Wenzel Mehnert

Futurologist at the Austrian Institute of Technology

Co-founder of the Berlin Ethics Lab at the TU Berlin

Fellow of the Robert Jungk Library for Future Issues 2022

Artist in Lab at the Fraunhofer ISI 2022

Jury member of the Science-Fiction Filmfestival Berlin 2021

Former research assistant at the UdK Berlin

lecturer / creative / projecteer / speaker / author / consultant


Wenzel Mehnert is a futurologist focusing on the imaginaries of new and emerging technologies. He researches, writes and teaches experimental methods of futurology. In his work, Wenzel Mehnert focuses on the intersection between speculative fictions and the evaluation of new and emerging sciences and technologies (e.g. A.I., SynBio, Internet of Things, etc.). He worked as a researcher at the Berlin University of the Arts, co-founded the Berlin Ethics Lab at the Technical University of Berlin and currently lives in Vienna, where he works at the Austrian Institute of Technology and the ethics on new and emerging technologies.


Talks

2023

Partizipative und transdisziplinäre Forschung in Innovationsökosystemen- Fallstudie zum High-Tech-Innovationsprojekt NeuroSys (with Mareike Smolka, Philipp Neudert, Frieder Bögner & Stefan Böschen)

PartWiss 2023, Chemnitz, Germany 22/11/23

Abstract


From Fiction to Futures 

Cross Innovation Hub, Hamburg, Germany 12/10/23

Slides


Die Zukunft im Blick: Visionen einer technologisierten Gesellschaft

Digital Art Lab, Berlin, Germany 14/09/23

Slides


Speculative Futures: The TechEthos Game (with Michael Bernstein)

Speculative Futures Berlin, Berlin, Germany 13/09/23


Pleasure Seeker Time Travel Talk: Exploring Love, Sex, Toys and Features in Future Motions (with Claudia Virginia Dimoiu)

ARS Elektronica, Linz, Austria 09/09/23

Abstract


Zukunfts-Schreib-Werkstatt - Worldbuilding as a participatory method to envision the future of Salzburg

Disruptive Imaginations, Dresden, Germany 19/08/23

Abstract | Slides


Beyond the Bad Actors - A reflection on prominent ethical issues in the context of Quantum Technologies (with Peter Remmers)

Responsible Quantum Technologies workshop @ ITAS, Karlsruhe, Germany 27/07/23

Slides


The Futures of Emerging Technologies - Exploring ethical and social challenges through Visioneering

QAI Ventures, Basel, Switzerland 12/07/23

Slides


Neugefragt - Zukunftsnarrationen weitergedacht (with Katrina Günther)

Festival der Zukunft, München, Germany 07/07/23


Futures of Foresight (with Attila Havas)

EUSpri 2023, Sussex, UK 15/06/23

Abstract | Slides


TechEthos - Eliciting Values & Attitudes through a scenario-based research approach (with Eva Buchinger, Michael J. Bernstein & Masafumi Nishi)

SPT 2023, Tokyo, Japan 10/06/23

Abstract | Slides


Envisioning Ethics – How to foster ethical reflections on futures to design responsible technologies (with Nele Fischer)

Ethical Commerce Alliance, online, 24/05/23


Transhumanistische Metaphern in der SF -Was will uns das Neurointerface eigentlich sagen?

Metropolcon 2023, Berlin, Germany 20/05/23

Slides


Science Fiction und Zukunftsforschung - Kann die SF irgendetwas voraussagen? (with Klaudia Seibel, Isabella Hermann & Karlheinz Steinmüller)

Metropolcon 2023, Berlin, Germany 18/05/23


Science Art Film - a talk on the movie Akira

National Film and Sound Archive Australia, Canberra, Australia 27/04/23


Making values work for technological innovation - A roundtable dicussion (with Clara Boissenin, Anna Aris & Greta Alliaj)

PCST 2023, Rotterdam, Netherlands 14/04/23


The TechEthos Game – A serious game to generate societal values towards emerging technologies (with Greta Alliaj & Lena Söderström)

