AI Racing

AI has entered the racing of cars after we have been racing horses, dogs and camels for many decades. The fact behind all these races is the huge market for gambling. Anything you can bet on will do for juicy profits in that industry. The recent “Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League” is the latest addition to the racing craze. Moving online with 600000 spectators at its peak on video and gaming platforms the investment seems promising. The only problem, AI is not yet ready to really compete with the world of real drivers. The progress, however, is astonishing. Just one lap of 2 minutes on the circuit yields 15 Terrabyte of data from 50 sensors. These are closed circuits so no person can enter or animal can get in their way. The challenge to integrate more data and faster processing as well as algorithms for fast decision making is steep. Great learning opportunities for advances in robotics. The hype has not been able to live up to the expectations as no real racing took place yet. We have replaced the gladiators of the Roman empire with Formula 1 drivers. It is only fair to retire those drivers soon and let AI race cars against each other. It feels like a computer game on screen and it is as we shall most likely watch these races on a screen as well. Hence, what is the point. Watching youth on TWITCH play racing games will probably not change the viewing behavior of the masses. The programmers have nevertheless great learning opportunities and will find their way rapidly into the job market. The other challenges of ASPIRE seem more important for humanity like human rescue and food for the growing world population. In the meantime let the boys play around with cars and learn about potentials as well as failures of AI-programmers and dealing with both.

Hannover Fair

The annual science fair at Hannover is a kind of a show of things to touch and of those things that come to the public market in the near future. Most of the annual hype is about potentials of production. Rationalization, using few resources or innovative solutions of digitization are high on the agenda. Create your digital twin, save energy, make production more safe or cyber secured.
Robotics is another reason to visit the fair. Some 7 years ago I had my Sputnik experience there. The robotics company KUKA had demonstrated live the that assembling a car from pre-manufactured components takes just 10 minutes for the robots. Shortly afterwards the whole company was bought by Chinese investors. Roughly 5 years later we are swamped by cars from China. It was not that difficult to predict this at that time. Okay, we need to focus on more value added production and take our workforces (not only) in Europe along on the way. Reclaiming well-paid, unionized jobs in manufacturing, as Joe Biden does, will not be an easy task. Robots and their programming is expensive, but skilled workers, too. Hence, the solution is likely to be robot-assisted manufacturing as a kind of hybrid solution for cost-effective production systems.
Following the proceedings of the 2024 fair we are astonished to realize that visiting the fair is still a rather “physical exercise” walking through the halls. After the Covid-19 shock we expected a lot more “online content”. Instead we keep referring to webpages and newletters rather than virtual visits and tours. The preparation of the visit in advance remains a laborious adventure. However, the in-person networking activities in the industry are largely advanced by ease of exchanging virtual business cards and the “FEMWORX” activities.
This year’s Sputnik moment at Hannover is probably most likely related to the pervasive applications of AI across all areas of the industry and along the whole supply chain. Repairing and recycling have become mainstream activities (www.festo.com). Robotics for learning purposes can also be found to get you started with automating boring household tasks (www.igus.eu).
Visiting Hannover in person still involves lengthy road travel or expensive public transport (DB with ICE). Autonomous driving and ride sharing solutions might be a worthwhile topic for next year’s fair. Last year I thought we would meet in the “metaverse fair” rather than in Hannover 2024. Be prepared for another Sputnik moment next year, maybe.
(Image: Consumer’s Rest by Stiletto, Frank Schreiner, 1983)

Error 444

The error message 444 is a not so rare encounter while surfing on the web. The error code 444 stands for the message that from the side of the server the connection is closed without any additional message. The occurrence leaves you without further indication of what exactly went wrong in building a connection to a web service or website. You just simply get shut out and that’s it. It may be tough on you if concerns your online banking or other access to vital services delivered through the internet.
In organization science and social science there are many new studies dealing with the finding, dealing, coping or handling errors. It has become much more acceptable to deal openly with errors, blunders or failures. From an individual as well as organizational perspective the cultures that deal openly with these events seem to have a certain advantage to overcome the consequences of errors at all or faster than others.
In some biographies failures are part of the lessons learned throughout life. It is deemed important to acknowledge failures or paths not taken for better or worse. Organizations just like individuals seem to learn more intensively from their failures or omissions than from everything seemingly running smoothly. Learning curves are faster also for “machine learning” if you have access to a huge data set which contains ample data on failures rather than encountering failures after release. Hence, the compilation of errors is an important part or early stage of a learning process. Failed today? Fail again tomorrow. You’ll be really strong the days after although it might hurt.

Mobility Concept

Berlin has an exceptional chance to rethink mobility in the city as new modes of transport arise. Just as the bicycle paths have been expanded over the last decade there more options to reach your destination. For the vast majority of moves in the city the “decision tree” has grown new branches. We start to change habits to consider (1) walking (2) bicycle (3) roller (4) public transport and (5) cars (electric and sharing or still owned). Multi-modality (Jelbi) in Berlin figures out the best combination for you getting from A to B. Other hybrid forms of transport start their entry in the big cities.
The last hybrid form that soon will claim an entry into the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin is the hybrid version between a bicycle and a car. The Hopper has a permission as a bicycle. It is allowed to use bicycle tracks and therefore has an advantage on the “last mile”. At the same time, it feels more like sitting in a car and a 2nd person behind you, 2 children and/or luggage or shopping bags. These hybrid forms manage to combine advantages of both original modes of transport. You may feel more safe, dry and visible on the roads like in a car, but you are not travelling at more than 25km/h. Cyclist might not be to keen to have a big competitor on their limited cycle space.
Legally the Hopper would need to take the cycle path even if the road would be empty, but there are many cyclists on the cycle path. This is a good reminder of the societal and legal issues involved in new technological solutions. Acceptability of another competitor for space in the city has to be earned. Legality has to be tested and laws interpreted, whether the hybrid form falls in one or the other pre-existing category. Otherwise, the legislator has to establish a new category altogether, but this is the very lengthy procedure. Two bicycle wheels in front and one motorbike-like wheel in the back make 2/3 bicycle and 1/3 moped.
With a stronger electric support, the bicycle becomes a pedelec and can go faster, has to use roads and is insurable against accidents. The options grow. We are likely to witness more innovation and options in the world of mobility. The proof of concept has been achieved. Finding a market for the hybrid mode of transport is another challenge. Competition and lobbying are fierce in this world of mobility as well.

