Composing Assisted

Before the existence of digital composition tools composers were assisted by “Kopisten”. These persons rewrote the original draft of a composition into a “proper” version of the original document. Musicology has a tough time to deal with deviations from the original. It needs to be clarified which is the final and authorized version. In some instances this is far from evident. Just as an example Robert Schumann made ample use of the assistance of Kopist Otto Hermann Klausnitz (cf Nr 6), sometimes for the preparation of the composition, the finalized versions or the explicit drafting of different voices. Klausnitz himself was a flautist in Leipzig (Gewandhausorchester) and a conductor in Duesseldorf. Overall the debate is still going on, whether the composer’s draft or in many instances the Kopist’s version of the composition (authorized or not) prevails. In the age of AI, which is highly influential in modern music, such questions will most likely be intrinsic to the process of composition as well. AI is influential in evening out rough edges. Anette Mueller (2010) has done a great job to make this work of “Kopisten” much more transparent and her concluding chapter is programmatically entitled “Komponist und Kopist- Aspekte einer produktiven Kooperation”. (Image Mueller, A 2010 p. 340).

Smoke Gamble

Smoking is like a gamble. Your input is your health and money. This is not including those who might rely on you or family relationships that might suffer one way or another. The other link has gambling at its source and smoking goes along with the continuous risk taking or the belief to be able to master the risks involved with both forms of potential addictions. Research has accumulated evidence that in fact both smoking and gambling occur frequently in combination with each other. Taking risks against the odds of suffering losses, maybe only in the medium or longer run perspectives like for health seems acceptable for those people. Society has put rather high taxes on both activities to discourage people and invests in prevention of addictions. However, it does not have substantial effects on people as smoking remains around the same level and gambling (poker online) or betting on sports (Euro 2024) are rising rapidly. Vaping and internet gaming have broadened the spectrum of addictive behaviors mostly for younger persons and young adults. The risks are manifold and increasing in their addictive potential since the smartphone is always in some pocket just like the smoking device. The behavioral turn in the social sciences has been well understood by the industries as well. The stakes for human development are high in this endeavor to offer young people equal opportunities at entry into adulthood.

Cannabis Alcohol

The use of cannabis and/or alcohol is yet another question where we are used to ask questions in the form of: either the or the other? Over generations we have gotten used to no longer ask for each do you or don’t you. With the controlled liberalization or legalization of cannabis in some Western European states the framing of the question is more like you do the one or the other, particularly for many younger persons.
Decriminalization of both drugs in small quantities is apparently reducing crimes link to drug use and drug dealing. On the other hand, the thresholds for doing drugs are lower than they used to be. In inner cities it is therefore no longer a surprise to find both kinds of drugs with addictive potential next to each other (see image below). We know that it is a slippery road from regular drug use to uncontrolled dependency and personal disaster. For cannabis a study published in the Lancet (Petrilli et al. 2022) added the importance of the potency of tetrahydrocannabinol to the estimate of risks. This is similar to the studies that differentiate the level of alcohol in drinks consumed. The higher the concentration, the higher the risks. A simple proportional relationship prevails in both drugs. The cumulative effects of consuming both together might have quite surprising non-linear effects.
The big issue is the risks of mental health related to these drugs. However, the causal direction is not easy to detect. Drugs induce mental health problems, but also mental health issues lead to drug abuse. This remains quite a puzzle for scientists to disentangle.
Additionally, the link to smoking and addiction to nicotine is a frequently observed corollary. Studying just one single source of health problems and addiction might be too restrictive to learn about the whole set of causal effects and casualties. For the time being we seem to jump from one field of attention to the next one ignoring the multiple interrelated factors at hand.

