Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling from TOA Berlin 2017

I already wrote about TOA Berlin and the different satellite events I also took part in. I remember how tired I was getting to Berlin late and then being on stage early doors with the multiple changes on public transport, I should have just taken a cab really.

No idea what was up with my voice, but it certainly sounds a little odd.

Anyhow lots of interesting ideas were bunched into the slide deck, and certainly caused a number of long conversations afterwards.

Loving my first Tech Open Air Berlin

TOA Berlin

I was invited to talk at Tech Open Air Berlin (TOA Berlin) a while ago and the week of the event came around much quicker than I thought it would. Because of plans a while before, I had planned to be London to pick up my Estonian e-residency card, go to a semi-internal BBC AI event, visit “into the unknown” at the Barbican and host a lecture about Databox in R&D London (phew!). It became clear it was better to fly from London Gatwick to Berlin and fly back to Manchester (I couldn’t work out how long it would take to get to Stanstead and Ryan Air worked out more expensive once I factored in luggage). This did meaning 3 hotels over 6 days but it was acceptable in my head.

When I finally flew over to Berlin, the storms delayed the flight and when I finally made it to the hotel I was exhausted but noticed that I hadn’t sent my presentation to TOA or at least my updated version. So spent quite a bit of time checking my email to make sure.

I was on at 10:10am in the main conference and was pretty tired by the time I made my way to the venue which was way in the east and required a few changes from Rosenthaler Platz to Funkhaus Berlin Nalepastrasse. On arrival I was taken to the buzzing speakers lounge where I met Laura, who helped sort things out with some serious help from the tech support guy.

Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling

A look at how Human and AI-powered creativity can be combined to build better storytelling

I felt the talk went ok, but it wasn’t my best because I took too long giving only room for 2 questions from the moderator. I certainly felt if it was a hour or so later it would have been far better. Regardless, it was captured and should be on the TOA Berlin youtube channel soon.

After the talk I was locked in conversation with 3-5 people about the data ethic considerations of adaptive media and how on earth this can work. All fascinating conversations which had to get cut a little short as I signed up to do a Ask Me Anything

TOA Berlin

This took part in a plastic dome within a busy room below the speakers lounge. I wasn’t expecting anyone to show up but there were 2 people waiting for me. I was asked about my role in the BBC and some of research we are conducting. Then a 3rd person dropped in. He said he had read my blog and suddenly there was a moment of “uh oh!” But it was fine, although we talk about data ethics and dating. I’ll be honest the AMA was fascinating and quite refreshing.

TOA Berlin

After this and a lack of lunch (my own fault, talking to people), finally started going to different sessions. Most were rammed and I remember going to Why Supermarkets Must be Replaced, Creators & Audiences: An Open Relationship, Motivating Behavior When Attention Is The World’s Reserve Currency, How far can VR go to enhance your sex life? Future of Sex Podcast with BaDoinkVR and The Future of Collective Governance and From Trump To Universal Basic Income: Leveraging Technology To Understand What Europe Thinks.

TOA Berlin

So quite an amazing cross section of talks and sessions!

I can’t emphasize enough how big some of the spaces are and the whole place just felt like it was buzzing. The engagement was high and everywhere I went people were getting involved. I don’t know the total amount of people, but it felt like a few thousands at least. I can only describe it as what I imagine South by South west is like but in Berlin. Theres so much happening and besides the conference there is a whole music track, expo, corporate spaces and even a thing called open circle only for speakers and vip’s. Its pretty overwhelming, but in a good way.

One of the other fascinating things about TOA was the amount of Fridge events or as they call it Satellite events. You can also apply to do a satellite using a online form and a video chat with TOA.

I attended two and had to miss a few because I needed to move hotel on Friday. Here are the two I attended.

Propellor | Forum #1: Using Tech to create the future of Film

I first met Erwin at the Documentary and Factual World Congress in Sweden late last year when he told me about the Propellor film tech hub.  We kept in touch and when he mentioned the Forum would be during TOA Berlin, I was happy to say I would be there too. I agreed to help by encouraging people to think about adaptive media in a workshop of ideas.

Propellor | Forum #1

The event was a satellite to TOA and was hosted at Price Waterhouse Coopers building only minutes from Berlin Hauptbahnhof (if unlike me you go out the main entrance and not the back exit). It started with networking and some canopies then an introduction followed by 3 5min pitches by myself (Adaptive Media), Jannis Funk (distribution of AV content) and Aljoscha Burchardt (Curation of AV content).

Once the pitches were out the way there was time for a few questions. Most of the questions I got were asking how on earth is adaptive media possible, I answered in a quick 1min breakdown of object based media.

TOA Berlin

After this, people grouped around the pitches they were interested in and the DO school took control.

TOA Berlin

It was good workshop with enough push to get things done in time but also allowing things to emerge from the grassroots. At the end of the workshops ideas were presented to the pitch group and the best was then presented to everyone at the forum.

