Gearing Up for the Cloud, AT&T Tells Its Workers: Adapt, or Else

DALLAS — Thirty-four years ago, Kevin Stephenson got his younger brother, Randall, a job with the telephone company.

Kevin, then 23, and Randall, 22, had tried selling cattle feed with their father near their home in Moore, Okla., but that didn’t pan out. Kevin was hired to do accounting at a local Southwestern Bell office. Randall, who was in college, needed a bit more help. “He had trouble getting hired,” Kevin said. “I talked to someone I knew in personnel.”

The brothers had different tastes. Kevin liked to be outside, and now, at 57 years old, he works in Norman, Okla., fixing the decades-old copper lines that still connect to landline telephones in most homes as well as to modern Internet conduits like high-speed fiber optics. Randall liked numbers and stayed indoors, rising through the management ranks.

Southwestern Bell became SBC Communications and took on the old AT&T name through an acquisition in 2005. By 2007, Randall was running the place.

Today, Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and chief executive, is trying to reinvent the company so it can compete more deftly. Not that long ago it had to fight for business with other phone companies and cellular carriers. Then the Internet and cloud computing came along, and AT&T found itself in a tussle with a whole bunch of companies.

AT&T’s competitors are not just Verizon and Sprint, but also tech giants like Amazon and Google. For the company to survive in this environment, Mr. Stephenson needs to retrain its 280,000 employees so they can improve their coding skills, or learn them, and make quick business decisions based on a fire hose of data coming into the company.

In an ambitious corporate education program that started about two years ago, he is offering to pay for classes (at least some of them) to help employees modernize their skills. But there’s a catch: They have to take these classes on their own time and sometimes pay for them with their own money.

To Mr. Stephenson, it should be an easy choice for most workers: Learn new skills or find your career choices are very limited.

“There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop,” he said in a recent interview at AT&T’s Dallas headquarters.

People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning, he added, “will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

Kevin? He admires his younger brother, but he is among the many AT&T lifers who are not that keen to participate in this reinvention of old Ma Bell. “I’m riding the copper train all the way down,” he said.

He talks about the changes with obvious affection for both his brother and his longtime employer. In interviews, many veteran AT&T employees around the country showed a surprising amount of emotion toward a company that has been broken up, rebuilt and reinvented several times.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is particularly eager to rebuild and reinvent themselves for a new AT&T. Even if it means, as Randall put it, obsolescence.

By 2020, Mr. Stephenson hopes AT&T will be well into its transformation into a computing company that manages all sorts of digital things: phones, satellite television and huge volumes of data, all sorted through software managed in the cloud.

That can’t happen unless at least some of his work force is retrained to deal with the technology. It’s not a young group: The average tenure at AT&T is 12 years, or 22 years if you don’t count the people working in call centers. And many employees don’t have experience writing open-source software or casually analyzing terabytes of customer data.

If you don’t develop the new skills, you won’t be fired — at least AT&T won’t say as much — but you won’t have much of a future. The company isn’t too worried about people leaving, since executives estimate that eventually AT&T could get by with one-third fewer workers.

Mr. Stephenson declined to project how many workers he might have by 2020, when the cloud-based system is supposed to be fully in place. One thing about cutting people in an aging work force, he noted, is that “demography is on our side.” Other senior executives say shrinking the work force by 30 percent is not out of the question.

Maybe so, but count Kevin among the skeptics of how fast AT&T’s transformation will happen.

“I’m proud of my brother,” he said, “but he’s not going to get rid of this stuff as fast as he thinks.”

Eyes on the Cloud

Long ago, a phone system created wire lines between callers, and operators moved plugs in their switchboards to connect people. Over time, that was automated to become something closer to a computer, with digital fibers and wireless towers. Much of the setup, however, still needed lots of people to tend hardware that had been built for particular tasks, like feeding one neighborhood’s calls into a nationwide backbone of wires, fiber and switches.

