What does knowledge do to us?

The Internet offers endless possibilities to acquire knowledge. When it comes to spelling, you can quickly find answers to your questions in various reference books with just a few clicks, whereas 30 years ago you didn’t come around the bookstore to get one of the brand classics Duden, Langenscheidt, Brockhaus, Pons, Chambers Dictionary or Meyer. Atlases offered works by Diercke, DuMont, Haack, Knaurs, Kosmos, Meyers and Putzger a variety of map material and information content.

What does knowledge do to us


You need detailed information, for example. for a place, a Region, a person, a building or an event, you will find (almost) everything you need on the non-profit Wikipedia, which was founded on January 15, 2001, while in the past you had to scroll through various atlases or encyclopedias such as those of Brockhaus. Justified criticism of the neutrality, the quality standard and the editorial Malaise, however, tarnish the credibility of Wikipedia as well as the professionally organized surreptitious advertising and PR scams.

The topicality and the detail of many German - speaking pages often lags behind those of the English - speaking Wiki, which is why one should switch to foreign-speaking wiki pages-with appropriate language skills and/or with the help of DeepL.

According to the statutes, everyone is allowed to participate, but women do this much less, probably also due to a pronounced “mansplaining”. Only about ten percent of administrators and regular authors are female, which is also reflected in the articles – especially those that are not written at all.

What does knowledge do to us

The number of authors on Wikipedia is dwindling. Many of the existing users hardly work in terms of content, but limit their cooperation to formalities on the whole. The swarm intelligence conjured by Wikipedia, which should not escape any mistakes, certainly does not work. On the contrary, a collaboration in the swarm is not recognizable. But can one blame the authors who stop editing Wikipedia for not wanting to do deletion discussions, Edit Wars and uncooperative behavior of other authors any longer?

More and more Bots are acting as authors who can compensate for the author decline and the huge workload by using AI authors who can update articles. Wiki-Watcher have already noticed that Bots are already being used en masse in the German Wikipedia without much resistance. (Unfortunately) typical for Wikipedia is that this use is very intransparent. The information presented should therefore - and this applies of course to all media - be critically questioned, necessarily use other sources and not neglect self-thinking.

Technical Progress?

In the technological world of knowledge, all contact information is available with just one touch of a button in the smartphone’s address book, while addresses and telephone numbers were previously remembered in the head or scribbled notebooks were tried. The same applies to locomotion. If you have previously memorized routes and destinations on the basis of prominent places or buildings, or by adding a road map the Route has been carefully planned in advance, nowadays all you need is a navigation device or App on your mobile phone.

What does knowledge do to us

Technical progress channels accumulated knowledge and breaks it down for the user individually and in a personalized way. In a few seconds, you get all the information you need at the touch of a button, which offers enormous time savings. But is this circumstance really as desirable and beneficial as it sounds at first? Many people are happy when they manage to kill the time they are constantly trying to save, more or less senselessly. Do we increasingly tend to neglect our cognitive properties little by little until they are atrophied or dulled by sensory overload? And, with so much knowledge, can we still make correct and sustainably useful decisions?

Circumstances lie in the eye of the beholder

The personal attitude and the view of reality from a closed, predetermined world view, that is, from a predefined perspective, is not always bad. On the one hand, it leads to things having a certain order, a structure. As an emotional anchor or as a compass for classifying circumstances. The traffic light is red, you have to wait until it is green and may drive again. Due to such a structural framework, one’s own world view is of course always easier to understand. You know the way and the goal.

On the other hand, however, a given closed worldview risks not recognizing backgrounds and living in a ‘given’ reality. What was the religious or economic driver in churches and religions in the Middle Ages? Man did not ask himself this question because he always believed in what the world clarifiers prescribed. Based on these predefined facts, one did not question the actual, the now. That was so and remained so for a long time. From today’s point of view, many of the guidelines and actions of that age were completely irrational.

The perspective with which one looks at events and classifies facts is never completely neutral. But you can try to become aware of what the personal perspective is. While facts can be seen neutrally up to a certain point, the classification of facts is a personal view, which is often influenced by education, parental home, the social environment, etc., and the more or less pronounced ability of critical thinking.

Let’s take food and food as an example. The manufacturing technology and the resulting knowledge has changed over time due to new processes and the optimizations contained therein. It is not always due to the economic maximization process and the greed of the manufacturers, but also to improved control mechanisms, more modern measuring instruments and sensors. New findings from food technology reveal additives that have always been present in a product due to the process, but only turned out to be harmful to health due to today’s discovery. This means that the facts have always been there, but the perspective, the claim and the handling of these facts has changed.

