Digitisation is profoundly changing our cultural experience, not only in terms of new technology-based access, production and dissemination, but also in terms of participation and creation, and learning and partaking in a knowledge society.

Digitisation must be accompanied by enlightened cultural policies, if opportunities for access and participation, individual and collective creativity are to be fully used. The 2013 Ministerial Conference on Culture highlighted the importance of users’ individual and collective needs vis-à-vis digital media. It hinted at risks for European cultural diversity and the need for adequate conditions for cultural content production and creativity in the digital age.

The Council of Europe, in partnership with its member States is dedicating itself to developing such policies by offering a multi-stakeholder platform for the exchange of experience and good practice to policy makers, leading researchers, practitioners and civil society. The platform events produce insights for policy orientations and Council of Europe guidelines to ensure democracy and human rights for citizens in the digital era. A Council of Europe Recommendation on the Internet of Citizens has been issued in February 2016. Its focus is on  (1) the modernization of cultural institutions; (2) the empowerment of citizens as consumers, creators and prosumers and (3) fostering multi-literacy skills education for access to, creation and management of digital culture. A Council of Europe Recommendation on Big Data for Culture, Literacy and Democracy was adopted in autumn 2017. It stresses, in particular,  that everyone can choose to remain inscrutable in the digital age and therefore to not have predictions made by algorithmic decision making about their cultural attributes, preferences and behaviours. Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)10 adopted in November 2018 on Culture’s contribution to strengthening the internet as an emancipatory force emphasises the potential of digital culture and arts as a means of fostering digitally and democratically competent and creative citizens.

Four Platform Events were held: in Baku (2014),  Linz (2015), Tallinn (2016) and Karlsruhe (2017). The 4th Council of Europe Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitisation “Empowering Democracy through Culture – Digital Tools for Culturally Competent Citizens”  took place at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media on 19-20 October 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition “Open Code – Living in Digital Worlds”.

An expert seminar on Culture, Creativity and Artificial Intelligence (E-relevance of Culture in the Age of AI) took place in Rijeka on 12-13 October 2018 in the framework of the Croatian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It looked at orientations for working towards a culture of responsible innovation, empowering citizens and laying the foundations for the emergence of a modern Leonardo da Vinci. Questions for debate included:

  • How can culture maintain its important enlightenment role in a time where AI already heavily impacts (and indeed creates) culture?
  • Can it contribute to a more human- and citizen-centred technological future by proposing and developing alternative concepts?
  • How does AI impact on the perception of human uniqueness/genius, the role of artists, intellectual property?

The event also hosted the exhibition opening of Anatomy of an AI System, a map that guides through the birth, life and death of an individual networked device based on a centralised artificial intelligence system, created by Vladan Joler, Share Foundation founder and Professor at the University of Novi Sad.

Articles on Culture and Digitisation