Mr. Stephenson has concentrated on things related to cloud computing, a technology setup that is more like the computer guts of Google or Amazon than the circuits and switches of a phone company. This cloud system will eventually touch ventures in landline phones, wireless, high-speed online services, cable TV and now satellite, thanks to the DirecTV purchase.

Analysts give him good marks but say he has a long way to go. “They want to be 75 percent done by 2020, and last year they did the first 5 percent,” said Akshay Sharma, an analyst with the research firm Gartner.

Google and Amazon are increasingly in businesses that look like what AT&T does, and they thrive on analyzing the data they gather about customers. Google, for example, is offering high-speed Internet access in some cities. Amazon is selling video entertainment, as well as hosting new kinds of phone systems in its cloud.

AT&T wants to build products and services as fast as this competition. Data from satellite TV could be analyzed for viewing habits and someday used, for example, to sell football fans a replay app for their AT&T mobile phones.

In 2012, Mr. Stephenson realized, much to his dismay, that his staff was woefully unschooled for the new technology. Vision 2020, as the company calls it, is a program that combines online and classroom-based course work in subjects like digital networking and data science, as well as a look at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

Everything at AT&T is changing, from the services customers are offered to the way they are charged for them. One service called Network on Demand, for example, allows customers to increase the size of their Internet pipes without calling a technician, something that used to take weeks. And Mr. Stephenson’s employees have to be able to deal with all that.

“If we can’t do it, mark my words, in three years we’ll be managing decline,” he said.

A possible answer showed up on a sweltering Dallas afternoon in 2012 when Sebastian Thrun arrived. Mr. Thrun, a Silicon Valley technologist and onetime Stanford professor, is known for his futuristic work on self-driving cars and Internet-based learning. He is also the founder of Udacity, an online education company.

Inside a glass-walled office where Mr. Stephenson meets presidential candidates and corporate titans, Mr. Thrun gave him a pitch on funding an online master’s degree in engineering that Udacity proposed to teach in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology. Within five minutes, the two men were cross-legged on the floor, Mr. Stephenson eager to try a physics course.

His first online learning began with an unexpected challenge: getting online. AT&T’s own Wi-Fi was too clunky, Mr. Thrun recalled. Eventually they used Mr. Thrun’s smartphone, which ran on the network of T-Mobile, a rival carrier.

The building’s Wi-Fi is now said to be better, and elsewhere in AT&T the first employees are getting their online Georgia Tech degrees.

Eboni Bell, 24, a product manager for smartphone software in AT&T’s Atlanta office, sees the Vision 2020 retraining as the chance of a lifetime. The company provided tuition assistance for much of her two-year Udacity/Georgia Tech master’s degree in computer science, which it says cost $6,600. Single and childless, she doesn’t mind the hours it takes.

“I leave the office at 7 p.m., work at home until midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays are committed to school,” she said.

Ms. Bell, who wants to work in software architecture and design, plans to keep taking courses. “I need to know what my competitors are doing,” she said. “I can’t see myself staying with one product too long — it makes me feel like I’m not growing.”

So far most of the people who have taken the new courses are managers, and seem interested in learning very technical skills. Among the most popular courses are web development, data analysis, introduction to programming and writing apps for the iPhone.

“It’s great for those who want to make the transition,” said Mr. Sharma of Gartner. “If you don’t want to change, it’s a good time to retire and enjoy life.”

AT&T’s workers receive weekly emails and video broadcasts about learning online. Vision 2020 includes an internal website where employees can enter their job titles, see what types of careers might be available in a software-driven company, and what courses they need to take to get them. Over time, their grades are logged, and depending on how they do on the schoolwork, different new courses are suggested. Eventually, performance reviews will include data on what people studied, how well they did and whether, like Ms. Bell, they are willing to keep learning.

Eventually, the plan is that desire for learning will be taken into account when promotions are considered.

