Planet Digital: In Zurich, the University and the Museum of Design are dedicated to the digital transformation.
Hubertus Design / Michael Latzer – UZH, Digital Trinity, 2021, © Animation: Hubertus Design

There was a time when the term digitisation simply referred to the conversion of analogue information into digital data. Now, everyone is aware that digitisation and artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing much of the world, raising questions like these: Can algorithms be fair? Will artificial intelligence make us all redundant? Is there a media truth? In order to make the fundamental change clear, the “Planet Digital” exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung Zurich relies on the creative collaboration of research and design. From 11 February to 6 June, Planet Digital is where computational linguistics meets interaction design, psychology meets virtual reality art and political science meets visual communication. The exhibition by the University of Zurich and the Museum of Design was realised together with the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).

In order to survey the “digital planet” and show what is behind the keyword “digital change”, the show refers to 23 current research projects and takes a close look at rare earths, gigantic server landscapes, technical gadgets and social issues. For example, in order to make the complex global connections behind the shiny surface of mobile phone technology visible, a team from the Geographical Institute of the university and the Immersive Arts Space of the ZHdK provides insights into the precarious working and living conditions of gold miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the installation “Kamituga / Digital Gold”. Behind the Scenes” also aims to take a look behind the scenes: in an “audio walk” resulting from a collaboration between a historian and a design studio, the audience can find out which algorithms and encryption technologies are necessary to make internet communication secure.

Functions of the Internet will be demonstrated by means of a photogenic lava lamp wall by two mathematicians and a visual installation by Hubertus Design. In four short films, researchers from the ZHAW, together with the non-profit organisation AlgorithmWatch Switzerland and the design studio Tristesse, will explore the question of how fair it is when automated decision support systems judge who is invited to a job interview and who is granted a loan – or how high an insurance premium should be. And the fear of surveillance is addressed by Planet Digital in a story titled “M.D. likes to drink a beer in the evening”. Works on AI in animal ecology, on the nature resemblance of machines, on computer forensics, on computer games and virtual reality to research satellites and electronic waste round off the panorama. Further information on symposia, talks, guided tours, inclusive offers and workshops can be found on the website.

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