How has digital illustration changed the industry

The post-digital age

4. Outrage: When everyone has a megaphone

Whenever I happen to come across the comment pages of a large website, I wonder: Where do MarkAurelius, Specimen2000, Rülpsteufel7, #Habedieehre, gottseidank1, oledoledoffe, Flachlandprophet, cup01, Guerilla77, die-waage, Knack2345, Siebenschwanz and like them all come from does this infinite energy mean, millions of times around the clock, posting opinions upon opinions of opinions? Sascha Lobo once called it "the opinion of the world".

First of all, there is a simple urge to validate: everyone finally wants to be heard. Understandable. But it is seldom really about opinions in the sense of meanings. It's about affects, about the deficits, aversions, resentments, devaluations felt at the moment. About verbal dominance gestures and bad mood that you want to send somewhere.

Complex societies depend on an open space in which consensus and context can be formed without being prescribed. The agora of the Greeks, the forum of the Romans, the marketplace of the Middle Ages, the newspaper as a mediator of citizens and power, the parliament (from parlare, to speak), also the coffee house or even the tavern - all these are the tools of civilization, that wants to renounce everyday violence. This requires forms of respect and distance that refrain from violence - including verbal ones.

Anyone who goes to a pub to aggressively get rid of their inner misery usually gets a clear reaction that limits their actions. This basis of human encounters is being eroded in the raging, "veined" network. Where everyone has a megaphone, the law of escalating volume wins: the one who yells the loudest gets through. In the end, the troll wins.

The philosopher and psychiatrist Michael Lehofer wrote in his book "Be with me": “It's not worth getting involved in opinion wars. Because opinion is essentially narcissistic. "(Lehofer 2017)

In 1990 accused "AI is only artificial stupidity if it is not developed in terms of the right questions (instead of the wrong answers)." Rumorville, one of the first digital newsletters, its competitors Skuttlebuttto be a cheater. Skuttlebutt sued the Rumorville provider, Compuserve, for posting false news, today one would say: Fake news. In the process, the judge made a fundamental judgment: A provider is not responsible for the content on its platform. We are still struggling with this judgment today.

The Uprising, in which we have lived since then, the rule of the stupidest affect, is the product of a systemic malfunction of communicative systems. In it, the medium, the mediator, is the exclusive beneficiary of messages, without any responsibility or moderation. But that is precisely what is slowly beginning to change.

5. The emperor's digital clothes

Held in the summer of 2018 Google its annual developer conference. CEO Sundar Pichai posed in style more pompous AppleReveals a “sensational new feature”: “Our vision is to help people get things done. It turns out that a big part of it is making phone calls ... We are working hard to help users do this. ”(Google Developers 2018)

Then the huge screen shone behind it GoogleBoss and a synthetic female voice was on the phone with a hair salon. An appointment was made for the day after tomorrow with a lot of really human-sounding ah and ah. “That was a real phone call! Our assistant can now understand the nuances of every conversation! "

Cheers, applause, the video went around the world, the media reported, as always, horror-fascinated. Hardly anyone came up with the idea that the emperor's digital clothes were being extolled here. Has anyone ever found a phone call to a hairdresser to be a problem that needs to be "solved" with AI? And haven't such appointments been made more practical over the Internet for a long time?

The absurd is that you can no longer ask yourself such questions. The digital exercises a kind of hypnosis in which we stare like rabbits at sham miracles. At a similar innovation show, the bosses of LG the "New smartphone intelligence" of the Korean concern. A young man talks to his smart electronic style advisor about the barbecue in the evening: "I get cold in a T-shirt, I have a cold," says the man. The automated style advisor recommends a scarf. “I lost that. Buy me a new one that looks so similar! ”The motto: Upgrade your life infinitely!

The examples show: The digital evolution has long been in one Marginal utility crisis - in what the American Internet critic Evgeny Morozov "Solutionism" is called: Löseritis - Technology in the desperate search for problems. The turn of the saying, according to which modern technology cannot be distinguished from a miracle, is that it simulates banalities without restraint.