Across the country in Orange, Calif., Patti Cunningham, a 61-year-old technician, is struggling. Ms. Cunningham, who has worked at AT&T for 43 years, has not signed up for any courses, and can barely recall receiving emails about the new plans. (An AT&T spokesman produced dozens of such messages, going back to early 2014.) Essentially, she does not see a place for herself.

“This new concept of training on your own time, everything changing all the time, if you want to keep working, do more things on your own time — I guess they have to do it,” she said, sitting in a run-down room at her union local. “But I don’t see a need to be involved.”

Christopher Shelton, national head of the Communications Workers of America, said the changes were inevitable, and he believed his people would go along with them.

“We realized a long time ago that you can’t fight technology change and win,” he said. “Our contracts spell out training programs and policies to make sure that members get training to update their skills as technology changes.” Still, he thinks the expectations about home study after a hard day’s work are too much.

AT&T will reimburse up to $8,000 a year in tuition; the amount was raised just last month. The company claims that a year into the program, over half of the work force, mostly managers, has started training, sometimes with dozens of short online courses.

“People are going to have to work hard, but it’s not insane,” said William Blase, who oversees personnel for all of AT&T. “There’s going to be an expectation that your compensation will be tied to continuing to learn. We’re at a crossroads as a business — and a country — where education has to keep up with technology.”

If there is one thing on which Ms. Bell and Ms. Cunningham agree, albeit with different sentiments, it is that the change is necessary. Eventually phone calls, texts, sensor data and TV shows, along with much else, will all run on fiber-optic networks and be managed largely with software.

Ms. Bell works with a lot of older colleagues. “One of my co-workers has been looking at the same database for 20 years,” she said. “It sounds harsh, but if she doesn’t adapt, there won’t be room for her.”

That message has not been lost on Jacobie Davis, an 18-year employee in Richardson, Tex., who works in tech support for older-style gear. At 39, he is the youngest person in his office, and is scrambling to study both new networks and data science. “I try to put in 15 hours a week,” he said. “By 2020, my technology will be gone.”

For Some, a Tough Sell

In some ways, cloud computing is not as radical a technology shift as all the puffy language suggests. Big banks of computers still run software, as they have been doing in many industries since the 1960s. They have more power, because their chips have more transistors that enable them to do more, and they connect to more things thanks to fiber-optic cable and wireless.

The big difference is something called virtualization, which amounts to software that allows many machines to operate like one piece of computer hardware. This made it possible to run software that in effect interacted with other software instead of hardware. This, in turn, means the possibility of changing functions around rapidly by typing a few lines of code.

The new systems also collect more data, quickly analyze information about what people and things are doing, and react. That is how online ads are personalized for you, and increasingly how maps reflect current traffic conditions, or streetlights adjust to suit parking congestion.

Now what once took a year of analysis and deployment can instead happen in days, even minutes.

These concepts can be tough in some reaches of AT&T, where lives and work have not changed all that much.

In Dayton, Ohio, Kirk Warrenburg came out of a job in a bowling alley and started wiring cards for telegraph systems 40 years ago. Now he works on AT&T’s signaling network, which makes sure billions of calls get through.

He has taken 16 courses — Udacity courses and in-house “nano courses,” each about two weeks long — in the last year. He doesn’t see himself changing jobs, however, because the old machines still need someone to care for them. Younger workers, he thinks, won’t want to be in his dead end.

“Writing a telegraph circuit was like writing a recipe for a field technician,” he said. “A lot of legacy systems are still around here. I’ll be long gone before they will.”

Some other older employees besides Kevin Stephenson think the 2020 target will come and go, but basics won’t change.

The 2020 effort “is just a start,” said Kenny Williams, 64, a testing technician and the head of Ms. Cunningham’s union local in Southern California. “I’ve inoculated my people against worrying. They need a fiber network for this that doesn’t exist out here yet. Seventy percent of my folks are safe; the other 30 have to be found jobs, or they’ll take the golden handshake” and retire.