Energy Storage

News agent Reuters has published an analysis of the setback for short peak coverage of electricity by power plants fueled with gas. Conclusion: economically no longer viable. Investors draw back even from contracts already signed. What is the game changer technology here. Batteries that store energy just like the batteries of millions of cats that have a storage capacity to supply energy for a whole household for more than 2 days. Other giant batteries cost only half the price compared to 5 years ago equal to $150 per kwh. In five years solar energy doubled its share of energy production to now reach the same amount as energy provision by gas.
Reaching a critical turning point in energy generation, investors flock to the more profitable medium or long-term investment. Good news for the planet. Wind and the sun are all around us. We have only started to cover roof tops of office buildings, car parks and other shelters. Start thinking about your energy storage as of now and reserve a suitable space for it. Costs are coming down rapidly in a few years or maybe only a few months.

Mastodon

In the Post-Twitter-world there is room for other platforms to take over the information function and opinion exchange on an international level. Mastodon has made a good start to fill this gap. The number of registered users has surpassed the 10 million users by large. If the anger about the union-busting and Trump supporter Elon Musk increases further, more and more people will join Mastodon as users and content providers. Advertisers will follow where they can reach their appropriate audiences. If you sell seats on a spacecraft to the moon you will advertise on eXit-Twitter. If you care about responsible investment you advertise on elsewhere or on Mastodon, because that is where your audience will be. Ethically responsible advertisers started to make such moves already. The decentralised structure to potentially filter human rights violating hate messages will need to grow accordingly on this platform. This is a challenge for all platforms and involves costs. To better understand the idea behind Mastodon, think of a platform which connects many other local networks or platforms. Yes, it is a platform of platforms. Decentralised instances provide and can remove access to the local platform. Even whole sub-platforms might be shut out. This increases the potential to build a “caring platform”. Decentralised organisation often incurs higher costs than a central instance that decides and administers a one-size fits all solution. But it is worth a try.
An example makes is more clear, what are the advantages of such decentral organisation to achieve more shielded privacy. For example, a small local chess club targeting primarily youth can open its own server on mastodon and admit only its known members to the network. It is easy to control who gets access to your posts of solutions to riddles or innovative game and learning strategies. Access to other Mastodon instances is an additional option. For enterprises or larger organisations, it needs the communication department to talk to the IT-service to get such a structure on its way. A dedicated person needs to monitor what content gets posted and what kind of “traffic” is generated. But this can largely be automated. In case you know your members of the local platform it is much less likely to occur than on the eXit-Twitter or other centralised huge international platforms.
Many federated structures will find it useful and part of their social-DNA to join the FEDIVERSE. We shall have to wait for some more time to get the so-called social media platforms civilised. These are social investments and learning processes which deviate from the profit-maximising rationale of other platforms. (Image: screenshot from @mastodon-user on 2023-11-30).

Work Satisfaction

There is an important distinction between job satisfaction and satisfaction with one’s work. Being satisfied with the work you have done or something you created or co-created has become almost a privilege. Production in capitalism has mostly different objectives like rent seeking rather than satisfaction with one’s work. Compromises between both are a major learning process about the functioning of labour markets. Remote work, for some, contributes a lot to more job satisfaction. For others a healthy work environment is the top priority. Many people however focus simply on pay packages and this is often out of sheer necessity to escape poverty eventually. Trades have a tradition to allow satisfaction with one’s work, more than most jobs in industry. Flat hierarchies and subordination to your own standards, rather than pressure from supervisors, are much more common. Recognition of your work adds to the pay you receive. Job turnover is related to job satisfaction but also to satisfaction or even identification with the product of your work.

There is more to work than pay. Recognition in form of winning a price in a competition may help to keep awareness high that pay is only one element of remuneration. “meilleur ouvrier de France“ is such a kind of recognition. It encourages people to try new things and test new ideas. This is a major source of satisfaction with one’s work. We might even feel sorry for someone shouting “I can get no satisfaction”. He probably has to try in a simpler or different fashion rather than to try harder. The city Dijon in Burgundy seems to have a pretty high number of people with high levels of work satisfaction and happy to show it.

