Ethics do not replace successful products

Unfortunately, the Federal President also suggests that Germany’s digital challenge is primarily an ethical one. There is more of a problem elsewhere.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to research digitization.

TA technical lead means power, influence and success. This can currently be seen particularly clearly in the escalating conflict between the United States and China. The American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to convince more and more countries of his initiative for a “clean Internet” – and by “clean” means above all free of Chinese influence.

His president takes action against Far Eastern software and hardware, against services such as Tiktok or network components from Huawei. How heated the mood can be, Senator Ben Sasse recently admitted frankly: “Modern wars are fought with semiconductors.”

In this increasingly scary general weather situation, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is now starting an interdisciplinary research project that aims to reflect on the ethical foundations of digitization. On the one hand, it is very gratifying that he is practically placing the topic at the top of the state.

Steinmeier also addresses many important conflicts that have to be resolved again and again. The part of humanity that is now connected to the Internet will grow together to form a global network that primarily exchanges its own and collective ideas and experiences peacefully for the benefit of all – is the vision that pioneers from web inventor Tim Berners-Lee to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg presented, so more than a naive hope? Or, as Steinmeier asks, do we stay “Americans, Chinese, Europeans” online?

And of course the corona pandemic is accelerating digitization and the related questions are even more urgent than before, as the President aptly notes.

On the other hand, Steinmeier’s statements unfortunately also suggest that Germany’s digital challenge is primarily an ethical one. In fact, the problem in this country in this area is still mainly a commercial one: German (and European) companies develop too few applications based on artificial intelligence and big data that can compete with the top products of American and Asian providers, the tens of millions of people around the world Want to use the globe.

However, our future prosperity is essentially based on being superior in the market and not within the scope of data protection regulations. In the internet economy, too, the following applies: The ethical discourse, however enlightening it may be, does not replace successful products.