TOA Berlin

I found the Friemily film a great idea so very fitting for adaptive media.

All the results have been written up at propellorfilmtech.com.

TOA Berlin Satellite: Machine Learning, Trust and Public Service

Machine learning, trust and public service

Myself and Ahmed from the BBC Blueroom put in a proposal around a idea/concept of the public service internet and machine learning. Only a few days earlier the Blueroom had put on a AI & society conference titled BBC Blue Room presents Artificial Intelligence & Society. So fresh from that and some ideas from myself and others in R&D, we proposed the question; where does public service fit in the age of machine learning and the business models which come along with automation and algorithms.

Machine learning, trust and public service

TOA provide the space and we provided the workshop/talk under their brand. The space was an amazing co-working space called Mindspace and they were really helpful with everything. The only down side was the workshop was meant to be more participatory but the room set up didn’t quite work for this. The central chairs were not move-able at all. Ideally more of a circle would have been better really.

Machine learning, trust and public service

We were not expecting a huge turn out but thats exactly what we got. As me and Ahmed got started we focused on the business models which are most associated with machine learning. To be honest we spoke maybe too much and by the time the discussion got going, we ran over time. This is also where the layout of the room became a disadvantage. Regardless I drew up thoughts on a piece of paper and mapped out connected ideas (mindmapped it) while people talked and discussed.

Machine learning, trust and public service

There was a lot of discussion about public service and the point of public service. We got talking about why people choose to work in the public service oppose to commercial companies.

The discussion about trust thew up a whole lot of discussion about fake news and disinformation; someone suggested maybe a trusted public entity could have a trusted index score for sources? Something like snoops which are currently having their own problems. This lead nicely on to the transparency question and the fact public organizations should be more transparent than other companies. Which people felt could mean public organisations could benefit from the transparency in choices and algorithms. I earlier called it xray mode in the conference talk.

Collaboration came up again and again, there was a discussion suggesting we should work with not just ARD/ZDF but also Fraunhofer and others like Arte. There was also a feeling, some pioneers in this sector could share insight and new models with less forward thinking public organisations, who are struggling to keep up with the internet age.

TOA Berlin

As a whole I was very impressed with TOA, its really a festival of tech, art and ideas. I saw solar panels made into art, a stage made in the wood and far too much free redbull.

I would highly recommend TOA to others, think SXSW with a strong European backbone, I will make my way back next year.

Dark and disturbing on Berlin’s ring the mix

I made reference to a mix I did while in Berlin’s S-bahn ring line (like the old circle line in London). Its also quite a dark mix and you can get a sense of the tunes which made up the shorter mix.

Its a long mix and lasts about 96mins or through 37.5 kms. The mix is a little rough in parts due to shifting positions and moving for people to get on and off. I took the ring from Prenzlauer Allee clockwise (S41).

  1. Flash (timo maas remix) – Green Velvet
  2. Riff – Sander Van Doorn
  3. Energy Flash – Joey Beltram
  4. My Beat (Ambassador remix) – Blaze
  5. Intruder – Armin vs Mike
  6. One night in New York city (chris liebing mix) – The Horrorist
  7. One for you – Oliver klien
  8. Dj culture – Joey beltram
  9. Jelly Tracks (Rippin and Drippin) – Oliver Klein
  10. My Beat (Jan Driver mix) – Blaze
  11. Nasty (Electric mix) – Re Locate Vs Jonas Steur
  12. Grasshopper (raw version) – Sander Van Doorn
  13. Interstate Emperors – Jeffed
  14. The Redlight (album version) – Green Velvet
  15. Blood Angels (chris liebing mix) –  John Startlight
  16. Nackling (tomcraft mix) – Duse
  17. Paperjet – John Tejada
  18. Red Purple – Thomas Schumacher
  19. Ubik (the break) – Timo Maas
  20. Rage Chemistry (Cold Blank’s WMC 2013 Mashup) – Knife Party vs Svidden
  21. Switch (oliver klein & peter jürgens remix) – Beckers
  22. Watch Out (lee coombs back to the phuture remix) – Ferry Corsten

A recent write up about Object based media while in Babelsberg, Germany

Feeding the giants panel at Changing the Picture

I have recently been talking in quite a few places to get the word out about the great work BBC R&D are doing around the future of media. One of those places was at the Changing the Picture conference in Babelsberg (near Potsdam and Berlin).

They did a quick review of the conference and the panel I took part in was featured. I have to say it was one of the most lively panels which was perfect for the after lunch slot. Oh and theres a few mistakes like me being from London UK, but I’ll over look them.

