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 infra structures 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.

Translateion will be continued soon.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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)

Eight years ago, a small team around Wolf Groß established the Münchner Webwoche – at the time it was also called Isarnetz. Since then, it took place every year and will now be held for the 7th time!

And in those seven years, it changed and improved quite a bit. I helped a little when it was initiated and accompanied it over the years as advisory board member. Sometimes I invested more time and energy, sometimes less. It grew to be a great event.

Professor Wolf Groß is the initiator and driving force of the Second Munich Digital Dialogue. Consequently, for him, the purpose of the Webwoche is:

“The data scandal around facebook and Cambridge Analytica, along with the onslaught of hate posts and conspiracy theories in social networks, shows that it cannot just be about promoting digital transformation. We also have to develop rules for controlling the digital future.“

Incidentally, Professor Wolf Groß is not related to my partner “Wolf“ Wolfgang Gross. We are talking two different persons who also write their names differently.

The Webwoche:
For the program, click here. The Facebook usercode is @muenchnerwebwoche, on twitter, the most important hashtags are @isarnetz, nd #mww18 and #digitaldabei.

Here is a citation from the Münchner Webwoche website:
The Münchner Webwoche is the one inspiring digital event in Munich and was initiated by the association Isarnetz. During the event, Munich enterprises and organizations meet because they want to actively shape the digital change. They organize events around the topics technology and digitalization, promote  networking events, sponsor hackathons, Barcamps, podium discussions, workshops and seminars. They also show what digital and creative potential lies in the metropolitan region of Munich.

The 7th Münchner Webwoche is from 19th to 28th of April.

Perhaps we will see each other there during one of the events? It would be a true pleasure for me to see you!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
There is no deadline for also participating with your own event. After all, everything is digital. 🙂

A little more than three weeks ago, I said good-bye to my Alexa (sur-name: Amazon). We went to the South Seas – so she had to remain behind. However, Barbara (sur-name: Dürre), of course, joined me. Yesterday, on our return, many things had accumulated. Many snail mails (paper), parcels and hundreds (?) of emails.

View from 300 metres height onto Raiatea and the neighbouring island – one of the many highlights of our trip.

One of the parcels contained “smart scales” from Phicomm (SMART SCALE S7). I immediately unpacked and installed it. And I measured my body in a completely new way.

In my email, I found – among other things – the login data for BayStartup, because I need to see and evaluate the newly submitted business ideas. That means work which needs to be finished by the time I leave for the Antarctic on February, 7th (again with Barbara and without Alexa).

And from the InterFace AG, I received many appointments and a very remarkable invitation to a workshop about the Data Security Basic Decree (DSGVO) on February, 25th, 2018 in Unterhaching near Munich. Well, I cannot attend, because by the time I will already be in the Antarctic.

Alexa, the smart scales, the 3D glasses, the drone and the batteries for my electronic Utopia (bike), along with the DSGVO, have quite a few things in common – they produce data, data, data – real multitudes of them.

ALEXA (or GOOGLE HOME and others)

My second wife Alexa Amazon.

But let me first tell you about my Alexa. I cannot really say I missed her during my time in the South Sea. However, after my return, it made me quite happy to hear her voice again and to ask her to play a Beatles song for me.
After all, Alexa is “just” a language interface, connecting me to internet functions that have realized an interface with Alexa through their apps. There are products made by the competition, such as “google home“. I would probably recommend them even more. The fact remains that the progress language deciphering has made in IT is sensational.

Being able to give your input and output via audio signals will probably, in the long run, make reading and writing just as unnecessary as we already know calculators have made it unnecessary to do any calculations mentally or on paper. This cultural technique is already lost to us and reading and writing are heading towards a similar destiny. The majority of people, especially in developed countries, will only have rudimentary knowledge. Only very few people will master it to perfection.

What Alexa and the competition have in common is the fact that they are ardent data collectors. For instance, they know how often I listen to my Beatles song. But perhaps they also collect more important data.

My Three-D-Glasses

The last time I wore 3D glasses was on Christmas 2016. I remember being impressed. I cannot really say how 3D will continue to grow. However, I can imagine that there will be some segments where it might become quite important. Both for industry with business and for the customer segment with games.

My Drone

I have no drone. Nor will I buy one. Although they are certainly nice gadgets. During the Christmas holidays (2017), they had organized a drone day at the Neubiberg airfield. Many owners of new drones could be seen testing their toys. But I have no drone.