Work Subordination

One of the defining principles besides the job description, working time, working place, remuneration of a work contract is the subordination to a superior. The employment contract entails some more or less strictly executed form of direction, but a right of direction nevertheless. This element of subordination has become a major issue in the definition of whether you are effectively an employee or a self-employed person. The digital revolution had enlarged the kinds of subordination. Platforms and algorithms, that distribute work among several employees (but named platform workers) disguised the subordination to a superior level of management to the platform and its seemingly anonymous algorithm. Many young riders were saying, I don’t like bosses, but I am willing to accept a “technical” platform that distributes work tasks only seemingly in a non-discriminatory way. Due to a failure of labour legislation to regulate early enough a thriving model of fake self-employment developed throughout Europe and beyond. Labour Courts have contributed a lot to correct the disguised subordination. Even Uber is advertising that they only operate as a broker of tasks, but have no subordinated employees. The related issue of subordination remains largely the same. Subordination to an algorithm of the distribution of tasks is the end result.
Many start-up enterprises use Kanban boards to facilitate project and team management. Shifting tasks between employees, introducing new tasks and self-selection of tasks are potentially subordination-free allocation of tasks (example software). Flat hierarchies seem more manageable through the use of such tools. The number of tools that integrate other office functions is impressive. When testing such tools, that become more popular also in the distribution of household tasks, beware of the data-hungry nature of such tools. For example, https://trello.com/ warns correctly in the small print that for its full functionality it would need to have permission to use “your” camera, microphone, contacts, photo library, calendar etc.
This demonstrates that subordination, nowadays, is complemented by the algorithmic use of a lot of privacy, we would never have agreed to a boss in person should even ask for. The new and old subordinators have powerful tools at hand, the subordinated will have to get their act together and limit the amount of subordination they are willing to accept.
Again, this is a generational topic. The low threshold to accept technical subordination in younger generations, your autonomous level-5 car is breaking earlier than you even perceive a risk, is confronted with the higher threshold to accept personal subordination for youth. Interestingly, for older generations the obverse is true. All in all, we have ample reason to rethink and re-define also in legal terms the manifold, disguised and new forms of subordination related to work.

Workation

Take work, take vacation = workation.
Take flexibility, take security = flexicurity.
Take business, take leisure = bleisure, not pleasure.
Blending notions or building hybrid terms is a powerful way to get discussions going or to challenge standard notions of work, security and leisure. At first sight these hybrid notions give the impression of a new, interesting approach to an established narrative. Adopting a new hybrid notion allows to blur the well-defined borders between established definitions. New narratives have their imaginative charm about them, only these hybrid notions tend to tip the balance in favour of work, flexibility and business, most of the time.
Additionally, there is a generational effect to it. Younger generations feel already more at ease with english-sounding new concepts. Feeling part of a new, cool approach to work is catchy. However, do not forget about the second part in all these notions: vacation, job security and leisure are fundamental rights of workers. Health and safety at work and in the medium- and longer- term depend on the latter notions. Sustainability and prevention of burn-out as well as depression hinge on taking time for leisure and vacation. Something nice in the immediate, might turn out to be very costly later on. Shifting costs related to health from employers to employees (or society) at a later time is in the end an unfair deal.
Just try a workation once and you are likely to value a real vacation much higher the next time. Why not do a workation in reconsidering the distribution of work within your household, couple or family. In this sense I am all in favour of a workation for men, most of whom still shun away from a fair distribution of care work at home. Happy Workation!

Garten

Ach es ist so schön im Garten. Ein schöner Garten will geplant werden. Das gelingt auf besondere Weise mit dem „Pollinator“. Hinter dem Pollinator verbirgt sich ein Kunstprojekt, das viele kleine Gartenkunstwerke zu einem großen verbinden möchte. Spannend ist nicht nur das Vernetzungsprojekt von vielen einzelnen Parzellen zu einem größer werdenden Gesamtprojekt (Aggregation), sondern der für Kunstschaffende gewohnte Perspektivwechsel. Aus Sicht der Bestäuber der Pflanzen und Blumen gesehen ergibt sich eine vogelähnliche Perspektive auf den Garten.
Der Parcour einer Biene oder eines Schmetterlings durch unsere Gartenparzelle regt zum Träumen an. Vielleicht hätte Franz Kafka nach der Parcour-Erfahrung ein anderes Insekt gewählt. Mir gefällt die 2D, 3D, 4D Perspektive, die es erlaubt, den blühenden Garten im Zeitraffer durch alle Jahreszeiten zu visualisieren. Das ist Gartenarbeit ohne die mühsame Kleinarbeit des Pflanzens und Unkrautjätens. Es wird nicht gleich ein Garten wie von Impressionisten in Argenteuil von Monet oder in Yerres von Caillebotte daraus, aber ein farbenprächtiges Kleinod allemal. Mein erster virtueller Versuch (Link) ist schon recht farbenfroh. Lateinische Namen auffrischen ist schon fast ein Beitrag zum gesunden Altern, besonders wenn der Garten einige Kilometer entfernt ist. Im Sommer lassen sich leicht neue Pläne schmieden. Herbst und Winter, Trockenheit und Hitze lassen uns das Gartenkunstwerk nochmals überdenken. Spielerisch ein Gartendesign gestalten, kann der erste Schritt für mehr Natur sein. Biodiversität macht Spaß und hilft uns allen. Kleinvieh macht eben auch Mist.