As he sees it, much of the urgency comes from the threat of Google. In 2015 Google Fiber, Google’s high-speed Internet service, caused AT&T to do something uncommon in its history: lower its prices because of competition. “In 40 years here I hadn’t seen that,” Mr. Williams said. “Their people aren’t in unions — we’re a lot more on AT&T’s side than theirs.”

AT&T recently began rolling out fiber in about 50 cities in the United States, in what it hopes is a bigger move than Google can make. Still, putting a cloud system all the way across a diverse, continentwide network will take years, which is why Mr. Williams feels safe.

Face to Face With Google

What happens next at AT&T — and how fast that will happen — is a matter of disagreement in the Stephenson family.

“I go out to houses away from the cities, and there’s not a lot of fiber there,” Kevin said. Fiber would open the way for all that new technology. He takes comfort in looking at patches linemen did on fiber systems decades ago — from both the jury-rigged craftsmanship and the way they have endured.

But Randall said his brother was not necessarily like the rest of the work force because there will always be hard, outdoor tasks for people like him. “There will be people turning screws and digging trenches. I’ll be long gone before that is over. But other guys I know in Oklahoma will do a skills pivot” with additional training, he said.

Besides, it’s not just about his brother. It’s about most of the economy.

“Everybody is going to go face to face with a Google, an Amazon, a Netflix,” he said. “You compete based on data, and based on customer insights you get with their permission. If we’re wrong, it won’t play well for anyone here.”

Source: Quentin Hardy

Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books

Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama.

Last Friday, seven days before his departure from the White House, Mr. Obama sat down in the Oval Office and talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life — from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when “these worlds that were portable” provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.

During his eight years in the White House — in a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship and knee-jerk reactions — books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.

“At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” he said, reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes.” These two things, he added, “have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”

The writings of Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, Mr. Obama found, were “particularly helpful” when “what you wanted was a sense of solidarity,” adding “during very difficult moments, this job can be very isolating.” “So sometimes you have to sort of hop across history to find folks who have been similarly feeling isolated, and that’s been useful.” There is a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address in the Lincoln Bedroom, and sometimes, in the evening, Mr. Obama says, he would wander over from his home office to read it.

Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama taught himself how to write, and for him, too, words became a way to define himself, and to communicate his ideas and ideals to the world. In fact, there is a clear, shining line connecting Lincoln and King, and President Obama. In speeches like the ones delivered in Charleston and Selma, he has followed in their footsteps, putting his mastery of language in the service of a sweeping historical vision, which, like theirs, situates our current struggles with race and injustice in a historical continuum that traces how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. It’s a vision of America as an unfinished project — a continuing, more-than-two-century journey to make the promises of the Declaration of Independence real for everyone — rooted both in Scripture and the possibility of redemption, and a more existential belief that we can continually remake ourselves. And it’s a vision shared by the civil rights movement, which overcame obstacle after obstacle, and persevered in the face of daunting odds.

Source: Michiko Kakutani

 

Warum Sie mit kleinen Lernhäppchen besser lernen. Micro Learning

Druckbetankung beim Lernen ist nicht optimal, da im nachhinein das Gelernte schnell wieder vergessen wird. Kleinere Portionen von Informationen sind sinnvoller, besser für das Gehirn und bleiben auch im Gedächtnis.

Warum Sie mit kleinen Lernhäppchen besser lernen

Kennen Sie diese Situation: Es sind nur noch wenige Tage bis zu einer wichtigen Prüfungen und Sie sitzen stundenlang nachts in Ihrem Zimmer, mit Kaffee zum Wachbleiben, und prügeln sich das Wissen ein? Und nach der Prüfung haben Sie sofort wieder alles vergessen?
Wenn Sie richtig Lernen lernen wollen, dann sollten Sie Ihr Wissen in kleinen Portionen aufnehmen, denn das lohnt sich. Warum?

