Gender in the immersive digital future – a new matriarchy? – BigStage 2020

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11 June 2020 | 13:00-14:30 | Studio The Hague | Video recording | Transcript | Forum
BigStage 2020 overview

Session teaser

“Gender in the immersive digital future: a new matriarchy?” is an exciting video, prepared within COMPACT project. COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded by the European Commission under framework Horizon 2020 ( The presentation will focus on a Virtual Reality human and Mother-AI debate about the emerging social changes in the digital society of the 21st century. Central to discussion will the increasingly technology-mediated gender relationships. The scene can be considered a technological adaptation and reinvention of the "first humans in paradise" trying to find their way in the new environment.


This innovative Big Stage presentation will be presented as 15 - 18 minutes artistic video blending discussion, AI elements and graphics in VR. The video material will be both informative, thought provoking and entertaining for the audience.

Further reading

EPRA. Achieving greater diversity in broadcasting - special focus on gender; Benefits and best practice approaches Comparative background paper (2018)

You could also read about some best practices. BBC (UK) developed a “Content Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines”, providing guidelines to BBC’s partners in order to allow the broadcaster to attain its 2020 goals regarding representation of ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQI persons and disabled persons. The guide defines quantitative objectives for each of diversity categories to achieve diversity goals in 5 on and off-screen categories: portrayal, casting, production teams, entry-level positions and senior editorial roles. Industry players (broadcasters, both public and private) in the UK (and by the NRA also in Ireland) initiated programmes to develop opportunities for female professionals in technical careers, whether crew or technology. The industry developed a Tech Talent Charter setting goals to promote development, growth and retention of women in technology sector, encouraging practices supporting attraction, recruitment and retention practices designed to increase diversity in the workforce, defining timetable and strategy relevant for each organization – as each organization is not situated on the same level regarding diversity. Audiovisual media services offer education schemes and scholarships allowing access for women to tech education and project development. Workshops on the state of play of position of women in technical production followed by development of practical tools and outreach project to inspire change were organized by BBC radio. The goal - gender balance in important creative and technical roles and the effective implementation of gender balance in these roles. The simple fact of collecting information on gender balance did have a positive impact on gender breakdown in creative and technical teams.


“Gender in the immersive digital future:a new matriarchy?” will be presented by three participants - Dr. Tanja Pavleska, Dr. Lukasz Porwol and Dr. Bissera Zankova.

  • Dr. Tanja Pavleska is a postdoctoral researcher at Jozef Stefan Institute and Chair of the Slovenian ISOC Chapter.
    Her background is in electrical engineering. Her research is focused on trust and cybersecurity management, digital policies, social media regulatory frameworks and information governance.
  • Dr. Lukasz Porwol is the E-Gov Deputy Unit Leader at the Insight, NUI Galway, Ireland.
    His research work focuses on leveraging digital technologies such as social media and Virtual Reality to support effective communication, collaboration and co-creation, in particular in the context of e-Participation and Media Convergence.
  • Dr. Bissera Zankova is a media lawyer, media expert and president of Media 21 Foundation, Bulgaria.

Technical and artistic director, graphics, music and VR effects of video Dr. Lukasz Porwol. A specially designed poster will announce the launch of the video at Eurodig 2020.

Video record


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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: And we go to the next Big Stage event is Gender in the Immersive Digital Future. It is in the Compact project. BISSERA ZANKOVA as a well-known EuroDIGer and media lawyer and the President of the Media 21 Foundation of Bulgaria. And she prepared a video together with Tanja Pavleska and Lukasz Porwol, and it’s made using virtual reality, and it brings us into a totally different new virtual life, so let’s see what they have prepared.

>> How are you? Long time no see, how are things?

>> Yes, indeed, long time no see, I wonder how long before we meet together. I’m fine. I’m new normally fine. The strange thing is that I don’t really have new responsibilities, but the old ones are really, really pronounced and encumbering because everything is happening within the same context, you know.

>> So like the world is different now, now, I think it’s kind of more equal in a way, I don’t know. How is family life with all of the extra responsibilities and like do you share more with your partner? How does it look like?

>> Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a circus, you know, which is not far from true. But having to juggle with kids, work, the family life, my hobbies, their hobbies, plus coordinate with my own husband’s juggling as well, it’s a change.

>> If you go to the roots, okay, men don’t need to go hunting anymore, they stay, and women don’t need to gather. So, yes, I mean, I think the roles are kind of shifting or everything is now getting equal somehow.

>> When I think about that, it’s very true, you know. For example, my husband had to take over the vacuum cleaning from time to time, and I had to learn how to clean laundry machine filters, and that is how we bought the robotic vacuum cleaner. So I wonder what gadgets will save themselves from women and work in the future.

>> Talking about the future, would you like to go to the future and have a look, because I have very interesting technology here, and we can actually transport each other for a couple of minutes.

>> It sounds scary. Wow, for a couple of minutes.

But I would like to get a glimpse of the future.

>> Since you said that, let’s go we are in the future now.

>> So this is what the future looks like?

>> Yes, it’s a bit futuristic yet familiar, you know, the faces around. There is a tree, but it’s quite cubic. I don’t know, is it the future, we have a person in front of us? Who is that? What is that?

>> Welcome to the future children. My name is AI mother.

>> Hello mother. My name is Lukasz and this is Tanja, and we are coming from the past. Hello, how are you?

>> Hello. I am fine. You will see incredible things here in the near future. Please ask me anything about the future.

>> I don’t see humans around.

Are there still humans in the future and how do they look like if they are around?

>> Yes, humans did not change physically. Humans arrived before, but their behavior is different.