Smoking Vaping

Both smoking and vaping are big business. Nicotine is well known for its addictive capacity. Once started, it is very hard to give it up again. For many decades we devote considerable efforts and costs to encourage people to give up on smoking or, better, not to start smoking in the first place. The young are particularly vulnerable as damages persist for a longer time. Progress has been made to reduce passive smoking of children and people in restaurants, at work and public spaces. The relatively recent trend of vaping instead of smoking is considered less harmful, but scientific long-term evaluations, whether these effects are lasting for several years, are still missing.
A repeated cross-section study in England (Tattan-Birch et al. 2024) has revealed that the declining trend of nicotine use has already been reversed among youth due to the rise in vaping. Vaping seems to move from the fashionable niche product to the popular mainstream among youth. The addicts are only cost-sensitive on the margin. The relative prices of smoking and vaping might play a role to put people on different health trajectories. The question is not between either smoking or vaping, but for some it is both, although it should be none of both. The question of smoking yes/no is likely to be framed as either vaping/or smoking.  The re-framing of the question shows the harmful potential in the longer run. We shall have a hard time to convince people and particularly youth not to be tempted by either/or but to focus on their long-term health trajectory and potential. (Image: Extrait from Arnold Böcklin, Self-portrait with death playing the violine 1872, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin)

LED light

For decades now, we have the LED light technology around us. In many instances we do no longer realize the presence of light emission devices (LEDs) for example in our television screens or in road lighting. However, this still is an exciting field of electrical engineering and the replacement of gas lighting as well as other electrical devices with higher energy consumption are high on the agenda for sustainable lighting. There are important health and security aspects related to lighting (sleep and road traffic).
In Berlin the demonstration and test area for innovative LED lighting is also an open-air museum which can be experienced throughout the year. The party-goers and club visitors might best know the demonstration street as part of the “Deutsches Technik Museum” The energy saving potential of LEDs use in street lighting is substantial and should interest most rural and city councils. The demonstration of the differential effects of targeted lighting and broad illumination based on the same technology is impressive. Of course, the design aspect of LED-technology with the colourful potentials are of interest beyond the technical aspects to replace for example gas lighting. There is much more to lighting than just opening your eyes in the morning. (Image FG Lichttechnik TU Berlin)

Gas light

Even if it sounds crazy from today‘s perspective gas lights once were the symbol of progress. In the middle of the 19th century gas lights started to lighten and brighten the boulevards of major cities in Europe. The historic evolution of the various designs can still be followed in Berlin in the open space museum of gas light in the Tiergarten area near Zoologischer Garten. These gas lights were brighter than candles or petroleum lights and needed less maintenance. The CO2 footprint was no concern at that time and also safety concerns have been tolerated. Mechanical maintenance was relatively easy and sufficiently qualified personnel still abundant. All this has changed and the lamp posts powered by gas are mostly a part of industrial history now. The image below shows a fine example from Amsterdam. The solid construction shows nice ornaments on steel. The rounded shape remained quite unique.
Unfortunately, the accessibility of the museum has contributed to the loss of many nice examples of gas light designs. Many were destroyed during the football world cup in Berlin in 2006. Let’s hope the Tiergarten survives the Euro2024 better than the previous huge football events and Love parades. Serious precautions have been taken with quite solid fences to protect the inner city wild life.

Berlin Gas Light Museum

Aussensicht Innensicht

Die Sicht vom Skulpturengarten der Neuen Nationalgalerie auf die laufende Ausstellung „Zerreissprobe…“ erlaubt einen tiefen historischen Einblick in die 1980er Jahre. Die Sammlung von Postern des Künstlers Klaus Staeck zeigen die bewegenden Themen der achtziger Jahre. Frauenrechte, Umweltschutz, Sicherheit sowie Medienwirtschaft. 40 Jahre später beschäftigen uns weiterhin, Lösungen für die plakatierten Themen zu finden. Images können Themen so zuspitzen, dass Anklagen daraus werden. Texte sind im Vergleich zu der Eindrücklichkeit der Bilder ein vergleichsweise stumpfes Schwert. Es ist aber gerade die Verbindung von Bild und Text, die Eindrücke verstärkt. „Meme“ Creators sind ein standard tool das die Kommerzialisierung und die Promotion weiter befördert haben. Kunstformen hatten diesen Trend bereits vorweggenommen.

