Hans Bonfigt
Monday July 10th, 2017

(Deutsch) Digitale Dekadenz und degenerative Demenz

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday May 7th, 2017

Quo Vadis – Digital Transformation?

Personal Statement.
“Digitalization” is a topic I also often talk about in my presentations. Consequently, I will also again attend the Oberland IT Camp next Friday (May, 12th). This is both in order to enlighten some people and – above all – to learn many new things and make new experiences.

Here are some of my ideas from several presentations, discussions and debates around digitalization. I am sure it would be enough to fill an entire book, which is why some of my ideas are only in catchwords. However, it should suffice for those who know a little about the issue.


Digitalization – a great misunderstanding?
No tomorrow without today, no today without yesterday!

My presentation during the evening event BICCnight it at media in the foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern, München on 22/07/2011 (picture taken by: Stephan Goerlich) – For the video, see below.

Abstract:
If you want to understand the present, you need to know how the present came about. The history of digitalization is very old. During the last fifty years, the development speeded up tremendously, and in the last two decades, there was yet another boost. All indicators suggest that, at least in the next twenty years, the acceleration will continue.


Digitalization
“Digitalization” caused a massive change in our society. It did so in a different way than but to a similar extent as the “Industrial Revolution” in the last three centuries. As we all know, the second great “transformation through technological progress” still lies ahead. It will, again, totally change our individual and social way of life.
Consequently, it cannot do any harm to ask the following questions:

What exactly is the meaning of digitalization? How did it happen? What changed so far? Where are we today? What does digitalization mean for the “analogous” creature “homo sapiens”? What will come next? And is it possible that the new technology will transform us back to a “creature that communicates purely analogously”?

In my presentations, I discuss these and other questions both on a technical and sociological level. I try to make my presentations easily comprehensible and entertaining. I am also brave enough to give prognoses and suggest a few answers. But above all, I try to provoke people and make them thoughtful.

Thus, many questions arise. They can be answered in quite different ways.



From here: more in catchwords.
What is the purpose of digitalization?

After all, humans communicate analogously, don’t they?

In our brains, language and thinking are analogous processes. A relatively short time after language was first used, there came the wish to write down numbers, ideas, thoughts and stories. Initially, it was probably also because it was an application that was economically useful. Later, it was used for handing down and making available for a broad public through the times all “knowledge”.

This is how images, symbols, digits, numbers and a systemic stock of signs (alphabet) were created. The goal was always to “lay down in writing” language (ideas, stories). Because you wanted to transport them through time and space with more than just by word of mouth. And when reading them, the “brains” had to “de-cipher” them into analogous language.

All stock of signs can be bi-jectively represented by the minimal set of numbers {0,1}. Digitalization means basically that what is analogous can be represented by something digital and then transported and processed, but, above all, again “made analogous”. That is how it started. However, today the digital world has come such a long way that it serves us totally analogously.

The history of digitalization:
Written language as digitalization of language: 24 symbols.
Stone, clay, papyrus, paper as information carrier.
Formerly: one monk dictates, many write down.
Then: printing press, movable letters.
Sound is mechanically stored (wax disc, hurdy-gurdy, record disc, chiming cylinder).
Information was transported through physical transport of the storage elements.
Interesting exceptions were linked signals based on optical and acoustical means (mirrors on watch towers along the Italian coast, drum chains) – usually with a reduced information width (for a certain purpose).

Then electricity came…
Transfer through cables via electricity or wireless
Storage: still mechanically (punched tapes).
Later: first magnetic sound carriers (currently disappearing).

Protocols:

The history of transmission protocols alone would fill an entire book. Here are just a few catchwords:
MORSE-Code (3 values, short, long, pause=end; variable sign length, maximum of four).
For transfer and later publication of content (material and method).
TELEX (mechanical – electrical)
CCITT-Code (5 Bit-Code, 31 symbols with 24 letters plus special symbols)
Telephone/Telefax – both were analogous with cable transmission.
ISDN and packet switching (X25) came later.
Long distance data transfer was by modem through the telephone network.
(modulation of digital signals into analogous signals and back through de-modulation at the other end of the connection).
Then digitalization came for data transfer, too. Basically, it is all about sampling curves in same-distant intervals (grids) – this is also how sound = music = language is digitalized.

At the same time, the universal machine (computer) was invented. Basically, it could do more than just calculations. In fact, it could do everything.

Pandora’s box opened.

The CD came in 1982, ISDN in 1989 (Pilot as early as 1979).
CD is short for Compact Disk, initially it was called DD for Digital Disk.

When ISDN was first introduced, both the population and the parliament were very much afraid because now total supervision was possible! Today, ISDN has been replaced – as TELEX has been in the 1980s. And everything can be more or less supervised – and is being supervised as the necessity arises.

Data processing, too, became digital as a matter of principle and data display consoles were added to the mix.

I saw my first colour data display console on the Hannover Fair in 1980. It had been produced by Tectronix, looked like a big Oscillograph and cost as much as a small terraced house in Munich.

It was now possible to multiplex on one cable; then, at long last, data remote transfer based on packet switching comes (Datex-P X25). For the first time, networks become “clouds” – up to now, they had always consisted of numerous linked lines.

The future belonged to screen texts. The blanking interval of TV was made use of. After all, during the time the cathode ray needed for going from the bottom right to the left, no data were transferred. This was utilized for embedding data into the TV program. By using a simple back channel, they were even able to create an interactive communication through the TV with screen text computers. Even graphics was possible. Simple images were coded on the line and column screen through codes that were based on alpha and mosaic tables. To be sure, the result was a little plump and it took a long time to generate a page, but at least it worked. Nevertheless, BTX was soon overtaken. But it was certainly a good tool for watching soccer results and simple news for many years.