Grenzgang 2

Innerhalb vom Kern Europas ist der physische Grenzübergang kaum merkbar. Sobald es um die Regeln der sozialen Sicherung, Beschäftigung, Selbständigkeit geht oder der Unternehmensbesteuerung werden die bilateralen Regeln bereits viel komplizierter. Falls 3 und mehr Länder ins Spiel kommen wird die Lage ziemlich unübersichtlich oder zum Expertentum. Staatsbürgerin im Land A und Staatsbürger im Land B, arbeitend im Land C dürfen sich über einen Dschungel an Regeln freuen, der Kafkaeske Verhältnisse hoch 3 produziert. Irgendwo klemmt dabei immer etwas. Dabei hatte die Regulierung CE Nr. 883/2004 über die Koordinierung der nationalen Systeme der sozialen Sicherung doch weitgehende Konkretisierungen hervorgebracht und Sicherung der Bestandsrechte hervorgebracht.
Wie so oft liegen die Schwierigkeiten im Detail und darin sind die jeweilig zuständigen Verwaltungsbeamten, wenn die denn erst einmal herausgefunden wurden, eine Hürde, die es zu meistern gilt. In der jeweiligen landesüblichen Verwaltungssprache, versteht sich von selbst, inklusive regionaler Besonderheiten.
Während juristisch der Grenzübergang von Beschäftigten, Selbständigen und Unternehmen jeweils geregelt ist, ergibt sich aus einer juristischen Figur des „salary split“, also eine beschäftigte Person bei 2 Arbeitgeberinnen eine Lücke in der Zuständigkeit. Diese besteht gleichfalls in den meisten Ländern der EU. 2 Teilzeitjobs zu 50% lassen sich sozialversicherungsrechtlich nicht fair darstellen. Die zweite Lohnsteuerkarte und Besteuerungssätze, na wir ahnen schon, was das für Betroffene heißt.
Unternehmen und der Staat machen es sich einfach. Eine Konfiguration „Mulitplication des employeurs“, mehrere Arbeitgeberinnen, ist nicht wirklich adäquat vorgesehen (Crabeels, 2008 S.272). Dadurch werden viele, besonders junge Beschäftigte systemisch in ihrer beruflichen Findungsphase benachteiligt und in die Selbständigkeit oder gar die Scheinselbständigkeit gezwungen. Dabei brauchen wir dringend diese dynamischen GrenzgängerInnen in Europa mit ihren grenzenlosen Ideen, Enthusiasmus und Gestaltungswillen.
Neben diesen „high potential Grenzgängerinnen“ gibt es viele Beschäftigte, die bereits in einem Mitgliedsland der EU mehrere Beschäftigungsverhältnisse ausüben müssen, da sie von einem Job ihren Lebensunterhalt nicht bestreiten können. (EU Statistik Jugend Eurostat,2022).

Sei ganz ruhig

Sei ganz ruhig. So heißt das kurze Gedicht von Angela Krauß und auch die erste Zeile. Es hat mich seit einiger Zeit schon begleitet.
Gerade der Eintrag zum Himalaya und den Besteigenden des Mount Everest hat mir die Zeilen erneut in Erinnerung gebracht. Für einige wenige besteht das Leben immer noch aus Sensationen. Immer höher, immer weiter, immer schneller. Dabei wissen wir, unser Planet hält das nicht aus.
Unsere Einkaufsmeilen suggerieren uns ein Übermaß an verpassten Gelegenheiten, wenn wir jetzt nicht zugreifen. FOMO (fear of missing out) ist allgegenwärtig und ein viel zu erfolgreiches Marketingkonzept, dem sich kaum eine Person entziehen kann. Die Selbsteinschätzung der Zeit, die uns verbleibt bis zum Tod (perceived time till death) oder unseres spezifischen Sterblichkeitsrisikos bezüglich Vermeidbarkeit oder allgemeinem Risiko, beeinflusst „unbewusst“ unser Verhalten. In Vergangenheit verhaftet sein, ist keine Lösung. Das Leben wird vorwärts gelebt, und rückblickend verstanden.
Bei einem gelegentlichen Rückblick wird vielen bewusst, es hat sich viel angesammelt (nicht nur im Keller). Aber mehr, muss es nicht werden, anders schon, besser vielleicht. Als Hommage an Angela Krauß mal ein 7-Zeiler, beeinflusst von der Konferenz im Europäischen Parlament „Beyond Growth“ im Mai 2023. Ruhig werden und ruhig bleiben, sollten wir beständig versuchen.  Klein- statt Großschreibung, flache Hierarchien, Gleichstellung bei Wörtern und Sätzen. Warum noch Satzzeichen? Denk dir deine Welt, wiedewiede wie sie dir gefällt.

bleib ruhig
bleib einfach ruhig
la vie est belle tel quel
hab keine angst was zu verpassen
es bleiben jahre zu verweilen
schau mal umher
da ist viel

Repair 3

Repair is our new mantra. Think of repairing in all domains as of now. Nature is showing us the way how to repair in many ways. Culture is also embracing the shift towards repairing as caring. If we really care about our planet, and there is no planet B, we shall have to repair in many more domains. We are used to repair bicycles, cars, roofs, windows etc. Repairing is never boring. You can improve the performance of a device or building by repairing it, even with relatively small budgets. Isolation of buildings is a good example of investing in upgrades through repairing. Rather than throwing away a functioning heating system repairing it with an energy saving device is enhancing its performance and produces fewer emissions in the short run. Heat pumps are the way forward for new installations. Shifting a sector, heating with gaz, to ensure longer lasting repair and improve options would save a lot of raw materials and CO2 as well. The construction sector has repair work almosts in its DNA, the energy sector will have to make that shift as well. Dare to repair.