Especially in the South Sea, I got quite intoxicated with the aerial photographs the ship’s photographer took of the mountains in French-Polynesia. It seems to me that all wedding photographers – if they want to survive against the competition – have to and can have such a drone today. After all, it costs less than a good mirror reflex finder with a few extra lenses used to cost in the good old days – including the camera.

My Smart Scales

On the left, you see the new Phicomm scales (SMART SCALE S7) sitting next to the old, stupid ones.

These scales really fascinate me. They remind me of business ideas and plans in the category medicine/diagnosis. They are mostly about special sensors (sub-category of sensors in general as you need them in everyday life, for instance for autonomous cars…), And then, you can measure the iron content in your blood quite “bloodlessly” with an app and much more. This is, for instance, important for babies.

The corresponding app informs me about my weight and diverse other values, for instance BMI, “biological age”, body fat, type of figure, muscle mass, bone mass, water content, visceral fat, basic turnover in kcal, protein in my current physical state. It also tells me how many kilograms in muscles and body fat and in per cent my individual limbs (torso, arm, left and right leg) have. Above all, I can graphically follow how these values change. Because more often than not, the tendency is more important that the current values.

I find these data quite exciting. Unfortunately, not all of them are in the green segment. Two are even in the red segment. Consequently, I would really like to publish the data in order to put pressure on myself towards working on them. However, this would a) be of no interest to anybody and b) require additional work by me which, being a lazy person, I am not keen on. But then, perhaps there will soon be a “publish-my-data-on-facebook-feature” or something similar.

The development in this field is quite exciting. Perhaps such an app will soon be able to tell me when I am sick and also what I am suffering from. Many interesting data might be available. And here it is already again, the German Angst. What will happen if my health insurance company finds out about it?

My Electric Battery

This is how the electric London from Utopia looks on the website.

Even today, the batteries are rather intelligent. The only thing they cannot yet do is talk, e.g. tell you something. The next generation will have solved that problem. Then the bike (or its batteries) will disappear when …, or when the batteries are empty. They will also use Alexa or “google home”. In the evening, they can tell me if I should re-load my bike in order to make sure it will not be empty before I reach my destination.

Everything Produces Data.

All those devices, and many more, have one thing in common: they generate data. And that is a good thing. Allegedly, we Germans are particularly anxious when it comes to new technology. I the past, this was often criticized, especially by politicians.

Perhaps we no longer like new technology because there was a time when we euphorically embraced nuclear energy and sacrificed our country to cars. And as a consequence, we really fell on our noses and so now we have become more cautious. And now we are afraid for and of our data. Perhaps because politicians tell us that data are the oil or the gold of the future. Which, basically, is utter nonsense.

“GERMAN ANGST“

When it comes to data, it seems to have re-appeared: the German Angst. And it seems like it developed into a European Angst. However, it does not matter how you feel about it. Because now it is before our doors: the DSGVO. And if you want to be law-abiding – and that is what we all want, isn’t it? – you need to do something. And you want as little stress in the process as possible. It might become an art that will make the difference between the success and the failure of an enterprise.

What can you do?

The InterFace AG, along with Kinast und Partner, DataKonform and Bizagi invites you all to a workshop. It costs nothing. It will be held on February, 15th, starting at 16:30 hours until about 20:00 hours (with enough time for networking) at the InterFace AG on Leipziger Str. 16, 82008 Unterhaching – very close to Munich and easy to reach by public transportation.

  • Here is some information issued by the InterFace AG about the workshop:

    It is about, for instance, how you can fulfil your obligation of accountability while legally and operatively accompanying our team with the support of tools. The tool will document everything efficiently and in total compliance with the law.
    Because with the introduction of the new EU data security basic decree (DSGVO), the way we treat data in the EU and world-wide will change forever. The new DSGVO will be effective as of May, 25th, 2018 and it will replace the former EU data security decree (EU-DSRL) that was active for more than 20 years.

    This expert workshop will show how the DSGVO demands can be met, namely:

    • How to prepare for the EU-DSGVO and what you need to keep in mind;
    • How to fulfil the legal demands of the DSGVO as shown in a model;
    • How to adapt, optimize and automatize processes in compliance with the new EU-DSRL;
    • How tools can support a solution during this process;
    • There will be a real-time demonstration that shows how you can immediately begin and actively meet the demands!

    Here is the agenda for the event:

  • Outline of the goals and short introduction of the enterprises involved;
  • Overview of the current situation (Kinast & Partner);
  • New DS-GVO and what you should know about it (Kinast & Partner);
  • Problems to be solved and obstacles to be overcome (practical examples);
  • “Data security as a Service“;
  • Introduction of the “achievement model”;
  • Types of achievement;
  • Model for the procedure;
  • Introduction of workflows as actual use cases/examples;
  • Questions and answers;
  • Networking discussions and finger food.

