Roland Dürre
Friday January 10th, 2020

(Deutsch) Mein digitaler Alltag.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday December 25th, 2019

(Deutsch) Frohe Weihnacht!

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday June 8th, 2019

(Deutsch) Once again, with feeling ?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 2nd, 2019

Turn of an Era: The End of the Digital World ?

What will happen when the digital era comes to an end?

Im Jahre 2019 habe ich nach einem Jahr Pause wieder am Biike-Camp in Sylt teilgenommen.

After one year of abstinence, I again took part in the Sylt Biike-Camp in 2019. The Biike Camp takes place on Sylt annually, along with the traditional Biike-Brennen. It is a huge meeting of entrepreneurs, counsellors and leaders. It is organized by Tedic, the brothers Krickel first founded it around the turn of the millennium.

This time around, the motto was The Turn of an Era. Again, it was more than worth the effort to go there. I was invited to give a presentation on the second day of the event. They had suggested the topic:

”Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Post-Digital World”

I will write down my presentation in the following paragraphs. I started by introducing myself, then I tried to analyse the title in two columns.


 

Personal introduction
Since, on the first day of our meeting, it became clear to me how very much most of us (including myself) are formed by the car, I started by introducing all the cars that I ever drove in my life. In other words: I related my former car and current bike culture. 
? And in the process, I also discovered a few things about myself.
Then I mentioned the computers I use (Mac and Chrome, no Windows).
So I have double mobility – MIV (motorized individualized traffic and on the network). Both tells a lot about the life of a white old man.
And, of course, I also had to speak of my personal history. I told the audience about duerre.de and if-blog.de and mentioned that I consider myself a late founder (I was 34).
With respect to my InterFace history, I referred the listeners to the Wikipedia entry on InterFace AG.


In order to be able to react to the content of the other presentations with the highest possible degree of flexibility, I abstained from using slides with content. Instead, I mostly worked with Wikipedia.

It was my plan to tackle the topic “entrepreneurial leadership in the post-digital world” in a dialectic way. In other words, I wanted to analyse the individual terms post, digital and world (column 1) and entrepreneurial leadership (column 2).


 

I. The post-digital world

(Column 1 – what is the meaning of post, digital, world?)
Before today, I only knew the term post factual. Post digital was news to me. For me, post factual means that we live in the era of totally irresponsible babble, which is part of the new dishonesty (Rupert Lay).

You can even see it if you look at legislation. China is not the only country where legislation is introduced in such a way that it can be interpreted at random. Perhaps this happens on purpose?

Digitalisation has become a matter of course. Everybody talks about it. A short time ago, I read: digitalization is a technology that cannot be turned back. In other words, without digitalization and soon also AI, nothing can be done in the near future.

It seems that we are totally dependent on digitalization, as we depend on electricity and electronics. In the same way, a life as most of us want it would not be possible without digitalization. Every piece of technology contains a huge part of software, there is no technology without any software inside.

If I have discussions with the bee savers in Bavaria about the provocative thesis that “it might already be too late“ to save the planet, then they tell me that, thanks to digitalization, we might actually be able to save the planet. 
? So we have really great expectations when it comes to “digital“.

I like to refer the audience to Wikipedia when it comes to explaining digitalization. You will find an article by Thomas Kofer – at the time he wrote it he was a employee of ZD.B – where he tries to explain the term. He invested many man-years to write the article.

Then I look for the term post digital online. In Wikipedia, you will not find this kind of nonsense. To make up for it, you find something in Accenture. Here is what they say about  post digital:

”The advent of technology identities is leading to a new generation of business offerings.“

Are they really serious? If you click on their link, you find more such BBB (Berater-Bullshit-Bingo). For my presentation, Accenture is definitely not helpful.

Digital and digitalisation are currently buzzwords. They are very famous – and there are no two identical definitions on the market.

So let me investigate the word post. I find that it is “if a composite of adjectives – sometimes also with nouns and verbs – specifies that something happens/ed at a later time“.
That is correct – post is a preposition that specifies adjectives. Well, I understand that much.

Digitalization is said to be irreversible. Because if there is no digitalization, there will also no longer be any technological industry. After all, in all technological products today, you have software, i.e. digitalization – and soon also AI.

Consequently, there can be no post-digital era, because it would mean the end of our technological world. Especially not if the digital world has made itself autonomous as AI. Which is what many expect.


 

On AI

Artificial Intelligence, Deep learning, Big Data are at the top of the current buzz-words list. The world, or at least all those who want to be heard, talks about robots and bots.

So here is my question:
Who of you knows the three letters T, A and Y? 
If you connect them, you get the word and name Tay.

Many in Germany talk about AI, but most of them do not know what it is. Consequently, nobody knows the Tay. As I see it, that is symptomatic for the entire current discussion.
Tay is – or better: was – the twitter bot of Microsoft. Microsoft developed it – and then it was quickly de-activated because of misbehaviour. Both the first and the second version. It was a few years ago.

Today, it looks like Microsoft does not want to be part of AI. They capitulate before Amazon and Google and terminate their system/project Cortana. Because to the great and mighty IT concern Microsoft, AI looks just too big.

Simultaneously, the Free State of Bavaria declares that they want to start an AI offensive. Microsoft gives up because Google and Amazon are too far ahead. And Bavaria wants to make up for it. Just like China. Except – China, unlike Bavaria, will actually succeed.

