“May you live in interesting times!” runs a famous curse. And there is certainly nothing boring about the world we now live in. In the past twelve months, we have been absorbing the implications of the Russo-Ukrainian war and managing its economic fallout. But the world has also been grappling with the advances in Artificial Intelligence. ChatGPT and other highly complex programs mimicking human neural networks threaten to turn society upside down. The promise of these technologies is enormous, but so is the temptation to outsource human creativity to machines.
These moments of dramatic and rapid change often produce not only the most colorful but also the most dangerous characters, promising easy political and economic routes out of the crisis: simple solutions which deny complexity; seeking scapegoats, the closing down of reasoned discourse, and a retreat from collective approaches in favor of narrow winner-takes-all solutions.
At this year’s Vienna Humanities Festival, we are looking at promises made in the past––some realized, some revealed as fantasy and even nightmare. We look at the promises being made right now: how to escape war; how to manage economic decline; how to battle climate change; how to resist autocracy and intolerance. We will ask which solutions being offered are illusions and which offer real hope.
Some of the world’s leading writers, artists, scientists, economists, and public intellectuals consider how we might free ourselves from the anxiety which pervades contemporary society, fulfill our promises and avoid temptation.
For more information go to: Vienna Humanities Festival 2023
For programm information go to: PROGRAMM 2023 | VIENNA HUMANITIES FESTIVAL
The Vienna Humanities Festival is a joint project by the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) and Time to Talk. In cooperation with: Falter, Open Society Foundations, Stadt Wien, Erste Stiftung, Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien and Volkstheater.
Cover picture: Illustration by Blagovesta Bakardjieva.