Ian Forrester, Senior Firestarter Producer at the BBC (London, UK), and journalist Jan Lerch addressed in the Fireside Chat “Feeding the Giants: Storytelling for Social Media Broadcasters” the controversial question whether and to what extent large corporations in the technology sector and social media can establish themselves as new, major actors in the entertainment industry and how content producers can cooperate with them. Forrester introduced BBC’s innovative new strategy of  “Perceptive Media,” to be tested in 2017, which allows content to be reshaped based on information about the viewer, creating a unique and profoundly affecting viewing experience.  Lerch gave insight into the way technology platforms set requirements for creatives. Nevertherless creatives can push the limits of  existing platforms of social media giants in new and exciting ways.

Going a little dark and disturbing on Berlin’s U Bahn

U Bhan Berlin
I did a few mixes while in Berlin recently. One while taking the ring anti-clockwise around Berlin (think circle line). The other while out one night walking back from around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz to U Möckernbrücke and other places. I’ll upload the Berlin Ring one in the near future but this one is dark and certainly disturbing with lots of horrible tunes to bring down your joyful day.

Another journey with pacemaker

  1. Mentasm – Joey Beltram
  2. Nackling (tomcraft mix) – Duse
  3. One for you – Oliver klien
  4. Energy Flash – Joey Beltram
  5. Shnorkel – Mikl Litvak & Ido Ophir
  6. One night in New York city (chris liebing mix) – The Horrorist
  7. My Beat (Ambassador remix) – Blaze
  8. Intruder – Armin vs Mike
  9. Interstate Emperors – Jeffed
  10. Higher state of Consciousness (Original Tweekin’ mix) – Josh Wink
  11. Grasshopper (raw version) – Sander Van Doorn
  12. Massive Motion – M.I.K.E
  13. My Beat (Jan Driver mix) – Blaze
  14. Dj culture – Joey beltram
  15. Jelly Tracks (Rippin and Drippin) – Oliver Klein
  16. Energy Flash (Rennie Pilgrem Breakz mix) – Joey Beltram
  17. Blood Angels (chris liebing mix) – John Startlight

The berlin airspace mix

berlin tv tower

Another mix, this time recorded mid-flight on the way back from Berlin yesterday. It actually lasts about the time of the whole flight. Its a mix of some tech-house with tech-trance. Straight out of the Pacemaker, not even normalised or anything. Its a odd bunch of tunes but mixed up and enjoyable to listen to.

  1. Afro-ride – Leftfield
  2. Flutes (Sasha remix) – Hot Chip
  3. Watch out (deep south remix) – Ferry Corsten
  4. Switch (Oliver Klein & Peter Jurgens remix) – Beckers
  5. Higher state of consciousness – Josh Wink
  6. Answering machine (album version) – Green Velvet
  7. Special K (timo maas mix) – Placebo
  8. Paper Jet – John Tajada
  9. Shoreside – Streetcleaner
  10. Jelly Tracks (Rippin & Drippin mix) – Oliver Klein
  11. Revolving Doors (club mix) – Ronski Speed
  12. Blood Angels (Chris Leibing mix) – John Starlight
  13. Rewind (Mikkas Remix) – Emma Hewitt
  14. Nine ways – JDS
  15. My Beat (Jan Driver mix) – Blaze
  16. Brush Strokes – Simon Patterson
  17. Whites of her eyes – Simon Patterson
  18. Out of the blue (progressive trance mix) – Future Breeze
  19. Suru (Marin Roth Electrance remix) – Super8 & Tab
  20. Moments – Dimension

Berlin places restrictions on Airbnb?

Berlin Wall

It was Oliver who first alerted me to the new rule Berlin has just applied to Airbnb.

 apply. When what exceptions are possible, is still unclear.

Some friends on Facebook (my fb is public, so its readable/findable) added some comments to my kind of retweet from talking with Oliver.

Jennifer wrote: There are so few affordable flats available for people who actually live here. The Airbnb market has affected the available rentals so much here that it’s driven prices up, and it’s a nightmare.

Helen wrote: There are similar restrictions in Barcelona. You need a licence to rent rooms or apartments but the local government is not issuing new licences. Same rationale…lack of affordable housing, makes for unpleasant living when your neighbouring apartments are all on short lets, changing the culture of neighbourhoods. That said, there’s no shortage of rentals in Barcelona on AirBnB and elsewhere. Fines are being issued but not widespread yet.

As someone who does Airbnb at my own flat, I think there should be a difference between a spare room and a whole place. I do have everything legally needed including smoke alarms, exit signs and fire extinguisher but it feels like there should be slight difference. I understand the concerns and the damage of short term lets on a community. Some apartment blocks have banned Airbnb in Manchester for example. But if you are there too, its no real different than having a short term lodger? I guess there is an argument about how you prove you are there, but thats a different arguement.

Its a shame its come to this but alas thats what happens when you let market forces run out of control?

Little chance of a cheap Airbnb for Berlin now, I thought but theres still quite a lot on Airbnb still… We shall see what happens in May.