To illustrate it with an example I tell my audience about the Chinese News Anchor Bot.
Nobody in the audience of AI experts knows it. Well, that comes as a surprise to me.

So much on AI


 

What exactly could the end of digitalization and AI look like?

Here are a few mental experiments:

The first step towards digitalization was when language was first written down. 
Consequently, “post digital” might mean that, in the future, the majority of the people cannot read or write fluently, but only rudimentarily? As I see it, that is distinctly a possibility. Would that be good or bad? Can there be a good or bad – or are we just full of traditional prejudices?

Because:
Why would anybody want to learn something nobody will need any longer? So: why would we want to learn how to read (and practice it all the time, because otherwise it gets harder and harder) if most of what you want to know is available as an ebook or podcast and the remainder is read to you by a speaking computer? A computer that simultaneously translates everything. The asynchronous and synchronous communication is done via spoken language, anyway (oral messages). That is nice, because spoken language transports more than written language. And then, naturally, language will no longer play a role at all?

If that were to happen, then a modern society can easily forego reading and writing, but it certainly could not forego digitalization.

Then I think about “post digital”. On the level:

What or who could destroy the internet?
(besides the EU regulation mania that is pushed by the FRG)

Two things come to mind

 – Engineers become priests.

Isaac Asimov already introduced the concept in his futuristic novels (for example in the series on Trantor):
The people who maintain the systems no longer understand the machines. They only perform memorized (maintenance) rituals.

I can easily imagine such a concept, because even today, in computer science, that is what programmers do. They do a lot of clicking – and they have no idea what exactly they are doing. The complexity overwhelms us, it is easily possible that the world will lose its know-how.

– The end of Moore’s law.

It is very simple:

IT consists of the three components: computer, connection and storage.

Those are the three relevant IT components. With respect to storage, we have arrived in the nano dimensions, you cannot become any smaller because of the dimension of the atoms. With respect to connections, we now work with the speed of light. You cannot go any faster. I deliberately chose the term computer. Because a modern processor (for instance by Intel) contains so much that I like to use the metaphor of the mega city of New York.

We want to make the computers faster by using the quantum computer. Except that, so far, it does not really work. And it will probably never be able to do much more than decode. But that is good enough for the countries of this world, because basically they only want one thing: monitor us.

That is how the end of Moore’s laws could put a stop to our AI dreams. In the past, the multiplication of resources in small time periods spoiled us. The time has definitely come for this indulgence to be over.

So what is important in the digital world?

As I see it, the first thing that comes to mind is Wikipedia – and there are several reasons for this:

– Wikipedia – the thesaurus of world knowledge.

Wikipedia is great. It is currently free of advertising (with the exception of a few articles they smuggled in about Bayern players’ wives), it is administered on a completely honorary basis and financed by donations, independent of concerns, etc.

That makes it one of the last bastions. We need it every day, because there are no thesauri left. Regardless of some weaknesses, for instance when it comes to the topic of digitalization/IT, Wikipedia is still great.

However, now comes the

BUT:

It is written mostly by old white men, in other words: there are few young persons and only very few women. Wikipedia is like a knowledge infra-structure. As with many infrastructures in our world (streets, bridges, railway tracks), the need for maintenance and renovation increases, but the resources decline.

Wikipedia is threatened by ageing and additionally by the copyright (update filter) and lobbyist pressure.

What will happen if Wikipedia breaks down? Who will then take over Wikipedia?
One of the three dominant German media concerns? The Federal Government? EU and UNO might also be candidates. Or the internet giants Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft …

Just imagine advertisements being permitted in Wikipedia. If I were the owner of Wikipedia, I could well imagine other great business models.

– Services such as Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook++, wechat …? 
(I deliberately left out email as a service, because in my opinion nobody needs them any more)
So: What will happen if all these things no longer exist? A short time ago, I read about a murder threat against the youtube boss because of her statement that, as a consequence of copyright legislation (update filter), she may have to terminate the service in the countries concerned!

You should remember:
regulation mania is detrimental.
For all of us!

Instead you should:
Correct the underlying deficits. That is: you should look for the errors, and then initiate reform. For instance when it comes to copyright legislation.

And let us have less DGSVO …

À propos world:
I am sure you remember: only about half of the world’s population have internet access. We still have two worlds: one with the internet and one without. They are approximately the same size.

But in the internet, there are also two internets (more like a vertical separation). The Chinese one and ours.

Many tourists first notice this as they arrive at Peking airport and want to use gmail for sending greetings home or if they want to chat. It does not work.

Then you will try VPN. But VPN service providers are delivering poor quality or else they are very expensive. Mostly both. So unless you have a VPN of a concern that still works in China, you are not very lucky. Googlemaps does not work at all. It can get difficult. Lost in China. But fear the not: the practical Chinese AI will help.

À propos China:
They are now doing a lot with AI. Among other things, they are now inserting humans into a Social Media – System that is omnipotent (wechat). And then they award credits for social behaviour, both positive and negative. Will this lead towards a digitalised dictatorship– or will the human dream of adequate justice come true? As we all know, it became clear as early as with Aristotle that an arithmetic justice  does not make sense in social life.

Well, I believe that, along with Chinese technology, Chinese culture will reach us. And I wonder if what I related above is not too far-fetched for us, either.

Besides:
The use of the internet is collectively and individually totally diverse. As I see it, we still have horizontal divisions.