AI Ghost Writer

Yes, with AI we have entered a new phase of the impact of IT. Beyond the general applications like ChatGPT there is a rapidly expanding market of AI applications with more specialized functions or capabilities. In the realm of scientific writing AI-Writer is an interesting example of the AI assisted production of scientific tests. After the specification of the topic you will receive several options to specify the content of the short paper you want to produce with AI-Writer. You may choose the headline, keywords, subtopics and the logical order of these subtopics depending on your audience. Alternatively, you leave all those decisions to the application and restrain yourself to fix the amount of words you would like the paper to have.
AI-Writer is a powerful ghost writer for much work even of advanced scientists. The quality of the paper needs to be checked by yourself, but the explicit list of references, from which AI-Writer derives its restatements of the content, is just next to it. Your ghost writer AI is likely to replace a number of persons that were previously involved to just produce literature reviews or large parts of textbooks sold to millions of students.
A much lesser known feature of such tools is the way it makes plagiarism much more transparent for the scientific communities and the public at large. These programs demonstrate the techniques of combining knowledge and the citation imperatives in a transparent, almost pedagogical way. This latter function will speed up scientific work like dissertation drafting, since the reading up and documentation of previous literature in a field is a time consuming early stage of academic degrees.
Email composition, rewording, plot generator or social media posts are additional nice-to-have features of the new AI-assistants. A lot of work that has been outsourced, for example, to lawyers, consultants or other technical professions, might equally be challenged. Ghost writers have been around for centuries. With AI for everybody, they will also be involved everywhere.
(Image screen shot of working with AI-Writer 2024-6)

AI Citation

In science we love citations. The whole issue about plagiarism is about use and abuse of citations. It is a core competence of scientists to properly cite the work of other persons who dealt with the same or similar topic. There are lots of conventions or ways of how to cite mostly defined by professional academic groups. How do we cite texts that originate from an AI-system? We shall have to establish ways of how to do this properly rather than to ignore the spreading practice of its use.
For the time being, we test AI-systems that provide references in addition to the text and even direct clickable links to the original work they use. The AI-toolbox is called “scite”. Your assistant by scite will draft a short note on a topic (for example: Minkowski space, see trial below) for you and provide the linked citations for follow-up. At the price of about 15 €/months it is affordable for students and young researchers. The texts generated will then, in many instances, acquire “intellectual property and publishing rights” by persons.
The ways to follow back on citations of AI-produced texts seems a trustworthy step ahead. The authors of millions of papers cannot claim more than the original ownership of the text. The academic mantra “publish or perish” has been turned into “publish and perish”. AI-enabled citations might alleviate the pain only a little bit. The profession of even university professors shifts as reviewer of texts from students to texts of machines.

Co-authorship Kafka

In science Co-authorship is a tricky issue. Therefore, many higher reputation journals list precisely who has contributed what to the paper. In the teaching and supervision of bachelor, master or doctoral dissertations it is imperative to scrutinize the original contributions of authors to the subject. There are huge differences between universities to the amount of innovation or originality that is required to award degrees or the publication of the research and results. Rüdiger Safranski published with Hanser 2024 an essay on Kafka which has 224 pages, but a 16 page long list of the sources of the copy-paste citations used from the orignal Kafka writings. By scientific co-authorship practice Kafka should claim co-authorship of the book and the costs of the „Process“ should be paid by the publishing house. However, I enjoyed the many links between comments and the originals next to each other. It is like a data analysis that sticks plausibly to the original data. AI still has a hard time to rival with these skills, although AI is catching up faster than many of us might believe or want to believe. From a social science perspective we might say the original work of maybe only 180 pages is inflated to make for a longer text of 240 pages. This justifies, probably, the publisher’s price (€26) and the marketing costs. On the other hand it becomes evident that Kafka has an enormous impact on writers and seems to take possession of them in an encompassing fashion. You move with him, but rarely beyond him. Tough lessons indeed from the publishing world.

