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#rC3 - Current news of Bits&Trees (Bits & Bäume)

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    Wikipaka preroll music
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    Rainer: Hello, welcome. I hope it's not
    strange that the introduction was actually
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    in German, although the talks will be held
    in English, but I think this was announced
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    that way in the schedule. OK, so welcome
    to the Bits&Bäume movement for
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    digitalization, sustainability, the
    current news of Bits&Trees. Just to make
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    the pun complete, I changed the
    translation of Bits&Bäume to Bits&Trees.
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    So what are we talking about today? First,
    I want to introduce myself, then I want to
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    talk about some of the topics we are
    dealing with in Bits&Bäume, and then I
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    will describe the initial conference in
    2019, then the demands that came out of
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    this conference. And then I will describe
    the movement that grew out of the
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    conference, and then I will outline some
    ways to act, which then hopefully guides
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    perfectly into the discussion. So first to
    myself, I'm Rainer Rehak, I have a
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    background in computer science and
    philosophy, I work at the Weizenbaum
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    Institute for the Networked Society as a
    researcher, and I'm active in the forum
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    Computer Professionals for Peace and
    Social Responsibility. And I was co-
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    initiating the Bits&Bäume conference. Just
    one word in advance regarding the framing
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    of and for environmentalism,
    sustainability. I'm not so much in favor
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    of the framing that we have to protect
    nature, because the Earth does not really
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    care about the human beings. So, of
    course, once the humans are gone, it just
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    needs a certain hundred thousands of years
    and then everything is OK again. So I
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    think it's really important to say what
    we're talking about, what we're protecting
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    is also our livelihoods. So we all live in
    symbiosis. And you could, in a technical
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    way, say that nature provides services, we
    live and we need to learn to live. So you
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    can see nature as its own value, of
    course, but we're actually just fighting
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    for survival. So this is just to make this
    clear. So, the topics. So what is the
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    whole thing with digitalization and
    sustainability about? Well, first, I would
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    consider digitalization somehow the
    computerization, algorithmization and
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    datafication that takes place all across
    the world. A computerization means really
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    Hardware put everywhere, IoT and such
    things. Algorithmization and datafication,
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    I think, are pretty clear terms here. In
    terms of sustainability, I want to talk
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    about the ecological, economical, social
    and maybe informational sustainability
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    here. So you could say, sustainability
    means a stable condition somehow with a
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    good life, that provides a good life for
    everyone. But first, I start with the
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    ecological sustainability. Maybe some data
    on the material footprint of the digital
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    systems we're using: one percent of the
    global emissions are online videos. That's
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    80 percent of all data traffic. If you add
    hardware and everything, you are maybe
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    around a few percent to use for those
    systems. Maybe one gigabyte in transfer
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    traffic needs around 2.06 kWh. So that's
    kind of one hour of Netflix. It's a half
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    an hour, 30 watt light bulb, plus minus.
    However, if we take the example of
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    Netflix, they try to be CO2 neutral by
    themselves. But of course, there are
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    intermediaries which cannot be controlled.
    So we see it's not that easy just to say,
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    you know, I try to be neutral. Some people
    say Google uses the same amount of energy
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    as the city of San Francisco. At one
    point, Google says they have 40 percent
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    energy saving applied right now. However,
    the rebound effect kicks in. If you say
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    that maybe one hundred new data centers
    are being built. So it's really, really
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    not so easy to count those numbers. I
    mean, in Germany, there are data centers
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    that last year took the energy of four
    medium sized coal fired power plants,
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    according to Bitkom and that's maybe 10
    percent of the electricity generation in
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    Germany for Internet related things. So
    what I'm trying to say here is that all
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    those numbers, you can always, it's not so
    easy to put a clear number on consumption
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    if we take energy production into account.
    If it's all renewably created, wo where is
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    the problem? But still we have the
    hardware. Where does it come from? And so
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    all those questions are quite, quite
    complex. On the other hand, you could also
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    say increasing online usage, of course,
    online banking is increasing. But on the
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    other hand, you may need less branch
    offices, but maybe the back office is the
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    same. The same question applies with
    physical meetings or video conferences,
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    which we have right now the topic. Of
    course, people are maybe then more in home
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    office, less traveling, less office use.