Another “service” – teletext with a more achievement-based point-to-point protocol (Datex-L) and standardized visual display units as stations was to become the predecessor of Telex (also known as: wire based with output on teletypewriter). But that was a product that failed before it was even operational


Note:
I experienced two “goose-bump moments” on the Berlin IFA (Internationale Funk Ausstellung): first with coloured TV (1960s) and then with the CD (in the 1970s). Both times, I experienced something that had seemed “unbelievable” for me. Again, reality pushed its way closer to our living rooms, the real world started getting mixed up with the virtual world.


Technological Advanced is Under Way:

Here my father’s original “Transistor-Radio”. We used it in IF-Blog as label for our Radiophilosophie.

I will never forget my father’s transistor radio. Because this was some progress that really made him happy. It was a small Grundig device with six transistors. It ran on UKW and MW, was small, had batteries. Now you could receive radio waves everywhere – even abroad. That was important in times of cold war.

Incidentally, coloured TV was first broadcast in 1967. And for us black-and-white watchers, it was something like a technological miracle (although we had been taught – and even understood – the technical principles in physics).

Citation:
When coloured TV started in 1967 Körting offered the cheapest colour TV, a device with 14 tubes plus image tube and with a two-transformation unit concept.

And then matters developed from there.
Digital music (the gramophone record was replaced by the CD, the CD was integrated into the iPod through MacIntosh and iTunes).
We got wireless telephones and then later digital telephones.
In addition to synchronous communication, there was now also asynchronous communication.


Note:
Here is a video recording of my presentation in the Foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern in Munich on July, 22nd, 2011 that fits quite well at this point. The wonderful title was::

What’s new, pussycat?”

 


Then came solutions that we still know today …

e-Mail
Internet
telephones with pictures
Social Media, FB, Google, Wikipedia …
Today, this is all really ancient stuff.
But there was also lots of rubbish:
The obligation to save emails, data collection and data security (almost ridiculous and a thing of the past, because today it is a matter of course)

Then came BIG DATA and with it another huge misunderstanding.
Just look at sentences like: “Data as crude oil of the future”, “big data engine will make dollars out of data”. All these sentences are bullshit at best.

Along with these developments, the calculator replaced having to do your sums by heart, on paper or with a slide rule.

And they say that, soon, the cars will all sit in the queue without anybody behind the wheel while the manager uses the underground train, which brings him to his meeting on time while the car arrives late. …

But what is the trend?

There was a time when I would have written: snapchat, wechat and the likes are what determine our future. But today, all of these, too, are a thing of the ancient past.

Tomorrow!

This is probably only about developed societies – the others will become poorer and poorer and will have totally different things to be concerned about. But here, much (all?) might change:
Chat kills E-Mail
Podcast kills Post
Audio kills reading & writing
Video kills Audio (telephone)
… ???

The classic form of mobility will change drastically.
3D will change everyday life.
Documents will probably soon disappear.
Money will become truly virtual.
Ownership, property and legality will become virtual – with all its consequences.
The golden rule will be: “Whatever is simple and useful will win“
The Messie culture will leave the real world (property will only be a burden) and become virtual.
We will leave physical values, a well-filled digital stock is more important than strange physical values that only cause stress.
Many hypes that today annoy people will become matters of course – or will totally disappear.
Even more than now, people will talk about things they do not know anything about.
Machines will determine what happens.
New tools will determine trends.

Learning and education will change drastically.

What will happen to schools and universities? Perhaps some of them will survive as nostalgic remainders from former times.
Smart Solutions will work for us and we will not even be aware of it.

Smart Solutions will make “shared economy” possible, perhaps thus saving the world? Or maybe they will at least postpone the apocalypse a little?

Through self-sufficient learning, systems of artificial intelligence will become faster and more intelligent – and will humans, to make up for it, become more and more stupid?
New technology will make the world go round even without humans, because it will directly communicate with the world.

In society, we will get “conspiracy theories” that have totally new dimensions. Humans will use more and more audio, video and three-dimensional experiences. The competence to read and write quasi automatically because it is a cultural competence as a matter of course will disappear. Rudimentary illiteracy will develop. Most people will forget how to read and write, just like they already forgot how to do sums by heart or on paper a long time ago. Because you simply will no longer need it.

But then, what technologies already play an important role today and will probably become really relevant in the future?

Or: What do we wish to focus on today?

Sensors!

Up until recently, the entire IT always communicated only with humans or, at best, with other “digital systems”. By using sensors, IT can now suddenly work directly with the world – it no longer needs humans as in-betweens.

Smart Solutions
In the context of solutions, Smart means the combination of “digital technology” and “social change”.

Short: smart = social + digital

More advanced solutions that, today, are named by buzzwords like augmented, merged or virtual reality.

All kinds of autonomous and integrative systems, probably totally different from those we even imagine today. Which probably means something other than the self-driving car. Let us just wait and see!

The problem will always be the user interface. For instance, if you look at the poor grades even much-used “German Apps” get, then you can easily conclude that the development of Apps has a very good future.

Let me conclude with a warning and a
theory:
The future – based on digital technology – will bring the “analogization” of everyday life and an enormous social change through smart solutions!