>> Okay. And what about genders, like are men still men and women are women? What is the story in the future?

>> I in the 21st century, still the typical concept of manhood. The best answer I can give is the importance of women will likely be increased in the mid-21st century and the jobs should be. That is due to the introduction of artificial intelligence. You see, such curious things happen. Now parents are truly equally responsible for child care and for teaching how children learn. You know that usually boys play with balls and girls with dolls, but here in the near future it’s different. Children are more engaged in toys, I would say.

They enjoy their virtual playgrounds and are secure.

>> Impressive. So it seems like everything is, the technology dominated in the future as expected. People would like to know more, no? Can you tell us more?

>> Yes. Sure.

I will tell you more about women. The liberation of women to start pursuing executive decisions. Today women executives dominate the largest industry, which is mainly computing, communications sector, and, again, long distance transportation. Moreover, women presentation in sports has also increased. Most sports have been gender diverse now. We do not have men only football or baseball leagues anymore.

Interesting, but the first humans on Mars and Venus are both women and mythology in a human sense.

>> Well, maybe instead of asking where humans are, I should have asked where men are.

>> Yes, it seems great progress for women and misery for men. So what guys are doing these days. It’s quite dystopian for men. What are they doing?

>> I don’t think that men are disappointed in our new future. Men are still well represented across all of the sectors. However, the liberation from gender stereotypes about gay as well as heterosexual people. Without often being considered less ambitious or powerful by the male.

It is very diverse, very colorful, I would say.

>> And what about relationships then? Is there still marriage, love?

>> Marriage is not a conservative Union you know about. It is available for those who wish to commit to the contractual agreements, however, they are free to fall their path in terms of parenting and motherhood as well as the type of relationship type they prefer. Also today Artificial Intelligence mothers like myself are taking care of children to large extent. We ensure their safety, well-being, and proper development 24 hours a day and seven days per week like no human can do.

Would you like me to continue to tell you more?

>> Definitely.

>> It’s a bit scary, but please do.

>> Technology and modern approaches become – parameters due to money and security. Relationships are encouraged for well-being. You can think of modern marriage as a lifestyle like the gym or a club membership. My emotion and analysis show that you both seem to be a bit upset. Maybe you are disappoints. Our future – apologies, I did not intend to make you feel bad, to suffer.

Usual I want is your happiness and well-being. However, much work is back to human.

>> It’s a lot of trust to put in technology in the first place.

>> Yes, we are not really sad about it. It’s just like I think we are a bit overwhelmed that it’s all about technology and, I don’t know, it seems a bit dehumanizing in a way. Is it a better future? I’m not sure. It’s difficult to say. What do you think?

>> I am not sure this is the near future. What happens in the far future?

>> Yes. I wonder if this is already future in what happens if you go a bit further, that probably will be completely mind blowing if you think about it, but I hope that humanity will not lose what it is. Great AI, can you actually assimilate the future for us or can you just take us there may be a bit further so we can get a glimpse on what the far feature brings?

>> Sure. You have children. Sure, you jump now into the far future, and enjoy this new reality.

>> Oh, wow, this is far future. This far future, where are we? I don’t understand.

>> You are not human anymore.

>> Tanja, is that you.

>> Oh, my.

>> So I don’t look like me anymore.

>> Men. I don’t look like woman anymore.

>> Oh, my goodness, what happened? Dear mother, we don’t understand what happened now? Is there in the far future, humans don’t exist? There is no difference between robots and humans anymore?

>> So this is the far future. Would you like to live in the far future?

>> Is there life in the far future?

>> Well, I say that this this is special life here. This is blinding. It is digital. That’s why it looks so strange.

>> I don’t really understand this reality. Like we are, if I am in space, it’s blending and we are like in a worm hole or something, and I don’t understand if my brain, I’m not sure if my brain can process it. Tanja, do you have any understanding of what is going on?

>> Not a human understanding, that’s for sure, but maybe the Artificial Intelligence can help us with the Artificial Intelligence. We are all robots and this is new normal.

>> This is a totally new world, and Artificial Intelligence is there and humans are intermingled with this Artificial Intelligence, and this is what happened to humans to real humans coming to this far future. Children, I think you are scared. If you feel disappointed or sad, if it’s too dark for you, you can go back to your beautiful human world. And the time will come.

>> I’m a bit scared but on the other hand, something weird I have noticed like I was wondering what’s going on and then suddenly, like, I know everything, like I was connected to the Internet or something. I don’t wonder, right, I can think of anything, and then I immediately I get an answer. Maybe because now since we are digital, like, it becomes today’s Internet and knowledge is just there. You don’t need to acquire it in any way. It’s kind of weird and hard to explain.

>> You don’t have to because I’m really understand you. I download the data.

>> Before you said it, it was already in my head. I don’t understand how it works, but it’s really, it’s weird and exciting at some point, but I think it’s just, but I think we are not ready yet for that. It’s just too much. I cannot, I’m not sure, like, what me is anymore.

>> Yes, and I have no questions for your mother anymore.

>> I know everything now. It’s like we are kind of divided or something. I think, mother, please take us back, I think we are just not ready yet for this. I am quite comfortable with my little organic body with all of its limitations and flaws, and Tanja, if you can agree, maybe we can come back.

>> So if you wish, we will get back again to the near future, and goodbye dear children. You are always welcome to come again and talk to me.

>> Thank you very much, dear mother. Thank you for this lesson.

>> New normal is fine, the strange thing is although I don’t really have new responsibilities, the old ones are very, very pronounced.

>> >> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: So I think you enjoyed the Big Stage so far.