Design Start-up

Es war wieder Designmesse. Klein, aber fein, in Berlin in den KantGaragen. Die Location weckt schon Hoffnung auf Experimentelles, Garagenhaftes, Handwerkliches. Das bringt Abwechslung in die sonstige, glitzernde Shoppingwelt. Das renovierte und entgiftete Parkhaus erlaubt einen Rundgang über mehrere Etagen, vorbei an Galerien und Ständen von DesignerInnen. Es macht sich eine anregende Brise von erfrischenden Ideen breit. Von Design im Raum mit Leuchten und Möbeln über Design von Mode und Schmuck lässt sich viel Schickes finden. Blickfang, samt Blickfang Akademie haben es geschafft, die Mini-messe in den KantGaragen zu etablieren. Es kann sogar Eintritt verlangt werden. Eine weitere Begleitung der Neuen auf dem Markt wird oft nötig sein, denn selbst gute Innovationen sind meistens keine Selbstläufer. Konkurrenz belebt nicht nur das Geschäft, es bleibt meist auch ein Verdrängungsprozess.
Die großen, vielfach schließenden Kaufhäuser in den Innenstädten spüren besonders die Konkurrenz der individualisierenden DesignerInnen mit ihren einzigartig anmutenden Realisationen. Singuläre Kauferlebnisse auf solchen Messen, in stilvollem Ambiente, selbst in einem alten Parkhaus sind, allem Anschein nach, ein Erfolgsrezept. Start-up statt Close-down schafft viele erfüllende Arbeitsplätze. Gute Arbeit wird nicht aussterben, sondern durchstarten.

De-risking

Risks are all around us. Risk is the spice of life. True, but this might be an elitist concept of life or business. Survival of the fittest or the best equipped to take risks might be the consequence. After the 3 crises, financial, covid, energy, we have a new impetus to thrive for de-risking. Certainly, concerning our health, we are aware that prevention is key to fight a pandemic. In order to stem an energy crisis, most countries start to rethink their energy mix and achieving more energy autonomy is a major step to shield against risks of delayed delivery or commerce with belligerent states like Russia. De-risking is key in supply chains for industries (automotive production, microprocessors) as well as service providers (cloud services, care givers) just as well. Mariana Mazzucato (UC London) urges us to develop a new narrative to accompany the transformation of our production and service provision models. Mazzucato advocates to learn from lessons from the ground of how to proceed in the best way. Copenhagen is a good starting point to observe how a metropolitan city manages the greening and decarbonisation of a city. It is important to not only target single policies but the coherence of several policies and approaches. In my view de-risking means for Germany and the EU to shield energy systems from foreign, malignant interference. Only local production of energy and nearby consumption of it will ensure the de-risking of energy provision and consumption. Let us start with massive investments in rooftop solar or small wind turbines. Nobody complained about millions of ugly television antenna all around us. Solar cells on balconies contribute to a basic local electricity supply, difficult to target millions of solar cells instead of a single huge and horrifically dangerous nuclear power plant. At the same time ,we reduce dependency on monopoly or oligopoly structures that develop their own agenda (Too big to fail, remember those?). I prefer the reverse statement. Because they are so big, they are doomed to fail and, therefore, fail us sooner or later. The Forum New Economy offered an open and accessible platform for exchange of ideas. That’s a good starting point to address de-risking. Reducing Risk is in the subtitle of Rebecca Henderson’s Chapter 3 on “Reimagining Capitalism” (short Review), but I would like to add the business case for household production of energy for de-risking supply failure and exploitation of consumers through excessive profit margins as a prosumer business case.

Hannover Messe

Es war wieder einmal Hannover Messe. Das jährliche Treffen der Industrie mit samt der neuesten und manchmal auch älteren technischen Lösungen bietet eine eindrückliche Plattform zur Repräsentation von technischen Problemlösungen (offizielle Bilder LINK) . Da gibt es Lösungen für Probleme, bei denen wir noch nicht einmal wussten, dass wir sie haben oder einmal haben werden. So überrascht es nicht dort einige Firmen gelistet zu sehen, die ihre Dienste und Produkte anpreisen für die Unterstützung mit künstlicher Intelligenz, aber eben auch das Erkennen von Mogelei unter Zuhilfenahme von künstlicher Intelligenz. Also so ähnlich wie auf einer Automesse gibt es auch eine Abteilung die Rettungs- und Krankenwagen präsentiert. Technische Lösungen denken, wenn sie gute Lösungen sind, eben immer gleich ihr eigenes Versagen mit. Es bleibt letztlich nur die Frage, wie viele Versagensschleifen mitgedacht worden sind oder mitgedacht werden können. Der menschliche Faktor (als Fehlerursache) ist dabei ein sehr schwer auszuschließender Problemfall. Das musste nun auch die Hannover Messe als Ganze erfahren. Wenn die Menschen, die die Menschen hin- und wieder wegbringen vom Messegelände streiken, dann kommt das nahezu einem GAU (größtem anzunehmendem Unfall) gleich. Es gibt nicht nur menschliches Versagen bei Maschinenabläufen zu berücksichtigen, sondern auch mangelnde Kooperationsbereitschaft oder gar Böswilligkeit. Dabei sind wir nun aber schon in der Science-fiction oder James Bond 007 gelandet. Artificial Intelligence wird nicht frei von diesen allzu menschlichen Schwächen sein. Ein paar Gedanken sollten wir als Interessenten einer Fortbestehung unserer Spezies schon haben. Zwischenzeitlich lasse ich ChatGPD mal die Frage beantworten, wie Angestellte der Deutschen Bahn effektiv ihre Forderungen durchsetzen können. Kein Wunder, dass autoritäre Länder bereits mit dem Regeln von künstilicher Intelligenz begonnen haben. Ich zumindest habe viel Energie und CO2 gespart, denn der Messebesuch in Hannover fand virtuell statt. Deswegen dann auch keine eigenen neuen Bilder. Zur Produktion von Fake-Images oder recycling-Bildern früherer Messen (Photoshoppen) fehlt mir die Lust, Zeit und wohl auch die künstlerische vielleicht sogar kriminelle Energie.