Warning

Digitalization is a very old thing! It was in the ancient past! Issues like data security are dead. Discussing it will only deflect us from actually following the current developments. And from giving the quasi automatical social change a humane orientation.

As I see it, we really should have discussions and debates about this. But, please, think first, then talk!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday April 5th, 2017

IT Upland BarCamp on May, 12th, 2017 in Holzkirchen!

The BarCamp on Digital Transformation and its Social Consequences

In those days, the author still thought in terms of hardware 🙂

Currently, the buzzword DIGITALIZATION is ever present. There is a Zentrum-Digitalisierung.Bayern (ZD.B) and in the Bavarian districts, state-subsidized digitalization centres are being established.

Except that digitalization was yesterday. Those were the days when clocks, tachometers and thermometers suddenly got digital displays. I think it must have been around 1985, when Apple 2 and MacIntosh were modern and the German computer scientists still earned a lot of money in their industry nostalgia with BS2000.

Today, the internet and google are old. Even a few decades ago, we dreamed of self-learning systems – due to our AI (Artificial Intelligence) euphoria. The more modern persons among us gave the German KI the English title AI, because we already knew that it was not going to have much of a chance in Germany. In those days, we dreamed of Lisp and Prolog. Now we have thinking systems that quickly learn by themselves – in areas like translation and traffic – because the hardware is so powerful that it starts to work properly. Even without Lisp and Prolog.

To this day, many new things happen. They happen at a speed that we can no longer follow. And it seems to only just start. An unbelievable wave of products rolls towards us. It will again radically change the world. Many laws and regulations will no longer function in the future. Many questions come to mind:

  • Today, everybody discusses the “self-driving car”. But I wonder if that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes in our lives. And maybe much more will, palpably and impalpably, change before that?
  • Aren’t we living in the time of sensor technology, which creates a totally new connection and interaction between informatics and the world? And will not soon the time come when this is no longer about the interface humans-machines, but about the interface world-machine?
  • Is it really possible to practice data protection rationally? Or is it just a chimera of those who eternally live in the past? What does it mean for our society?
  • What technological elements do smart solutions need in a modern IoT architecture? Incidentally, what exactly is the meaning of “smart” – and what exactly do we mean when we say IoT?
  • What about the rules for robots (self-driving cars)? What does the Federal Ethics Commission have to say about it?
  • What about fighting robots and drones? What does all this mean for war and peace?
  • Should we not be thinking new concepts with respect to many elements of our social order as a consequence of technological development? Or even define them anew?
  • What does this mean for our social framework? Will politics remain the means by which to form it, or have machines already taken over?

These and more questions will be discussed openly, honestly and considerately during the Oberland BarCamp in Holzkirchen – which is what we mostly do on barcamps.

That is why I registered for the BarCamp on digital transformation and its social consequences – aka Oberland BarCamp. It will be in the RSC Factory – Trainings- und Coachingzentrum für Digital Business & Innovation in Holzkirchen on May, 12th.

And I already look forward to meeting many friends!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

 

About stand-by-jobs, facilitation and driverless underground trains. And about Uli.

I short time ago, I was introduced to Ulrich Sendler. Uli is an “Independent technology analyst” and musician. He writes books (that are even translated into Chinese, where they are best-sellers), gives presentations (judging by what I saw of him, I assume his presentations are rather competent and entertaining) and he also works as a counsellor and moderator. When we met, he told me that he will soon be speaking in Gütersloh on the keynote topic: “Automated Society”. You order a service via internet and the delivery or service will be carried out automatically.

For me, “automated society” and “self-service society” are also “buzz words” often used when people characterize our “new digitalized society” in our “post-fact everyday life”.

These expressions immediately triggered a few association and ideas:

Technology is there to make life and work easier for humans. There is a nice and nowadays often used buzz word for this:
Facilitation!
In Wikipedia, you find the definition: 
Facilitation is any activity that makes tasks for others easy, or tasks that are assisted.

In everyday life, this is responsible for the fact that work humans used to do is now easier because of technological advances. We might even end up having to do nothing at all.

Just think of Lufthansa pilots. Currently, they are often written about in the press because of their passionate attitude towards strikes. Your average poor pilot will only be allowed to actually become active for ten minutes of a long-distance flight, for instance to the Caribbean: when initiating and realizing the start and landing phases. He spends the rest of the time watching the plane fly. The poor pilot is not allowed to relieve his boredom by playing computer games. Presumably, alcohol is just as forbidden as visiting ladies – like stewardesses – in the cockpit. All that remains is boredom.

Wecker1In my vocabulary, these jobs are “stand-by-jobs”. Since I used to be a programmer, this would be like having to watch the computer programming itself and then being allowed five minutes to evaluate if the resulting program is what it should be. To me, such a job description sounds rather cruel. It is quite possible that such a stand-by job will cause depressions.

Two decades ago, there was a phase of about two weeks after I had switched to a new employer during which there was nothing to do for me. I sat in my office from morning to evening, was terribly bored and tried with all my might to do something meaningful. And the digits of the clock seemed to really, really creep.

Never again in my work-life was I as unhappy as then.

Münchner U-Bahnhof Dietlindenstraße (U6) - Urheber: FloSch - Eigenes Werk unter CC BY 2.5 (2005)

Munich Underground station Dietlindenstraße (U6) – by FloSch, under CC BY 2.5 published in Wikipedia (2005)

One of the systems the Stadtwerke München (SWM) supervise is the Munich Underground Network. The SWM are intelligent employers. They know that humans do not appreciate “stand-by-work”. Underground train drivers, too, have become “stand-by-workers”.