The real rate of innovation - in the sense of real added value - of digital devices has been slowing down for about five years. Take a look in your electronic garbage can in the basement: cables, adapters, plugs - and devices that look more and more alike. Version 9.0, 10.0, X make no difference. In the field of digital innovation, running gags are increasing - inventions that have been hyped for many years, but turn out to be flops or slow-moving. For example the famous “intelligent refrigerator”, which is presented at every household fair alongside the digital bread knife and the networked washing machine.

The private "Smart Home" proves to be a tedious affair that turns the resident into their own electronic caretaker who constantly has to fiddle around with incompatible devices. We are beginning to suspect that a fully automated house would at some point in a subtle way get rid of its human occupants. What else are we supposed to do there? We're only disturbing the sensors!

In Guy Debords visionary text "The Society of the Spectacle", published more than 50 years ago, it says: “Exactly when the mass of equipment moves towards infantility, the infantile itself becomes a habit; this is embodied by the gadget. "(Debord 1967/1996)

6. Messeritis

The latest Apple Watch has a feature that has been vacant in the digital promise for years: saving lives. It measures blood pressure and pulse and alerts you if the values ​​become abnormal. She “feels” when we fall. Then she asks us to avoid false alarms: "Do you really want to trigger an alarm?"

But what is "abnormal"? If we suddenly get heart palpitations at the thought of a loved one - will the emergency doctor be alerted? Can the Watch distinguish between longing and sexual arousal? And what if she could? Do we then get a notification about our "arousal score"?

The feature tells a wonderful story of the Blurring of human life. What if we fall but can no longer press “yes”? Or when we fall because we have thrown ourselves joyfully? Or when we don't feel like getting up anymore?

Our fear of data loss in medical applications may hide another fear: that of the knowledge itself. Those who need the monitoring of their medical values ​​most - people with multiple diseases - may get their joie de vivre from permissive ignorance. The healthy, on the other hand, run around with a thousand comparison clocks, which only increases their fitness stress.

In order to be able to live, we need a certain ambiguity, a trust in the unmeasured, the living. Precision and too much knowledge, on the other hand, only ever lead us into new constraints that restrict our lives instead of expanding them.

The famous AI computer Watson, who is supposed to outperform any doctor in diagnosis, has almost always failed in its clinical trials. Google's disease forecasting program, which was supposed to predict the course of influenza epidemics, has since been taken offline - because people often imagine diseases, because misinformation and hysteria falsify forecasts. The body speaks its own language in the imaginary field of body, mind and soul. In the unclear, the unmeasured, there is actually what we call it Imagine "health" or experience it as a "disease".

7. The revenge of the analog

Canadian journalist David Sax has written an illuminating book on the flourishing renaissance of things. In "The revenge of the analog" he describes comebacks that we hadn't expected (anymore): vinyl records are the sellers on the music market today (coming soon HD vinyl, with even better sound quality). Ur-analog media techniques like Fountain pen and Notebooks with rough paper are booming. Old fashioned light switches with a click are a bestseller, although everyone can control their light via smartphone. Libraries are built everywhere today as prestige objects. And suddenly, after the total triumph of digital photography, there is again Polaroids!

Is it all just a defiant reflex of nostalgia? No, the story doesn't go straight ahead into the digital, it keeps twisting into the tried and tested. The real reason is our longing for significance, which becomes overwhelming in a digital environment. When everything is infinitely copyable and available, the unique, specific, tangible becomes a new luxury.

Today we take more photos in our lives than ever before - with smartphones. Gigabytes of selfies accumulate on the hard drives. But these witnesses of our life simply disappear in the eternal darkness of not being seen. You hardly ever take photos to remember, but to imagine you were there. Spotify and Netflix are the dream of every music and film freak. But we all know them "Spotyflix Fatigue": When you have all the works in the world permanently available, at some point an inner emptiness arises. Everything is possible, nothing is important anymore. There is a shortage of contextuality.