Beim Lernen macht’s nicht die Masse

Beim Lernen werden zwei Arten unterschieden: Das massierte Lernen und das verteilte Lernen. Beim massierten Lernen nehmen Sie den kompletten Lernstoff auf einmal in einer langen und intensiven Lerneinheit auf. Beim verteilten Lernen wird dagegen in vielen kurzen Phasen gelernt, die über einen längeren Zeitraum verteilt stattfinden. Je nach Umfang des Stoffs können das Tage oder Wochen sein.

Kleine Portionen sind auch für’s Gehirn verdaulicher

Natürlich ist massiertes Lernen immer noch besser, als gar nicht zu lernen. Die Wissenschaftler sind sich jedoch alle einig: Verteiltes Lernen ist um einiges effektiver. Die kleinen, regelmässigen Lernhäppchen sorgen nämlich dafür, dass Sie den Lernstoff längerfristig und genauer behalten, als beim massierten Lernen auf einmal.

Warum macht verteiltes Lernen den Lernstoff verdaulich?

Immer dann, wenn es darum geht, gelerntes Wissen langfristig zu behalten und parat zu haben, dann ist verteiltes Lernen vorteilhafter im Gegensatz zum massierten Lernen:

  1. Mehr Motivation: Wenn Ihnen bewusst ist, dass Sie sich nur für kurze Zeit mit dem Lernen beschäftigen müssen, anstatt die nächste Woche über Büchern zu brüten, sind Sie automatisch motivierter.
  2. Mehr Selbstvertrauen: Sie werden feststellen, dass Sie beim verteilten Lernen die Informationen durch automatisches, mehrmaliges Wiederholen immer besser parat haben und das fördert natürlich Ihr Selbstvertrauen.
  3. Mehr merken: Durch das mehrmalige Wiederholen wird der Lernstoff natürlich immer besser im Gehirn verankert und Sie können ihn sich besser merken, auch längerfristig.

Das “Richtig wichtig”-Signal als Bonuspunkt

Es gibt noch einen weiteren Vorteil von verteiltem Lernen, den Sie bei einem 2-tägigen Lernmarathon nicht haben: Durch das regelmässige Beschäftigen mit dem Stoff signalisieren Sie Ihrem Gehirn, dass diese Informationen sehr wichtig sind. Dies wiederum hat zur Folge, dass Ihr Kopf das Gelernte unbewusst weiter verarbeitet und noch nachhaltiger speichert. Es gehört also ebenso dazu, dass Sie wissen, dass der Lernstoff wichtig für Sie ist und Ihrem Gehirn signalisieren: Das ist behaltenswert.

SAP Learning Hub für den gezielten Aufbau von SAP Know How über Micro Learning Einheiten

Für das Enablement von SAP Know How stellt die SAP eLearning Plattform «SAP Learning Hub» sicherlich die idealste Form des SAP Know How Aufbaus in Form von Micro Learning Einheiten dar.

Detaillierte Informationen zu SAP Learning Hub

SAP Learning Hub Intro Video

SAP Learning Journeys

Eine SAP Learning Journey (Lernreise) ist ein interaktiver Leitfaden für den empfohlenen Weg, den ein Lernender verfolgen kann damit er über dedizierte SAP-Innovationen Kompetenz aufbauen kann.

SAP Learning Journeys integrieren alle relevanten Lernangebote oder Alternativen aus vielen Quellen, darunter openSAP, Klassenzimmer und alle digitalen Angebote über die eLearning Plattform SAP Learning Hub.

Die Lernreise ist nicht zwingend strikte einzuhalten, sondern bietet eine Sicht auf Lernmöglichkeiten. Basierend auf den Zielen und Vorkenntnissen können Benutzer auswählen, welche Angebote für den Benutzer am idealasten sind.

Über folgende Link können Sie sich ein Bild der zur Verfügung stehenden Learning Journeys Machen.

Die SAP Learning Journeys stellen auch einen integrierten Bestandteil des SAP Learning Hub’s dar.

Das Dreyfus-Modell nach Stuart und Hubert Dreyfus. 1967 war er der erste Mensch, welcher gegen ein Schachprogramm verlor.