But the Stadtwerke want happy underground train drivers who are motivated to do their jobs. A short time ago, I learned that all underground train drivers have to exit at every station to control how full the train is. And after this has been done successfully, they have to signal that the train can continue. That is an important task.

This activity was introduced to make the platforms safer. Above all, however, it is a measure that serves the driver, because in this way his job gets more responsible and diverse, and he even gets a little exercise. That is good both for the body and the soul.

Except that in Nuremberg, the underground trains have been moving without a driver for many years now. And those in Lyon have been doing so for decades. And in both cases, the model seems to work quite fine, actually even better than with a driver.
May my readers come to their own conclusions.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Yesterday, I used the MVG Bus number 210 from Neuperlach Station to Ottobrunn, Jahnstrasse. The driver sat in his dark cabin and was rather isolated. All contact between vehicle and passengers was automated: the display and announcement of stops. The driver is reduced to being the one behind the wheel. He will stop the bus whenever he can see someone at the bus stop or if someone has pressed the button inside the bus. On this evening, I was lucky, because the driver drove very sensibly. He never accelerated too abruptly or stomped on the breaks with too much force. I found that rather agreeable. But there are also some drivers who really let their hair down. That is when you think a self-driven bus might have its advantages. Technologically speaking, I am sure it is already possible.

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 24th, 2016

“Digital Change” – About my Presentation – #nostructure !

Leider habe ich keine Bilder von Vortrag in Nürnberg und Rosenheim.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the presentations in Nuremberg and Rosenheim.

I always enjoy giving presentations. Most of them are for cherished friends or good causes. I try not to express truths, instead questioning those concepts I myself believe in.

Because I feel the “truth” inside myself that there is no such thing as an absolute truth.

It is a rather difficult topic. Just think of the sentence:

“Tolerance is the most precious commodity. Intolerance can only be tolerated against intolerance. But that is where it has to happen!“

A little pondering will quickly make you understand what the real problem is.
These days, I mostly speak about topics such as “leadership”, “entrepreneurship” and “digitalization”. I always learn most when I give a presentation. The same was true the day before yesterday in Kolbermoor, where I had been invited by Tech-Division, which is an enterprise that gave me a very positive feeling. The Tech-Division’s offices in Kolbermoor are at the “Alte Spinnerei“, which is a beautiful loft building.

This time, the title of my presentation on digital transformation was: 
What is often forgotten when people talk digitalization!

Since it is my desire to have something of interest for all the audience, I always bring something like a “critical potpourri”. I mostly work with metaphors. I try not to force the presentation into a structure. Consequently, as a matter of principle, I do not use slides (if the lecture hall is huge, I use emotional background images).
I only use the important standards of communication (such as the rule of three and the rule of five, Syllogisms  and logic arguments) within my “potpourri”. I used to give many “sales presentations”. The intention was to manipulate or at least to convince the audience of something.

Here is how I did it:

In my presentations, I introduced a (plausible) theory X (which was easily understandable for the audience) and then developed a logical chain: from X follows A, from A follows B … and from Y follows Z. This is how I deduced a message Z from X, wanting to show that from a commonly accepted assumption X a conclusion Z can be justified. Z was my message. I wanted to make the audience believe in Z. Those days are over.

In general, I like working with analogies during my presentations. For instance, I describe a principle or a mechanism that basically has nothing to do with the actual topic, yet it contains a message that can be applied to other principles or scenarios. And, depending on how I see the current moment, I also relate the analogy – or let the audience find it.

Here is an example:

Whenever I talk digitalization, I also talk infra structure. Infra structure is an exciting topic. We live in the Anthropozene (Anthropozän), that is the era of humans. Humans have changed the world, either considerably or totally. They created new infra structure and technologies. In fact, it started with the “humanoids” who were our forefathers.

Initially, a very long time ago, came the upright posture, the (resulting?) development of tools, the ability to think and speak (10,000 years ago?), followed by “written language” (5,000 years ago?). These innovations probably triggered the “information society”, or else they were at least what made it possible.

Building infra structure in mobility was probably started with the development of paths that facilitated “walking on foot”. When the wheel was invented (3,000 years before Christ?), the first forms of “streets” had to be built. Water (the ocean, rivers, lakes,…) has always played an important role when it came to mobility. A network of channels was used. Then came the postal service coach, the railway and mechanized and motorized individual traffic. The traffic network was extended to an unbelievable dimension.

However, not only humans and products must be mobile. The stories of the people also needed mobility. This is why the job of the courier was invented. Letters were sent, transmission by cable or radio communication, networks such as the telefax, telegram or telephone circuits were invented. Today, it is the internet. The first requirement for all these things was electricity. Consequently, they made electricity networks for transporting energy.…

What I like talking about in my presentations on “digitalization” is the road network, which – as I see it – is the biggest infra structure of all times. You can probably get to almost any inhabited place on this planet by car. You will find parking places, streets, gas stations and repair shops for cars everywhere – even on small islands. There is probably nobody who does not get products that have not at some point been transported by a truck or car.

There is probably no other sector where rules and regulations tell us how individual mobility has to look and what we have to do and what characteristics such a vehicle must have. There is a minimum age and you need a driver’s licence if you want to move inside this infra structure with a motorized vehicle.

For me, the question (naturally) is: what benefit did all this bring us if we look at the results. 1,400 million fatalities per year world-wide. Besides no end of health hazards through noise and air pollution. But also indirectly because we no longer exercise and consequently become obese. A landscape that is all concrete. And much more. Isn’t it quite obvious that one might fear something must have gone wrong? And that perhaps you should learn from history?

