Professor Dr. Rolf Pfeiffer of the University of Roetlingen, Germany is a contributor writer to The Business Thinker. He is the Director, Export-Akademie Baden-Württemberg and Vice President of the INTEGRATA Foundation.
This article was contributed to the Conference of the INTEGRATA Foundation on Humane Uses of Information Technology on 14th October 2010 in Karlsruhe, Germany
(this is a translation from the original German).
The quality of life and Information & Communications Technology (ICT) can be more usefully interlinked if researchers and experts in future think more about the possible opportunities and pay closer attention to the interconnections that already exist. This is demonstrated by the extracts from the Handelsblatt quoted here which have almost every day reported new moves in the quality of life in relation to ICT.
The more closely we look at the question of the quality of life and ICT, the more fascinating the subject becomes. Everyday experience shows many instances of the influence of ICT on the quality of life. Innovative people find the introduction of ICT into new areas of life very positive, even if it later proves to be socially unfavourable. This demonstrates how difficult it is to deal with the humane use of ICT every day in order to maintain our quality of life.
This does not mean daily opposition to ICT, just that it is necessary to keep an alert watch on developments and to make free and independent decisions about our own lives. Another example: I can write this manuscript by hand, and then have it typed with a good old-fashioned typewriter. But this would cause major problems for the editor and publisher. If I write the script on a PC with internet connection, this means extra typing work for me, but the text can then easily be sent and edited. But if I forget to make regular back-up copies and somewhere down the line the IT fails, then I have a problem. There are many experts these days who can solve these problems. But there are also enough people who see the overall situation as a deterioration in the quality of life.
What conclusions can we draw from all the examples we have examined?
- Each individual person has aims and values according to which they can judge the influence of ICT on their quality of life.
- Institutions (including companies) have aims and values according to which they can judge the influence of ICT applications on the wellbeing of their employees.
- Society and politicians strive towards a quality of life compatible with their aims and values and use ICT in an appropriate and humane manner.
Integrata’s aim must be to maintain awareness of these developments (e.g. in the context of HumaniThesia and the Heilmann Prize) and not to lose sight of the risks involved in ICT applications.
HumaniThesia will provide the basis on which these aims can be achieved.