Marketing bicycles

The marketing of bicycles has changed considerably over the course of history. Today’s narrative is more about the eco friendly impact of it. Historically the freedom aspect of free movement and emancipation of women was at the forefront. The collection of images in poster formats presented at the DTM in Berlin is impressive. The focus on women on bicycles is quite surprising for this early time around 1900. Few of the companies from the early days have survived until today. Bicycles are still fascinating children and adults today. The experience of a fragile equilibrium, your own strength and weakness in muscle power, cardiac or pulmonary strength is always challenging. It is you who is in control of speed and direction. This should be easy to sell to the masses, and it was and still is. “Bikenomics” is here to stay. Artists had the same impression and created a whole universe of promises for riders of bicycles. The long run health benefits were not even known at the time, but it was unthinkable that humans would spend most hours sitting in offices, cars and on their couches. The biking story needs to be retold to encourage people to take up the emancipating storyline again. Get on your bike again!

DTM Berlin 2024-6

Bikenomics

There is a whole cluster of enterprises associated with bicycles. Selling a bike is only the first we might think of. Repair works are the most tricky part of bikenomics, a bit like bidenomics. In many cities during spring and summer it is even more difficult to get an appointment for bicycle repairs than for a doctor’s appointment, and that can be hard at times. Shortages of skilled technicians are pervasive in this sector. DIY for do it yourself is the best alternative. With the arrival of e-bikes and the digital connectivity the skill set has been enhanced recently as well. Insurance for bikes, lockers, helmets, airbag system or clothing including spectacles are part of the standard safety and security set of bicycle riders nowadays. Many, many job opportunities there and the willingness to pay for bicycles has steadily increased over the last years.

Berlin has just seen its 48th bicycle demonstration in 2024-6 on roads including 2 motorways with several ten thousands of participants. In a star like fashion multiple tracks met at the city center. The final meeting with stands and information was at the Deutsche Technik Museum with refreshments and repairs. The exhibition of cargo bikes and taxi bikes or “rickshaws” was another highlight. We need to rethink our mobility concepts and try to get the sharing to work more comfortably. For different purposes and activities you need a different bike. Ownership of each is no longer adequate as for example with aging alone your preferences for mobility with bikes also changes. Sharing is caring and this is also part of bikenomics.

Law Nature

There exists a rather complicated relationship between law and nature. It is part of constitutional law to check whether nature figures at all in a state’s constitution as part of the fundamental legal principles. On a global scale the nations or people living in the closest relationship with nature most often do not have written constitutions. In the same vein, animals or biodiversity do not figure in most constitutional documents (nice project to substantiate this claim). The philosophy of law has line of literature devoted to “Naturrecht” which is more concerned with human beings and their differentiation than the millions of other species.
Administrative law is probably the domain with most of the legal judgements with relevance to nature or the environment as for example any larger scale construction is either land, water, air or biodiversity grabbing. Rights and limits need to be defined precisely. In this field the role of law as “appeasement” is widely applied. However, this is more complicated in cases when a whole population of an island in the ocean is threatened to disappear due to the rise of the sea level like in the case of the Torres Strait Islands, next to and part of Australia.
The UN Human Rights Committee (UN-HRCee) in Geneva has made a decision on the claim of these people to have rights that the nature of the islands as low-lying islands is threatened by disrespect of their fundamental rights of existence and survival. The claim has been received by the court, but the court deems that the threat to their culture and survival is not imminent. In practice, therefore, the sword of law is rather weak and time until the disaster is used as a right to continue the usual economic exploitation of earth as before despite the deferred consequences for the planet in a rather unequal way.
(Image by AI copilot designer 2024-6-2 “5 judges in red gowns sit in a flooded courtroom”, 2 propsitions)

Cars electrified

It is not only cars, but the whole automotive industry that got somehow electrified. The U.S. have imposed a 100% tax on electric cars produced in China recently. Europe is feeling the heat as well (compare Fressoz in Le Monde 31.5.2024). Production of cars is not a for fun activity. It is firmly embedded in our economic system which believes in profit maximization even at high environmental costs. Therefore, the production of cars follows the logic to build cars that generate the highest profits. Bigger cars yield bigger profits and this has been known for decades. Why should we expect our car producers to deviate from this logic. Investors push hard in this direction as well. Small e-cars generate small profits. This can only be economically valid if large numbers are produced. China’s home market has the market size and air pollution levels that make this a viable strategy also for the lower income people. If not sold in the US or Europe, the home market is able to absorb huge amounts of electrified cars. Downsizing of cars needs to happen particularly in inner cities. The implementation of this is not going to be easy and without resistance.