In a developed, prosperous and intellectual world, the internet is used totally different from how it is used in a poor and educationally remote world. That is how the internet is extremely divided. We have home office users, pornography watchers and internet gamers. Maniacs and fanatics, etc. It is all just as it is in real life. Mind you, that does not mean that intellectuals never watch pornography.

And also, there must and will be an unbelievable number of smart devices on the internet (everything that can activate WLAN is smart and will need a network: cars, lightbulbs, refrigerators, scales). It all happens on a system of antiquated protocols that were initially planned for totally different purposes. And nobody knows who is actually responsible for the change of interfaces.

How is that supposed to work?
I am sure this is a good question.

 


But let this be it about digital and post-digital. So now I will move to entrepreneurial management, i.e. leadership and social co-existence.


 

II Entrepreneurial leadership

(column 2 – what exactly are: enterprise and leadership?)

Enterprises

A young person once said to me that, for him, an enterprise is an organized mass of people who have a goal or purpose.

That is not a bad definition. We call enterprises or public offices social systems with an economic or administrative purpose.

With enterprises, their size is an important criterion. We have concerns and small enterprises. Their nature and functionality differ hugely.

In our concept, we assume that, as a matter of course, an enterprise has several employees. Not only a constitution and capital. And that the employees, like the customers, are human beings. In other words, that an enterprise has people working for it. For the customers, this is no longer true. Mostly, small enterprises do business with other enterprises. It is called B2B.

Enterprises without people – is such a concept realistic? Only with robots and bots? Everything that humans need will be outsourced, i.e. bought from the providers. And the customers are also no longer humans, but instead, for example, autonomous cars and their managers. Is that imaginable? You would no longer need participation and the work regulations (maximum hours, enterprise constitution, labour contracts, …) would be obsolete.

I know founders (teams) who want to build up an enterprise where everything is automated. Basically, the entire enterprise will only be some software!

No employees, only robots (and providers and partners). Everything else is outsourced – the programming of the product and the marketing/sales. What remains is a small back office with one assistant – the leadership is limited to this one person.

Then you will need no leadership in the sense of human resource. A mere jamming session with the founder team is all you need. Just like jazz. The founding process and the enterprise will become a game with providers, customers and money providers.

I know these kinds of business plans from BayStartUp. I would say they are fashionable. Just like the design of portals or apps used to be fashionable. Or the use of 3-D printers…

In all the business plans I know, the necessary and to-be-written software had enormous importance – I cannot remember a single business plan where it was not a fundamental reason for the USP.

Leadership is, per se, only possible if you have people (employees). But perhaps we will not need them in the future.

For this presentation, I would like to assume that the majority of enterprises will still have employees in the future. Then it makes sense to talk leadership.

The broad range of leadership.

Hierarchy versus Network.
(teams working in a network)

Secrets versus Transparency

Group based (model German Reichswehr – Siemens) versus Team based (micro organization with self-organization)

Taylorismus
(detailed pre-definition of working methods ”one best way“, exact fixation of the place and time of delivery, extremely detailed and divided tasks, one-way communication with determined and strict content, details requirements with respect to final goals for every individual without obvious connection between these details and the general goal of the enterprise – along with quality control) 
versus
Involvement 
(as the sum of being made part of the whole, being included and the integration of task… ).

Processes versus self-organization 
(Henry Ford – the caste of engineers as the predecessors of management caste)

Feudalism versus self-determination.

Being someone’s property versus belonging to yourself. 
That is the theory of power. There are two classes: the wise ones and the stupid ones. With Henry Ford, the farmers were the stupid ones. Powerful machines made them jobless in farming and thus they had to work for him. Not even clocks were something they were familiar with. The engineers had to teach them everything, from being on time to how the tools needed to be handled. Every single procedure at the conveyor belt had to be shown to them. And the caste of engineers are the forefathers of the manager caste.

Evaluation:

As you all know, I always preferred the red option.  Yet in practice, nothing is just black and white (in this case redblue), which means we mostly need to answer the question if an organization is more red or more blue.  I also do not believe that red is only for the “creative“ processes and  blue only for “simple” processes. I know enough examples that prove the opposite, for example Buurtzorg for nursing services. More than 10,000 employees in the Netherlands do the work that is allegedly simple.

Digitalization supports both red and blue !!! It supports communication at eye-level and can also take the role of the boss in a hierarchy. That is also why there is a fear that adssRobots might rule over humanity.

I am convinced that all efficient structures, both blue and red need a powerful digital infra structure.

The blue world needs it for realizing processes and command structures, the red needs it for realizing an infra structure that enables a management of experience and enlightenment for all. I do not use the term knowledge management, because this is about enlightenment and experience.

And I see a huge potential for AI in both worlds.

Outlook for and review of history 
Because especially with social topics, you have to consider yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Yesterday:
(before 1900) 
In the European countries, there was fiefdom, in the new world, there was slavery (also in God’s own country).

During a trip through the Caribbean, I saw Curaçao. I visited the Kura Hulanda Museum and learned a lot about slavery. It officially existed until the early 20th century. In many countries, they still have it.

But also in Europe and Germany , we had many centuries of serfdom . Basically, it is the same as slavery. Only few people were free, most belonged to someone else. The majority of the population lived in the country and produced food (90%). Not in the city – “city air makes you free” (10%).

In the cities, progress had its origins. Because this is where the free craftsmen – wood and iron, levers and wheels (wheelbarrow) had their networks and cooperated with each other. In the country, most people were owned by someone else. Mostly, they were farmers and worked on the land. Which is why they were owned by the land. It was actually quite simple – the people belonged to the person who owned the land.