Faith is not knowledge – the Gish gallop

Even in the Middle Ages, people were able to deal with the few facts available to them, but the view of ‘reality’ was clouded by an indoctrinated world view and the ideological view of the churches. People ran biased through a crude worldview construct. We still recognize the same today, for example. in the economic orientation of the systems, where all the facts are also revealed, however, the ‘faith’ that is prayed up and down like a religious ‘Mantra’ obscures and contradicts the actual view and reality.

The fact that on a planet with finite resources no infinite consumption and thus infinite growth is possible is completely hidden and subordinated to the false reality of the eternal growth mania. We believe that prosperity can only be achieved through growth, although we (should) know that growth only increases consumption and increases the profits generated by producers - at the expense of Health and the environment.

Today, man has virtually unlimited access to all' world knowledge', which was not available to people living in the Middle Ages in many respects. Statements and assertions made by the then upper class could neither be tested nor questioned - and if only under threat to health and life. Churches and Kings could just lie. The times are apparently over, but the church and the state have not lost power. This can be attributed, among other things, to the fact that it is no longer the facts that are being attacked, but their interpretations.

On the one hand by selective selection of facts and on the other by the method of Gish gallop. This is a culture of debate in which the counterpart is flooded with half-truths which, due to their abundance and quantity, make it impossible for him to refute the postulates. Attacking the interpretations of the facts reveals that there are fewer possibilities of response in a discourse. There is too much plastic waste in the world. That’s a fact that you can’t really attack either. The industry, however, takes advantage of the interpretation of these facts and attacks them at the level of consumers, accusing them of separating the garbage more properly, since such behavior causes less plastic waste. So one no longer responds to the fact, but shifts the level to an interpretation of this fact.

The Problem of solving a Problem is a Problem

The whole discussion about environmental protection is correct in principle, but this discourse takes place in society at the wrong levels. Although people now realize that they not only have the opportunity to change something, but they are also forced to realize that they would have to fundamentally change themselves and their consumer behavior.

But environmental protection should also be considered critically, because there is a risk that we will no longer look at the industry in terms of its due accuracy. Almost everyone is of the opinion that they can do something by paying attention to the environment, but because of their standard of living and their habits, they forget that, for example, they can do something. at sea, huge container ships blow ‘dirt’ into the air in order to transport the goods demanded by him, which he has previously ordered on the Internet or retail trade.

We are talking about increasing pollutant emission values and particulate matter pollution. The domestic wood-burning stoves (wood-burning stoves, tiled stoves) are real polluters. Particulate matter is particularly problematic. In Germany, there are lt. Consumer magazine “WISO” of 11. Dec. 2017 around eleven million woodburning stoves. These blow more than 18,000 tons of fine dust into the air every year, more than the engines of all trucks and cars combined! The mendacity of those who act as climate savers, but enjoy themselves uncritically at home in stoves, spend their holidays on cruise ships or drink trips to Malle for partw. if you are flying below 50€, you should consider whether you are still quite clear.

When choosing the perspective on events or facts, a distinction must be made. In the natural sciences, we have the phenomenon that the perspective and the insights that are drawn from it essentially come from our measuring instruments. We have more insights today because we also have better and more accurate measuring instruments than we did back then. Nevertheless, in some places there is an Approximation, an approximation by interpreting a probability from the measured values. In a scientific discourse, it should be clear to everyone: a hypothesis or a theory is not assured knowledge. It is only the best current state of knowledge on which everyone agrees until there are new and significant findings.

The basic knowledge of the natural sciences can all point in one direction, yet there is the possibility that individual findings are doubted. This can be debated on the meta-level, which was previously agreed upon. However, it becomes a Problem when individual representatives use the Gish gallop and pick out a tiny fraction of values from the Fractal viewing plane, which has an irregularity and then cites this as the main argument that the entire realization is wrong.

The interpretation of a Fact is attacked, but not the fact itself. But this no longer plays a role, because the discourse has shifted to a completely different level. And so it sometimes happens that a scientific discourse no longer takes place on the previously agreed meta-level, but loses itself in the small-small. However, a fact is not confirmed or unconfirmed because of this, but the interpretations of a fact suggest scientific errors.

A lack of priorities

Today’s free access to knowledge leads to the assumption that humans are subject to cognitive overload and lose their orientation based on too many facts. The appreciation for obtaining information also suffers. Prior to the internet, gaining access to expertise was time - consuming and costly, resulting in prioritization. If one accepted the expense of going to a library to look for a book of material or subject matter, one borrowed it (if available) for a loan fee, read from this book and then brought it back again.