Library Search

Libraries have not only lots of books on shelves and in storage places, but scientific research makes use of lots of scientific journals as well. The direct access to these journals shortens the search for information. We tend to focus on certain sets of journals, which we follow regularly as well as some random choices. Libraries like the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin have the advantage of access to multiple scientific disciplines under the same roof. This facilitates cross-disciplinary research with access to the best available knowledge. This resembles university libraries where also a broad spectrum of disciplines is taught.

Moving from paper-based publishing to electronic publishing, it is obvious that libraries are part of this move. Printed journals disappear and the electronic versions are made available to the readers. 2 issues arise: (1) adapt your search strategy to e-search and reading on screens and (2) accept that your research leaves traces (and potential tracking of your activities) of what information is really used. User statistics are likely to have consequences in the medium term. All libraries want to know who are my readers and what kind of search strategies do they apply. Similar to some of the best scientific results that are an outcome of by chance findings the search in libraries is enriched through „random effects“ of search. On-shelf access to printed copies allows a rapid overview of a whole year of issues beyond the abstracts always available online anyway. It is so much faster than the online search that we shall miss the paper-based issues of journals for quite some time. At the time of artificial intelligence everywhere reading and writing might be overvalued as economists might say. Our search algorithms and use of libraries is evolving at the same time. The by-chance or random inspiration might move to other places.

library shelf with empty journals‘ stock

Democracy celebrates

With all the bad experiences of Nazi-Germany and the failure to defend democracy in Germany against its fascist enemies in the 1930s, it was a pleasure to celebrate democracy in Germany together with a huge crowd. 3 days of information and party around the major institutions of democracy Parliament, government, federal governments, constitutional court and all ministries joining in with pavilions in the parks nearby allowed a bottom up feeling of democracy. Visiting the chancellery as well as the parliament in a single day shows the openness of these institutions and the ease of access to our political system. People of all ages and all walks of life strolled around and enjoyed the day. Freedom to voice your opinion was easy and many took their time to do it. Civil society organizations were a natural part of the show. We seem prepared to stand up for our democratic values and principles. This will be tested in all the forthcoming elections.

Competence Gardening

Primary Schools in Berlin have the possibility to participate in the “Gartenarbeitsschule”, the school with learning goal of gardening. It is an interesting option to go out into the real world and deal with nature, sustainability, consumption, climate and many other topics. Voltaire could complement the curriculum in philosophy with his biographical links to gardening. The access to the fields is easy next to one of the central train stations and a larger urban reforestation project as just one example of the 15 overall in Berlin in 2024. (Südkreuz, Südgelände). Hands-on experience of gardening can address multiple forms of problem-solving competencies. Beyond the use of AI, a major advantage is the possibility to train collaborative problem-solving. Beyond the multifactorial approach in determining what to plant, the organization of the implementation and individual contributions towards the realization, all these elements are learning goals. The scope of learning qualifies gardening for learning well beyond primary school as well. It is a nice example of lifelong and lifewide learning even a hundred years after their wider applications in Berlin.

Gardening School, Berlin 2024

Competence Handwriting

The acquisition of handwriting as a competence has been important for centuries. In primary schools this technique is exercised as a foundation for the performance in other cultural techniques like language writing and even calculus. Therefore, it has been beneficial to make sure children acquire basic competences in handwriting. This has not changed much, although the time devoted to perfection of the technique has been reduced over generations. We still have some memories of people who have made the handwriting or the pencils used a case of distinction. At the enlightenment period a lot of authors drafted their thoughts and manuscripts in handwriting and our museums or biographies are proud to show off handwriting of authors, artists or composers. In some of those we are able to retrieve the thought process behind the writing. The editing, crossing out, adding sentences or correcting words are traces to dive deeper into these creative processes.
Currently, we are less sure, whether in the age of AI we should still rely much on this old technique of handwriting. If we just treat it as one of many competences to be or become creative yourself, we are on the right track. The PISA studies by OECD include problem-solving as a crucial competence. Handwriting or drafting first steps of a solution might still be useful. A handwritten sketch of a solution might guide the elaboration of the more encompassing solution.
Another interesting feature of handwriting is the cross-cultural element of it. We feel easily compassion for a handwritten document. The psychomotor competence of handwriting is fascinating across continents. It has distinguished us from other species as well. The evolutionary steps are important elements of a learning process. Nostalgic feelings about handwriting do not help anybody, but children are well-advised to still keep an eye on their handwriting competence as part of or first step in problem solving, even if it is just to formulate the question they are interested in.

