Sunday, October 26, 2014

Immersion heater: algorithms shape our lives – Business Week

Column by Dieter Schnaas

The technology entrepreneur Yvonne Hofstetter looks in the engine room of digital capitalism – and warns: The freedom perishes. Man working on his self-abolition.

The Apprentice in Comptoir Mr. Preiss gets it inculcated on the first day: In the brave new world economy count numbers and prices, not letters and values. “Remember this,” warns the principal, “the letter is not so much suited me, but right at the number … Copy me the numbers, otherwise we are divorced people. Numbers rule the world.”

Georg Weerth has can then still have no idea of ​​algorithms and artificial intelligence, supercomputing and petabytes of digital information capitalism. Yet his “humorous sketches of the German Commercial Life” from 1847 are still a wonderfully apt description of what might be called with Sigmund Freud as perhaps the most narcissistic injury of the culture being human: that calculations of engineers and profit expectations of traders in the capitalist world matter more than political pamphlets and poetic poetry.

The book

  • Yvonne Hofstetter: You know everything

    Yvonne Hofstetter: You know everything, C. Bertelsmann, 19,99 €

The invented freely, to be disinterested binary and Dezimalsysteme poets and thinkers have revoked the authority to interpret what counts – that is the great cultural gap, which the 19th century by the mists of time separates. On the religious penetration of the World (to 1500) and their philosophical and literary interpretation (until 1800/1850) is their economic interpretation followed (since 1850 until today): “The alphabet is now only superfluous,” already says Goethe in his Faust the new power of numbers and money: “In this sign now everyone is happy.”

algorithms of Amazon and Google

Anyone? Following Yvonne Hofstetter today is not even the decisive question. We are at another epoch sleeper, in the not only the people “work” are expressed in prices, but in the man himself totalized for taxierbaren object. The mathematics have begun to enter the dominion over the people, writes the attorney and technology entrepreneur in her 300-page “you know everything” – a book whose central thesis can be summarized in a now all too easily passing from hand paragraph: The intelligent systems of the digital revolution (“Big Data”) threaten the central project of the Enlightenment, the liberated to himself, subject stick man with his personal dignity. Not we ourselves design and write more our biography, so Hofstetter, and determine our choices, but the algorithms of Amazon and Google it, which through us according to our likes the pilot, what we think foolishly yet for our own lives are.

Concrete Big Data examples

  • Health

    In Healthcare valuable information about . won drug side effects and the effectiveness of new treatments by experience reports from patients and doctors on the Internet anonymously evaluate

  • traffic management

    The city of Stockholm implemented an intelligent traffic management to reduce congestion and accidents. It is based on the analysis of traffic and weather data

  • .
    Energy Transition

    A contribution to the energy transition makes the measurement and analysis of power consumption with smart meters to more accurately predict the demand and reduce consumption.

Intelligent machines of states and corporations, so Hofstetter collect, incessantly primary data ( emails, Skype conversations, blog content, Facebook messages), and continuously evaluate new from secondary sources (motion profiles in networked cars, sensors in apartments and houses, locating features of smartphone applications). You merge the information, process the data aggregates to assumptions and forecasts – and the people degrade thus predictable sizes of machines that know more about him than they themselves short, the (multi) is knowledgeable about our desires, thoughts and actions of. raw material of a total machine control power over everything Humane: Data feed on the soul.

“idea of ​​free human beings”

Even the summary of the thesis can easily be seen, patronage whose the owes work of Hofstetter: “If this book is a doctoral thesis,” the author writes in the afterword, “Frank Schirrmacher would be my thesis advisor.” Just the encouragement of the deceased in June FAZ publisher have as “a kind of patronage” worked, Hofstetter writes: The book was conceived “in the common good fight for the idea of ​​free human beings in an algorithmically controlled expertocracy as currently dawning on the horizon” .

What would also be referred to the central problem of the book: As a duplicate of Frank Schirrmacher’s “ego” reaches it, without significant added value, year and a half later, his publication target. Hofstetter accentuated exactly the same basic concept as Schirrmacher, she traces the genealogy of the data Capitalism exactly in the same three-step as her mentor (Military – Financial industry – consumer), it cultivates doing exactly the same powerfully superlative language – and, of course, is also her book, as the Schirrmacher, a blatant evidence of the gradual extinction of the lecturer-profession: Why, for heaven’s sake, there are in the publishing landscape no authors Wizard more is needed to encourage a love of storytelling, brevity and consistency


  • page 1: algorithms shape our lives
  • Page 2: “Big Data”

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