Recap: THE 2018

On 1 September we invited friends and accomplices from across the world to celebrate our second birthday with us and gain insights on various topics. We welcomed highly competent personalities from our broad network, including our special guest “Frieda” (6 months) as the common denominator for our obligation to future generations of human beings. We gathered around fifty people on what you could call a construction site in a multi-purpose centre next door to THE Placed on beer benches and sofas our participants could listen to three speakers and could attend a workshop about designing communities, and learn more about the student-organised digital future summit at ESMT Berlin. Here’s our recap.

Reza Ghiabi  —  aka “oppmakr” / opportunity maker
Embracing the unknown

“Dedicating my carrier to help innovation and startup culture grow in Iran, I found myself working and living in the middle of three absolutely uncertain and unknown areas, which I believe also offers a world of opportunities. On a daily basis, I have to deal with the uncertainty of the digital modern world, combined with the unknown cloud of startup works and chaotic trends of Iran’s economy”. Reza pointed out that radical openness is what, in his experience, converts the unknown into opportunities. He spoke to the audience about the history of Iran over the past fifty years and how the most recent developments have hit the country. One of the takeaways from his speech was definitely an insight into the innovative culture of Iran and how a young entrepreneur manages innovation and embraces “the unknown”.

Marc Buckley  —  SDG Associate, Climate change expert
Slingshot Effect and how we can use the Gravitational Pull of Humanity to Create Desirable Futures

Marc Buckley took the audience directly into space by showing them the first colour photographs seen of Earth by humanity, taken by the Apollo missions. “Earthrise” taken on December 24, 1968 and the image of “the blue marble” which showed the full earth taken on December 7, 1972. These represent an important moment to look back to: “If we hadn’t wondered about the universe and hadn’t had the desire to go to the moon, we would have never had the chance to look at our home from that perspective. Only through this innovation could we even “think moonshot” and about exploring outer space. We need such innovational drive to find ecological and climate-friendly solutions for all kinds of problems that we have produced”. Marc also talked about how we can use the exponential function to create sustainable innovations that use, for example, the 17 SDGs to change the world in a fast but sustainable and resilient way. Everything around (and within) is based on systems and the exponential function or growth principle. This also means that bad and unsustainable developments and actions evolve exponentially. Marc figures that if we really understand these principles, we can use them for our benefit and arrive at solutions and sustainable innovations “that can and will create beautiful and desirable futures”.

Arthur Brock  —  Social Entrepreneur & Architect of Holochain
Think Outside the Blocks: Fulfilling Blockchain’s Promise with Holochain 

Arthur Brock was absolutely clear about the crises on a planetary scale that are converging, most of which caused by humans. “We only have a brief window of time to change the patterns that cause these life-threatening problems faced by humanity.” In his keynote, Arthur Brock offered a different view on the Sustainable Development Goals and questioned in particular their underlying assumption that our current economy should continue and grow in order for sustainable development to happen. In his view, there must be not only a paradigm but a capacity shift as we know it, for example, from nature (DNA or nervous systems). Such shifts in capacity have reshaped life on the planet. “To enable a new capacity for our systems and flows, we have to change how we see currencies”. “Current-sees”, as Arthur calls them, are just a shared symbol system to shape, enable, and measure flows. It is much more than money. “Existing currencies don’t have healthy feedback loops with the carrying capacity of the natural systems of our planet. We need new current-sees with healthy feedback loops and the tools to run them collectively”, Arthur explained. He then presented a tool that is other than blockchain, actually capable to deliver the promises the trailblazer of crypto technology falsely made. Together with Eric Harris-Braun, Art developed Holochain on which the platform Holo is currently built as a first currency. Holochain will enable sustainable currencies for energy, food, housing, transportation, and healthcare within truly agent-centric networks.


 Petrissa Eckle & Marija Spokaite (sus.lab ETH Zurich) Alexander Langguth (Consultant for Sustainable Development), Paul Wöbkenberg (Ecosia; Consultant for System Change)
Reinventing communities to improve human well-being and reduce environmental impact

The experimental workshop was about eco-villages and how to redefine economic activity, resource consumption, and increase people’s happiness within these innovative new possibilities of co-living in community. After a short introduction round, things got very hands on. The group was split up and the following four topic areas discussed:

Social life, Organisation, and Governance, led by Petrissa Eckle, was about what people would want to do more of in terms of social activities and learning, along with how organisation and governance could be managed in a futuristic eco-community.

Demand and Supply of Resources, led by Alexander Langguth: The participants discussed their view on sourcing goods and services, how to pay for them and how to manage the potentially reduced demand of certain goods.

Technology challenges and solutions, curated by Paul Wöbkenberg, saw the small groups brainstorm for technology solutions in the areas of water, energy, waste, food, transportation, governance, economics, and health.

Urban planning of eco-villages was moderated by Marija Spokaite. In this section of the workshop, participants were playfully animated to sort out how the actual physical space should be constructed in futuristic communities.

In the conclusion session of the workshop the discussion was mainly focused on one question: Would eco-villages actually make you happier? The answers were as diverse as the ideas around social life in such a community. It showed one thing in particular: In the planning and construction of future co-living spaces, there must be a conversation and co-creation with the people who will live there to ensure that they are as diverse as the humans who reside in them.

Benedict Aicher & Christian Michalski presenting

Digital Future Summit at ESMT Berlin

The agenda got closed with a presentation of the Digital Future Summit of our partner organisation, ESMT (European School of Management and Technology). Christian Michalski introduced the school and its study possibilities and partners. He handed over to Benedict Aicher who introduced the Digital Future Summit at ESMT, which he co-founded during his studies. When it comes to student conferences, they are almost always organised for students. Speakers from big companies come from all over the world to share their knowledge with the next business generation. However, at the Digital Future Summit, the organisation takes another approach. Benedict Aicher shared the beginnings of DFS: “The big companies were actually not interested in spreading their stories, trends and learnings, they were interested in what the young generation had to say and how they could engage with them”. At DSF, the students organise the conference for students and the big companies and c-level speakers are primarily there to witness and learn. It was a special honour for us to have ESMT and all the speakers with us at THE