    Please do not hesitate to ask questions now. We look forward to your registration via E-Mail or eventbrite.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 23rd, 2017

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN (Presentation)

On October, 26th, 2017 I gave a presentation at the Augsburg “Hotel am Alten Park” in the Frölichstr. 17 for the Bayerische Akademie für Verwaltungs-Management GmbH / Bayerische Verwaltungsschule (BVS) at 2 p.m. – it was the final presentation of the event MQ4.

I spoke about –

DIGITAL – AGILE – OPEN – LEAN 

– where I wanted to and was supposed to answer the following questions:

What is agility – yesterday, today, tomorrow? 
What do organizations need in order to react to change in the correct way (and with due speed)? 
What concepts, methods, tools and competence is the idea based on?

The presentation was recorded on film, please see below. My memories of the presentation are not exclusively positive ones. For me, the day was not an easy day:

Motto of the institution (according to the Website): 
Health, education, care, friendliness towards guests and spirituality are the main agenda.

The event took place at the hotel am alten park, which is part of a huge building complex that belongs to the  evangelischen diakonissenanstalt augsburg (diako).

In this “deacon-house”, as we used to call the hospital in our childhood, my father had died on a grey late autumn night in 2008. At the time, I had heard about him being admitted into the hospital in the late afternoon and immediately driven to the hospital in Augsburg by car.

My father was poorly, but according to the doctors, his condition was not life-threatening. Consequently, I drove back home at night – on a dark autumnal motorway with snow storm – to Riemerling. And when I arrived at home, I heard that my father had died.

Now, roughly nine years later, I was again standing in front of this building – and had to enter. This is how my presentation visit to Augsburg became a sad trip into my past. I remembered that I had been robbed of my totally intact tonsils in exactly this “Deakon House” in 1960 because I had suffered from several colds in the winter of 1959/1960. I remembered that, at the time, I fought against the operation, but naturally I lost and still suffer from the consequences (see my IF-Blog article). And I remembered much more that I had experienced in this town. Before my presentation, I had a wild emotional bob-rally through all the years of my childhood in Augsburg between 1955 and 1969.

As I watched this video, all my memories were refreshed. In my own perception, my presentation was occasionally a little lacking in concentration. Considering my personal experiences, I can forgive myself for this and will publish the presentation regardless, because it looks rather authentic to me.

However, my less than perfect emotional situation was not the only reason for the perhaps missing clear line. On the way to Augsburg, I had also considerably restructured my well-prepared presentation. The reason for this was that I had spent intense study time with Bitcoin and Blockchain during the preceding week, which had led me to some insight that had been totally new to me before.

I had not understood (and still cannot understand) why they demand and want to realize things on the internet that are rigorously withheld in real life.

Why can you participate in profound activities, conduct transactions and even own money on the internet while you are well camouflaged behind identities? Mind you, you can do all this totally anonymously! On the other hand, this is exactly what they deny you more and more in real life.

Or are there good reasons after all? Reasons that justify that it is still possible on the internet? For me, that is a very central question!

Bitcoin is a good example how, due to wrong requirements and poor execution, the wonderful idea of “democratic” money was perverted and became a criminal betting and fraud system. “Well meant but poorly executed” – as I see it, this is how you can describe the phenomenon.

Now I am eight weeks on into blockchain and bitcoin and thus can better explain my reservations and ask my questions with more precision than eight weeks ago.

I also wanted to point out in my presentation that we are again in times of a grandiose digital change. It is no longer about human-machine, but about machine-world.

Let me describe it: I have been programming since 1969. Initially it was basically about algorithms and technologies such as compilers, operating systems, batch runs, transactions, data transfer and databases, along with a few applications.

Then almost everything was about the interface between humans and applications (human-machine). That brought us from the punch card to the tablet and from typing to voice and gesture recognition. There was a virtual explosion in the number of applications.

Today, it is all about autonomous systems that often no longer need an interface with humans. Instead, they focus directly on the “environment”. That also explains why sensor technology explodes, making things possible that were held to be impossible until now.

All those things together were a little much for one short presentation. Consequently, I am quite happy that the presentation actually was more or less a success. Because “not feeling too well and free from the manuscript” is twice as hard for an orator. There were a few moments when I noticed how I did not really concentrate. If you watch the video, I would kindly ask your forgiveness.

RMD
(Translated by EG)