In the spirit of de-digitalization

Over the past years we have been experiencing a seemingly continuous increase in converting every action, every deed, every product and every service into a digitalized and monetised system.

Why? – Very simple: IT has made it possible. That is the technical answer. If you park your car in a zone where the first half hour is for free and you get back only one second over the half hour because you had to stand in line longer than expected, you are now compelled to pay for the one second over time. Naturally, you don’t simply pay for the one second over the limit, but normally for a whole hour.

In an IT world, where an exact line is drawn (because it can!) on the side which is at the consumer’s disadvantage, the line is usually drawn very generously in the other direction -again, when it’s to the consumer’s disadvantage. Hm.

In the past, there used to be a human being overseeing parking fees and thus common sense still had a good chance of being exercised. Today? – Common sense is hardly possible anymore in those everyday service areas that have been exchanged for a machine.

And that means just about every part of daily life is affected by digitalization. There hardly is an area left that hasn’t somehow been digitalized. Whether we are talking about parking fees, speed-limit machines or the whole gamut of governmental, banking, medical or any other types of fees: IT has made a fee break-down to the smallest possible entity possible. Hooray.

Great as IT also is, the above shows the clear draw-backs of a digitalized system. The more digitalized, the more ruthlessly rationalized the human species tends to become, always with the argument that these systems allow for more transparency and fairness. Oh, really?

Somehow, society on the whole just seems to be drained systematically from every vantage point possible. That nobody’s happiness is thereby increased seems logical, as the human being is more and more controlled by rationalized and digitalized systems. And still. Everybody seems to want more of this de-humanizing non-sense.

In fact, we don’t need more digitalization, but rather less. We need to allow for more human decision-taking possibilities and definitely more individualized common sense in daily life. IT allows for both -great possibilities and great human disasters.

As so often, these possibilities are very close together. Clearly, when we stop to think and hand everything over to a pre-programmed machine (which, by the way, may have been programmed correctly or not: who’s to know?!) we are in deep trouble. When we don’t have the option to decide whether an everyday individual situation merits a different outlook than the strict rational programmed thinking of a machine, we are in trouble.

It seems, we have overstepped or at the very least are on the verge of overstepping a healthy dealing with the IT world. Misuse, overuse and/or abuse through the help of IT are quite likely today’s greatest dangers and challenges to humanity.

Therefore: let’s start thinking about de-digitalizing our world. More IT is not always better or more efficient for that matter. It is, however, invariably very costly and dehumanizes daily life.



2 Responses to In the spirit of de-digitalization

  • I love the way you are writing. And I emotionally totally agree with you. There is only one thing I was thinking over: When it is up to a pliceman or woman to decide if one has to pay the second over the half an hour, are we sure there will be no discrimination?
    It’s a true dilemma for me.
    But still I agree with you: “everyday individual situation merits a different outlook than the strict rational programmed thinking of a machine”
    Looking foreward to read you again!

    • Thanks for your comment. You are totally right of course in that there is the danger of unfair discrimination when humans are allowed a certain amount of leeway. However, our legal system was based on human common sense. The big challenge seems to be to find a happy medium between what went wrong in the past ( discrimination) and today’s “strict rationalized programmed thinking of a machine”.