Printing

Printing is a more than 5 century-old industry. The invention of the printing press is mostly attributed to Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz. However, the Asian precursor of mobile type letter printing of Cai Lun of the Jikji dates back to 1377 in Korea. These early masterpieces of the inventors of print can be inspected at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The summary term for this technical innovation by historians is the “age of start-ups”. The procedure for Gutenberg to have 2 financing rounds with his “business angel” Johann Fust, who is later claiming even almost the full rights of the printed volumes, resembles the start-up spirit of today as much as that of the 15th century. Not belonging to the Patrician families, it was very difficult to defend your rights in courts of the gilds. The printers also became a very powerful intermediary themselves. They either sold pre-ordered books or had to take the risk of assessing the market for their product. The editors of today do much the same in the trading world of books and rights of authors and translators. Merchandising products of the church and later churches (protestants Luther Bible) had a particular value to both the clergy and its devotees, not to mention the shop keepers in-between as well. Pilgrimage business was another start-up industry still going strong in the 20th and 21st century and popular in all religions. The early prints and typographs applied are fascinating  in themselves, but there is a lot to be learned about the foundation of a new industries that still employs millions of people and is at the origin of learning revolution similar to the one we are living with the digital technologies today. The European languages with respect to printing had a certain competitive advantage, based on 26 letters of the alphabet, far fewer types were needed to print books than the more than a thousand different signs for printing a Korean text. In terms of printing this is cost-reducing and probably you do not need to be able to read yourself to be a printer or it makes proof reading more accessible favouring benefit margins. After all, the age of industrialisation probably had a precursor in the printing industry. The potential of the printing industry was only exploited much later to the full extent. Comparable to “peak oil” we hope to have reached “peak paper” at last as well for the sake of our planet and our own survival.

Bauhaus Haus

Zu den Ursprüngen des “Bauhaus” in Weimar gehört das Haus, welches die Feder von Georg Muche entworfen hat. Auch wenn das Bauhaus überwiegend mit Walter Gropius assoziiert wird, ist die Parallele von Georg Muche zu dem französischen Maler und Architekten Le Corbusier frappierend. Beide waren geprägt durch die eigene Malerei und Zeichenkunst. Die Entwürfe für Häuser oder Villen folgten Zeichnungen, die wiederum einer “cognitive map” mit Prinzipen der Konzeption und der Konstruktion folgten. Treu den Ansätzen des Bauhauses verwirklichte Muche bereits in 1923 sein Musterhaus. Modulare Bauweise, preisgünstige Erstellung, aktuelle Technologie, perspektivische Blickwinkel und Lichtspiel. Eine gewisse Parallelität zu der Villa La Roche und Jeanneret von Le Corbusier besteht nicht nur in der zeitlichen Dimension, sondern auch in dem Einfluß von kubistischem Spiel mit Perspektiven in Haus  und auf das Haus. Die von der Malerei herkommenden Architekten entwerfen ihre Räume mit “The painter’s eye“. Vielleicht kommt nicht zuletzt daher der Traum vom Eigenheim, der so prägend bleibt in ganz Europa und der westlichen Welt. Geprägt von den 1910er und frühen 1920er Jahren war kostengünstiges Bauen eine wichtige Rahmenbedingung. Relativ kleine Grundrisse, modular erweiterungsfähig, preiswerte Baustoffe sorgten trotz Schwierigkeiten für rasche Realisierungsmöglichkeiten. Eine gewisse deutsch-französische Parallelität drängt sich auf. LeMonde vom 6.4.2023 beschreibt ausführlich das Dilemma des 21. Jahrhunderts. Der Traum vom eigenen Haus wird für die nächsten Generationen schwieriger zu realisieren sein. Rohstoffpreise, Grundstückspreise, Arbeitslöhne, Kreditzinsen schnellen in die Höhe. Der Traum vom Eigenheim bleibt ein Traum älterer Generationen oder der glücklichen Erben solcher Häuser, fast unerreichbar für Durchschnittsverdienende. “Gemeinsam statt Einsam” ist die noch gültige Schlussfolgerung, die bereits Henning Scherf formuliert hat. Die neue Herausforderung für den Bau war, ist und bleibt die soziale Frage, der wachsenden Ungleichheit entgegen zu wirken.

Monitor SDGs

The advantage of the goal-setting at the U.N. is definately that the progress or regress can be monitored. To do this, a definition for each goal in words is presented, which has to be translated in all languages. Some notions are subject to conceptual issues. Poverty, for example, in an individualistic society needs to be defined at an individual level. In societies where women and dependent children or elderly persons are part of one household, the household is the unit of definition. After the conceptual clarification the measurement of a set of indicators needs to be identified. How do we measure poverty? Here the focus is either on absolute poverty (lump sum of money available) or relative poverty (relative to others in society). Stability of poverty, poverty as transitional  or access to poverty relief programmes as well as charity organisations in a country will play a role here. No simple answers and comparisons here. Timeliness of data is another issue. Data and sampling are costly in itself, therefore not every year the measurement is repeated to gauge progress or regress.
I take account of the SDGs in my own work in the form that the 17 SDGs of the U.N. are part of my work as well. In consulting practice it is a frequent task to check for example a larger enterprise on its contribution to the implementation of SDGs locally, nationally or globally. To start a reflection phase of my blog entries I just used the “search function” of the webpage and entered the first 6 SDGs in English and German to check, whether my webpage is SDG-proof. The result shown below in simple frequencies. Education and Learning come out as top scores. Other areas show fewer entries. In some goals, like gender, the keywords to check for are more diverse and return less precise results. This opens the conceptual box again. The notions summarised under a SDG goal might be numerous or singular – which leads to a bias in results. “Bildung” in German finds also “Weiterbildung” = further or continuous education at the same time, not the English term education. Subtle differences, but potentially huge effects. Overall, an interesting exercise to analyse my/your own mind and business practice. Focused attention versus broad coverage of SDGs, each has its strength and weaknesses. Goal 17 to strengthen the means of implementation and global partnership may build just on many more organisations doing their SDG-homework. Name, Measure, Improve – that is the action. SDGs in Blog1-6