In my presentations, I take this huge infra structure and the way there as a metaphor for technologic development (after all, digitalization is only a part of technology). Now, being the orator, I have to decide:

Should I explicitly say it? After all, I am talking about “digitalization”. Consequently, everyone in the audience might start thinking about how the road network metaphor might be applied to the “digital network” and the internet.

I might choose to motivate people verbally towards thinking and I might give some impulses.

On the other hand, I might want to expand on facts that will motivate people to think by themselves. That the traffic network reaches almost every human. However, the internet currently only reaches 2 trillion out of 8 trillion persons. Facebook can allegedly reach 1 trillion persons. I say “allegedly” because some sources say the number is “only” 500 billion.

I could ask people what it means to be a “digital” person and internet user. Is it enough to use email and chat, have a Facebook account and occasionally use Wikipedia (which, basically, is just another thesaurus)? Or do I have to actively participate in order to be a digital person? Just think of the not-so-old buzzword Web2.0 that is now forgotten (humans becoming “part-givers”, instead of being “participants“)!?

This is how I intentionally try to give very “chaotic” and “confusing” presentations. I enjoy every single nice feedback. Especially if it is later modified by phrases such as “… but, unfortunately, it did not seem to be very clearly structured… “ or ”… even if occasionally I could not find a real thread… “

Because then I succeeded in doing what I wanted to do!
RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is another piece of advice: if you want to learn something about digitalization – meaning how it works – then I recommend you read Fefe’s Blog, That is the “BILD-Zeitung for Nerds“ (joke!) You can learn under many aspects.

Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 – Trump and our Beloved Jobs …
Yesterday, I received an email from a very beloved and wise friend. The following paragraph contains the gist of the message:


The day before yesterday, Kaeser of Siemens demanded the unconditional income. He is worried about future jobs – our old topic. Since you are a person who likes to think about theories, maybe you would like to question my thesis that Trump, by being a protectionist, is actually unintentionally doing the right thing. Because before the negative influence of protectionism can really have consequences, there will be a massive reduction of jobs through industry 4.0 – and since, by then, the USA will again have more jobs in their own country, there might actually be more jobs available in the end.

I am sure this thesis is not really well-researched, but I can easily imagine that it might happen in this way.


So sehen mich Christian und Daniel (© Visual-Braindump) - zumindest letzte Woche auf PM_Camp in Dornbirn.

This is how Christian and Daniel (©Visual-Braindump) see me – at least it is how they saw me last week during our nice Dornbirn PM Camp.

I cannot comment on Trump. I do not know if Trump will be good news or bad news for the USA or even for the entire world. All I know is that most politicians, entrepreneurial leaders, union heads and other socially responsible persons have made a whole lot of mistakes and that now the time has come to pay the price. Because people are fed up and will no longer have patience. Basically, that is also true for me.

I rather like the theory that Trump might be doing the right thing if he is putting some restrictions on globalization. The phrases I outlined in “bold lettering” seem to take the assumption for granted that a future reduction of job opportunities will be a consequence of industry 4.0, which seems a little disturbing to me. I often hear it. Just like I often hear that a huge “service proletariat” will grow in times to come. My opinion is that we already have the latter. Just look at how many people earn their living by “driving cars” or “security”, or similar jobs.

I will also concede that a reduction of job opportunities is quite possible in industry. As soon as we no longer have cars, there will no longer be jobs in the car industry. That sounds logical to me. However, I believe that those jobs will then be substituted by other products to be manufactured. Basically, this is an automation process. As it has always been.

But: The future cannot be predicted!

If you believe you should think about the future, then at least you should not think as one-dimensionally as apparently some of the huge enterprises seem to see it when they now suddenly and surprisingly demand the “unconditional income (BGE)“. Basically, I believe they will now copy Trump as “Mr. Success”. That means they just demand something. Perhaps they have the desire to also be at the receiving end of a beating. Well, why not comply. Trump was beaten for every other thing he said – and perhaps that is exactly what he wanted. …
After all, he is a sly fox and wanted to win the elections. Following the motto – the more beatings, the more honour.

Consequently, I can also imagine that, in the future, we will perhaps have a lot more jobs, regardless of “industry 4.0” and “digital transformation” (and I am not sure what terminology and mental experiments are behind those buzzwords). Here are a few examples:

  • Farming
    If we want to return to eating food that deserves the name, then it might well be possible that more persons will be needed for farming …
  • Forestry
The information I have tells me that, even now, more than one million persons work in forestry in the FRG. It is quite possible that forests will become extremely important for our lives in the future …
  • Crafts
    As I see it, there will be endless opportunities in this sector in the future …
  • Care
    Elderly persons need attention, elderly persons need care. And our average life expectancy continues to grow …
  • Education
    More and more young persons need more and more assistance when it comes to coping with their own lives and finding their place in society …
  • Infra structure (old)
    Be it Munich underground trains, railway trains, streets or bridges – our infra structure is badly in need of maintenance. And soon there will only be two options left to us: either barricade them or repair them. And basically, we cannot really barricade all of them, can we?
  • Infra structure (new)
    I read that public transportation is threatening to collapse even in the small “megacity of Munich”. I hear visions of the “smart city” of the future. All these things will not happen by themselves.
  • Infra structure (example)
    A short time ago, I heard from the “Stadtwerke München” that they think rather intently about “cooling down Munich”. It is assumed that the “Asian Way” of making buildings cold – as many persons will soon demand – cannot be applied in Munich (the reasons are, among others, that it is inefficient). Now they are thinking about remote cooling as the best solution …
  • Tourism
    As far as I know, even today, the hotel and restaurant sector is the strongest of all in Bavaria as far as turnover and employment are concerned. Those who occasionally spend time in Peking or Mumbai will probably appreciate what climate, scenery, sightseeing venues, security and other attractions we have. He or she will probably enjoy vacationing in our country. This might turn into a lucrative business. However: welcoming people will only be possible through humans and service…
  • Demolition (environment 1)
    As of now, we still cover enormous amounts of Bavarian soil with concrete every year. However, this process might easily (have to) be reversed.…
  • Catastrophe prevention (environment 2)
    “We will drown in all this water !“ said astro-physicist Harald Lesch recently about the huge flood catastrophes that seem to happen all over the place. You could read it in todays “Bavaria” sector of the SZ. It is quite possible that, in the future, we will have to tackle not only floods, but also tornadoes, massive periods of dryness and much more. And that means we will need a permanent catastrophe army. …
  • Integration of refugees
    It is quite possible that what we saw in the last two years is just a small prelude to what will come in the future. If we want to socially integrate all the persons who come to us even rudimentarily without heading towards another catastrophe, we need many, many people. 
Incidentally, this is also true for the German Leitkultur. Someone has to teach it. …

I am sure that you can come up with many more similar things if only you take the time to think about them.

As you can see, I do not really believe that there might come a situation when most of us will not have anything to do and we will consequently need an unconditional income. On the contrary: I am afraid there will be more than enough work for us just to make sure we will survive. And it will not suffice for us to simply melt down some of our wealth reserves.

Regardless, I consider it quite important to try the unconditional income. But this is not because there is no work left to do. It is because otherwise we probably cannot afford our complex system with things like child-care money, BaFöG, unemployment benefit, basic security (more, social subsidies, Hartz4, subsidized rents, …) . Because we cannot play bureaucracy until we die. Instead, we will have to start hands-on.

But as I said: nobody knows what the future will bring. Just like none of us owns all the truth. And when we are talking the future, this is doubly true.

RMD

P.S.
I just remember that the big “Sechziger” sponsor arrived driving a Maybach he rented at a Munich chauffeur centre for the press conference scheduled given after their coach was made redundant . …

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 12th, 2016

Interview for the DOAG-TV on “Digitalization”

DOAG22016-K-A-Banner-180x180_speakerBetween November, 15th and November, 18th, 2016, the DOAG Conference and Exhibition will be for the 29th time in Nuremburg. I was there and was permitted to give a presentation – and I was also interviewed by DOAG-TV. Here are the questions and my answers:


When and where, as you see it, did digitalization basically begin?

For me, digitalization started with the “written language”. A few thousand years – maybe 5,000 years – after language had evolved, they found a way to write it down. Then came the information carriers for written language , such as papyrus, paper and IT, along with machines such as the printing press, the lead set and eventually the internet.

Incidentally, written texts were first used for business purposes (merchandize). Business is the inventor of all things – not war. If anything, war is just an extreme sort of business – and, as I see it, a totally questionable and perverted one.

Auch damals waren die Zeiten schon "digital".

In those days, times were already “digital”.

Where are we today, and what does digitalization mean for the “analogous” creature “homo sapiens”?

Humans are and will always remain analogous creatures. Through the “cultural techniques” such as reading and writing, humans became a little digital. But never quite fully. After all, to this day humans cannot really manage to translate digital experiences into their analogous concepts of mind. Just think of the secret of the big number. Linear is hard enough, geometrical is quite difficult, logarithmic is impossible. Can you imagine how much money 200 quadrillion Euros is (it is the sum by which the EU countries indebt themselves anew each year)?

We lost the competence to calculate mentally or on paper as soon as the pocket calculator was invented. Who of us can still do it? Who can still extract a root or do a logarithmic value by hand?

Looking ahead: what will digitalization bring us?

Strangely enough, digitalization might actually make our lives analogue again. In former times, we translated digital data into analogous signals by modem (modulating and demodulating) before sending them on through a cable. And at the opposite end of the cable, the modem again re-translated them into digital data. Today, we translate analoous signals (noise and images) into digital data for transportation, split them into small data packages, send them through a package network, collect them and then re-arrange them in order to reconstruct the analogous signal from digital data (which is why we no longer have any static).

What will we have in the future?

  • In communications: facilitation gets more and more important. We will have more images and less written words. We will talk more and draw and write less. Audio will become more and more relevant – also as part of asynchronous communication. Podcasts and video recordings will continue to grow.
  • A “rudimentary illiteracy” will spread more and more. Language will benefit. Strong metaphors will become important, along with the awareness of “restricted code” and “elaborated code”.
  • Control of language and gestures will become dominant.
    Well, this is what the future might be like. Or maybe not. After all, we cannot predict the future.

 


So much about my interview! I will give a presentation at the DOAG Conference on Wednesday about “Digitalization – A Huge Error”. I already collected so much exciting material that I do not know what to tell people. That makes me nervous. But then, I will first be interviewed on Tuesday. As soon as my interview is online, I will, of course, set a link to it on the IF Blog. And I am quite curious what it will be in the end that I am going to talk about.

The picture was taken during my last presentation on the GOAG Conference of 2015.

"Zur Erinnerung an meinen Vortrag in 2015 (created by Christian Botta")

“Commemoration of my Presentation of 2015 (created by Christian Botta)“.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

DSC_1659or:
 How the Chauffeured Gentleman Imagines the Autonomous Car.