Today, clicking and scrolling on billions of internet pages is no longer a Problem at all. In the past, “browsing” took place in bookshelves, now on a Monitor at home or on the go and around the clock. However, many people lose the learning to set priorities, which specialist knowledge corresponds to the search mission and the personal question. A satisfaction of self-efficacy is thereby completely lost. Flying over websites like Wikipedia or watching a YouTube Video is something else than acquiring knowledge through years of study and then applying what you have learned in practice or in a project.

What does knowledge do to us

As a result, the working methods have also changed. Concentrated, mind-open processing of information is particularly difficult and unsustainable due to side effects. Sitting in the Home Office in front of the computer, next to it phone and mobile phone within reach to ensure constant accessibility, in the Browser different Tabs with Facebook, Twitter and Co.opened in order to be always up to date in the (A) social networks, a concentrated work makes impossible.

In contrast, a concentrated absorption of knowledge takes place in a ‘quiet environment’ far more effectively and sustainably. In the library there is only a table, a chair and a book available, the mobile phone is switched off and the minimal sources of distraction can not significantly interfere with the learning flow. The willingness to take the time to slow down the environment and get a real ‘return of investment’ in expertise, most people unfortunately no longer go in and thus unlearn cognitive skills. Through a lack of consciously defined and set priorities, people lose an enormous amount of quality of life for fear of missing out on something marginal, insignificant and quickly ephemeral.

Artificial intelligence: a glimpse into the future

Today, algorithms are already wreaking havoc in the networked world. They collect data, the handling of applications (Apps) can be easily tracked by them, they influence and control consumption through targeted advertising and help, until now free critical expression through downgrading (for example with Google) and suppression or deletion of content and Accounts (massively for example with data octopuses such as Facebook).

In her book" Attack of algorithms", mathematician Cathy O’neil describes how programs like" LiSA " work and the consequences of their wide application in society. Algorithms are ultimately nothing more than human purposes embedded in Computer Code. Basically, they are there only to differentiate certain things and speed up processes – but with a breathtaking efficiency (O’neil 2017, 160). This efficiency is rewarded with Profit and growth of the respective company, which forces the competition to use such programs as well.

Another technical construct will increasingly influence and thus change our everyday life. Artificial intelligence (AI) is intended to enable machines, workflows, robots or means of transport to make decisions and learn from them automatically. Already today there are smaller assignments in professional branches, which are currently still to serve as support.

However, AI is not yet given decision-making power. However, this will change over time when 3D Jobs (Dirty, dangerous and demeaning) are replaced by learning AI. The risks that these developments will entail will put further development into a different perspective and raise not only economic and sociological, but also psychological and ethical questions.

Philosophers and technicians are already dealing with the question of ethics.

Should a self-driving car be able to decide how it reacts in a dangerous situation? Let us take the traffic light in road traffic as an example. On the right side of the road there are three passers-by, on the other side of the road there is a group of children. If after all predictable and calculable steps there is no possibility to avoid the people at the traffic lights, which side should the autonomous vehicle choose?

Is AI even allowed to make such a decision? Should autonomous missile systems, drones and armoured vehicles automatically decide in a battle when a battle is over or who is considered an enemy? If an AI has been programmed to pose a threat to people with weapons and to be regarded as an enemy, how about civilians who have shouldered a rifle to hunt? What about opponents who obviously don’t carry a weapon, but have put on an explosive belt? So when is a civilian recognizable as such and when is he not? And to address the security aspect, how far can an AI put its instinct for self-preservation above that of a human being?

Likewise, there are already robots in the Sex industry today that are supposed to be obedient to the desires and urges of its owners. However, here too the question must be asked in a different direction: from when can a machine, an intelligent sex toy, refuse desire and say" no"? When does a robot attack its dignity? Does an AI have any dignity at all?

The thought Is Strange, as man seems to forget more and more How to generate knowledge and how to learn knowledge properly. The application of technical achievements also increasingly serves the purpose of apparently facilitating everyday life, but at the expense of the correct handling of them and the resulting benefits. The consumer and user are thus faked a ‘freedom’ in which he no longer notices himself to be trapped. He becomes dependent, is networked worldwide, his data is constantly analyzed, privacy and cognitive characteristics crumble unnoticed. And in all this Dilemma, artificial intelligences should in future deprive man of his decision-making power, which he himself is not even able to program ethically justifiable and responsibly.

Yes, technical progress cannot be stopped, but it is best to learn how to deal with it again in a completely new way.