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The German Digital Council – Inviting Innovation and Insights for Future Digitization

The digitalization of society is occurring at light speed, and with it comes an array of challenges. For many countries, defining what their digital future will look like is a critical activity to safeguard future status. Germany, appreciating the urgency in addressing these concerns, is among several nations being proactive in this regard. And as a reflection of this attitude of German innovation, it has formed the German Digital Council.

Established by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German Digital Council is striving to define the nation’s digital future. The international committee of experts has been tasked with “fast-tracking” German innovation in all areas of digitalization. Despite lagging behind in many areas, the council’s efforts will be a game-changer. The question thus arises whether all nations should embrace similar strategies to secure their own digital future.

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German innovation is happening, slowly, but it sure is getting there.

Realizing a Digital Future – A Formidable Challenge

When it comes to making a competitive digital future a reality, Germany faces many current challenges. For one, its current Internet infrastructure is mediocre at best. Likewise, educational technologies lag behind other areas of German innovation. Teachers similarly lack digital skills, which further hinders advancement. And data security concepts remain primitive and immature with a continued focus on privacy only.

While these pose problems for German innovation toward a strong digital future, the most significant issues relate to e-commerce. Specifically, efforts to advance business and administrative infrastructures are needed while dialing back bureaucratic obstacles. This limits startups as well as other German innovation pursuits. Among all the tasks assigned to the German Digital Council, this may have the greatest significance.

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Andreas Weigend believes in leveling the playing field of information.

Embracing a New Perspective of Data in Germany’s Digital Future

When it comes to Germany’s perspective on digital data, an overly cautious fear of privacy protections exists. While privacy rights are important, excessive protections can actually hinder German innovation and advances. Using shared data for the betterment of individuals and society reflects the digital future that the German Digital Council envisions. Thus, not only do their tasks involve enhancing current infrastructures and regulatory environments. It also involves establishing new guidelines that walk the tightrope between data sharing and user rights.

Indeed, there is no lack of think tanks and deep reflections when it involves digital concepts of German innovation. However, the areas where Germany has been lacking involve actual decision-making and implementation of new strategies and solutions. Because of this, Chancellor Angela Merkel has directed the German Digital Council to stimulate action and ask “uncomfortable questions”. If the envisioned digital future is to be a reality, actions must follow suggestions and recommendations.

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Beth Simone Noveck speaks about the the advancement of Germany’s AI strategy.

Forging New Territories in the Digital Age

Some of the most pressing areas of concern regarding a digital future involve ethical and social issues. This is particularly true when it comes to artificial intelligence and boundaries between man and machine. While some critics have suggested that the German Digital Council lacks such perspectives, members of the council disagree. In fact, the diverse nature of the panel invites such conversations routinely. And at the same time, views from other experts outside the council are regularly solicited to aid in these areas.

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The digital future of Germany is currently facing challenges, but efforts are underway to improve it.

German innovation demands to address these issues in order to ensure that safeguards exist as the digital future unfolds. As noted, these same issues are facing all developed nations as digital technologies advance. Where to draw the lines between regulatory oversight, individual protections, and e-commerce advancements requires deep reflection. It therefore seems essential that all nations pursue similar digital councils in order to remain competitive. In this regard, the German Digital Council reflects a German innovation approach to its digital future. Perhaps other nations might consider doing the same.


For more on Andreas Weigend, check out this week’s Bold Leader Spotlight.

Bold Leader Spotlight: Andreas Weigend, Former Chief Scientist at Amazon

Everyone has a good idea about the impact of social media in today’s world, but what about social data? For Andreas Weigend, former Chief Scientist at Amazon and international consultant, lecturer and educator, the bigger deal is social data. As an expert in predictive analytics and neural networks, Weigend sees social data as a truly transformative tool. In essence, social data sharing has much more potential than it does risks from his perspective.

cartoon caricature of Andreas Weigend, who believes in social data power, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
Andreas Weigend says there are a lot of positive things that come with social data. Can social data potentially revolutionize many industries in the future?

