Man & Machine - Back to Nature with more Artificial Intelligence?


Climate crisis and an increasingly digital world - will this combination end up being a curse or a blessing for our planet? Can the solution be even more digitalization? We will be exploring these questions in our event "Man & Machine - Back to Nature with more Artificial Intelligence?" on April 25, 2024 from 4 p.m. at the ECDF.

Our guest Prof. Martin Maier from the Laboratory for optical Zeitgeist at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Montreal, Canada, will give a short lecture titled "'Born to Be Wild' - The Internet as Cybernetic Forest: How Bio-Inspired Human-AI Interaction Helps Us Exit the Anthropocene". In particular, he will discuss whether we are currently undergoing a historical change of direction from adapting nature to our species to adapting our species back to nature and thus leaving the industrial age and the associated Anthropocene behind us as a society. Are we entering a cyborganic age in which high-tech - digitalization and AI, which will become the most powerful cognitive tool on earth - and no-tech - the earth's natural systems - are combined in a novel, harmonious way; in which the AI we use is no longer human-centric but incorporates the many other possibilities of natural intelligence, especially with regard to generative AI?

Maier argues that both our age and the AI we use should no longer be human-centric, but that its main benefit should be that it is different from us humans. Instead of humanizing AI, we should alienate it, paving the way for a new, non-anthropocentric kind of alien AI, where life-like digital organisms that emerge from existing AI produce clever solutions that AI researchers would not have considered or thought impossible. For Maier, the convergence of digital evolution with biology represents an opportunity that can enable machines to teach humans new perspectives and new ways of thinking that circumvent our conceptual dead ends (e.g. climate change) through bio-inspired human-AI interaction. Maier, who holds a PhD from TU Berlin, presents novel ideas such as the cybernetic forest and nature-inspired NaturAlien AI, as alternative systems.


The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion:

  • Prof. Martin Maier (Scientific Director of the Optical Zeitgeist Laboratory of the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Montreal, Canada )
  • Prof. Felix Biessmann (Professor of Data Science and Machine Learning at the ECDF and the Berlin University of Applied Sciences)
  • Prof. Philipp Staab (Professor of Sociology of Work, Economy and Technological Change at the ECDF and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
  • Prof. Kim Albrecht (Professor of Data Analytics and Audiovisual Media at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, Principal metaLAB (at) Harvard & Berlin)
  • Moderation: Samira Franzel, ECDF


Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to network over snacks and drinks, as well as to view the exhibition "Unblackboxing - Artistic investigations into digital realms of exploitation and control" in the ECDF foyer for the last time. The exhibition deals with the conditions of digital societies and how aesthetic interventions offer a space for critical reflection.

To register for the event, please send a short email to Ulla Menzel at The language of the event is English.