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Category: Politik

The great Diesel Massacre in Germany

It’s going to be a Post-Diesel Society in Germany, quickly: Drive reports on the sales ban for the Porsche Cayenne. Porsche is kind of the fall guy here – not many of these cars are being sold, but the engine is actually an Audi one. Drive (and many others) report:

Germany’s federal motor transport authority, the KBA (Kraftfahrtbundesamt), has placed a registration ban on the Porsche Cayenne Diesel due to the discovery of what it describes as suspect emission manipulation software.

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New Technology vs Planned Obsolescence

based on an old Google plus article from 2015:

What you observe as Planned Obsolescence is often the natural outcome of fast product cycles that are necessary for any new technology.

When a new thing arrives in the market, it is often barely viable, a minimum viable product. We are remembering the iPhone 1 as revolutionary, but we chose to forget about is slowness, its clunkyness and the very limited feature set it had. And those of us having purchased a car with built-in satnav now have to deal with a car radio where you have to choose between listening to a CD or putting in the outdated CD-ROM with navigation data – and then wait for a minute until you get the route.

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Runaway Feedback Loops in Predictive Policing

Die University of Utah and Prof. Dr. C. Obvious wrote a paper (PDF):

Once police are deployed based on these predictions, arrest data from the neighborhood is then used to further update the model. Since arrests only occur in neighborhoods that police have been sent to by the predictive policing algorithm itself, there is the potential for this sampling bias to be compounded, causing a runaway feedback loop. Indeed, Lum and Isaac have recently shown that this can happen.

To be fair, the paper is about how to remove this kind of bias from precrime systems. On the other hand, predictive systems using past data to predict future actions are obvious sources for feedback messing with the prediction. One would expect this to be taken into account from the start.

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Campaign Time and Summer in Germany

Merkel’s CDU has a programme, and it contains the impossible promise of “full employment”. CDU’s Peter Tauber comments “full employment is better than social justice”.

Of course nobody promised full employment at proper salary, so one commenter asked “So that’s now 3 Minijobs for me?”

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Tauber pulls a Marie-Antoinette: “Had you learned something proper, you would not need three Minijobs.”

Twitter understood, and escalated quickly.

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Ad revenue, and the German technophobia

Germany is not actually technophobic. As a country, we are looking back to a long tradition of embracing technology and innovation. A lot of the German technophobia you are seeing today has been created by German newspapers, notably the Springerpresse.

And they have their reasons. Reported by the Financial Times:

[Google and Facebook] hold on online spending has created a digital duopoly that is upending the advertising business. In 2015 they accounted for 75 per cent of all new online ad spending, according to Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the US venture capital fund. Several analysts estimate that excluding Google and Facebook, the digital ad industry actually shrank in the first half of 2016.

The root cause for German Internet policy stances, current law and the general hysteria versus all things Google, Facebook/WhatsApp, Apple, Ebay and Microsoft in the end come down to that single observation above. From that root comes the defensive position of German Springerpresse, and from their influence on German politics comes the current policy.

Understanding that is the key to successful influence on German politics.

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