Das Dreyfus-Modell beschreibt das Erlernen von Wissen und Fähigkeiten. Die Brüdern Stuart und Hubert Dreyfus veröffentlichten es im Jahr 1980 am Forschungszentrum der US Air Force an der Berkeley University in Kalifornien. Es ist ein Standardmodell der Lernforschung und vielseitig anwendbar.

Sie unterteilten den Lernprozess in fünf verschiedene Kompetenzstufen, nämlich:

Jedem der Lernstadien ordneten sie bestimmte charakteristische Verhaltensweisen und Kompetenzen zu, und zwar wie folgt:

Anfänger

Der Anfänger hält sich strikt an die ihm vorgegebenen Regeln, ohne genaue Berücksichtigung der jeweiligen Situation. Er versucht, seine Aufgaben nach dem Lehrbuch zu erfüllen. Er kann die Bedeutung und den Fortschritt seiner Arbeit nicht genau einschätzen. Details können keine Prioritäten zugeordnet werden. Seine Entscheidungen tätigt er nach gründlicher und analytischer Reflektion.

Fortgeschrittener

Als Fortgeschrittener verfügt man über ein gewisses, aber unvollständiges Verständnis seiner Tätigkeit. Er kann bereits einzelne Arbeitsschritte voneinander unterscheiden und einigermassen einordnen und widmet ihnen allen gleichermassen viel Aufmerksamkeit.

Fachkraft

Das Stadium der Fachkraft kennzeichnet sich unter anderem dadurch, dass der Lernende einen genauen logischen Zusammenhang zwischen den einzelnen Arbeitsschritten und dem Ziel seiner Tätigkeit herstellen kann. Er besitzt Übersicht über die Situation und plant sein weiteres Vorgehen im Vorhinein. Er erkennt häufige Arbeitsschritte mühelos wieder und entwickelt so Routine. Durch wachsende Erfahrung ist er in der Lage, flexibel auf Aufgaben einzugehen. Er kommt auch mit vielen Aufgaben und Informationen gleichzeitig zurecht.

Erfahrener

Der Erfahrene kann die Situation gut einschätzen und reagiert, indem er unter den einzelnen Arbeitsschritten Prioritäten setzt. Er ist in der Lage, allgemeine Leitfäden heranzuziehen und an die momentane Aufgabe anzupassen. Auch erkennt er Abweichungen vom normalen Schema und kann diese bewusst herbeiführen, wenn es erforderlich ist. Flexibles und schnelles Arbeiten sind kennzeichnend für diese Phase. Der Lernende hat bereits ein intuitives Verständnis für seine Tätigkeit und kann Entscheidungen schnell und sicher treffen.

Experte

Der Experte verfügt über ein profundes Verständnis der Situation und einen reichen Erfahrungsschatz. Er verlässt sich nicht mehr allein auf Leitbilder, sondern findet intuitiv die bestmögliche Lösung. Er kann auch besondere oder seltene Situationen schnell erfassen und meistern. Ausserdem wählt er einen analytischen Ansatz, wenn er mit einer neuen Problemstellung konfrontiert wird.

Das Dreyfus Modell ist nützlich, wenn es darum geht, den Fortschritt eines Lehrlings zu beurteilen. Man kann die Person anhand der oben genannten Charakteristika in das jeweilige Stadium einordnen. Dadurch lässt sich auch genauer ermitteln, was momentan die perfekte weiterführende Förderung für den Lehrling darstellt. Das kann beim Fortgeschrittenen ein eigenständiges Formulieren und Beurteilen des Fortschrittes sein, bei einem Experten beispielsweise ein Austausch mit anderen Experten.

Darüber hinaus kann man präzise definieren, welches Niveau man anstrebt bzw. bei einem Bewerber voraussetzt. Es hilft auch dabei, einzuschätzen, wann ein Lehrling soweit ist, anderen etwas beizubringen, die noch nicht so weit sind wie er.

