An New Event Format That Imagines The Internet in a Better Future

Participants explore what their life and the internet might be like in an array of possible futures. The Witness card game lets you build your ideal economy and government, imagining viable alternatives for internet technologies and their applications, against the backdrop of a global climate crisis, and testing it against real world restrictions.

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The last two years have been a stark lesson in how global events can affect people’s lives on a personal level.

These are the themes that the NGI Impact Conference explores. Through a program of live and online events, conference participants take a look at all-encompassing philosophies, sweeping economic policies and historic social trends, and asks what these might look like through the eyes of ordinary people living through them.

Through experimentation, play and discussion, the NGI Impact Conference is an exercise in asking the question “How can we use Internet Technologies to make the world better?”

What is Witness?

The event takes place in a fictional setting designed to give people the chance to explore themes around climate change, technology and economics through gameplay, discussion and storytelling.

The setting is called “Witness”, a collection of artificial islands floating on the ocean of a future Earth devastated by climate change. Each island, or “distrikt”, is closely connected to every other, but also has its own unique identity, philosophy and systems. Each distrikt acts as a sandbox to try out different economic and political ideas.

It is a place where people can imagine societies unrestricted by conventional ideas about “how things have always been”, but must still operate within the real-world boundaries of plausible technology and the plurality of human nature.

A Card Game to anchor NGI debates in desirable futures

The Witness card game creates a space where players can experiment with the ideas proposed by Witness, using the rules of gameplay to reflect the real world constraints those ideas must operate in.

In the game each distrikt has a deck of cards including a range of policies and tools reflecting that distrikt’s philosophy. Throughout the game players are faced with various challenges and crises, using their deck, either collaboratively or competitively with other players, or by themselves, to respond. A single distrikt’s deck can be used to demonstrate how one school of thought might succeed or fail, while multiple decks can be combined to create the player’s idea of a perfect society.

As well as being an engaging and fun game, we want the Witness card game to serve as a springboard and space for discussion. As people play Witness they will think and talk about how society should deal with challenges ranging from environmental catastrophe to pandemics, to how new technologies will affect us all.

More specifically we will explore insights on we can draw on how we should build, monetise and regulate the Next Generation of Internet Technologies so that they contribute to the wellbeing of people and planet.