Dr. Christoph Schneider
Democratized technology, digitization for the many and not the few - this is the vision Christoph Schneider works on. The real possibility of a democratic leap, which combines with the technical possibilities of the present drives him. The exuberant technical fantasy could still be obtained with a newly found democratic-visionary fantasy. To do this, Schneider co-coordinates the programmatic work of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (www.diem25.org) on technological sovereignty. The transnational movement sets itself the task of designing the visions and programs for a radical upgrade of European democracies - politically, socially, ecologically, economically and digitally we need to continue to think the horizons of democratic action. Together with a growing number of new progressive forces, DiEM25 designs democratic visions against the neoliberal alleged lack of alternatives. Also on how democratic spaces of opportunity contain the digital monopoly and platform capitalism and democratically designed alternatives can arise. In order to democratize technologies, the rights of citizens may be further considered, the private ownership of data transferred into digital commons, and public subsidies distributed through democratic crowdfunding. If we change the structures and processes of technological innovation, digital technologies for the common good can be promoted, which in turn can be action and power resources for the further development of democracy.
Schneider also establishes the German-speaking think tank network Center for Emancipatory Technology Research (emancipatory.technology), in which critical utopian researchers come together to explore the possibilities of an emancipatory technology policy. Individual and collective self-determination and the possibilities of post-capitalist organizational forms of technologies are the guiding principles of the network.
As a sociologist, Schneider works at the Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis in Karlsruhe. There he explores visions of the future of digital technologies and utopias on technological and societal change as well as their role in transformations and political movements. Since utopia is always practical, it has to become "concrete", so Schneider was involved in setting up FabLab Karlsruhe e.V. Furthermore, he works independently as a consultant for digital social innovations (www.zukuenfte.digital) and supports individuals and organizations in implementing human-centered and philanthropic future concepts for digitization.
Upgrading Democracy: Democratising Technology
Our democracies urgently need an upgrade. The version of democracy that we are trying to govern our lives with is no longer up to date. Entwined with the neoliberal crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of technological change is a deep crisis of democracy. In the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) thousands of activists are working on the upgrade of European democracy. At the heart of our democratic endeavor lies collectively envisioning desirable futures for Europe and developing the progressive policy agenda that can get us there from the here and now. As part of this agenda we are proud to be the first large-scale social movement that envisions the democratization of technologies as a necessary upgrade to any viable democracy in the 21st century. Technologies have become central to the ways power operates and shapes our lives. Technologies are political and we need to democratize this power for the many to become able to collectively design our future. Bringing technology within the democratic horizon is an effort of the imagination that needs to be able to change how we see technology and its relations to our lives. Through imagination we can start to see and how we own and govern technology differently, democratically. It is the so far undemocratic imaginative power of technologies to re-design our lives that we need to surpass. However, we can also learn from the technological possibilities for democratic means: Upgrades can build on what exists and create whole new versions by adding new functions. In my talk I will present the visionary new functions of democracy for technology that we imagine in DiEM25 and the ways to get there.