uand now? Humanity is now networked to a degree that is unique in history. The answer to almost every question is just a click away, new acquaintances are also made around the world, and orders are placed anyway.
At the same time, the web has noticeably neutralized the traditional division into end consumers and manufacturers: In the digital space, every user consumes a wide range of images, sounds and text and at the same time offers them himself – by writing news, comments or blog posts, producing podcasts and simply e-mails. writes and answers emails.
Much of what once did, for example, the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and then presented it as a mission, for example to sort the world’s information and make it easily accessible, has essentially been realized a quarter of a century later. Search engines, social networks and news platforms have done a great job here.
Now comes ChatGPT
And the development is far from over. The new artificial intelligence (AI) ChatGPT made headlines because it can not only simply answer questions, but also handles text so competently that many experts are amazed. Some professors worry, for example, whether their students will be able to use such an algorithm to write most of their seminar papers in the future, or at least let it do most of the work and then only process the results two or three times. There are even extensive statements on the question of whether such a language AI could be the better search engine – because search engines have also developed over the years in the direction that they not only deliver hits according to the input, but also guesses based on them about the underlying search intent.
There is no lack of visionary ideas for further progress – and not only in relation to the Internet and ideas as to whether not only information but also values can be passed on in the future (and, if so, how?) or whether other sensory connections are also possible as eyes and ears. We live in a time in which very little is technically impossible. The advancements in quantum computing and new computer architectures continue to push the limits of what can be realistically calculated, new findings in biology, chemistry and physics even call into question findings that were believed to be certain, such as that a person must necessarily grow old and die. Nobody knows where that will lead.
What is more recent is an objection that is revealed in terms such as “ethical AI” or “sustainable IT” – or in new rules and legislative initiatives that are now hardly manageable. The web that has come of age is now considered with claims and measured by criteria that apply to adults. Just being cool, hip or successful is no longer enough. Anyone who offers a new service or has great power with an existing offer should not only be responsible for the profits, but also for the risks. And the latter – as far as possible – at best recognize and eliminate them beforehand.
The “AI Act”, on which the European Union is currently working, basically follows a direction that has long applied to many products, especially in medicine: New ideas first have to be examined by independent examiners such as the TÜV in Germany or tested in studies, and then they can come to market.
Smaller companies and entrepreneurs in Germany and Europe, in particular, have good reasons to warn against overdoing regulation, because this naturally slows down innovation at a certain point or at least makes it more difficult. It also remains true that implementing new rules often costs a lot of money – and established, financially strong corporations can afford it more easily than aspiring start-ups or medium-sized companies with significantly fewer resources. Nobody knows where this will ultimately lead.
But one thing is certain: The question of how much we adapt to new technologies or new technologies to us is much older than the Internet or computers. The tension in it was discharged as a result of every technological or industrial revolution, steam engine and electricity, printing, gunpowder or fire have massively influenced how people behave with each other and with each other.
That’s what it’s all about today when the fear arises of no longer being able to keep up, of being left behind commercially or even militarily. When states compete to offer subsidies for new chip factories, AI initiatives, space projects and more. One could almost think that the same applies here: The more things change, the more they somehow remain the same.