowering the people, truthful and reasonable, enabling constructive ways of living and a proper understanding of the environment.
The promise has not yet proven true. Instead, we face trends towards the commercialisation and commoditisation of all information; towards the totalisation of surveillance and the extension of the battlefield to civil society through information warfare; towards disinfotainment overflow; towards a collapse of the technological civilisation itself as a consequence of the vulnerability of information networks and, in the most general terms, as a consequence of ignorance of the fundamental information processes at work not only in natural systems but also in social and artificial systems.
The social and technological innovations that are intended to boost cognition, communication and co-operation are ambiguous: their potential to advance information commons is exploited for purposes of self-aggrandisement rather than concern for the overarching communities in which every human self is embedded from the family to world society. Tools – computer and other – are made for profit, power or predominance; the goal of a flourishing and thriving of humanity as a whole takes a distant second place, if it runs at all.
Thus, the information society has reached a crossroads: without significant change, business as usual can even accelerate its breakdown. A breakthrough to a global, sustainable information society must establish an information commons as a cornerstone of a programme for coping with the challenges of the information age.
Critical reflection is a task whose time has come. Today, the researchers and developers in almost every science study information processes in one respect or another, whether or not they term it information. But what is their individual and collective response to the challenges ahead? And what is their individual and collective responsibility for the consequences of their findings?
The focus of the reflection of information studies needs to be twofold:
– on the impact of the sciences of information: how can we improve the design and implementation of social and technological applications for the advancement of a viable information society and individual autonomy?
– on the foundations of the sciences of information: how can we improve the concepts we use for the study of information at all levels, from natural information processes to the information society and information technology, such that they open new vistas that allow for improved applications?
The International Society for Information Studies calls for a commitment to an on-going open discussion of all issues related to the questions named above. The gathering scheduled for June 3-7, 2015, hosted by the Faculty of Informatics at the Vienna University of Technology during its 200-year anniversary, will comprise different disciplines, fields of expertise, schools, practitioners and stakeholders and will provide opportunities for exchanges that will necessarily be inter- and transdisciplinary.
The aim is to contribute to setting the course for the future development of the information society in the desired direction by establishing a platform that facilitates working toward the construction of information as a commons. The Summit 2015 will be followed by a Summit 2017.
We invite everybody concerned, professional, layman, public figure; every research institution, company, civil society organisation; to participate already by
– suggesting to organise a conference stream, a panel, a paper session, a workshop or else on their own and take the role of a co-initiator or co-organiser;
– supporting the meeting as a partner organisation;
– becoming a sponsor of the event.
Topics to be suggested are expected to highlight constraints and enablements of developing human collective intelligence and wisdom to such an extent that the transformation into (a new) world society can be sustained. They may range from
– the evolution of information processes in nature to
– problems of information friction in scientific-technological, environmental and social (economic, political, cultural) realms.
Send your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org, in case of co-initiating or co-organisation before 17th of November, 2014. We will contact you and look forward to entering into co-operation with you.
Science and technology are part of the problem. But the sciences of information are also part of the solution!