Both the land and the people were of the feudal class – the nobility and the church. It lasted until the end of the 19th century. This, too, is part of our glorious Christian tradition. Sadly, this is often forgotten.

But here is what beats everything:
Slavery and fiefdom were not abolished for humanitarian reasons. Instead, they found that it became too expensive, inconvenient and costly. This also explains why they fought the American Civil War. Naturally, the end of slavery was promoted by the resistance of the parties concerned. It was both individual and collective resistance.

Well, that was the moment when my idealistic concept of the world was destroyed for good.

Today:

Consumism  is the world’s most powerful religion. Without work, a person is worthless and beyond society. There will be less work in the future. I think especially of well paid administrative workers in offices and the financial industry and similar tasks. Even today, RPA (Robotic process automation) is extremely relevant.
In the developed societies, the people who have a job (or/and capital) are still really well off. But the rich who are well off become fewer and fewer and the poor become more and more.

Tomorrow:

It will depend on what works better whether enterprises will have leaders who are blue or red.  It is not about ethics, morals or #newwork.
And, of course, the development will also depend on the economic and social situation. On the other hand, it might also be simply about survival!

The future

I will not try to predict the future. 
I am sure others are better qualified. My favourite is and has always been the Brave new World by Aldous Huxley.
If you do not know the book – here are three options you have.

  • You can read the book (or listen to the audio-version), 
that is the classic approach and will take some time.
  • You can visit the theatre (there is an excellent performance at the Volkstheater München) 
which would mean you need a ticket – the work is rarely performed
  • Or you can read about it in Wikipedia  ? 
 which is the easy, quick and free way What could come next?

In the dwindling upper classes:

  • Money becomes an electronic number (a digit on your smartphone).
  • Power and feudalism will remain.
  • The upper class will work with courage and joy in a developed society.
  • Work will be part of self-fulfillment. “newwork” might happen?
  • All efforts are taken to multiply your property and to fight impoverishment.

Time becomes a personal value.

For the masses, it will be different!

  • No work or precarious work.
  • Work on call. Whenever the robot is out of order. Or if there is extra need. For instance at the harbour in Mombasa or in the calium mine in Tunesia, where masses of people stand in the queue offering their service for minimal wages. Or:
  • Thanks to BGE (unconditional income) you kill time by playing games. Or by just chilling.

The polarisation between the poor and the rich will increase – the world-wide tendency is clear. The rich become richer and fewer and there will be more and more poor. That is quite drastic.

Turn of an era :


Money feudalism, robots and poor people will probably be the drivers of a future turn of an era. There will be a BGE and it will not be enough, which means that the people will have to improve their income by doing precarious jobs.

New combination of feudalism and slavery?

Those who have money can find self-fulfillment with courage and joy, probably on an honorary basis. Other than that, all they will need to do is increase their prosperity. They simply have to see to it that they avoid impoverishment.

The others either have a BGE or not and earn extra or struggle for existence?
Topics
(that move me)

  • Education
Should children use a smartphone as early as possible?
  • Schooling
Schools have become worthless. What will have to happen?
  • Science and higher education 
The structures of and life in academia are still feudalistic. Will that be good enough for the future? My answer is: no!
  • Societ:
#Newwork is far away because our genes are still in a feudalist pattern.
  • Men still dominate and have all the power.

In front of Westerland (Sylt) taking a walk on the beach.
But where are we headed?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I dedicate this article to the Biike-Team around Kai Krickel.

P.S.1
At the end of the two days, the speakers were asked to formulate a concise message for the audience. The thing that came immediately to mind was:

”Love it, change it or leave it“!

A positive example: Hype Cycle following Gartner Inc.

I have now spent fifty years doing digitalization. Among other things, I witnessed many hypes.

In this article, I will write about the hypes I remember. Mind you, this is not a scientific work. It is more something to bring a smile to your lips.
Let me report.

First: what exactly is a hype?

It is quite easy:
There is a trigger. It can be a technological advance, a single event or a mass hysteria…

Then the gold-rush will begin. And, more often than not, there will be a bitter ending… 
It often ends with:
A waste of effort.

Here are a few indices for hypes:

  • The number of newly founded enterprises on hype.
  • The amount of investment capital in the hype environment.
  • The number of presentations given by politicians, analysts and other wise-guys on the topic (mostly they do not understand anything about it).
  • And others (all you have to do is think a little, then you will come up with enough).

Currently, everybody is talking digitalization. It is a mega hype that consists of many sub-hypes.

Hypes around Digitalization

In the 1970ies, I worked at Siemens in “industrial informatics” (that is how I called it). It was really engineering stuff. We programmed in the classical way. For instance operating systems, modules for remote data processing and computer networks, databases and transaction monitors.

All this is not very exciting. And it is also rather hype-free. Simultaneously, hypes like small computers that could play games, were invented. That was decidedly more exciting.

AI

The first hype I experienced consciously from the outset was the AI hype. Everyone who considered himself modern did a bit of Artificial Intelligence. For me, in the industrial computer science, the topic was out of reach.

In those days, the magic word was expert systems. It was particularly popular in such sectors as medicine. The workshops on AI were full of digital dreamers.

On top of the expert system, there were also nice exotics – some friends of mine, for instance, worked on a system that was supposed to hear from the noise of a chopper if all was fine inside. Well, if I am correct, I have to write that is what they tried – the project never became reality. So this is another one of those hype fates.