PCST 2023, Rotterdam, Netherlands 12/04/23

Abstract


Geschichten über Salzburgs Morgen - Zukunftsvisionen von Bürger:innen für die Stadt Salzburg

Robert-Jungk-Bibliothek für Zukunftsfragen, Salzburg, Österreich 03/04/23


Integrating Ethics - A four hour panel moderation on the practice of ethical reflection (with Nele Fischer & Sabine Ammon)

STS-Hub, Aachen, Germany 17/03/23

Abstract


Spinning in circles – structuring the circulation of techno cultural imaginaries

STS-Hub, Aachen, Germany 16/03/23

Abstract | Slides


Implication Fan - An epistemic tool to assist ethical reflection within development processes (with Tim Hildebrandt)

Fachtagung Cluster Integrierte Forschung, Mannheim, Germany 28/02/23



2022

Envisioning Ethics - How to foster ethical reflections on futures to design responsible technologies (with Nele Fischer)

Anticipation Conference, Arizona State University, USA

Abstract | Slides


Integrated ethics: Towards a transdisciplinary toolbox for research and development processes of socially disruptive technologies (with Sabine Ammon, Nele Fischer & Tim Hildebrandt)
ESDIT2022 International Conference, Leiden, Holland

Abstract


K.I.-Kunst: Muse, Melkkuh oder Marketing-Gag? (with Dana Wasserbacher & Masafumi Nishi)

NTA10 «Kultur und Digitalisierung», Bern, Switzerland

Abstract | Slides


„Sound Of Contagion“. An artistic research project exploring A.I. as a creative tool for storytelling (with Robert Laidlow)

Artificial Intelligence – Intelligent Art?, TU Braunschwig, Germany

Abstract | Slides


Neugefragt – A speculation based art project on emerging futures (with Futuresprobes & Bernd Hopfengärtner)

Fraunhofer ISI, Berlin Science Week, Berlin Germany


FUTUREBODY – The Future of the Body in the Light of Neurotechnology

Futurebody Gathering, TU Berlin, Germany


My copy and me – Imaginäre des Minduploads

Tagung "'Philosophie dürfte man eigentlich nur dichten‘ – Ethik und Literatur”, TU & HU Berlin, Germany

Abstract | Slides


The Imaginaries of Merging Minds and Machines

EASST 2022 – Politics of technoscienfitic futures, Madrid, Spain

Abstract | Slides


Re-Imagined Aftermath – Reflecting on post-apocalyptic imaginaries in Science-Fiction-Film

Worlds ending - Ending worlds, Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS), Heidelberg University, Germany

Abstract | Slides


Zukunftswelten

RWTH Aachen, Germany


The Road - reflection on the postapocalypse

Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS), Heidelberg University, Germany

Slides



2021

bio:fictions – Ko-kreative Design Fictions der Bioökonomie (with Ellery Studio and IZT)

Speculative Futures Berlin, Germany


Sound of Contagion – an artistic research project with the UdK Berlin and the University of Oxford (click here for info).

University of Oxford, UK


Solutionism, Tech Fixes & Ethical Tech – a panel discussion

Anti-Dystopian Congress, Goethe-Institut Krakow, Poland


The Imaginaries of Merging Mind and Machine

World Future Studies Conference, Berlin, Germany


Future follows Fiction - On the end of the world as we know it

Science Meets Fiction Festival, Salzburg, Austria


Tactical Science-Fiction - die Zukunft schreiben

Fabrikanten der Wirklichkeit, Kunstverein Hannover, Germany


Rethinking Futures (with Nele Fischer)

Futures Conference, Turku, Finland


Imaginary Studies – Imaginationsforschung im Kontext von TA

Societal Futures, AIT, Vienna, Austria



2020

Technodystopian Imaginaries in Cyberpunk worlds

Visions and Narratives of AI, TU-Berlin & Cambridge University


A.I. against Extinction II

re:publica, Berlin


Prototyping Sociotechnical Systems (with Nele Fischer)

Cybioses symposium, Berlin


What desert smells like? An exercise in speculative Worldbuilding.