ADFC – that is the lobby club for us bike riders. Many bike riders think this club is a little stuffy and consider it just the equivalent of the ADAC. Consequently, they prefer free grass root movements, such as “Critical Mass“ and the like. Regardless, it is a pleasure for me to be an ADFC member and I also support the association with lobby work wherever possible. And I also very much recommend the membership.

The ADFC also organizes many excellent events. One of them is the lunch discussion group in Munich. At those lunches, I already witnessed many interesting presentations, for instance by Herrn Ude (when he was still mayor of Munich), Herrn Ramsauer (when he was Federal Minister of Transport), Toni Hofreiter (as mobility expert of the Green Party), but also by persons who are less publicly well-known, as for example the DB-Regio .managing director. The discussions were always very interesting and important.

Yesterday, we had another ADFC lunch discussion in Munich. The speaker was Peter Driessen , who is general manager of the IHK Munich and Upper Bavaria. For those who do not know what IHK is: it means Industrie- und Handelskammer (Chamber for Industry and Commerce). It is an organisation you have to be a member of if you own an enterprise, just as you have to pay their membership fees.

As an entrepreneur, you do not know why you have to be a member, but in return, you get a high-gloss magazine at regular intervals that is rather lacking in content and not very interesting either – and that will immediately end up In the rubbish bin. The IHK is generally quite present in people’s minds, because more often than not it has many managing directors – and those managing directors earn quite good money. After all, they are also responsible for many enterprises (see Official List of IHK on incomes of the GF team, not included other advantages such as business car and chauffeur, etc. – Offizielle Liste der IHK zur Einkünfte der GF-Teams ohne weitere Vorteile wie Geschäftsauto mit Fahrer etc.).

And then, Peter D. (without having intended to) explained with a personal true example how all the different traffic systems might be integrated in the future, at the same time disclosing his personal vision of a “driver-less car”:


“On the way to a presentation, his chauffeur-driven car got stuck in the traffic jam at Donnersberger Brücke. And since there was no chance for him to reach his destination in time using the private vehicle, he just left his car and continued on his way by S-Bahn train. And he managed to be on time. This would not have been possible without a chauffeur, since he could not have left the car standing in the middle of the Donnersberger Brücke, could he?”.

He then completed this example using his personal vision of a self-driving car:


“This is how, in such situations, you could continue by using public transportation in order to reach your destiny on time and the driver-less car could then do a leisurely turn through the congested streets and eventually retrieve its owner”.

He sounded rather serious when he said this. Perhaps he meant it as a joke? Except that such a concept of mobile future is all but hilarious. Especially if it comes from an important representative of a business association, at least one who considers himself extremely important.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Guido Bruch commented on my article
#Digitalization – The “Ethics” of IT and “Artificial Intelligence“
(#Digitalisierung – Die „Ethik“ von IT und „Künstlicher Intelligenz“)
Here it is:


In the book “Silicon Germany”, the ethical dimension is discussed. Here is an example: a child runs onto the street from the right side. On the left, an elderly person is walking with a walking frame. Humans behind a wheel would decide either at random or consciously whom to run down if they cannot stop their car in time. But then, what to tell a machine to do? Should we always protect the child and thus select (and this with Germany’s past?) or should there be a random generator? I think this is what it is all about.

But I am sure these are all just theoretical questions, since the number of potential accidents is probably small. The topic would probably solve itself. Have there ever been these kinds of accidents?

Another question is what the car manufacturers will do if the request changes from country to country? For instance if some Golf countries say they want to protect the natives at all costs and instead sacrifice foreign labour?


Many thanks to Guido. His article gave me many associated and emotional ideas:

The problem is that a program that is supposed to follow a balancing ethics has to have an evaluation matrix with calculable rules that can evaluate the value of human life through a well-defined systematics, covering all cases in several dimensions.

In other words, you would suddenly have to evaluate and classify the age and gender, but also the education, function and social responsibility of a person and much more. And thus you would have to reach a “personal value number” that makes it possible to calculate the relation between an individual and the set of all humans. Similar to the mathematical value “bigger than“ for whole numbers.

(In theory, you will then not have room for “equal” or “equal-same”, because that would probably mean you need a random generator, after all.)

If you continue in this way, then you will also have to think about such a relation as “bigger” in terms of a set of humans at any time and decide about one of them being the most important and one the least important.

Totally mathematically. To me, this entire discussion seems absolutely useless, even if you will find it in the book Silicon Germany.

Incidentally, this has been regulated for persons living in the FRG a long time ago. We have a constitution that clearly states that all men are equal. Consequently, an absurd metric that would algorithmically determine the “value of a person” is not permissible.

So what “ethical” definitions should a machine follow?

Here is an example:
Guido writes – and immediately doubts – that one might come up with the idea of always saving the child. Then the first question would, of course, be: what to do if you have to decide between two children?

Quite apart from the fact that this would define a two-class society: children versus the rest of society. But then, how do we define “child”? By age, size, weight, maturity? And what about a mother as part of the “rest” if she is nine months pregnant? Perhaps she is two persons – one child and one rest? I also think the “rest” would vehemently oppose this kind of regulation.

Incidentally, the dilemma is very old. What to do if, shortly before the birth, they discover that the mother would die giving birth to a baby that might live? And that the mother can only be saved by killing the baby? This is a mental experiment that actually happens in real life. And, of course, you can extend it by telling people, for instance, that the mother has two more small children (and a husband…). Can this kind of thing be forced into a series of rules that a machine could work with? Of course, the answer is: no!