    But on the other hand, and it's not a very
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    small point, you have heating costs and
    electricity generation on another place
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    and another spot maybe with different
    kinds of hardware because of digitization,
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    new behaviors emerge. So you can't really
    say, you know, it's not so easy to say if
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    this gets less, this gets more. So those
    are complicated aspects. And so what I'm
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    trying to say here is it's not so easy if
    we look at certain small aspects to see if
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    it's good or not. But we have to we have
    to put the target. We have to put a goal
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    in the terms of ecological sustainability
    this is, right now we have emissions and
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    that's the 66 percent chance for 1.5
    degrees with a certain budget right now.
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    That means this budget, if we take
    business as usual, we have around eight
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    years time globally and then we have to
    cut to zero to stay within this limits.
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    And you can also, if you like, not
    factually argument, but politically argue
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    to stay within the Paris agreement, which
    limits the emissions. And so this is the
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    goal. The goal is not: How can we save it
    a little bit here, a little bit there. But
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    we have to look at those indicators. But
    of course, the other aspect of
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    sustainability, and this is where it gets
    really interesting. It gets really
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    interesting, for our movement or for the
    idea, because we have the informational
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    world connected to economic and social and
    informational sustainability. So as I said
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    before, we shifting our lives into
    technical dependency somehow. We need
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    digital infrastructures that are
    independent from individual use. We have
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    data information on knowledge, that's
    being reflected within all those digital
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    infrastructures. So how do we deal with
    this? What does sustainability mean in
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    this aspect? Concerning also the software
    we use and also concerning political
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    processes that are maybe enabled by
    technology and also what technology has to
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    be made more part of democratic
    negotiation processes. You could also look
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    at, for example, Internet and advertising,
    where right now the ad industry is just
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    used for increased consumption. So you see
    a very clear connection here between
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    sustainability and digitalization. And
    this also part of us always constantly
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    using new devices if the old ones break or
    if they're not usable anymore. So resource
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    consumption as a whole, which is a problem
    and which is directly at the corner of
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    digitization and sustainability. But we
    can also look at the digital rights
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    management - is repairing allowed, sharing
    allowed, and we look at the economic parts
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    of Monopoly's privacy and surveillance.
    What does it mean when there's a lot of
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    power over societies and individuals? How
    does it influence democratic processes?
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    This is also directly in the middle of
    those two topics. So you could also say
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    there is a representative crisis in
    democracy, since many people support a
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    shift to sustainability, but somehow it
    doesn't reflect in policies. So that's a
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    big problem. And we also come to
    problematic questions like if free
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    software was everywhere, but we should
    have a look at how this free software is
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    being created. If this is a hobby project
    of a person, then it's definitely real
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    reliability. But this is, of course, not a
    problem of free software. But how could we
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    create an environment where free software
    is the norm and where the people who work
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    there are not close to burnout all the
    time. So how to create stable communities?
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    This is also something to learn from the
    sustainability folks. Yeah, other aspects
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    are maybe electricity and transport grids
    that needs to be updated and changed
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    according to sustainability goals. A lot
    of IT is needed there. And if we take,
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    let's say the IT people into those
    discussions which are already there, of
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    course. But that doesn't make it so easy
    for the sustainability people to fall for
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    the usual blockchain and AI scam. As a
    last interesting topic is maybe trade
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    agreements. Where usually more and more
    there is IT policy included. And those are
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    questions of sovereignty and control,
    especially for the countries in the global
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    south. So we see that's not connected
    here, if we open this box, yeah, this box.
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    So interestingly, we somehow know what to
    do. But the climb... so we need to limit
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    global warming by limiting emissions.
    Maybe some people suggest CO2 budgets or
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    caps, we need to abolish subsidies, roll
    out renewable energies. We need more
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    sustainable mobility concepts, maybe
    vegetarian food, regional, seasonal, down
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    to changing the whole economic system. And
    in all those aspects, we see
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    digitalization plays a crucial role there.
    How do we internalize externalities, how
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    do we break up monopolies? I mean, we see
    that right now with Facebook, with Google,
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    with all of those big companies. Is it a
    problem with tech or is it problem with
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    monopolies or is it a combination of both?
    And we also should ask with the
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    application of technology, is the use
    case, does it really help with
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    sustainability? We all know the paperless
    office, which now has more paper than
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    before. So obviously computers did not
    help in this aspect. But those are the
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    points where we need to take a closer look
    at what technological solutions actually
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    provide. On the social level that we have
    to stop exploitation, check about fair
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    distribution of benefits of productivity.
    And finally, informational, we have to
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    take data protection seriously. Maybe you
    think about Commons based peer production
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    and software, but then also other digital
    goods and think about free knowledge, open
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    knowledge and free cultural products,
    saying that free always doesn't mean it
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    doesn't have to, doesn't mean that it
    doesn't have to cost anything. But it's
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    not restricting. So as you might see now,
    this is very, very complex. This was a
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    very, very complex bunch of questions. And
    so at one point, a group of people decided
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    to make a conference in 2018, maybe a
    small view backwards. So a group of
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    organizations found each other, I could
    saym I don't want to read all of them
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    right now, but the idea was to bring
    together environmental folks, the hackers
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    and techies and the development folks to
    talk exactly about those topics, so that
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    everyone could bring in their abilities
    and their knowledge and then to get in
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    contact with each other and connect the
    communities. With the goal of common,
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    livable future for all and to work for
    all. Of course, that includes a clean
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    atmosphere and that also needs a clean
    data atmosphere. OK. So. OK. So the idea
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    was then the reflection on the relation of
    digitalization and sustainability, but
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    also sustainability strategies for
    projects and also to bring in ideas like
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    conivial technology. Especially
    interesting I found the discussion about
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    the means and purpose relationship. You
    could say digitalization is a mean and
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    sustainability maybe is a purpose. So like
    growth, which is not an end in itself, but
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    it should help. But if it doesn't help, we
    should stop it. And the same question you
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    could make for digitalization in certain
    aspects. Because right now, how we
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    digitally do this, this kind of
    digitization, it's just putting oil to the
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    fire. But of course, the question is not
    yes, no, but what do we do and how do we
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    do it? Do we use centralized systems or
    decentralized systems and all of those
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    questions. Yes, and as a result of this
    conference, there were some concrete
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    demands that came out, I don't want to go
    into details of all of them, you can check
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    them out on the website. But the first
    point was social-ecological objectives and
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    the design of digitalization. So social,
    environmental and development policy as
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    well as peace objectives should be part of
    the direction where we're going to talk
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    about technology, so we can shape it as we
    need it. And it should also foster human
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    rights, climate protection goals, as well
    as the end of hunger and poverty, because
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    this is the ultimate goal. And all the
    other demands, you can you can check out
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    yourself later. As you see, it goes from
    data protection, monopoly's, democracy,
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    education. So all the questions somehow
    I've been addressing before, we try to put
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    it in a shape that's easy to understand.
    So it's a small leaflet, actually, and
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    it's supported by, at least in Germany,
    major organizations from the Hacker area
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    and the tech area and also the
    sustainability and ecological area. So I'm
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    not going into those details right now.
    But the question was then, OK, we can't
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    control and we don't want to control this
    thing. So that's why we said: Everyone can
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    use the Bits&Bäume label as they please,
    if they adhere to some of our rules, you
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    have to work in the direction of the
    digitalization of sustainability. You have
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    to concentrate on the science and civil
    society as we know that companies and
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    especially politicians have their
    platforms already. So we want to give a
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    voice to the less heard and in our view,
    more competent actors. Most of the time,
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    if you support the demands and you live
    the motto, so you organize those events
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    according to those principles, anyone can
    use Bits&Bäume label as they want. We have
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    the local material under free licenses.
    You can ask for help under bewegung@bits-
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    und-baeume.org if you like, and the result
    was overwhelming. We have branches, pun
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    intended, in Dreseden, in Berlin, in
    Hannover, in Dortmund, Osnabrück, Köln.
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    And you have, they come from different
    areas: Some are closer to the chaos
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    family. Some are closer to the Open
    Knowledge foundation family. Some are
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    coming just from university backgrounds.
    Some come from all kinds of backgrounds.
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    We have mailing lists, a forum, a matrix
    chat, there's even an assembly here at
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    rC3. You can check it out if you find it.
    It's always part of the game. And today at
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    nine, there will also be a Matrix chat.