In addition, the digital space repeatedly proves to be insecure and excruciatingly prone to failure. It is a fault space where new patches keep adding to the old ones. I now connect my iPads and Phones to my speakers again with cables - Bluetooth sucks. Broken ticket printouts, missing credit card codes, spam, constant requests to do something for the computer - we are all the cheap workers of the network.

At some point we look for that reliability that is lost in the constant ambiguity of digital space in the concrete click of a light switch or in touching a hand-baked loaf of bread that is guaranteed not to be digitized. After the digital comes organic. Organic is the new analog.

8. The category mistake

Maybe the hype started around them "Artificial intelligence" as early as the 19th century. Even then, mechanical dolls like the Turks playing chess were called "artificial people" or "homunculi". The first large computers in the 1960s were persistently called "thinking machines" in the vernacular. Illustrations showed heads in which thinking was represented by gears, bolts, and gears. Our inner metaphor constantly confuses the human with the machine. There is a stubborn tendency in the human soul to Anthropomorphing, to project human emotions onto machines.

We stroke the cute robotic lawn mower and give it nicknames or let annoying robots shake hands just because they have googly eyes. We respond to that Black box of the digital - you never know what's going on inside - with that Baby reflex. This leads to the confusion of metaphor and prophecy. We believe in the whispers that sell us the robot as the future ruler of the world. So we get caught up in an infantile fairy tale story that is alternately sold to us as great dystopia or glorious redemption.

Even when you pronounce the term “artificial intelligence”, you end up in the middle of something Niklas Luhmann one Category error named - as an example, Luhmann brought a farmer who absolutely wants to grow jacket potatoes. When we hear the phrase “Artificial Intelligence”, we get confused intelligence - solving logical processes - with awareness. Intelligence can be made effective, awareness is always slow, cumbersome, emotional. It is based on experience and experience. Therefore, every AI debate always leads to the horror corner, in which at some point Arnold Schwarzenegger emerges from the future as a “hyper-intelligent human machine”.

The AI myth is a typical example of one Error of the futurewhere we take unconscious metaphors to be real prophecies. It is not for nothing that the world's bestseller is called Yuval Noah Harari "Homo Deus". What is in it is not so very clear - only that we somehow become gods, and that that is terrible and excellent at the same time.

In the AI ​​myth, we assume that computers have the power to solve problems that seem unsolvable: AI will soon regulate our traffic flows in overcrowded cities so that no more traffic jams or accidents happen. Really? Studies show that automatically driving cars are more likely to bring even more traffic onto the road (see Doll 2018). According to Mark Zuckerberg could AI cure, avoid and manage all diseases in one generation? AI may even solve the crisis of democracy. And the eternal dilemma of partner choice is dealt with by AI in the sense of the "right match".

Something in us longs for this self-abandonment, in which we can transfer everything difficult, human, to machines. In addition, after 20 years, the computer industry urgently needs a “next big story” - AI is the rabbit that pulls an industry out of its hat on the verge of exhaustion.

The word has long been from the "Swarm intelligence" disappeared again from the public language. As we have seen, it is mostly a case of swarm stupidity. The same could happen to the heroically charged metaphor of AI.

9. The next wave

So has the internet, the digital, improved our lives? Beyond its indisputable connection advantages, the network has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives - a drift of life into the insecure, threatening, hysterical. Today's web is a “lopsided” marketplace for human communications, where our most negative traits are triggered. Accepting and speaking out is the first step in the digital revision that now lies ahead of us.

Many are now following the cynical assumption that the overwhelming power of digitization is in any case no match. This Digital fatalism is the counterpart to Digital fanaticism. Digital realism however understands that the human and technical systems are in a perpetual co-evolution. Every new technology, every new medium, creates an excess of interpretation and meaning at the beginning (cf. Baecker 2018). The book, the radio, the television - all of this initially brought with it new excesses of society. Technology changes people.

But the example of the Internet in particular shows how the human can also transform a medium. Everything that we are increasingly experiencing on the Internet today - Hatred, greed, negativity, superficiality - is an expression of genuinely human feelings. The network cannot be "objective". In today's crisis of the network, the strength of the human condition in relation to technology is actually showing.