Those were the days when two programming languages divided the AI community into two: For the one group, Lisp was the only true AI language, for the other group, Prolog.

As far as Prolog was concerned, I soon saw that the hardware was not yet good enough for the costly back-tracking. Regardless, much was done with Prolog, especially in Japan. As far as I know, the projects were mostly academic – and not much was actually achieved. There was also a hobby version. It was called turbo Prolog (in analogy to Turbo-Pascal). At the time, one of the InterFace enterprises was the InterFace Computer GmbH. They probably had the world’s best Prolog. And the development of IF Prolog actually ruined the enterprise. To this day, I know nothing about Lisp.

There was no definition that indicated how artificial intelligence differs from normal intelligence or from algorithmically determined software. As you all know, there is another AI hype today. And whenever I ask one of the speakers how he would define artificial intelligence, I seldom get a good answer. Later in this article, I will give you my personal definition – but I am not sure that this is any better than what I usually hear from the experts.

In my life, I knew many hypes. Big ones and small ones. There were so many of them that I definitely cannot remember them all. Here are some of them (those that I remember):

Very early, there were the hybrid calculators. The synergy between analogous and digital concepts was supposed to open up new dimensions. This hype ended before it even seriously started. Then I remember the Ontologies. They were sponsored like no other informatics topic. Risc processors were supposed to make servers faster. Object-oriented programming was a hype and it had a few smaller children, such as object-oriented databases. Some of it disappeared, some became the generally accepted standard.

There was a time when everything was about what colour your office was. To be sure, today this is all self-evident, but my HIT/CLOU customers from the finance sector were really enthusiastic about the colour “RED” (for the red numbers on their balance sheets …).

The wish to have colour also promoted the client-server hype. It was based on colourful Windows PCs and, as I see it, it was to a huge extent due to people wanting to play Solitaire on their computers. The “organizer“ was hype until the smart phone replaced it as a combination of organizer and mobile phone. And on all these devices, you can also play solitaire.

Then there was the hype of rich clients (basically, today every smart phone is a rich client).

At the same time, the internet came. And later the WWW2. So we had two hypes simultaneously. The difference lay in the fact that some people had discovered that the internet was not only made up of consumers. This had been the case from the outset, because without someone offering something, there is nothing to read.

For twenty years, I have now regularly served on the jury board of BayStartUp (that is the enterprise that organizes the Business-Plan-Competition in Bavaria – and it now also has other things on offer for people who want to found an enterprise). So there I see what hypes are currently en vogue. Here are some of them:

There were times when most of the young entrepreneurs wanted business models around APPs in order to later develop PORTALS.

Two years were mostly about 3D printers. In between, we also had the 3D spectacles and the accompanying infra structure. … 
(Incidentally, 3D printers are a good example for how a patent can encumber the development of something and how, as soon as the patent has run out, the technology will prevail). 
As to 3D spectacles: there was one under the Christmas Tree three years ago at our home. At the time, I found the possible content rather weak – and it probably did not improve with time.

There was also a time when block-chain was totally fashionable. It might even take a top position as far as hypes are concerned – especially if you also consider the speculation money that was thrown into it.

One of the less noticed hypes is probably currently the use of sensors. After all, they will see to it that we will soon no longer talk about a human-machine interface, but about a world-machine communication instead. The humans will then only be part of the world (hopefully not a too disruptive part).

Many fellow hypers already warn against the dictatorship of machines. However, it will probably not be more damaging than the man-dominated governments.

Today, it is quite clear:
The current hype is again AI. In combination with big data. This is how we are warned against an atrocious world – and how we paralyse digitalization with data protection. This deprives us of many social chances. And we forget that AI and big data are only technological progress. Which always changed society. Mostly, life became easier.

To be sure, it was always important to tread carefully where technological progress was concerned. Humanity has not always succeeded in this.

This is why I also like Bertrand Russell:
» Every increase in technology will also bring an increase in wisdom, provided it does not decrease human happiness. «
I like to mention the motorized individual traffic. It destroys the planet and causes 1.3 million fatalities every year and several times that number in injured persons. They probably lacked wisdom when they invented it.

But then, who could have known this a hundred years ago? I believe technological progress will always cause change. And where there is change, there is always risk. However, if you consider the risk, you should not forget about the chances. Especially since mostly you only see the true disadvantages a posteriori. This is why I believe you should be cautious (wise) but not fearful (stupid) when it comes to hypes.

To me, the entire hype about data protection and data security looks like a good example of a very special kind of swarm stupidity – I adopt this term from Gunter Dueck.

From Philosophy to Technology.

The hardware that is used for digitalization still works with the same principles as in the 1970ies. The enormous progress we perceive as far as calculators, connections and storage (the holy trinity of IT) are concerned is a consequence of  Moore’s Laws  (Moore’sches Gesetz of 1965). This explosion in pattern recognition is a fantastic basis for many applications.

The principles his kind of AI follows are fairly old. Turing described it many decades ago – I think in the 1940ies.

It caused huge progress in the recognition of speech, which, basically, is nothing other than the interpretation and application of patterns. This is the central requirement for the new kind of software that is self-learning when it comes to translating languages and steering a car. Basically, it simply was not possible in old times by what we then had in terms of hardware.

For instance, Deepminds Alphazero-AI managed to beat the best Asian GO player, and after a short time it also managed to hammer Goldfish (the best chess game) . Mind you, the Chinese now woke up as far as GO is concerned. They now invest money and manpower in unbelievable quantities to promote AI. And they will soon take over the Americans with their old Watson and perhaps also Googles Deepmind.