Patient Empowerment

The empowerment of patients is a well-established practice in the treatment of diabetes. Measuring your own blood sugar and adjusting your medication to the self-monitored data is common practice. For patients with high blood pressure this patient empowerment is less prevalent. A medical study carried out in Valencia (Spain) by Martínez-Ibáñez et al. (2024) has tested the effects of such a self-monitoring and self-medication experiment.
The results publishes in (JAMA) gave rise to considerable attention in the profession as the empowerment of patients is one way out of the likely increasing shortage of medical professionals in aging societies. Whereas other studies found that total costs to the medical system might increase, the study in Spain provides evidence of the cost-reduction effect of such an empowerment. 24 months after the beginning of the trial. After the establishment of a “medication based on an individualized prearranged plan used in primary care” the self-administering participants achieved a significant decrease in their blood pressure that lasted until the end of the study after 2 years. The drop-outs of the study seem to follow a random pattern.
The conclusion gives support to the potential of patient empowerment in the widespread treatment of higher blood pressure beyond the regular visits of medical doctors. The monitoring of changes in lifestyle add to this to keep the costs of health care under control in aging societies.

Image History

The archives of the history of movies and/or television show to us the multiple ways how images capture our attention and memories. Visual narratives are an own category of our personal and collective memory. The wide range of visual experiences are a powerful way to influence. Not only the movies and stories matter, but the whole range of images associated with the cinema world. Poster collections, newspapers and today the so-called social media multiply the original images. The Deutsche Kinemathek allows a special, critical understanding of image history as Germany has been using and abusing images and movies in a very manipulating manner historically. The message is: do not take images for face value. The ways and techniques to manipulate images have been widely used and are all around us today. Whereas the mass media in previous decades have dominated the collective memories we have entered into an era with many more subcultures that evolve within their own bubble of images. An original attempt to cut 65 movies of German film history into less than 4 minutes is presented in the exhibition (Milkowski and Simbeni). It focuses on gestures and “les regards”, “Blicke”, how the actresses and actors seem to look at us. Eyes capture attention, and this as soon as we open our eyes as children. Our brain works as image recorder and our memory algorithms tend to favor image recognition while processing images continuously. We do not know much about our own image sorting algorithm or algorithms yet. Research on aging of the brain gives some hints. With declining short term memory the images stored in long term memory take the upper hand. This makes an understanding of the history of images even more important.

Deutsche Kinemathek

Just in the vicinity of the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin you’ll find the Deutsche Kinemathek, the museum movies, actors, actresses, directors and the history of cinema in Germany. There is a small specialized library in the Kinemathek that allows to dive not only into journals and books, but also video material, scenarios and accessories. Of course, you will find a lot of material on all sorts of movie stars (heroines) over more than a hundred years. The “Divas” of the industry take up a large part of the exhibition. “Marlene Dietrich” much more than “Hildegard Knef“, the former born and the latter lived for a long time in Berlin-Schöneberg (Berlin-Pretty-Hill as some locals call it nowadays). The 2 Divas probably caused the funny translation. Anyway, the hall in the Kinemathek which is exclusively devoted to Marlene Dietrich impresses with a lot of glamour and mirrors around.
For those with not only a biographical, but also life course interest in cinema cherish the public access to the library. The most impressive table there is the desk with access to the Ukrainian movies and about cinema in Ukraine. A list with QR-codes allows you to readily approach the recent developments before and during the Russian aggression on Ukraine (See image below). After all Potsdamer Platz in Berlin was a hot-spot of the cold war period in the divided Berlin. A little bit of a “Metropolis-atmosphere” can still be felt. The Kinemathek explains well what this is all about.

