Digital Sovereignty for Germany?

Last week the German government published a commissioned study on how it depends on software and services vendors (local copy). The day after the publication, Cathrin Schaer of ZDnet called to ask for my thoughts on the study and digital sovereignty for Germany: Is it even possible? Cathrin’s resulting article picked up some of our discussion, but I wanted to take the time here to elaborate on my thoughts.

Continue reading “Digital Sovereignty for Germany?”

Position Statement on the Use of ML / KI Techniques in Software Engineering For the adesso Hochschulbeirat

I just submitted the following short position statement on how to work with ML / KI techniques in software engineering. This is a statement on using such techniques for the engineering of software, not in the software itself, which is a (not completely, but mostly) separate issue.

ML / KI techniques can be use in software development to assist the human engineer. Properly applied, they can make engineers more productive by helping them focus on understanding and solving the human problem behind the software to be developed (essential complexity) and by freeing them from getting distracted by technical implementation details (accidental complexity).

Continue reading “Position Statement on the Use of ML / KI Techniques in Software Engineering For the adesso Hochschulbeirat”

The Argument For a Moral Machine in Autonomous Driving

I have a strong aversion against letting people drag their feet from being responsible for their actions. I feel particularly strongly about this when delegating work to machines, which are not able to act using an appropriate moral value system. Starting a car and letting an autonomous driving unit take over is one such example: When faced with an impossible situation (run over an old lady or three children or commit suicide), it still has to be the driver’s decision and not a machine’s.

Continue reading “The Argument For a Moral Machine in Autonomous Driving”

Happy New Year, The Second Amendment, And Private Messaging

There is wisdom in the second amendment of the constitution of the United States of America. A key motivation was to allow people to defend themselves against an oppressive government. Back when it was formulated, self-defense meant bearing firearms, which seems quaint today given that a government could came after you with tanks and drones. So, beyond a narrow U.S. legal interpretation, the amendment needs interpretation in a modern context. As such, it is of relevance to the world at large.

What does the right to self-defense against a potentially oppressive government mean?

Continue reading “Happy New Year, The Second Amendment, And Private Messaging”

The Dancing Robot Dog: Magic Trick or Real Artificial Intelligence?

You may have seen the video below by Boston Dynamics. It shows a robot dog dancing to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. It is fun and funny to watch, but people also expressed serious worries about robot inroads into human behavior. However, there is no explanation by Boston Dynamics and it is not at all clear whether this is a simple magic trick created to fool the onlookers or real artificial intelligence (AI) progress.

Continue reading “The Dancing Robot Dog: Magic Trick or Real Artificial Intelligence?”

Open Data: Source of Public Income or Invaluable Common Good?

Not surprisingly, this huddling panel at the 2018 Berlin Open Data Day came to no specific conclusion, just different opinions on business models and who should earn what income.

Some nuggets of insight: Leave it to public institutions to decide for themselves — open data should be freely available, otherwise some commercial business models break down — cities should be neutral to startups and establish collaborations for everyone’s benefit — leave it to companies to generate value from open data and they will give back #muwhaha — don’t monetarize open data at all — if users don’t pay, public institutions won’t have the funds to provide open data — open data should be considered public infrastructure and follow established practices — the data belongs to the public anyway — selling data is too expensive for a city.

In related news, some cheap laughs for public institution bashing from one panelist. Personally, I find this less than helpful.

One amusing quote from another panelist:

In theory, we all agree, in practice, we do not.

I guess more sustainability research is needed.

Quote for Unicum Beruf on How IT Changes Your Job (in German)

German student magazine Unicum (Beruf) asked for a quote on the impact that IT and the software industry is having on everyone’s job, so here it is:

Die IT verändert die Arbeitsweisen in vielen Berufen. Initial galt dies nur für die IT-Branche selbst und hier insbesondere für die Softwareentwicklung, inzwischen aber sind deren Arbeitsweisen auch in nicht-IT-Unternehmen und Fachabteilungen angekommen. Von der inzwischen ubiquitären Email und der elektronischen Text- und Tabellenverarbeitung über Text-Messaging hin zu heutigen Formen dezentraler entkoppelter Zusammenarbeit wie sie Dienste wie git und GitHub ermöglichen. Aber nicht nur spezifische Software beinflusst die Arbeitswelt, Unternehmen folgen häufig auch den Metaphern der Softwarewelt und wollen heutzutage “agil” sein, wie von der agilen Softwareentwicklung seit 20 Jahren vorgelebt.

The quote or whatever they’ll make of it will appear in an upcoming Unicum issue.

You might also like my paper on the open source developer career.