Digital & Technology

It's only the beginning!

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The real digital revolution hasn’t happened in the nineties. We are experiencing it right now. What we’ve seen in recent years; it was only the beginning. And that’s this year's theme of DLD.

The Internet permeates every corner of our everyday life. And that will put everything in flux. Media, work, medicine, politics and our social activities, privacy, and yes, even our university landscape: every bit and atom of our life will be altered by technology in the next years. Since the mobile revolution, the web is everywhere, embedded in everything surrounding us. Digitality is becoming omnipresent. Just like electricity.

Let’s look at the working environment, for instance. Not only the boundaries between work and private life are dissolving. We have to be / are increasingly flexible. At the same time we are experiencing entirely new modes of cooperation. Some are early in the office. Others work on the road. And we’ll communicate via innovative tools that enable a whole new way of co-working.

Entire career paths will have to reinvent themselves. Cab drivers are becoming dispensable in times of Uber and other services. Hoteliers are challenged by entrants like AirBnB. Generally, it holds true that non-cognitive jobs are increasingly marginalised. Bear the assembly line in mind. The rise of robots has been heralded by many. They can build machines, extinguish fires, write simple text and drive cars. Back in the days, computers and television sets were ruling the international electronics shows – today it’s driverless cars. Along with any new cultural technique, new career paths are born, old ones disappear, new patterns are replacing traditional ones. Without the right reactions, this will result in severe social problems. Thus, it’s urgent urgent to reinvent yourself in times of change.

Do we have to be afraid? Quite the contrary. I am convinced that these developments predominantly yield opportunities. For innovation. But also, for being more human again. After centuries of simulating the mechanic logic of classic capitalism. Those technological developments are presenting us with the gift of time. Elaborated tools are going to support journalists, for instance, to deal with huge data sets. This way, they are gaining time for other things. This is similar in other fields, too. In the future, we will have a lot more time for the stuff that really matters in life. And this will have a positive impact. One of the consequences we are witnessing already is that people all around the world are keen to engage socially. And by that, I do not refer to a slack mouseclick but to specific platforms, which allow to make significant contributions remotely and on location.

Nonetheless, a lot of people are frightened by this change. Also because media is stoking fear – especially in Germany. One reason is that they are in flux themselves. But we have to recognise that we CANNOT stop it. Instead, we have to design this revolution. Before it molds us. Therefore, we have to reclaim a few qualities, which once made Germany to be an important location of technology. We have to be more curious about everything technological, more courageous and – most of all – more passionate.

A lot of people in Germany perceive everything digital as the necessary evil. At least that’s my impression. But the connected world will help us all. Transmitting drones will soon deliver Internet access to the darkest corners of the poorest countries. DLDsters like Sebastian Thrun or Shai Reshef are facilitating excellent education for millions of people with online universities, who had no chance whatsoever to study at a top-notch university.

The developments in medicine are fascinating me the most. Think of the groundbreaking diagnostic imaging systems or the potential of personalised medicine, accelerated by the genetic engineering. It’s within healthcare, where algorithms are showing full strength – and save lives. For instance, computer analyze the data of preterm infants in the United States. As they can collect the information of thousands of babies, they can discover emerging patterns of sprouting diseases and complications - and warn doctors, before problems have gotten severe.

All these examples highlight the enormous potential that new technologies are offering us. We should talk a lot more about THAT. And with all skepticism: my glass is not half empty. It’s half full. At least! There’s a lot we don’t know yet. We have to learn how to learn it. IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING!