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Spring is here. I am sitting on my terrace for the first time, having my coffee next to me and looking at our wonderful garden. It is freshly mowed and the sun is shining on the grass. When walking through town earlier, you could see how everyone is involved in some form of de-wintering activity. They clean the tristesse lying on their houses and gardens like a shadow, a grey-ish slate that prevented any form of color from showing its tiny head. Right now the northern world is changing. Our surroundings are getting brighter and more colorful, and for me, it is easier to pay attention to that in spring.

This year, all the colors still compete very much with the darkness that is still surrounding us. My last newsletter was a bit of a dire one, a bleak one, and despite some of the situations still not really having changed, I want to try to make this edition, a hopeful one. As I said in the last episode: I hope that we're just going through that valley and that we come out at the other side on the way to a brighter future. So I hope that this newsletter edition puts your mind at ease while at the same time tickling your brain for an interesting thought. The world will still be crazy in 15 minutes, but maybe we have learned something that might change our little world meanwhile.

What we wrote

Is AI going to kill my knowledge?

Is AI going to kill my knowledge?
Today I want to tell you a little tale that - of that I am sure - many of you have experienced in pretty much the same way. Lately, I met Marc. Marc is a clever guy, and he works as an entrepreneur in tech. We met in an online seminar about the latest technological trends and how we can harness the possibilities to create something awesome. One key point for him and one very important cornerstone of him to do that was knowledge. The (only) way he could see to generate this knowledge was artificial intelligence. Period. No discussion. And I get it. He is a tech guy and makes his money with technologies of the future. So, if you expect any person to be fully committed to that, it should probably be the ones we invest in. However, we have all heard of the problems with these approaches.

A day earlier I spoke to a friend of mine. Sam is working in the education sector and he is helping teachers make sense of the frenzy that is our education systems in the Western world. We both agreed that our education systems are not made for an individual learning journey. You could argue that they weren't even made for learning. We put pupils and students through a standardized information delivery process that does not necessarily have a focus on connecting the dots. Either you thrive in this system, or you don’t. But that’s your problem then. So, I support the idea that knowledge needs to be created in some other way than what we learn in our education systems. But I also think that seeing AI as our only chance to generate new knowledge and insights to me seems like taking the easy route.

I already wrote in an earlier article, how knowledge comes to be. Data is categorized to generate information and this information then is enriched with context. Learning is the process to obtain knowledge. And normally we do that to survive. Knowledge is power, and knowledge also is survival.

In the early history of humans, we found berries and ate them. In the better cases, we only felt sick and had a chance to never try that berry ever again. Today we don’t necessarily need to worry so much about what or what not to eat, thank God for food regulations. But we learn how to drive a car without having deadly accidents, or – with a lot less deadly consequences, even if that might feel different in the situation – learn how to not “reply all” on a company-wide email. And with every bit of knowledge we gain, we feel more and more secure about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Knowing stuff even allows us to make predictions and deal with unexpected situations.

Sometimes however we’re not too keen on the experience we have to make in order to gain that knowledge. The problem with knowledge is it doesn’t just come to us. We must work for it. It doesn’t just show up. We must look for it. And it doesn’t just stay. We must use it. Knowledge is not static. It is flexible, malleable, it grows and forms nets.

“Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know”. This quote was taken from Scully, one of the main characters from the 90ies TV show “The X-Files”. If you deal with aliens on a regular basis, that is probably a mindset you want to cherish to stay sane. Normally we don’t have to deal with extraterrestrials in our day-to-day life. But we might feel like other things are alien to us. Because they do not fit what we expect of them or what we think of them based on our knowledge. We could question what we know, of course. We could try to find out what we don’t know.

But that takes effort and reflection. And it definitely asks for the courage to say, “I don’t know” or “I am not sure”. So many shy away from this reflection. This courage sometimes can put us outside of the playing field. Especially our Business world doesn’t seem to know these phrases and has a lot of expectations of everyone who wants to play in it. Or it shows us the consequences of our biases and we are not willing to look at them and change our behavior.

