Hans Bonfigt
Saturday August 27th, 2016

Am Beispiel eines Pioniers

Heinz Sebiger ist tot.

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday August 21st, 2016

Ende mit Schrecken

Der Rolan, zurecht, sagt ja immer, hier im Blog müsse das Positive überwiegen. Und er hat recht.

Digital Transformation and New Mobility – Paradise or Hell?

Our Brave New World seen with the eyes of the entrepreneur, IT pioneer, blogger, father and biker Roland Dürre.

When he still worked at the GLS bank, Carsten Schmitz often invited me to attend nice events. I met urgewald and Katrin Frische when she was “telling stories”, and many more people of interest. Now a board member of the HOHENFRIED e.V., Carsten is responsible, among other things, for networking, fundraising and financing.

One of the things he initiated is a loose series of presentations in Berchtesgaden:

“Civil Society Initiative with Current Topics at the Lederstubn“

And he asked me if I would be interested in supporting his project by giving a presentation. Which, of course, I will gladly do. After all, this is an excellent opportunity to thank him for all his hospitality and at the same time do something beneficial for a good cause.


Since I assume that the audience will be quite diverse, the first thing I plan to do is ask them about their interests and then sort the input. And then the resulting list will be discussed in good order, a little like an OpenSpeech.

Consequently, I expect it to become a really open and interactive event that will be great fun for all participants – and that will also make people thoughtful.
I will go there by train and use the Bayern-Ticket.

Currently, I plan to take the S-Bahn train S7 from Neubibert on July, 13th at 14.31 hours and then change at Ostbhanhof and in Freilassing, arriving in Berchtesgaden at 17:30 hours. I plan to return on the same day, starting from Berchtesgaden at 20:31 hours, which means I will be back in my bed around midnight.

Of course, I would be delighted to welcome friends among the audience. I will gladly take you if you wish to use part of my Bayern-Ticket.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday March 9th, 2016

For Sale: Informatics Domains

At one time, I and some of my friends wanted to build an INFORMATICS PORTAL.

It was going to be a very innovative portal. Based on a 3-D browser, all users were to be provided with their “individual (and even three-dimensional) structured rummage table”. This “rummage table” was to be automatically fed by many sources (for example Heise.de or fefe.blog.de – just to name two of them) and chaired by us (a group of activists).

InterFace_Icon_30Jahre_01-94The 3D Browser software was developed by IF Lab (the InterFace AG IT young academics in the laboratory) and was the technological basis for the InterFace history wall we had generated for our 30-year jubilee. It was a great piece of software, but it was never used for anything else.

Naturally, if you want an informatics portal, you need an informatics domain. My first idea was informatik.de. However, the person who owned this domain wanted money to the tune of a six-digit number of Euros. Consequently, this was no longer an option.

Then I considered informatik.org. A good friend of mine who, like me, had been one of the chairmen of the GChACM (German Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery) owned this domain, which he loaned the GChACM for its website. The German ACM chapter then (as I see it, illegally) confiscated this domain and was not prepared to return it to said friend of mine. Mind you, this happened regardless of the fact that the association now only uses it as an alias for germany.acm.org. To me, such behaviour looks a little shabby. Consequently, Informatik.org was also a no-go.

So I reserved a few informatics domains for the portal that sounded nice to me:

informatik.cc as   Kokosinseln  in  Cocos Islands  on the Indian  Ocean.
“cc“ sounded nice to me, because we also have the famous dict.cc. Besides, “cc” reminds me of the good old Unix C compiler… From emails, everybody knows “cc”, too.

informatik.co as  Kolumbien  in Columbia South America
“co“ rather appealed to me, it sounds like informatics&co.

informatik.io as  Britisches Territorium im Indischen Ozean  British Territory on the Indian Ocean.
Well, we all know the input/output problem, don’t we?

informatik.me as  Montenegro  Montenegro, Europe
The English “me” sounds a little like “my” (informatics).

informatik.mu as  Mauritius  Mauritius Africa
This reminded me of the Bavarian Capital.

For several reasons, the dream of an informatics portal never became reality. But I still own all these domains, although I do not need them. Consequently, I would like to hand them on to an interested party.

The price is subject to negotiation and also depends on how I like the buyer. At the least, I would like to be reimbursed for what the domains cost me during the last few years.

If you are interested, just send me an email – an actual proposal is appreciated.

(Translated by EG)

Bauer-GoosI consider myself to some extend as a third generation informatics pioneer. And I like remembering my first huge projects in the 1970ies. They were called START, ITS, Dispol or SNATCH.

In my private order of things, the second generation of IT pioneers is represented by F.-L. Bauer, whom I personally hold in high esteem. When I was a mathematics student at TUM (at the time it was still called TH for Technische Hochschule) in the fall of 1969, I sat in his lecture when I first studied my minor subject: computer science. Incidentally, the book you see on the picture is my personal copy bought at the time. As you can easily see, it has been read in quite often.

In those days, informatics was something totally new for me. And I probably chose the minor subject because I did not really know what it was. Simply because, in some way or other, it pointed towards the future.

BauerAlmost as a logical consequence, I did not understand everything professor Bauer wanted to teach us during this beautiful lecture course. Very regrettably.

During the last few years, I was permitted to accompany professor Bauer when he gave several guided tours in the Informatics department of the Deutsches Museum. Those tours were held for our (InterFace AG) customers, friends and partners. Many things I had not understood as a young student became a lot clearer in the wake of those tours.

Incidentally, I count Konrad Zuse among the first computer science generation. I made his personal acquaintance at the end of the 1086 InterFace-Konrad-Zuse-Bike Tour. He gave us a great welcome, delivered a wonderful speech and presented us the picture you see here during the great reception at Hünfeld. Today, you can see the picture hanging on the wall at the InterFace AG building in Unterhaching.

K_ZuseBy now, informatics has moved on by “light years”. I was and still am a computer scientist with all my heart. For me, the combined meaningfulness of my work, my life and society has always been important. Consequently, the development and future of informatics is important to me. Articles written by third parties about the subject and by distinguished informatics representatives are, naturally, of special interest.

In the 14th edition of the TUM magazine “Faszination Forschung” – a first-class high-gloss TUM München magazine – dated June 2014, I found the article  “Connecting the World”.

Here is the trailer:

In the future, everyday objects will be linked via the Internet, enabling them to interact autonomously. To realize this vision, computer scientists are developing virtual models they can use to test practical implementation and monitor the security, safety and reliability of connected systems.

The article describes the future of computer science on the technological level. It is basically about how systems can be coordinated in a future “cyber physical world”. Since I consider the article worth reading and a good basis for further discussion, I am providing you with the download: Cyber-Physical (702).

My friend and partner in the InterFace AG advisory board, Professor Dr. Manfred Broy, is cited in the article. You will also find his picture. It can be assumed that the content of the article is partly the result of the research supervised by him.

I do not totally agree with the article. To be sure, there will be remarkable future developments in our technology, perhaps even more remarkable than those described in the article. However, I do not believe in what applications are predicted. Instead, I assume that the society of the future will have to cope with totally different challenges than we assume today. And I am sure we will then find very exciting solutions. But those solutions will not be part of this “brave new world”.

Yet matters begin to get exciting (and for me alarming) when I read the reply written by Professor Werner Meixner. In a presentation, professor Dr. Meixner described how this article “strikes someone (him) who basically understands the meaningfulness of his professional life as a fascination with the natural sciences as a humanist value”.

This presentation is also part of an open letter addressed to Professor Dr. Manfred Broy with the title: 

Where is informatics headed?
Like before, I am providing the link for downloading of the open letter by Professor Meixner:
Wohin geht die Informatik? (710)

Since I wish to motivate IF blog readers to read the articles, I will now cite a short but perhaps central part of the article:

All human decisions – and concerns know this quite well – contain an act of added value, which means they are valuable per se. The most important factor is that the owner of the produced value is the one who made the decision and is responsible for it. This is exactly the meaning of privacy and the consequence is the indisputable worthiness of privacy protection. All business behaviour is a consequence thereof.

In fact, I do not quite understand what the author wants to say. My attempt at analysing it dialectically results in me finding a random truth claim which is easy to disprove.

🙂 However, since I am a blogger, I never write open letters to anyone. Instead, I publish my personal opinion in my blog. Totally transparently, everybody can read it.

Here comes:

I find the TUM magazine article one-dimensional. The “open letter” gave me consternation.

In both articles, I find a concept of the world and humans which is no match at all with what I see in the real world. The first article reminds me a little of the nuclear energy euphoria (which at the time was controlled by business interests) more than fifty years ago. The second article glorifies a meaning of privacy and laments its worthiness of protection which – based on my experience in life and my knowledge of anthropology, neurology, psychology, philosophy and sociology – is not at all justifiable. Even theological reasoning would probably fall short

For all of us, the real challenges will quickly be others than those described. The dream image of a networked world will not help us to cope with all those challenges. Neither will the convulsive protection of our private data – which, basically, cannot be protected anyway.

