Ambient information systems - do they open a new quality of IS?
Information Systems (IS) have influenced and changed our lives in the past 50 years more than anything else - be it in the professional, be it in the private sector. Three main qualities have leveraged IS to this extraordinary position: persistence (supporting and extending human memories), individual availability and distribution - now world-wide through the internet and innumerable webbased applications and services. At the beginning 21st century, new technical prospects are opening new dimensions for IS: Due to the progressive miniaturisation of hardware components, next IS generations are mobile and pervasive, do no longer reside in computer mainframes and workstations but are clusters of âintelligenceâ which can be implanted almost everywhere and have thus been termed ambient or ubiquitous. In this article, we will briefly review the concept and history of IS and try to define what Ambient Information Systems (AIS) might be and which role they might play in a future Information Society. In particular, we shall deal with the phenomena of information and ambience, investigate their semiotic dimensions - and raise the question whether and how far human qualities like intelligence, intention, etc. can be attributed to impersonal, highly heterogeneous and maybe abstract systems. If we are going to embed ourselves in ambient systems, if we grant these to deal with information (instead of data) and to act intelligently, this might profoundly influence our image of man - in particular as qualities like autonomy, privacy or self-esteem are concerned.
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