Artificial Intelligence or «R.U.R. – Rossum’s Universal Robots»

No other topic actually seems to be as hot as artificial intelligence and robotics. Indeed, it’s anything but new: Already in 1920, the Czech writer and playwright Karel Čapek addressed the assumption of power by artificial beings in his novel «R.U.R. – Rossum’s Universal Robots». The name of the play stands for a company that produces artificial humans (so-called Androids). These Robots, a neologism of Karel’s brother Josef Čapek, are used as cheap and lawless workers. Their targeted and massive use in industry changes the entire global economy over time. In the course of the play, however, the art people rebel and destroy the entire human race:

«My dear Miss Glory, Robots are not people. They are mechanically more perfect than we are, they have an astounding intellectual capacity, but they have no soul.» (R.U.R., 1920)

Source:  1938: The first attempt at science fiction on television aired - a BBC adaptation of Karel Čapek's Rossum’s Universal Robots. https://twitter.com/bbcarchive/status/962619743277432832.

In the 1930s, the clouds over Europe became darker and darker. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, many intellectuals and writers had guessed what the political development in Europe was heading for. Čapek also had a highly sensitive perception of current events. His anti-war drama «Bílá Nemoc» («The White Plague»), written in 1936/37, was created in the gloomy atmosphere, in which two highly different characters face each other: The Dictator who infects the people with his demagogic speeches with the virus of mass psychosis – the «White Plague» (aka «Morbus Chengi») – and Dr Galen, a doctor who is aware of the value of human life and can cure the disease. The Dictator orders the doctor to come to him after his best friend, an armor magnate, has contracted the «White Plague». He asks Dr Galen to save his friend. The doctor only wants to do it under one condition: Armament production has to be discontinued. The dictator refuses.

«If you could rule people through fear, you wouldn’t need war. Don’t you think most people are afraid? Yet despite it there’ll be war – there’ll always be war.» (Bílá Nemoc, 1937)

 

This is where the clasp closes to R.U.R., especially as the National Socialist robots prove just as murderous and should plunge the world into the abyss. Čapek himself died of pneumonia on 25 December 1938, only a few weeks after the fatal Munich Agreement and just three months before the Germans invaded Prague on 15 March 1939.

Further movie information (in Czech): bila-nemoc-narodni-filmovy-archiv

History doesn’t care about «Ctrl Z»

Today, exactly 20 years ago, I started my career as a scientific collaborator in one of the most ambitious and controversally discussed historical projects Switzerland has ever launched: The Independent Commission of Experts: Switzerland – Second World War, also known as «Bergier Commission» (www.uek.ch).

SRF Arena, 22 March 2002

After thousands of pages, various oral history interviews, and 30 scientific publications / studies, it can be stated that all these analogue signals we collected between 1996 and 2002 are still vibrating today, namely in a digital manner.

These vibes can actually be found in the Media Archive of Swiss Radio and Television (SRF). As well, Memoriav, the Association for the Conservation of the Audiovisual Heritage of Switzerland, with its outstanding data collection called Memobase, the digitized resources at the Swiss Federal Archives, Berne, and the Archives of Contemporary History at the ETH Zurich, are perfect entry points to delve digitally into Swiss contemporary history.

The recent report «Backup for Posterity» (3Sat, 3 May 2018) shows that 90 percent of all  data has been generated in the last two years: the volume of digital data generated by our modern society is literally exploding. How can this data survive? What form of memory is there for our digital legacy? The main question is, which data is worth collecting and which is not. Above all, history the Queen of Analogue doesn’t care. Let’s put it this way: History itself will always be analogue because the human brain can’t voluntarely press a <Ctrl Z> key combination to reset its past experience. In other words:

History will never die because to <forgive> doesn’t mean to <forget>: Up to now, there’s no human way to push the Holy Digital Knob called <Undo>!

 

PS: Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about working in a globally organized virtual team in the beginning era of digitized research.

Find specialists? With the right spirit!

Local Agenda 21 Solothurn and its partner organisations (including the Solothurn Chamber of Commerce) organise the annual event «Business Apéro für Unternehmen mit Durchblick». In three papers and a short panel discussion, it was shown how SMEs can deal with the challenges of the shortage of skilled workers, education and the world of work 4.0. Dr. Daniel C. Schmid from the HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration, Zurich, spoke about analog and digital signals in companies.

Solothurner Handelskammer: «9. Wirtschaftsapéro für Unternehmen mit Durchblick», Balsthal, 1 February 2018

Regional employers give lectures in Balsthal. The topic of the shortage of skilled workers was discussed in detail. These are not rosy prospects: The canton of Solothurn is particularly affected by the shortage of skilled workers. More than half of the companies that advertise jobs could not or could not fill them as desired. More than 300 spectators gathered at Jomos to listen to presentations and a podium on this topic.

https://www.solothurnerzeitung.ch/solothurn/kanton-solothurn/fachkraefte-finden-mit-dem-richtigen-spirit-132157382#

Paolo Conte: The Stars of Jazz in the Night of Fascism

Paolo Conte, Festival da Jazz, Pontresina, 28 July 2017

Paolo Conte was affected by jazz when this style of music was banned by the fascist regime. This experience has shaped the Cantautore, who will perform at the Festival da Jazz on 28 July 2017 (original article in German, published in NZZ, 27 July 2017. Copyright photo: Matthias Heyde, www.festivaldajazz.ch).

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«Time-Span» and the «Midlife Crisis» of Organizations

Time-Span

Have you ever heard of Elliott Jaques? If you haven’t, don’t worry, because hardly anyone knows him. But for sure, you know the term «Midlife Crisis», don’t you? Guess now, who has coined the phrase? Bingo!
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«From Competition to Compassion»: What connects Led Zeppelin with Digital Learning 4.0

led-zeppelin-pop-art-ppcorn1

INPUT: The Initial Situation

Until a few years ago, learning processes were practically exclusively aimed at acquiring knowledge and skills through accumulation, especially in music, shown by great bands like Led Zeppelin. Knowledge was essentially based on an inductive experiential and personal reflection competence, as Goethe already knew in “Wilhelm Meister’s Lehrjahre”: Continue reading

Hieronymus Bosch or the «Seven Deadly Sins» in Career Planning

Hieronymus_Bosch-_The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_and_the_Four_Last_ThingsLet’s jump into the Early Modern Times, the end of the late Middle Ages. In this time of change fall the discovery of the New World (1492), the gradual emergence of nation states or the appearance of new economic systems (e.g. banking in Italy, or the Fugger family in Germany). Around 1450, the Dutch Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch is born. Continue reading