As a bold leader, Weigend is striving to educate individuals, businesses, and society in regards to social data concepts. He pursues this mission through major academic institutions, as a best-selling author, and as a consultant for top international firms. In an age where privacy is rapidly evaporating, he believes data should be used to empower everyone. And for Weigend, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness in this regard to realize this goal.

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You either go against social data or make it work for you.

Andreas Weigend’s Extensive Expertise – A Proficient Resume of Achievements

Born in Germany in 1961, Weigend began his early years studying philosophy and physics. He continued these studies in Karlsruhe, Cambridge, and Bonn before ultimately receiving his PhD from Stanford in neural networks. Since that time, he has published more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed articles. Likewise, he has authored or co-authored a total of six books. And he routinely teaches at numerous institutions including Stanford, UC Berkeley, NYU, University of Washington, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. By all accounts, the world recognizes him for his expertise in social data analytics.

Weigend’s knowledge of social data and its effects has been utilized outside the world of academia, of course. Until 2004, he served as the Chief Scientist for Amazon involved in predictive models of consumer behaviors and customer networking. He has also served as Chief Strategist of Strands Labs, Inc. In 2018, he was appointed to Germany’s Digital Council to address digital literacy issues. And Weigend has served as a consultant to some of the world’s largest firms. Alibaba, SAP, Reuters, and Goldman Sachs are just a few that deserve mention. By any measure, Weigend has attained tremendous knowledge and expertise when it comes to data management.

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Understanding social data better takes away our fear of perceived risks.

Social Data – Defining a Concept and Its Future

In defining the concept of social data, Weigend first explains it from the perspective of social media. Social media broadcast information in one direction. Individuals who expect to benefit from socialization create and share raw information through social data. On an individual basis, an example would be turning on geolocation services and gaining the benefits of identifying commuter traffic. In doing so, social data is created and shared, which helps both the individual and others nearby.

The future of social data is a powerful one, according to Weigend. Companies that appreciate its impact in helping individuals and society will be the ones to truly thrive. This is why Weigend believes sharing social data is the means to a better world for everyone. But data analytics must be used in a way that it empowers rather than controls. Social data should therefore not be viewed in a transactional way where a person shares information in an exchange. Rather, social data should be seen as relational in nature enhancing all interactions throughout society. This is what Weigend foresees as the future of social data.

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Social data usage should be transparent.

Social Data and Rights of Empowerment

Understanding that social data should be relational in nature between individuals and companies, individual empowerment should be encouraged. According to Weigend, this means that social data usage should be both transparent and encourage individual agency. The best use of social data creates interactive platforms where firms and consumers both win. Through the sharing of social data, better decision-making can result for everyone, but it demands openness and shared goals.

With this in mind, Weigend notes several rights that should be protected for those whose social data is collected. These include the right to access and review of personal data and the right to amend or blur parts of it. It also should include the right to experiment in ways to change it and to transport it. If these measures are in place, then social data has the capacity to greatly empower everyone while enhancing society-at-large.

A Visionary Bold Leader

Social data and all types of information have the potential to wield good and bad effects. Weigend appreciates this after learning the profound impact false information had on his own father’s life. After being falsely accused of being an American spy in East Germany, his father spent six years in a Soviet prison. But despite these risks, Weigend foresees social data as a means for positive change.

In his vision of the future, Weigend anticipates social data will be leveraged in many innovative ways. From insurance coverage to financial credit loans, social data could revolutionize many industries. Similarly, its impacts on employment circles are already taking place. But Weigend’s bold leadership as a visionary doesn’t stop there. His mission hopes to promote the type of future where social data creates a better place for all to live. And the more lives that Andreas Weigend touches, the more likely this scenario will be.

Andreas Weigend Believes in the Potential Power of Social Data Cartoon

cartoon caricature of Andreas Weigend, who believes in social data power, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
Andreas Weigend says there are a lot of positive things that come with social data. Can social data potentially revolutionize many industries in the future?