Hubert Dreyfus

Hubert Dreyfus wurde am 15. Oktober 1929 geboren und ist ein amerikanischer Philosoph. Des Weiteren ist er Professor für Philosophie an der Universität Kalifornien. Sein Fachbereich bezieht sich auf Existenzialismus, Phänomenologie, Philosophie von Psychologie und Literatur, sowie die philosophischen Auswirkungen von künstlicher Intelligenz.

Bekannt wurde er durch seine Kritik an Künstlicher Intelligenz. Im Jahre 1964 veröffentlichte er sein Buch “Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence”, welches die beiden führenden Wissenschaftler (Allen Newell, Herbert Simon) im Bereich der Künstlichen Intelligenz anprangerte. Er stellte nicht nur deren Ergebnisse in Frage, sondern auch deren ganze Theorie. Seine Ansicht war es, dass das Forschungsprogramm der Künstlichen Intelligenz (KI) von vornherein zum Scheitern verurteilt sei.

1967 war er jedoch der erste Mensch, welcher gegen ein Schachprogramm verlor.

Bestseller: Zero – Sie wissen, was du tust. Big Data at it’s finest!

Als dieses Buch 2014 auf den Markt gebracht wurde, klang vermutlich einiges etwas utopisch. Die Welt dreht sich und sie dreht sich immer schneller. Fiktion ist schon lange Realität.  Sehr spannende Lektüre.

Zero – Sie wissen, was du tust (Eigenschreibweise ZERO) ist ein Kriminalroman von Marc Elsberg, dessen erste Auflage 2014 auf Deutsch im Blanvalet Verlag erschien. Im Zentrum der Handlung steht die Journalistin Cynthia Bonsant, die sich mit dem zunehmenden Interesse staatlicher und privater Einrichtungen an Informationen über Personen und deren Interessen beschäftigt. Der Roman spielt in der nahen Zukunft und wurde zum Bestseller. Am 9. Juni 2014 erreichte er Platz 3 der „Spiegel“-Bestseller-Liste in der Rubrik „Hardcover / Belletristik“.

Zero beginnt mit einer Beschreibung des Presidentsday, bei dem der US-amerikanische Präsident von mehreren Drohnen im Urlaub aufgesucht, verfolgt sowie gefilmt und über das Internet live lächerlich gemacht wird. Verantwortlich dafür ist eine Organisation namens Zero, die aus Netzaktivisten besteht und sich für Datenschutz und informationelle Selbstbestimmung einsetzt.

Staatliche und private Stellen, darunter auch das FBI, versuchen Zero als Terroristen zu brandmarken und verfolgen dessen Anhänger dementsprechend. Parallel dazu tritt die Journalistin Cynthia Bonsant von der Zeitung Daily in das Geschehen ein, da durch die Tochterfirma von Freemee, deren Name Sheeld ist, dem Daily 4 Millionen Euro geboten werden, macht sich auf die Jagd nach ZERO.

Von ihrem Arbeitgeber erhält sie eine Datenbrille nach dem Vorbild von Google Glass, die sie ihrer Tochter Viola leiht. Diese wird anschließend in eine Schießerei verwickelt, im Rahmen derer Adam Denham zu Tode kommt. Cynthia Bonsant beginnt daraufhin, die Hintergründe des Ereignisses aufzuklären und stößt auf die Internetplattform Freemee. Diese sammelt alle möglichen Informationen über ihre Mitglieder auf elektronischem Wege und gibt anschließend Tipps aus sogenannten „ActApps“, mit deren Hilfe sie erfolgreicher in Karriere, Fitness und anderen Bereichen sein können. Zero warnt ausdrücklich vor Freemee, da dadurch nicht nur die Privatsphäre der Nutzer vollständig aufgehoben werde, sondern Menschen auch gezielt manipuliert werden könnten.

Bei ihren Recherchen gerät Cynthia Bonsant in Konflikt sowohl mit Mitarbeitern von Freemee als auch den amerikanischen Geheimdiensten, die ein Interesse an der Überwachung der Öffentlichkeit haben.