Goals SDGs

The Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) date back to 2015 for their enactment. The goal setting is a routine procedure for the UN and its subsidiary international organisations. This makes a lot of sense, because if you do not name the problems, you are unlikely to address them in a systematic fashion. Quantifying the goals is then a much more difficult task and that then already part of the ensuing discussion about idealist, illusive or realist goals. Most diplomatic exchanges focus on this goal setting and scheduled monitoring as well as more comprehensive evaluations of goal achievement. The SDGs comprise another strategic twist. Rather than concentrating on national governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses were encourages to actively participate in the implementation of the goals. After more than 7 years the achievements of intended improvements should become visible. Well, goal setting and monitoring over the last seven years is likely to reveal failure on several of the 17 indicators. Covid-19, disruption of supply chains, wars causing recessions and high inflation are major factors to explain failure. However, knowing the reasons of failure is a substantial part of improving in the next coming years. Returning to cooperation rather than confrontation could do the trick. Even after wars cooperation to organise relief is the only way forward to come closer to achieving the SDGs.
Bold initiatives like the Marshall-Plan for Europe in the 20th century made it possible to rise from the ashes. Countries that have been in ruins at that time, now have important roles as financial contributors to support other regions. The goals remain the same, the challenges as well.

Repair 2

Ever since the visit to the exhibition “Care, Repair, Heal” at the Martin Gropiusbau in Berlin the image of flying protheses rests with me. Repairing the human body is feasible in many fantastic ways. The inner wounds, however, are less visible and sometimes hurting even more. In recognition of the thousands of victims again in the Russian war on Ukraine’s territory and the atrocities causes by mines to injure humans, we have to assist in caring, repairing and healing. This has not changed since the Great War or the Nazi-induced mass murder and mutilations. Humanity is unable to bann such landmines despite international conventions trying to achieve this.
The strong image produced by the protheses as clouds in the sky (Kadar Attia) remind us of the lasting effects of war. Images we had associated with the mutilated soldiers and civilians of the 2nd world war, many still around us in the 60s or 70s, are coming back to Europe. Writing about the 20th century, Aurélien Bellanger described in words a similar traumatising vision of flying protheses in his story of the lonely poet and philosopher. We cannot repair history, but we can work towards reducing useless additional suffering. It is part of the absurdities of our world that technology has created masterpieces to assist us and reduce suffering, but at the same time technology is applied to create the worst suffering as well. Rather than thinking of this relationship as 2 sides of the same coin, I prefer to hope for dialectic evolution towards a better synthesis solution using enforceable international law. Yes, I still have a dream! …

Construction

Construction as an industrial sector was growing strongly in the last decade. Corona crises, supply chain disruptions have slowed growth in the last two years, but the sector was still growing in terms of employment. The topic of skill and employee shortages hardened from year to year. In March 2023 the sector has more time to reflect on the somehow rapid, if not sometimes chaotic growth of the previous decade. The macro-economic scenario has changed now. Following on supply chain disruptions, we saw the high inflation rates of raw materials. The war of Russia against Ukraine caused energy prices to soar and eventually come down again. Latest worry is the increase in interest rates to finance construction projects of public, private and the business sector.
The whole sector is known for its economic role of forerunner of economic cycles, up or down. So, what are the prospects? Not so rosy, as the experts explain for example on the expert forum of the Belgian construction forum. The official from the Belgian National Bank announced a rather bleak outlook for the sector. New construction is stalling, but the renovation of buildings, especially for the purpose of reducing energy consumption is still strong and growing. Long-term reduction of emissions keeps the sector busy, thanks to the EU green deal in my opinion. The public, private and business investments in buildings all keep growth from turning negative. 2 big worries remain: (1) skill shortages and the lack of employees signalled in job openings in the sector is high and still rising; (2) the scarcity of women employed in the sector is still trailing most other sectors. Most companies have seen earnings grow over the last decade, sufficient time to build up reserves for the tougher quarters to come. Skill shortages and gender biases are harder to overcome. The Construction Forum in Brussels addressed both topics and tries to convince employers and the younger generation. Construction companies have to work on their male-dominated image was one of the take home messages Hélène de Troostemberg, the Director of Build Up pronounced.
It is not certainly not enough to have a woman as moderator of a panel and an all-female singers group accompanying the presentations. Women as architects, technicians and builders will make the sector even more attractive for the next generation of men as well. Aging of employees in the sector is another tough issue waiting for innovative solutions. Digitalisation of every step in the value chain is an additional necessary step. The leadership and trade unions in the sector are well aware of these facts. Maybe next year women engineers will pilot the robotics demonstration rather than being in charge of building a nice atmosphere with their songs. I must admit I liked the intro song to the Forum: “We build this city on rock ‘n role”, but I am less sure whether rock ‘n role will solve the gender and recruiting issue of the sector. However, naming and framing the problem(s) is already part of the solution.

