Matthias Weber

Try to put me in a box - it’s impossible.

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More Cooperativism, please!

Memory Lane alert. When I was a student at Bauhaus-University 1999-2005, all things internet were kind of new, promising and exciting.
Back in the olden days we analyzed the business cases of DELL and sorts to cheer about direct distribution and cutting out those costly middle men. And virtual communities were a movement not platforms to target ads. Today digital business is all about controlling massive marketplaces.

In those university seminars we were applauding to the possibilities of a long-tail economy and all this. I know, I am not the first to notice and a lot has been written about it already.
But something around the diversion in how digital technology is used in commerce and business has reached a peak in bugging me.

We have successfully cut out the middle men in the early days of the internet just to now rely on monolithic market place providers who introduced new

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The Ethics of Algorithms: A Human Debate on Machine Code in Berlin.

 The Centre for Internet and Human Rights at Europa University Viadrina in association with Center for Technology and Society at TU Berlin hosted a two day event The Ethics of Algorithms (EOA2015). EOA2015 took place in Berlin on March 9-10, 2015. Day two was an intense debate on The Ethics of Algorithms with input from European and American experts.

This is the first part of my notes aiming to take the debate beyond the local event. EOA2015 has been held under the Chatham House Rule, but keynote speaker Zeynep Tufekci from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill agreed to have her talk publicly quoted.

 Human after All.

Even though the event was dubbed Ethics of Algorithms, we always came back to human ethics. For the time being, it is humans who are writing code and algorithms shaping most areas of our digitalized life. Mrs Tufekci concluded:

“We are so not ready for computer

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Beyond Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley has gradually become the ultimate model for business and entrepreneurship in a digital world. “The Valley” has been and still is pretty succesful in creating and distributing its values worldwide.

A culture of learning from failure, hailing reckless hockey stick growth, and disruptive market offerings have turned business as usual upside down. Sometimes with good effects for society and business, sometimes with negative effects.

We, the Europeans- simply put: a traditionally critical and reflective bunch of people- have always had our issues with the fast-paced and technology-loving “Yankees”. This mindset leaves many US American technopreneurs, lobbyists and journalists puzzled- sometimes even provoked.

One of the most quoted Europe critics is the controversial hedge fund manager/venture capitalist Peter Thiel who rumbled in an interview with the Financial Times:


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Near Future Science Fiction.

Last year, 2014, there was one film - Her by Spike Jonze- and one book - The Circle by Dave Eggers- that I think should be perceived in context. Both pieces point to near future Science Fiction scenarios that are much different (because much closer to our life) than your classic Science Fiction movie or book. I found this proximity makes both Her and The Circle even more unsettling than regular Science Fiction classics such as maybe Terminator or Fahrenheit 451.

I remembered a lecture at Playful conference 2011 (labeled “The Future”) by author Al Robinson: Science fiction as the literature of play. Robertson writes:

“Science fiction talks about things that could happen. In science fiction, the dragon is a genetically engineered construct created from re-engineered dinosaur DNA to service a theme park of the future. Whose coffers you are probably trying to rob because of your exotic

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Uber über Alles.

The public debate around ride selling platform Uber has heated up in the last week. Last but not least, it have been the German authorities giving the heavily VC founded company a hard time.
While Uber tries to play the role of an innovator that only wants the best for people seeking future mobility alternatives, authorities have been called party poopers and protectors of the taxi guild.

We certainly need to distinguish between the usefulness of new transportation brokers per se and the usefulness of current legislation in Germany to protect customers.

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