? And just like the Chinese, the Bavarians now also woke up … and they want to show the Chinese what they can do – which is something to make the experts in digitalization smile. To be sure, the videos show a lot of space science. Eventually done by robots. For both, you need IT and AI. And that is not something you get for a few million euros. You will need to invest billions.

Of course, in Bavaria, they not only gave a nice performance. They also backed it with activity. So they installed a  ministry for digitalization and made a young lady named Judith Gerlach the State Minister for Digital Affairs in Bavaria on November, 12th, 2018.

Mrs. Judith Gerlach was born on November, 3rd, 1985 in Würzburg. She is married and Roman-Catholic and the mother of two children.

She is young, since she turned 33 years at the end of 2018. And it is certainly to her credit that she has two children. After all, I, too, learned a lot about digitalization from my children.

Her CV shows that she is a highly qualified lawyer. This makes me a little thoughtful, because it sounds more like data protection than like high technology. I wonder if she knows what exactly an operating system is. But perhaps her counsellors know all about it?
On the page you find if you follow the link above, the State Minister wrote:


“I see extremely good chances for Bavaria. We already put ourselves to the top of the queue in many sectors of digital development and we will continue to focus all our power in order to develop new technologies and use them in a socially responsible way. To this end, the new Ministry of Digitalization serves as motor, coordinator and think tank.“

Judith Gerlach, MdL 
State Minister


If she knew her business, she would never have written such a sentence. Or else, she would have asked someone to proofread it before publication, for instance someone sitting in the Bavarian ZD.B, which is also a foundation of the Free State and where people actually know something about it.

But then, being competent in the legal sector, she always has a good excuse. How is she supposed to know where Bavaria (or Germany and Europe) are digitally situated if compared to the world standard?

Perhaps it is a new (old) hype that we now use legal experts for the social design of our technological advancement (digitalization is nothing else)? That guarantees at least that the AGBs (and data security) will be perfect.

You will find information about the international position of Europe if you take a look at the Economic Partnership Agreement EU-Japan ( EPA, or JEFTA ) that was recently signed.
A single sentence states that Japan will lower the custom duty rates for European farming products and in return Germany will lower those for high tech products from Japan.

The trend seems clear: Bavaria and Europe are on their way to becoming farming countries. Maybe along with being a tourism country. We are certainly nowhere near the top when it comes to high tech exports. This is not only true for international trade agreements, but also for the technological reality.

Just look at the problems we have with 5G and Huawei. I remember my first Siemens job. Communication was a hype. And at the time, nobody could do anything without Siemens in communication technology. Today, however, nothing can be done without (red) Chinese technology. Nobody will pay anything today for yesterday’s joy.

The aforementioned sentence by the State Minister sounds like mockery:
We (Bavaria) are already at the top of digital developments in many areas.
The opposite is true.

To me, it is a surprise that the powerful VDA (Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V., Behrenstraße 35, 10117 Berlin) did not sabotage the EPA/JEFTA agreement. After all, the Toyotas might now well enjoy a price drop of 10 %. Mind you, I do not think the Japanese will be stupid enough to let the German Idiota drivers benefit from what they saved in duties (excuse the primitive pun).

Is it possible that the VDA currently has other things to worry about, because by now our holy cow Motorized Individualized Traffic has become a sector where others are miles ahead in technology?

The trade agreement is very beneficial for Germany as the world’s number three meat exporter. Especially with respect to pork, we are far ahead of everyone else – and this will soon also have the label “animal welfare” authorized by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Maybe this will cause a new pork hype.
I think it is all rather surreal?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
So now I still owe you my definition of AI: 
As I see it, an Alg-SW becomes an AI software 
if it realizes its functional added value through learning and practice. In other words, it must collect and analyse many patterns that can then be correlated and evaluated with results in order to build up a huge amount of knowledge from experience. 
This is probably a little like the human brain works.

P.S.1
Here is my first Jubilee Article  after 50 years of IT.

Hans Bonfigt
Monday January 7th, 2019

(Deutsch) Crisis ? What Crisis ?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 2nd, 2019

2019 – My Personal Jubilee: Fifty Years of IT

 


Today: why the locomotives lost their “E” and their “V”.

After having graduated from high school, I started studying mathematics and computer science at THM (Technische Hochschule München – today: TUM Technische Universität München) in 1969. Computer science was a totally new subject and this was the first year it was taught. You could only take it as a minor subject. Consequently, I take the year 1969 as the official start of my “informatics” career and that means I can celebrate fifty years of personal digitalization.

However, this was only the official start. Because I had concerned myself with computer science a lot earlier than that. And I do not mean the time when I learned to read and write, although the invention of the written language is doubtless also an informatics topic. The written word made it possible to save ideas, stories and other content “digitally”. Consequently, it is informatics.

What I mean when I am talking my first contact with informatics happened when I read a children’s book. It was probably one of the “Famous Five” stories by Enid Blyton. It was always about some villains who eventually were caught by a group of children/adolescents. And in one of the books the villains were smugglers who communicated with their team of smugglers on an island through Morse signals.

So Morse symbols (Morse-Zeichen) were the first code I learned when I was still very young. From the informatics aspect, the Morse code is something special, because it does not have a fixed word length. These days, whenever I give a presentation about codes, I often start with this so pragmatic Morse code.