The current news about the IS fronts, other wars and their consequences, refugees seeking asylum in the EU, the assassinations in France , or #Pegida and #Anti-Pegida in Germany are clear indications of a reality that quickly changes and that we have to accept. Also, we have to learn how to deal with this reality in a rational way.

A dominating global economy which creates free markets for products yet leaves labour unfree (a seamstress in Bangladesh cannot move to Europe and do her work there, even though the dresses she makes are exclusively sold in Europe) will come to its end. The rich persons of this world (we) exploit the poor more than ever in human history and the number of slaves is higher than ever.

The tensions generated by these contrasts will probably discharge themselves like earthquakes. It has already started. Basic conditions (climate, food and soil) in many regions already deteriorate and will geometrically continue to do so. Sooner or later, this process will catapult us into critical spheres. The tensions will become more and more noticeable.

In fact, we might be approaching a rough awakening from our current dreams faster than we had anticipated. It is my hope that here, too, informatics can help. Naturally, I do not yet know how this might happen. All I can do is imagine how it might be.

I think the IKT can only contribute positively towards the humaneness of mankind if it – above all – succeeds in supporting a highly complex, world-wide and truthful discourse which thus will render striking results. This is the only way to come to a consensus not based on enmity and exploitation. Instead, it should prepare humans (us) for the necessary changes in our mental concepts and life.
This is the only way to change society without violence. It is the only way to transform today’s economy into a “common-good-economy”. And it is also the only way to find solutions for a better copyright and patent system. Through the wisdom of the masses and against the simple-mindedness of the individual person.

[Note: perhaps our colleagues at Youmigo.de already understood this – which is why they wrote a wonderful APP for “world agreement”.]

As to the TUM magazine article: I would argue that we do not need a luxury world of networked technology which, when all is said and done, will only enslave us even more. As to Werner Meixner’s theses, I think he inflates the topic “pretty good privacy” like a profession of faith. However, instead of giving credible reasons, he remains dogmatic.

And I also believe that our privacy will be something we will be fairly indifferent about in the future. Because we will have other problems. Also, we humans will always move in the stress field of individuality and collectiveness. Either way. With data protection or without. And the only way we can manage to do that in a humane way is if we think and act in a value-oriented way. Dogmata and their prayer-like publication will not be helpful.

Here is another idea about personal data. Isn’t it a rather normal part of human civilization to collect information about people. After all, there were good reasons to come up with administration and, for instance, write down when a child is born. Of course, technological advancement made unbelievable things possible since they invented filing systems and cataloguing.

With “new” technologies, you can certainly collect a lot more data than formerly. Yet this is only the continuation of a development that started with the invention of writing on paper as a means to conserve and hand on information. Quite possibly, the invention of filing systems (certainly an IT invention) brought another impulse. And IKT yet another.

But: did IKT really make such an enormous difference? And how huge is the damage? And isn’t it just great that in general information can be made available by whistle blowers and that it was IT which made it easier?

I see a threat if “a-moral systems” (like unlawful systems) get hold of the data. But if it comes to that, no data protection will help us, anyway. Instead, we should see to it that “a-moral systems” never gain control over us. And that is a permanent social challenge for every citizen. Basically, you can only resist “commercial utilization” of data by being autonomous. But then, the same is true for the continuing threat of manipulation through marketing. And if you consume senselessly, it will only cost money, rarely your life.

Personally, I consider the avoidable damage the “old” technologies caused us during the last hundred years and still cause us permanently today significantly higher than the damage done by the new technology IKT during the last 25 years.
For instance, the technologies of the last century stole our piece. Does any of you still know a single place in Munich where you hear no “technology noise”? Yet the noise pollution is only a truly harmless example compared to the 1.2 million traffic fatalities each year – caused through motorized individualized mobility on a world-wide scale. And it is a fact that we also like to ignore other threats, such as the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.

In the same way we accepted the limitless noise emissions, we also got used to our (still very limited, regardless of all efforts) transparency. Limited, because even the networking systems used in industry and in the world 4.0 will find it hard to read our thoughts. And because, if we want to survive, we will definitely have to develop into autonomous persons in a self-determined frame.
Maybe the permanent calls for secrecy of data are nothing more than an outcry of protest, because, after all, you have to be against something, don’t you? And you are not courageous enough to actually stand up for the real threats.

But then, do not let us forget:

Only the new technologies provide us with a chance of networking and sharing our ideas with others. Which is how we can fight ignorance, intolerance, dogmata, irrationality and much more of the same.

(Translated by EG)