And here’s probably the catch, AI enthusiasts – knowingly or not – promote: AI does not live within the restrictions we put ourselves under. We actually expect AI to come up with the unexpected, new, surprising insights we cannot see. We expect AI to connect the dots we cannot associate. So yes, AI shows us new insights that we might not have generated because we allow a machine what we do not allow ourselves: To think outside the box.

Oh, the irony.

What others wrote

No text I ever write just comes out of my brain from some form of abyss. I am not that genius creative. I read a lot of stuff that forms my opinion. Not all of it makes it into my articles. Some things are just a brain tickler. So I will share good pieces with you, so maybe they also tickle your brain.
At the beginning of this year, there was a sudden joy in my life as a Word Smith. It came in the form of a little game that asked me to guess a 5 letter word. The soon-to-be obsession was called: Wordle. At some point, it became incredibly successful and the New York Times wanted some piece of that success. So they bought the rights to the game. Since then, it seems, people are not quite as excited about it as they used to be. This tweet explains excellently how confirmation bias can make or break a thing - and how understanding this kind of bias can help us deal with conspiracy theories.
Many companies have chosen the path of subscription to monetize their services. Turns out, the customer is still king and a lot of customers are fed up with subscription models. With the broad adoption of subscription models even in branches where it might not necessarily be the sustainable thing to offer subscriptions customers either get bored of the service, feel bad about getting so much stuff delivered that they never will use, or are unwilling to pay for rising fees once the companies cannot sustain their business by new incoming investor money anymore. So it looks as if the broad number of subscription models are not here to stay. But don’t worry, your Netflix evening is not going anywhere. This finding is only bad news for the companies that don’t have an established subscription model already. Once you have people hooked up and convinced of your service they will do what is the easy thing to do. And that is: Do nothing and Netflix on!
Big Tech Companies like to have an aura of being the disruptors of industries around them. And they stage themselves to be the active part, who bring disruption to a field, that needs disrupting. This languaging makes the tech companies the active part and the disrupted a passive recipient of the good these companies allegedly provide. If however, the disrupted don’t want to stick to the script and work on taking on a more active role, this is mostly where the disruption narrative ends. Especially if users take the concept and take it to their needs, tech companies are quick to lobby against or even actively sue those. As long as the Gospel of Disruption is sung by big tech with them being the guardians of what is fraud and what is disruption we are just repeating the same old patterns. Because real change is not just a matter of the technological artifact.

A word from...
Christian Busch

"The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think" - Harper Lee
This month I want to recommend you "Connect the Dots" by Dr Christian Busch
Book Title Connect the Dots
What if we could figure out a way to not accidentally end up in a lucky place, but could actually work towards that? Wouldn't that be great? Turns out, we can! The key to getting there is called serendipity, that tiny little spark of a discovery we did not expect to happen. Most of the time, however, we do not see those moments, because we are not really looking. In "Connect the Dots" Christian Busch shows us how we can train ourselves to be aware, to be ready, and to open up our arms to serendipitous happenings and deliberately find more luck in our lives.

The Good News

Talking about serendipity: Is there always a silver lining? Well, maybe not always. But often enough. Especially in hindsight. The pandemic shows us how!

What's new?

I have a "Now" page. So everyone can see what is going on.
What is a Now page? It's "a page that tells you what this person is focused on at this point in their life. Think of what you’d tell a friend you hadn’t seen in a year." The idea was first brought into the world by Derek Sivers. So this is me sharing myself with you, just as I would do with friends I haven't seen in a year. Even if we have never met in person.
That's it for this month. Thanks for reading the tenth Edition and for your support. Please let me know what you think of the newsletter. All feedback welcome!
And on a last note, just to let you know: This newsletter, as any, was made by the loving support of snacks, coffee, and the vastness of the internet.
We actively want to bring in colours, not just lighten the place up! We want to create the space, where ideas from other dimensions are included, where thoughts outside of the black and white realm find a touchpoint with the spectrum. We want to explore possibilities how our society can be a better one when we don’t fight the unknown but embrace it with open arms and a curious mind. It is an offer to think differently. It’s an offer for different views, opinions and insights so that the “One Size Fits All” story of technology becomes a range of various stories that show us the immense beauty of digitalization.
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