    You can find all this on the website. You
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    can check out the videos of the conference
    that have been taking place and yeah, so
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    that's s kind of the whole movement,
    that's why it got decentralized and it's a
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    really good idea, as it turned out. So
    finally, we get to the last point, the way
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    to act. Well, of course, individual action
    is good. You know, if you say I want to be
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    streaming with less of resolution, that's
    totally fine. But it's always clear to
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    state that there's a structural problem
    here. We have a total asymmetry, with a
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    lot of subsidies, making the cheapest and
    the most easy option for everything from
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    food to electronics, the actually most
    dangerous one for climate, for avoiding a
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    global warming. And so this is something
    that really needs to stop and needs to be
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    changed in policy. But that shouldn't stop
    us from also starting with small
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    experimental projects, with large
    projects, with software projects, shape
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    local groups, go to regular tables what we
    should organize somehow. And you can come,
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    of course, to Bits&Bäume in those
    different cities if you want, or connect
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    to the online events. And sometimes maybe
    it's OK to just switch off the computer
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    and go outside, but I want to finish with
    a quote from Joseph Weizenbaum: "The
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    question is not how digitalization changes
    society, but how society uses
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    digitalization." And we try to suggest one
    way of making it usable globally for a
  • 19:49 - 19:55
    good life for all. And I hope that was not
    too much and too fast. But now I'm happy
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    to get feedback and questions if there are
    any. Thanks a lot.
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    Herald: Hi, I hope you can hear me,
    Rainer. Thank you very much for your talk.
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    Right now, asking again on the charts and
    on social media to post questions about
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    your talk, maybe we can begin. So did you
    expect this to become some kind of a
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    distributed movement, something that
    started from one from event, really?
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    Rainer: We have actually not planned this,
    but later on, we found out that it's
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    impossible to, first, to contain it, which
    we also don't want. But it's also not
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    possible to coordinate this because some
    of us are volunteers, especially in the
  • 20:48 - 20:55
    tech area. So this is just not possible.
    And I mean, decentralization is always a
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    good thing, and it's why we put up those
    principles. But from the beginning on,
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    that was not the idea. But somehow it got
    to life. And it turns out it was a good
  • 21:05 - 21:10
    idea because at least in the German
    speaking area, this label has become
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    something like an indicator for certain
    discourse, if we think, for example, Silke
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    Helfrich, she organized a project 10 years
    ago - jeans, fights and emissions - that
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    always already tried this, but then they
    came different names and different
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    discourses. So it was hard to trace that
    back. But maybe it works that this kind of
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    open label also helps that people who work
    on those same issues also find each other
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    better somehow.
    Herald: So we got a question on the chat:
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    Jian is asking: Does this mean that there
    are no big Bits&Bäume conferences in the
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    near future?
    Rainer: No, that does not mean that. It's,
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    uh, let's say, there might certainly be a
    big conference in the future. But this
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    should not keep anyone from organizing
    small ones or other big ones, but let's
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    say, some seeds might be already planted
    and let's see what's happening.
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    Herald: That's good. We have another
    question coming up right now, and I seem
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    to have lost it - no. Are there any
    distributed online events or meetups, one
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    could join, I think, you went into this a
    bit in the end. But maybe you could repeat
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    that where people who are more interested
    in this can actually meet others.
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    Rainer: Yes, definitely. Not only because
    of the pandemic situation right now, but
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    there are meet ups planned also for 2021-
    but of course not that long anymore. And
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    you could check out on the website. And
    it's on the website up there, there is the
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    connection to the forum and to the Matrix
    chat, and there we will - not we, I'm also
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    not that connected, but I know it will
    take place - there you can find the
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    connection to those local tables and the
    plan for 2021 is to have one, a bigger
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    exchange that goes just across the cities.
    And I think this is the place to go to
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    check it. But this is definitely in plan
    and this is some good idea.
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    Herald: So, I mean, you did this talking
    English right now, despite this being
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    something that originated in Germany here,
    what's basically the internationalization
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    idea you have in mind?
    Rainer: Exactly. So the idea was somehow
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    that a lot of the work we've been doing
    and coordinating, I see that it's
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    necessary to distribute this to somehow
    say, hey, people have been thinking about
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    this already. And for example, in the
    conference 2018 already, the talks, all of
  • 24:16 - 24:21
    the talks have been translated to English
    as well. So if you check, also at
  • 24:21 - 24:28
    media.ccc.de, you can always choose the
    language track English. And but I just or
  • 24:28 - 24:34
    we just noticed that this was nice for the
    people who have been there. But it has not
  • 24:34 - 24:40
    been brought attention, so this is just an
    idea to maybe find others who've been
  • 24:40 - 24:46
    working into this in this direction to see
    that there are other initiatives working
  • 24:46 - 24:58
    and that to join powers and somehow try to
    steer the ship into a more sunny direction
  • 24:58 - 25:01
    again.
    Background Noise
  • 25:01 - 25:08
    Rainer: I can't hear you talking right
    now.