Hybrid Talks XXXIX – “Speculation”, Berlin


Worldbuilding & Speculative Fiction

Speculative Futures Berlin, Germany


Curating Emerging Futures

Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany


Digital ist man weniger allein?

Digitaler Salon, HIIG, Berlin, Germany



2019

Nano Visionen (mit Christopher Coenen)

TU Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany


A.I. against Extinction I (with Bernd Hopfengärner)

Schwarzmarkt für nützliches Wissen und Nicht-Wissen, Dresden, Germany



2018

Speculative Performances

Future Slam, FU-Berlin


A Plea for Speculative Thinking

Solarpunk Festival, Berlin, Germany.


Speculative Foresight

Mastercourse Future Studies, FU-Berlin, Germany



2017

Objects of Uncertainty – A speculative exploration of the Internet of Things

Drone Dancing Festival, Stockholm, Sweden


Business Science-Fictionalized (with Joachim Haupt)

Re:Publica, Berlin, Germany


Publications

Mehnert, W. (2023). Wording Worlds – From writing Futures to building Imaginary Worlds. Journal of Technology and Language, Special Issue on Future Writing, 3 (12), Art. 7.

Full article


Mehnert, W. (2023). „The future is going to be weird.“ Zur Ästhetik kommodifizierter Mind-Upload-Visionen. In M. Tamborini (Hrsg.), Die Ästhetik der Technowissenschaften des 21. Jahrhunderts (1. Aufl., S. 177 - 200). wbg Verlag. 

Full article 


Buchinger E, Mehnert W, Csabi A, Nishi M, Bernstein MJ, Gonzales G, Porcari A, Grinbaum A, Adomaitis L, Lenzi D, Rainey S, Umbrello S, Vermaas P, Paca C, Alliaj G, Whittington-Davis A (2023). D3.1 Evolution of advanced TechEthos scenarios. TechEthos Project Deliverable to the European Commission. Available at: www.techethos.eu


Wiesmüller, S., Fischer, N., Mehnert, W., & Ammon, S. (2023). Responsible AI Adoption Through Private-Sector Governance. In R. Schmidpeter & R. (Hrsg.), Altenburger Responsible Artificial Intelligence: Challenges for Sustainable Management, CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance (1. Aufl., S. 111 - 132). Springer International Publishing.

Full article


Vögler, D., Mehnert, W., Zwiers, J., Behrendt, S., & Ricken, A. (2022). Bio:fictions – Design Fiction als transdisziplinärer Ansatz der partizipativen Zukunftsgestaltung einer nachhaltigen Bioökonomie. In J.-L. Reinermann, J.-H. Kamlage, N. de Vries, U. Goerke, B. Oertel, & S. D. Schrey (Hrsg.), Zukünfte nachhaltiger Bioökonomie: Kommunikation und Partizipation in neuen Wirtschaftsformen (1. Aufl., S. 185–200). transcript.

Full article


Mehnert, W. (2022). Zwischen Körper und Geist — Transhumanistische Metapher in der Science-Fiction. In S. Käppele, J. Kirschbauer, L. C. Recksiek, M. C. R. Lora, J. Schütt, & V. Vasileuski (Hrsg.), Körpern. Logos Berlin.


Mehnert, W. (2022). Solarpunk – Technik-Utopien der Gegenwart. Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung, 9(1), Art. 1. 


Mehnert, W. (2021). Solarpunk oder wie SF die Welt retten will. In H. Kettlitz & M. Wylutzki (Hrsg.), Das Science Fiction Jahr 2021. Hirnkost KG.


Mehnert, W. (2021). De-Constructing Cyberpunk Worlds. In C. Ernst & J. Schröter (Hrsg.), (Re-)Imagining New Media: Techno-Imaginaries around 2000 and the case of „Piazza virtuale“ (1992). VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. 


