Humanity in upheaval

08/14/2017

The digital is on the rise. Global. And at the same time, we are experiencing a rebirth of nationalism, authoritarian rulers, violence, terror and war. Is there any coherence?

Even if there are no books about this to be found, there is a direct link between democracy and industrialization. After a more than 2000-year pause, the modern democracies began in the second half of the 18th century precisely in the countries where at the same time the industrial revolution started. And perhaps today's aversion to democracy has also to do with how the digital transformation of industry is currently taking place? With the fears that this is triggering across all classes all over the world? Based on the mistakes and incomprehension and inability of the responsible politician?

InformatikspektrumFor more than 30 years, I have been working on the digitalization of the industry. But what we are currently experiencing is more than the continuation of the use of IT systems. No one knows which companies are successful with which business models based on which products after this leap into the digital economy. Nor is it yet clear whether the production of goods is still the core of our economic system. And that this big change will not happen without distortions, everyone knows.

Dem Ingenieur ist nichts zu schwör (German saying, meaning: There is nothing that an engineer would not be able to handle). In the industrial age, it was a humorous kind of saying that technicians can solve all technical problems. Digital technology, however, is more than technique. It is coming closer to everyone of us than any technology before. It affects everything. Our life, our work, our environment. How digital connection changes society is something that the society must determine. All areas and all sciences must enter the dialogue.

It is only in this way that we will also find ways to a policy that liably creates the digital society, rather than simply chase the development of things that only bring economic benefits and social power to individuals or small groups. Digital networking can also help us here.

These are the thoughts that are driving me. A first order in this extremely complex subject field I have now tackled in an essay, which Springer has published in the Informatikspectrum.

My plan is to dedicate a book to the topic. It is not intended to provide any technological solutions, but rather to provide a basis for the social, political and scientific debate on the future. Across all disciplines. If any author finds himself, for example, dealing with the same problem from a standpoint of the humanities, I would very much welcome a joint book project.

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