  • 25:08 - 25:17
    Herald: Sorry, I didn't want to. OK, I'll
    just say again, I wanted to say there's
  • 25:17 - 25:22
    another question coming in. Coolish is
    asking: Where can I see some of the
  • 25:22 - 25:27
    projects that took place in the past two
    years since conference? I guess the
  • 25:27 - 25:32
    answer, again, is your website, maybe.
    Rainer: Yes, it's partly, but it's partly
  • 25:32 - 25:44
    a bit distributed. At first, the website
    is a good start. But, let me see, there
  • 25:44 - 25:51
    have been conferences in Dresden, for
    example, which you can access via the
  • 25:51 - 25:56
    website - dresden.bits-und-baeume.org -
    you can find the documentation there. Um,
  • 25:57 - 26:03
    but I think the forum would be a good idea
    to ask there if you can't find all those
  • 26:03 - 26:08
    other things. And also smaller events like
    on the Internet Governance Forum 2019,
  • 26:08 - 26:15
    where we were present on the Great
    Transformation Conference or the Forum,
  • 26:15 - 26:20
    which takes place every three months,
    which is a discussion format in Berlin,
  • 26:22 - 26:28
    always to certain topics, and we try to
    somehow announce it on the website to get
  • 26:28 - 26:34
    this together. But as I said, if people
    would like to join, we're happy if you're
  • 26:34 - 26:38
    a visionary and bring in your ideas and
    your content, that's really great. But
  • 26:38 - 26:42
    with all projects, it's also nice if you
    say, well, I actually think it's
  • 26:42 - 26:46
    interesting what's happening there. I
    don't have the big vision, but I'm happy
  • 26:46 - 26:51
    with tracing what has been happening and
    putting it in our history log in the
  • 26:51 - 26:56
    calendar, which we already have in a very
    basic structure, this is also greatly
  • 26:56 - 27:02
    helped so that other people don't have to
    do this work twice. So that's why we will
  • 27:02 - 27:09
    find some of them on the website, but not
    all of it. But we're happy if it was
  • 27:10 - 27:15
    archived in a more structured way.
    Herald: Yeah, that's also always very
  • 27:15 - 27:19
    important with community work to put in
    the hours and actually do the archiving
  • 27:19 - 27:23
    work so that it's preserved for anything
    that comes up later.
  • 27:23 - 27:31
    Rainer: Yes. Just as a comment, this is a
    classic example as well of sustainability.
  • 27:31 - 27:36
    Like how do you create a sustainable
    project or a sustainable community? Of
  • 27:36 - 27:43
    course, if new people come in, where do
    they start? You need some kind of memory
  • 27:43 - 27:48
    for this in an organizational way. And so
    this is a very interesting instance of
  • 27:48 - 27:54
    what sustainability also can mean. It
    doesn't always have to be some crazy new
  • 27:54 - 27:58
    ideas. But if we think about the digital
    archiving and all those questions, this is
  • 27:58 - 28:02
    all part of it, of getting a livable
    digital environment.
  • 28:02 - 28:09
    Herald: Thank you so much, Rainer. I think
    that's all the questions we have from the
  • 28:09 - 28:14
    audience tonight. Sorry again for doing
    the introduction in German. I was just in
  • 28:14 - 28:20
    my mind coming from that. But anybody in
    the audience, if you can't find
  • 28:20 - 28:24
    Bits&Bäume, because you don't know how to
    spell it in German, you can try to get it,
  • 28:24 - 28:29
    if you find Wikipaka, that's our name on
    Twitter. And we have a new website we just
  • 28:29 - 28:36
    built today, wikipaka.wtf. Basically just
    click on anything you'll be linked through
  • 28:36 - 28:40
    to our Fahrplan, to our digital schedule,
    where you will find information about this
  • 28:40 - 28:45
    talk and all the links that Rainer
    provided. So this will get you the
  • 28:45 - 28:50
    information you need.
    Rainer: And go to the assembly in the rC3
  • 28:50 - 28:54
    world. So we are there as well.
    Herald: Oh, yes. Yeah. So please come and
  • 28:54 - 28:59
    find the Bits&Bäume assembly in the rC3
    world if you have a ticket. Thank you so
  • 28:59 - 29:11
    much.
  • 29:11 - 29:13
    Wikipaka postroll music
  • 29:13 - 29:17
    Subtitles created by c3subtitles.de
    in the year 2021. Join, and help us!
Title:
#rC3 - Current news of Bits&Trees (Bits & Bäume)
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Video Language:
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Duration:
29:10

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