Simple control panel for three tracks and a railway station lamp.

Playing with model railways (with my Märklin model), I also learned a lot. My father designed a control panel for my model railway. It had two plywood boards, four screws and nuts from the “Stabilo set“. It also had a distributor with three exits, four electrical outlets and one lever. This must have been before 1960.

With this control panel, you could, for instance, transfer electricity to one of the three (1, 2 and 3 in separate circles) tracks at a railway station. Simultaneously, you could switch on and off the light in the station (today, they do it with IOT). There was even a glitch we used as a feature: if the levers were not precisely arranged, you even had electricity for two tracks! Of course only for 1 and 2 or 2 and 3.

My father had designed this for me because he felt that the Märklin panels were too expensive. I also only had manually worked switch points, rather than electronic ones. Well, this limited my automation drive, but nevertheless, you could do work on a few informatics gadgets.

As early as 1962, I founded a Pfiff-Club (Pfiff-Club) with some friends. We tried lots of informatics things. And we also did some true automation on a shared model. There was also a DB newspaper with exciting topics that the Club got every other month from the Deutsche Bundesbahn. It was always very eagerly anticipated.

There are several other digital things I learned from my father. He worked at the Deutsche Bundesbahn and brought the old graphic time tables (of Swabia and Bavaria) home. They were meant to be used up as note paper (also for cutting patterns for dresses to be made) – but for me, these unique drawings of train routes, along with the actual time tables, became very exciting reading material. It was absolutely informatics.

Even better were the technological DB magazines (I forgot the titles and unfortunately none of them is still available to me) my father brought home from work, I think four times each year. It was a little like “Pfiff-Club for grown-ups”. For me, it was exciting to read because it said many things about the real railway management.

It was about new railway control centres and new switch yards, and always about future technologies. About new locomotives and railway cars. In each of the magazines, you could find a particularly important topic as a highlight. I remember the opening of the as-the-crow-flies-line (that must have been around 1963), Roll-In-/Roll-Out Ferries, new sleeping compartments, the attempt at creating twin vehicles that could move both on the street and on railway tracks, new signalling and security systems and much more that definitely had an informatics background.

And in one instalment of the magazine, they celebrated the introduction of the new data processing technology at the Deutsche Bundesbahn. Let me explain:

In Germany, they used to have only state-wide railways. Some of them had their own locomotives. The Bavarian S3/6, one of which can still be admired at the Deutsches Museum, is a famous example. With the merging of the state railways to become the Deutsche Reichsbahn, there came a uniformity. The purpose of this merging had been to make the entire system more efficient through higher numbers.

Since the beginning of the railway was the steam locomotive, they noticed that the categorization would have to be between types 0 and 99. They called these types model ranges. Famous model ranges are, for instance, the 01 and the 03 (both are express train locomotives), the 10 (incidentally, that was the old Bavarian S3/6) and the 50 (a locomotive for freight trains). To the best of my knowledge, the last steam construction that actually took up work was the BR 10, but it did not work long.

With the advent of other drive systems, they put initial letters before the names. Electric locomotives received an E and the combustion motor (diesel) was given a V in front of the number. That meant the E-locomotives were now called E10 or E18 (fast train), E44 (passenger train) or E63 (switch engine) and the Diesel locomotives were now called V200 (multiple purpose locomotive) or V60 (switch locomotive). Other vehicle types were the VT (diesel railcar), the ET (electro railcar) and ETA (electro railcar with accumulator) – and more.

AND THEN THEY INVENTED DATA PROCESSING …

The species were something like CLASSES and the individual locomotives were the OBJECTS of a class. As with all huge technological devices, each OBJECT of a CLASS had its individual distinctive features that became more as time went by. In this system, the classes were described by the first two letters, then came – with a space that we today would call “blanc” – the object classification. That was the number of the individual locomotive, mostly in the same sequence as they were built. With most of the produced units, this number was a three-digit number, if the type was very successful, you occasionally got four digits.

Various BWs and BAs were assigned to the locomotives (objects). This is where they were serviced and maintained. This information was (incrementally) documented with tags on the locomotives, the same went for technological specialties as, for instance, for the compartment temperature or the compensating air (that kept the tyres away from the brakes through air pressure).

One significant difference between individual (steam) engines of a series was, for example, how they were lighted – with coal or oil. Naturally, this was quite a determining factor for the use, because a steam engine that was powered with oil could not make use of coal. If you were a member of the Pfiff-Club and spying out locomotives, you would be able to recognize the type from a long distance. Consequently, I am not sure if the lighting of a locomotive was also documented with a tag. For me, it was self-explanatory.

And there was a central register for all locomotives. In my imagination, this is a very big collection of very thick file folders. One for each locomotives – and they become thicker and thicker with time. All those data were to be transferred to electronic data processing.

And thus, there came a day when the magazine’s highlight was the information that, with the introduction of electronic data processing, the “number tags“ on the locomotives were no longer to have letters but numbers instead. Now all the locomotives got new number tags – and the old tags became well-loved collector pieces for the Pfiff-Club and other railway friends.

The number was probably the key to the locomotive in the then perhaps still sequential database. I think that must have been around 1965 – and even then, I found it rather annoying that electronic data processing (informatics) could not process letters.