Killing me softly

The problem with pollution is, it is killing you softly from inside. It is almost impossible to escape air pollution as it is pervasive in cities, but also in the countryside where you do not expect it that much. This is the result of the study by Kuzma et al. (2024) published in “The Lancet Regional Health Europe”. Based on a data set of 8 million persons from Eastern Poland the effects of air pollution on myocardial infarction incidence was analysed. The use of the “European Union’s Earth Observation Programme” contributed data on air pollutants like PMs, BaP (benzo(a)pyrene), SO2 and NO2 concentrations. The multi-level data of 5 voivodeships, 101 counties, and 709 communities in Poland allows to differentiate the effects of damage to the heart tissue on cardiovascular disease. The other well-known factors are arterial hypertension, diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, hyperlipidaemia, and smoking as most of us know already. The effects of  BaP (benzo(a)pyrene) is shown for rural areas despite the lower observed traffic density in these areas. The killing occurs softly from within our bodies by just breathing in and out, and in and out continuously. The disease burden in these regions is observed with “recorded 63,154 hospitalizations and 5921 in-hospital deaths (9.4%) due to STEMI; and 76,543 hospitalizations and 4079 (5%) in-hospital deaths due to NSTEMI”. In short, the need to reduce air pollution further is an urgent demand that saves lives eventually.
(Image from public domain wikipedia or “do-it-yourself” here).

Attune Spheres

In Berlin it is easy to walk through the history of art to up-to-date contemporary art installations. Just walk from the Alte to the Neue and then to the Contemporary Nationalgalerie. With the installation and performance in the monumental Hamburger Bahnhof the artist Alexandra Pirici succeeds in an extraordinary way the combined impression of several art formats. I felt particularly attracted by the sound and resonance that the dancers achieved in the huge historical hall of the former train station. Embedded in a choreography that spans the whole hallway and the top of a sand dune, the ideas of „Attune“ bring in demonstrations of scientific experiments as well. We are reflecting on how structures, biological, physical or geologic processes coexist. It is another example of the intersection of biological, psychological and social phenomena. The links between science and art are more direct than what most people tend to believe. This encompassing experience catches all our senses and our mind. It is very likely that this intense experience in the museum space, which attunes our sensory perception of the artwork, sticks with us for longer than many other pieces of art. The 21st century will reveal an even more powerful language of art as it incorporates even more formats to grab our attention and imagination. The research of how patterns are formed is an important question for social scientists as well. All approaches to the subject are welcome and each one reveals our knowledge gaps despite remarkable progress. (Image: Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2024-5-11, Alexandra Pirici)

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.

Screening Paradoxon

In the field of public health the screening paradoxon is a well-known feature of large scale programs to check for and contain the large increases in cancer among populations. A recent medical study underscores the necessity to curtail the screening paradox in Europe. The screening paradoxon is defined as “the underuse of screening by those with unhealthy lifestyles and high risks”. The opposite cases, “the overuse of screening by those with healthy lifestyles and low risks” only cause a problem for the costs of the health system as those unlikely of attaining a form of cancer make extensive use of screening. In terms of social inequality we have to be concerned about both ends of these distributions. The publicly available screening programs are skewed towards the higher educated with risk awareness as well as healthy life styles. More of them participate in screening. The other distribution of actual risks and detection of cancer is skewed towards the other end of the risk distribution. The 2 probability distributions overlap to an extent that is most likely co-determined by cultural factors like general attitudes towards prevention.
With the increase in cancer rates generally and due to demographic aging of societies, we shall need to target our resources devoted to health more precisely rather than spending too much on screening of people with very low risks. Increasing the duration between screenings might not impede detection rates of those with healthy lifestyles, but could allow to devote more resources to those people who are hard to reach by screening programs so far. Evaluations of such programs are necessary to judge the need for more targeted programs.(Image own representation inspired by Ola et al. 2024)