At some point, the Wild West saloons, where the law of the largest gun prevailed, closed and a more complex social system of rules prevailed. The future arises from self-regulation that first needs to fail in order to assert itself.

The era of post-digitality

Post-digitality does not mean the end of digital uses, but the end of Totality claim of digitality. Digital systems can do a lot - mobility concepts in deserted regions, the calculation of a healthy lifetime for new insurance concepts, the optimized control of existing traffic flows. But no AI system, however “clever” it may be, will be able to “solve” the overcrowding of cities with cars. That requires decisions of a human nature - decisions that have to do with values ​​and priorities beyond optimization.

Post-digitality means that we say goodbye to the myth of unconditional disruption. In the future it is important to learn to differentiate between “better” and “right” - between Innovationism and real progress. The Digitalism propaganda is about the fact that “all of our lives must be constantly improved”. Really? If there is a cooking robot in every kitchen, sensual cooking is no longer fun. When all data is public, we as individuals lose our dignity. If we live in fully automated houses that perfectly control themselves, we lose vital connections to the world.

So post-digitality means: smart allocation of the digital. Especially the ecological and sustainable, the poetic and the artistic are offered here. Big data can help when it comes to standardized processes for diagnosing diseases. Big data may be a golden path in molecular cancer research. But nothing can replace a sensitive doctor. Because healing is always based on human relationships: Those who fall out of the social world will no longer get well. In education, digitization usually has a negative effect, because the role of the "learning teacher" is indispensable. Care robots are a cruel fantasy because we need human presence when we are weak. Sex robots are a terrible rejection of the erotic that doesn't get better just by staring at them with fascination.

Post-digitality means learning new culture and socio-techniques. In this digital emancipation it's about self-efficacy and media skills. That means digital mindfulness or OMline: to be connected but not trapped, networked but not permanently entangled, to understand fake news as aggression and to oppose it with your own constructions of reality. It starts with the ability to turn off your smartphone. The net forces us to a higher level of spiritual and mental integration. It is the stimulus that forces us to become more conscious.

Post-digitality means to understand that the digital efficiency obsession leads to a dead end. Many companies use digitalism as a substitute drug for real questions of meaning. One dreams of becoming an economic fighting machine. You keep customers at bay by automating all functions. Such companies lose their souls and destroy themselves. Ultimately, every company is a complex organism. According to the laws of entropy, complexity can only exist when efficiency is balanced by effectiveness - through living relationships.

Post-digitality means: an active role of the human in the technological development process. This includes a new term of “smart”, which consistently integrates the human dimension into the design process of hardware and algorithms. Steve Jobs once came up with the promise to build human-friendly computers - and not to force computer-friendly people. Algorithms are not innocent, and AI is only artificial stupidity if it is not developed with the right questions (rather than the wrong answers) in mind.

To redeem the digital, we have to love it. The internet is like a mirror in which we can - and must - see ourselves. This is exactly what the pioneers of the new digital emancipation want today. Post-digitality is about the human net profit that arises when we cleverly combine the informal with the cognitive, the communicative with the reflective, the systemic with the sensual. Yuval Noah Harari is right here: the best protection against our incapacitation by algorithms (which know us better than we do ourselves) is to understand ourselves better than any algorithm.

An excerpt from the Future Report 2019.

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Debord, Guy: The Society of the Spectacle. Berlin 1967/1996
Doll, Nikolaus: The fairy tale of congestion-free inner cities. In:, June 28, 2018
Google Developers: Keynote (Google I / O '18). In:, 8 May 2018
Harari, Yuval Noah: Homo Deus. A story of tomorrow. Munich 2015
Hari, Johan: Lost Connections. Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - And the Unexpected Solutions. London 2018
Lehofer, Michael: To be with me: Self-love as the basis for encounter and relationship. Vienna 2017
Lobo, Sascha: The eviction of the conservatives. In:, September 19, 2018
Mansholt, Malte: Alexa dating help? This is what people are really asking Amazon Echo. In:, 5.7.2018