? And this is how the E10 became the 110 and the V200 became the 320. What a pity.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
After my learning years at Siemens, I had the chance to be part of the team that wrote the proposal for an X25 network based on a separate BASA cable network of the Deutsche Bundesbahn at the Munich Bundesbahnzentralamt (BZA). That must have been in the early 1980ies and it was a really great project. However, the end was not really glorious. … 
(but I will write more on that at another time)

Hans Bonfigt
Wednesday June 6th, 2018

Digital, bekloppt, banal

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Saturday May 26th, 2018

Moderne Zeiten

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Selfie in Greece, antireflection coating in Greek and English.

There are about seven billion people living on this planet. Less than half of them have internet access. The majority do not have it. It seems to be clear that those people and nations that have internet access will become richer. And those that do not have access to the internet will become poorer. They already talk about the new poverty caused by the lack of digitalization.

Something similar is true for children. If children learn to handle the internet early, they will usually have better chances in their lives than if they are kept away from it.

In our country, children under the age of sixteen will need the formal consent of their parents if, for instance, they want to be part of social media. Among social media are: FB, Twitter, Instagram, MeetUp, LinkedIn and many other often very useful systems that change the world.

If I activate a usercode in Wikipedia, I will be member of a large social media system. Even in Wikipedia, there is a huge danger that it will swallow me whole. And there is a lot of mobbing going on, too  – I can really tell stories from personal experience.

Now let me ask the lawyers and all those wise legislators:

Will a thirteen-year-old genius who won “Jugend Forscht” need his father’s written consent in order to become a Wikipedia member?

And here is a question for you all:
Will a Mormon father (small religion with perhaps 20 million people) or an Islamic father (huge religion with about 2 billion believers, slightly behind Christendom but with a better trend) give his child said consent?
I am not sure. The mother will not be allowed to do it.

But let me switch from general considerations to my personal experiences and mental experiments.

As some of you know, we have seven children. I am sure that nothing in life taught me as many positive and important things as my children did. That includes my parents in the same way as my mentors and teachers, perhaps even Barbara. From whom I also learned a lot. As opposed to school, which you can forget about.

That was true for life in general and especially for digital life. And this is true regardless of me having been the IT professional (and pioneer) in our family who actually created some of it.

Today, if a grandchild of mine wishes to participate in facebook or twitter, then I will support him or her. I would give advice and ask if he/she likes it if I follow. And I would learn the new things he/she would bring me. The only way I would be worried would be if he/she chose a “private modus”. That would actually make me doubt if he/she has been socialized properly.

So here is a mental experiment:    
What would I do if he/she were to experiment in the “darknet”?    
Note: the darknet is an attempt at moving through the internet in absolute anonymity through wearing a mask. You hide your authenticity (what you really are) in order to move under an identity that cannot be tracked back!

Argh! That is exactly what the tax agency wanted to abolish, which is why Swiss numbered accounts were made illegal.…

For technological IT reasons, this goal is just as impossible to reach as absolute data security – even if it is supported with very archaic methods, it can basically not be guaranteed. If this were not so, the success of the cyberspace armies in the darknet would not be possible. All you need to know is how it has been programmed. And you need to be good and industrious. Perhaps a little more proficient than the enemy. But there are always ways.

My grandchild – if he/she has learned a little more in the internet – will soon contradict me and point towards blockchain technologies and bitcoin.

After all, in these scenarios, it is guaranteed (even at a high price) that, as soon as you choose your identity, you have a guaranteed part of a percentage of a totally virtual (and limited) number without having had to give your authenticity. Or rather: back-tracking is made impossible (which, incidentally, is only true for the one who actively and successfully does the “mining“).

A normal buyer will definitely have to identify himself or herself, again and again (at least until his/her bitcoins have become worthless).

So if my grandchild were to start moving in the darknet or trying bitcoin , I would probably get a little worried, but I would not ask them to terminate their experiments. In the case of the darknet, I would recommend the highest degree of caution, in the case of bitcoin, I would fear that they will probably go crazy. After all, I personally know quite a few people who believed in it and some of them ended really tragically (or, in the best case, they only went crazy).

Well, basically, I can also well imagine that children under sixteen might, strictly under the law, be allowed to generate some part of a bitcoin – even without the consent of their biological parents. After all, all they would have to do is find a clever way of joining a few asic systems –  don’t young people enjoy to experiment a little?

And if they successfully generate bitcoins, then they have them. Regardless of the fact that they do not actually own them. It is more like “possession they achieved through computer capacity and algorithms” – which, strangely enough, is a very small part of a virtual and limited range of numbers. Numbers some analysts believe in and some gamblers are prepared to pay money for. Just as it was a long time ago with tulips in Holland.

Because, as far as I know, the exciting question if bitcoin is virtual possession or virtual ownership has not yet been answered. At least the tulip bulbs were real – allegedly, you could even eat them when they no longer had any value.

Now this was heavy material. I know that even many of those who regularly talk and write about bitcoin and blockchain will not understand it. So, please, excuse my digression.

There are so many exciting – and also simpler – things happening in the internet that I could write about, and whenever there is an opportunity, I will probably do so. And over-emphasized topics such as “mobbing in facebook“ are certainly not the most important issues, even if some grown-ups like watching their occasional porno (which, of course, they will deny). Neither are Parship, Elite-Partner or Tinder the real problem. There are many far more exciting things happening – in many dimensions.

But now our children have to ask dad and mom if they want to test a new social media platform on the internet. Mind you, there are so many more important things the parents need to do, such as earning money and washing their first and second cars.

But currently, I am in Greek and the sun is shining – and, to me, those are more important things! So long.

RMD
(Translated by EG)