Investigating the human factor at the nexus of the analog and the digital realm

#StudioIntegrativeDesign #Master-Thesis

Economic, social and cultural activities are proliferating in the digital world. Our physical realities are increasingly shaped by these processes. Blockchain technology could lead to an even more pronounced interdependence by digitally representing, accounting and coordinating the analog world. «ORACLIZED» explores how data is mediated in the space between these worlds, by designing tangible evidence of the digital connecting back into the analog world.

Data is to the digital world what physical matter is to the analog world. Although these two worlds are inherently separate in their nature, they are rapidly converging and shaping each other. The examination of technological developments to form an understanding of the digital world and how it interacts with the analog world is imperative to our ability to apply these developments in a meaningful context. The creation of decentralized structures promises more economic inclusion and participatory governance.
This Master's thesis explores the human factor in relation to a digital world, depicted through hypothetical or fictional scenarios. These scenarios shall visualize the convergence of blockchain technology and machine learning in different manifestations as a Decentralized Autonomous Entity (DAE).

«Finding Possible Forms»

The scenario investigates, how a DAE learns about its possible physical forms, or rather about human perceptions of its possible physical forms. It is separated from the analog world, in which it tries to create materializations of digital tokens. But machine learning allows it to be trained on a set of images of real-world objects. Its perception however is based purely on digitized data, in this case, images. What it can’t generalize is human perception, although it constantly tries to learn more about it. Therefore it shows different variations of objects which it believes to be real to humans. These act as discriminators by choosing from a set of different images of the same object, based on their individual perception and taste.

The scenario show that humans are important in the creative process of materialization. Whereas digital technology can create sheer endless amounts of possible variations of an object, it does not have a feeling for materiality, taste and haptic perception for example.

«Tokenization Company»

This scenario explores the advantages of tokenizing things from the analog world. But at the same time the need for a company shows, that there is a space between the digital and the analog that can‘t be bridged by machines alone.

For the series «Strange Light 2017», five tokens have been created that represent shared ownership for the physical film negative. In this way, the negative could have a life of its own and be shown in galleries for example, while being owned by the token holders. There is also a poetic moment in tokenizing a 35mm film negative. The light which is captured by the physical substance of the film and digitized by scanning, is then represented on the blockchain forever through tokenization. The collection can be viewed on Pixura.

«Human Oracle»

In the third translation, three Human Oracle jobs in a fictional working environment have been created. The conception that humans are needed to mediate between the analog and the digital world led me to the idea that – in a scenario where these two worlds converge – the task of mediating could become so important, that it manifests as a paid employment.
@EthicalQuestiosBot is a fully functional Telegram bot. In this scenario the Decentralized Autonomous Entity would use chatbots to get in contact with humans. It can use a botnet to reach thousands of humans directly through their everyday medium for communication. The EthicalQuestionsBot lets people earn Ethical token as a reward for answering its ethical questions.


Prof. Armin Blasbichler

, Studio Integrative Design

Prof. Dr. Sabine Fischer

, Studio Integrative Design

David Simon

, Dezentrum, Zurich