Fischer, N., & Mehnert, W. (2021). Building possible worlds. A speculation based research framework To reflect on images of the future. Journal of Futures Studies, March.(25(3)), 25–38.


Mehnert, W. (2019). The Future is Near: Schnittstellen einer negativen Zukunft. In K. D. Haensch, L. Nelke, & M. Planitzer (Hrsg.), Unheimliche Schnittstellen / Uncanny Interfaces. Textem Verlag Hamburg. textem Verlag.


Haupt, J., & Mehnert, W. (2017). Business Model Futures. In M. Heidingsfelder, S. Kaiser, K. Kimpel, & M. Schraudner (Hrsg.), Shaping Future. Frauenhofer Verlag.

Full article



Projects

TechEthos - The Game (2022 - 2023)
Topic: Neurotechnology, Climate Engineering and Extended Reality
Format: A Cardgame
As a citizen engagement activity, the card game serves as an impulse to discuss about values, attitudes and awareness of emerging technologies.

Link


Future-Storytelling-Workshops (2022)
Topic: The future of Salzburg
Format: Short stories
As a citizen engagement activity and in cooperation with the Robert-Jungk-Library for future questions, six workshops were conducted with citizens from the city of Salzburg. In these workshops, the participants explored their preferable future and wrote short stories about changes, hopes and fears.


Brücken (2022)
Topic: Aging cities
Format: An illustrated history book from the year 2060
A five days worldbuilding seminar at the FH Salzburg resulted in a chronology of the future of the city, reflecting on the rising inequality within society and a growing conflict between generations.


Neugefragt (2022)
Topic: Digitalisation
Format: Comics, Audio stories, Lecture Performance
In cooperation with the Frauenhofer ISI we collected question from an interested audience about digitalisation and AI. Those question were explored and answered in the form of fictional narratives. The result were comics and audio stories that were presented as a lecture performance.


Bio:Fictions (2021)
Topic: Bioeconomy
Format: Instagram Stories
Following interviews with experts we developed three scenarios that depicted preferable bioeconomical futures. These scenarios were condensed to short 30sec Instagram videos, focussing on ethical dilemmas and spread in cooperation with Instagram-Influencers.

Link


Sound of Contagion (2020 - 2022)
Topic: Using AI as a creative tool for Storytelling
Format: Multimedia Lecture Performance
In cooperation with the University of Oxford and University of the Arts we conducted an artistic research project to explore the use of AI as a creative tool for storytelling. The result was a nested narrative experienced through reading, illustrations and music compositions.

Link | Video


AI against Extinction (2019)
Topic: Climate Change and Technology
Format: Lecture Performance
As journalists from the year 2060 we discover the history of the world simulation foundation, an organization that used AI to archive dying ecosystems. The projects critically points at the believe in techsolutionism and the ongoing climate carastrophe.


Doing Design Fiction (2019)
Topic: Worldbuilding and Storytelling
Format: Course at the UdK Berlin
Result were ten short films, each seven minutes long.
Starting with an emerging technology, the students reflected on social impacts and shot short films that gave an insight into possible futures.


What Desert Smells Like (2019)
Topic: Images of the Future
Format: Storyworld and short stories
Result of a class with students at the UdK Berlin and the TU Berlin.
Based on a worldbuilding exercise, the project developed 9 short stories that reflect on the impact of emerging technologies under the conditions of climate change.

Download


Let Nature Rule (2018) developed by NORMALS
Topic: Exploring solutions and impacts of automated environmental decision systems

Format: Fictional panel discussion

Digital technologies only offer ways to collect environmental data along global value chains and individual behaviour, they enable, through Artificial intelligence and machine learning, innovative approaches to environmental governance for public and private entities. But how much decision power should we lend the machine in order to retrieve a natural equilibrium?

Link


Objects of Uncertainty (2018)
Topic: Internet of Things
Format: Speculative Design artefacts
Exhibited in Stockholm (collaboration with the Goethe Institute)
The project showcases five fictional artefacts and short stories about their sociotechnical impact. It raises questions about the uncertainty of smart objects, data security and privacy.