Here are a few examples with which I would like to show the absurdity:

Who is worth more?

  • The Federal Chancellor or the leader of the German Soccer Team?
  • A CSU county representative or an SPD federal representative?
  • An entrepreneur or a politician?
  • A German or a Frenchman (depending on where)?
  • An integrated citizen with white skin or a dark-skinned asylum seeker?
  • A young man or an elderly lady?
  • The person sitting in one car controlled by a robot or the person sitting in the car controlled by another robot coming from the opposite side?
  • Or, to be cynical: robot A has been installed by BMW. Potential accident cars are another BMW and a Mercedes. Should he ram the BMW or the Mercedes?

You can produce these examples in huge quantities. But to what end? Except in order to demonstrate how it does not make sense at all?
Let me give you a few seemingly harmless examples: cat against dog, which is of higher value? The strangling dog or the pedigree animal owned by the opera star? Or – just to top all absurdity: what should the car roll over if there is a choice between the “common German toad on its way” and a “run-away Greek tortoise”?
(Please note: when I ride my bike, it always hurts me to see all those run-over toads and in Greece all those run-over tortoises).

Most persons propose you could use a random generator for these decisions. After all, it would not really be activated very often, would it? This sounds rather pragmatic. Why not?

Incidentally, the great Isaac Asimov solves the problem quite easily in his SF work: as soon as a robot threatens to do damage to a human, the system will block itself following the three robotics rules, thereby being destroyed once and for all. But he, too, soon discovers that his proposal has a glitch (incidentally, it is from the 1940ies).
The glitch is:
What are the characteristics by which a computer identifies the human being? At one time, this seems to be the dialect of the Solaris “spacers“. Aurora “spacers” seem to have huge problem with it. And the same is true for the “settlers“. And consequently, the Solaris robots start killing intruders – even if those intruders are humans.

🙂 Here is what I propose: why don’t we take the Bavarian dialect as a determining factor whether or not someone is human? Even the big Bavarian party might want to make this idea part of its program…

However, when it comes to autonomous cars, the “laws of robotics” will not help either. It can only work if the car is driving empty :-).

No, the ethics commission for autonomous driving is nonsense – just like most ethics commissions and discussions.

To be sure, I would wish for an ethics commission for drones and war robots. However, the result of those commissions seems as clear as the fact that those who have all the power would ignore it anyway.

Another ethics commission I could easily imagine is one that answers the question if it should be allowed for private institutions (concerns such as google, amazon …, but also lobbyism as practiced in many sectors, up to private armies employed by some enterprises) to get such power as has never existed in society, in extreme cases even including psychological and even physical violence. In some cases, there should probably be a discussion about a violation of the “federal monopoly of violence”.

Except that it is absolutely clear to me that the result of such a commission could only be a clear “NO”, which would, however, be likewise ignored.

Ethics will not help when we try to solve our problems. Especially not if it is supposed to be generated by a commission. What we need is human wisdom. I always like citations by Bertrand Russell:

» All technological growth, provided said growth causes an increase, rather than a decrease of human happiness, will give us growth in wisdom.«

And, unfortunately, ethics will not at all help us to become wiser. On the contrary: it is more conducive to distracting us from wisdom.

In particular, ethics will not at all help with “autonomous systems”. It is my personal consolation that, as far as I know, there has not been a single event with track-bound traffic where “mental experiments” such as the trolley dilemma, ever happened. Consequently, there is no need to worry too much.

Perhaps the following ideas will help:

Railway tracks are made of iron. In the iron age, they were used in order to transport persons and products from A to B. The autonomous car is a result of IT. Consequently, it is a little more modern, quasi running on “tracks made of software and computers”.

And in doing so it makes use of an infra structure that was the only one to have established itself on a world-wide scale: flattened ways in concrete, also known as street network. That is why it can not only transport humans and goods on tracks along the line between A and B (A and B being fixed stations), but also between X and Y (X and Y are now variable end points that can be reached via street).

And in former times, the railway was twice redundant. First, it had to set a recovery for a “basically impossible” error. For cases when this failed, a second level was generated in order to avoid the maximum accident even for a twice “impossible” error.

Consequently, it is our task as engineers to guarantee the highest possible degree of error free roads. We should create a first “redundancy” that covers the “impossible error”. And then we should create an extra safety level, as the railway used to have it.

This is how you make errors as unlikely as possible. That is the mission!

The ethics discussion is intellectual onanism. It seems to me that politics try to deflect our attention from relevant and very uncomfortable questions about digitalization (incidentally, I ask those questions in my presentations). This is how it is abused as election campaign instrument. Politics want to make the citizen believe he has a high competence and responsibility. The goal is to win as many points in the electoral campaign.
RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
There is only one instance when I remember an ethics commission coming up with a reasonable result. A few decades ago, there was a lot of discussion about the §217 (abortion). At the time, the ethics commission had the idea that abortion should continue to be illegal, but that there should be no punishment. As I see it, this was not a bad idea. After all, it also became the basis of the new abortion law.

But do you really need an ethics commission for this kind of thing? In his “Dreigroschenoper”, Bert Brecht says:

You must not punish too severely those who acted illegally! 
This will help the persons concerned, because there is no punishment. But it will not help with the decision making process. Because it will always happen in the hearts and heads of the parties concerned.

Hans Bonfigt
Friday October 7th, 2016

DAMIT ICH MICH BESSER FRESSEN KANN

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.