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Working Title: ‘The Information Cage’

Computing is a very powerful means, meaning that it is also a very powerful weapon. It is frightening to see to what extent governments already do and still plan to unleash that weapon on its citizens. Private information is collected by authorities of all kinds under the pretense of security. Our freedom is not threatened by a few terrorist bombs and not even by the fall of the World Trade Center, but it has been taken away by governments all around the world who claim to protect us by means of laws, rules and regulations and ever stricter monitoring of citizens.

Freedom is not about safety and security, it is about privacy, about choice and about knowledge. We say that knowledge is power and the more information is gathered and controlled by a government, the more it restricts our freedom. Therefore, there is no discussion of information technology without discussing politics.

Fortunately use of IT is so poorly managed that governments are unable to use its full potential. I do not only want to discuss how IT can be done better, but also how the betterment will be a benefit to people in general. I will show what companies are trying to do with Business Process Reengineering and why industrial-style business process automation is not good for customers, users and thus for the business as a whole.

I think it is also time to point out how the IT industry as a conglomerate of hardware and software vendors, consultants and outsourcers has finally wrestled control over IT from the hands of the businesses that use their products. Most claims of potential benefits are unsubstantiated and are at best about short-term cost savings. Therefore not only our IT jobs are going to India, but a huge amount of intellectual property in technical and process knowledge is transferred from the West to the East. I will try to show how we could innovate IT from the ground up to maybe stop that trend.

Yes, the Internet is one of the best things that we did with IT, but it is not about buying more or cheaper, but about people communicating and maybe sharing their experiences about life and – why not – about products. Vendors don’t like that aspect of the Internet at all. Therefore I like buyer feedback websites like on Amazon. Obviously, all information is only accurate to some extent and that is actually good enough as long as you can get it when you want it and use it as you see fit. There are as many truths as there are information receivers and thus “truth is what happens.”

You ought to be aware by now that a huge amount of information content on the Internet is intentionally incorrect. You can call that marketing or advertising but it is intentional misinformation or clearer – LIES. I will point out the new sub-culture of Internet money-making that Google and its method of reselling advertising has spawned. Much of the money that you seem to get for valid clicks of interest is going to websites that have no other purpose than harvesting clicks for profit. It is finally possible to make more money with Google than with a good porn site …

Knowledge and information are also about value and money. Copyright and patent laws are instruments of power, mostly of the financial kind. I propose that restricting the use of gathered knowledge is against the evolutionary concept of this universe, as far as we possibly understand it. Information technology is seen as something abstract, disconnected and even competing with nature. Scientists of mostly this century have however recognized that in physics as well as in biology, information is gathered, processed, kept and transmitted in numerous ways. DNA is just a very powerful information storage device that we can learn a lot from.

From the bottom-up, determined by Quantum Physics, energy and information are treated as one. We find to our amazement that there is no certainty of observation and thus there are at best statistical after-the-fact illusions. Quantum Physics also disallows the exact prediction of what the effect of any action will have and puts energy and information transmitter and receiver at the same causal level. There is no meaning in data without the work of an interpreter that has some previous metadata (information about data) knowledge. That opens the tricky question where that metadata came from, right?

Quantum Physics also describes individuation, meaning that there are no two energetic or information quantities in this universe that are exactly alike. In this mystery lies the key to our individual uniqueness. In this enigma lies the beauty of our ability to judge on inaccurate and limited information, because that is all there is. Our emotional intuition is the best decision making tool there is as nature would have given us more if that would not be so.

The question of metadata or meta-knowledge leads into spirituality and faith and as a consequence – religion. If there is a God, what did he know at the time and how did he come to the decision to create this universe or if he is acting at a lesser level, why did he create us humans? Was He – or She or IT (pun intended) – the first creator of the divine metadata repository that interprets the information exchange in this universe? Was he acting from experience from creating other universes or just gut feel? Does IT have a gut and if not where does IT feel the love for us? Is IT the ultimately reasonable being? Is IT a computer then? What mathematics would IT use to calculate the outcome of the divine plan? Predictive analytics do not sound too divine, right? So here we are – right in the storyline of ‘Deity’, my first novel.

‘Deity’ opens up the subject of Artificial Intelligence or AI that I will dedicate a whole chapter too. I said twenty years ago that there will not be AI without understanding human intelligence. Today I understand human intelligence much better and I say that there will never be AI! But there is progress in so-called Machine-Learning and I will explain my own work in this area. Intelligence – human and artificial – is not based on rules as I will try to explain.

As a consequence, I will try to discuss the role of philosophy in science and what it can do for information technology. For too many IT people that notion seems incredibly odd and thus I sometimes feel like Miguel de Cervantes’ “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha” who fought the dragons of his mind, embodied in the windmills of his homeland. The fight against the windmills is a sideline of the original story. A common 19th century interpretation is that they represent the heroic fight of the nobles against the coming of the industrial age.

Yes, I do believe in the right to know and thus for the right of people to unbiased education for free. Rather than feeding people and thus make them dependant, we ought to teach them and thus give them freedom. But I am not into conspiracy theories except in my novels, but I also know that the people of this world are being intentionally mislead by those in power and by the ‘thinking elite’.

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© 2007-11 Max J. Pucher

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Max J. Pucher

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