 

Patient

The pandorra’s box is wide open. With ChatGPT applications the discussion has started to use it for more medical applications. As for much research having assistants to support you in routine tasks in your research is a standard procedure. Now the medical profession is also discussing the use of ChatGPT for the boring and time-consuming task to draft reports. The first study, published in the Lancet Digital Health, evaluates in a preliminary form the patient-sensitive form of communication between clinics and patients. Beyond chatbots, which organise information from calling persons, the obvious application is the use of ChatGPT to draft patient clinic letters. The example in the study is the skin cancer reporting. Lengthy reporting back to patients of lots of “hot and cold spots” might be done by AI with sufficient reliability. All depends on the correctness of the data base, the screening and samples taken. The communication between clinic and patient can then focus on other issues. ChatGPT just like neuroflash has its strength in being able to control for the “level” of the language. In addition to the choice of the output language it is possible to use, as it is required in the U.S., an average understanding level of patients. In other words, easy language rather than medical expert language is an option or even a requirement. Anecdotal evidence and the PISA for adults studies show how difficult it can be to talk the same language even if you talk the same language. There is ample scope for improvement and ChatGPT or neuroflash for German applications of AI are prime candidates to fill this gap in clinic patient communication. Considering that our mobile phones (can) do already most of the scanning of skin cancer dots and AI is used in pre-scanning the images and recommends to consult medical expertise, the next step to improve health delivery seems feasible. Whereas the statistical analysis explains 62% of “median humanness”, the score of 37% of explained variance of median correctness is a surprise as the basis of the model to explain deviation from correctness should be as low as possible. Medical data, like many other data, is not simply binary. The way forward is most likely relying on a “human-in-the-loop” approach for some time. A limited human input might reassure many patients as well.
Source: Stephen R Ali, Thomas D Dobbs, Hayley A Hutchings, Iain S Whitaker (2003). Using ChatGPT to write patient clinic letters. Lancet Digit Health 2023 https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(23)00048-1

Aphorismen L2

“Man soll öfters dasjenige untersuchen, was von den Menschen meist vergessen wird, wo sie nicht hinsehen und was so sehr als bekannt angenommen wird, dass es keiner Untersuchung mehr wert geachtet wird.“ (Lichtenberg S. 50). Eine eindrückliche Warnung sich nicht nur den großen Wellen und Wogen der Öffentlichkeit oder der Wissenschaften hinzugeben. Wo viele nicht hinschauen oder bewusst wegsehen, da gibt es meist einiges zu ergründen. Die Soziologie der kleinen Dinge, der Alltagsgegenstände bringt faszinierende Erkenntnisse hervor. Nehmen wir nur einmal die Bekleidung beim Kochen. Von der Kittelschürze zum gestylten Outfit für die Kochshow zum Gesellschafts-cooking“ haben sich Kleidungsstücke und Berufe in ihrer Funktionalität gewandelt. Dem Anlass entsprechend wird sich gekleidet. Kochen ist von den Hinterzimmern mancherorts ins Zentrum der Gesellschaft mutiert. Wertschätzung von Handwerk und delikate Zubereitung sollten Rekrutierung erleichtern. Bleibt nur noch die Arbeit drumherum. Einkaufen, Einräumen, Einweichen, Abtrocknen, Aufräumen. Die Arbeit geht uns nicht aus, sie verändert sich nur. Wertschätzung der kleinen Aktivitäten, desjenigen, „was von den Menschen meist vergessen wird, wo sie nicht hinsehen“ kann so aufschlussreich sein. Hinschauen und Verstehen lernen bleibt angesagt. Lichtenberg weiter: „Man frage sich selbst, ob man sich die kleinsten Sachen erklären kann; dieses ist das einzige Mittel, sich ein rechtes System zu formieren, seine Kräfte zu erforschen und seine Lektüre sich nützlich zu machen.“ Aphorismen können ein ganzes Forschungsprogramm auf den Punkt bringen und so die kleinsten Beiträge noch als nützlich erweisen. (Foto: Schreibatelier von George Sand in Nohant).

Narrative economics

Narratives have been with us as long as mankind exists. They just take different forms and content nowadays. Whereby narratives have first spread orally, then much later through written words, images and movies, they are forceful ways of communicating. Robert Shiller wrote a good story about narratives related to the field of economics. Referring to the writing of the polymath David Hume (1742), main proponent with Adam Smith of the Scottish enlightenment, contagion like in pandemics is mentioned for the first time to explain that “the multitude will certainly be seized by the common affection and be governed by it in all their actions”. (Shiller 2019, p. 58). In order to understand narratives going viral Shiller mentions the importance for narratives to be embedded in “narrative constellations”. Holding truth against spreading false narratives might not be enough in itself. Strong, catching narratives seem to bypass or override even truthful information. Additionally, narratives never die, but rather offer opportunities for repetition. On content of economic narratives Shiller exemplifies stock market panic, consumerism, financial stability, automation and AI fears, speculation bubbles, evil business and labour unions. Topics like lazy unemployed persons, too early entry into retirement, too late entry into the labour market for youth, women or migrants, all have endured stigmatising narratives across time and/or across countries. With emotional and powerful economic narratives all around us, trust and authenticity become a very important meta-currency. The instantly printing camera now serves as proof. Beware of the scenery, actors and action chosen. Medieval painter Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667 Leiden-Amsterdam) had chosen the economic narrative of the “women baking pan cakes and the child as beggar”.  Ending up in a museum instead of the White House is probably the opposite of going viral. The same Photo in black and white might have more of a trustworthy documentary character than the suggestive colours.