IxDA Berlin #62 “Design or Decoration?” – Aral Balkan

I am a business that makes money by tracking every move you, your family, and your loved ones make, both online and offline. I aggregate and store that information forever. I continuously analyse every piece of it to profile you and understand you better. I do all this to exploit my intimate insight into your life to manipulate your behaviour for profit and to satisfy my political needs.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Hi, my name is Google.
And Facebook.
And Snapchat… (should I go on?)

The business model of mainstream technology (the Silicon Valley model) is based on farming people. The goal is to create a digital copy of you, own that copy, and exploit it as an invaluable proxy to manipulate your behaviour. (Oh, and by the way, sometimes we’ll also share our insight with repressive governments and spy agencies too.) This business model is a core pillar of the socio-techno-economic system we call surveillance capitalism. It is inherently exploitative, unethical, and incompatible with human rights or democracy.

If the core of our business – the way we make money – is unethical, how can we expect our products to be ethical? The answer is, we can’t. Design without ethics is decoration.

Thankfully, the Silicon Valley model is just one possible way to build technology. There are alternative – ethical – ways to design and build technologies that are decentralised, free and open, and interoperable.

The nature of the technologies we build and adopt determine no less than the type of society we live in today and in the future. Is that an authoritarian, feudal society ruled by monolithic all-knowing corporations or a democracy? If you want to help build and live in the latter future, this talk show you how to get started on the right path. Come with an open mind, prepare to question everything you know, and to learn an eye- opening and ethical new way to design and build technology.

For the full event details see

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