Understanding insecurity as freedom?

Understanding uncertainty as freedom?

Symbol image: Brent Moore. License: CC BY 2.0

At "Uncertainty Avoidance Index" (UAI) Japanese and Germans are more similar than Japanese and Chinese

Calls for more police are currently winning elections in Germany, although no one is revealing where the promised police forces will come from. Germany may want to take a cue from its southwestern neighbor France, which has reduced the training period for new police officers to six months, or it may want to increase the use of police trainers in active service.

Germans are generally considered to be fearful and the term German Angst (German Fear) is an internationally accepted term. If necessary, people take out insurance that does not necessarily pay out in the event of damage, but that does not in any way diminish the feeling of security until the damage occurs.

A central point in the desire for more security is the question of how high the aversion to unforeseen situations is? The Dutchman Geert Hofstede has used the term "German Angst" to assess uncertainty avoidance "Uncertainty Avoidance Index" (UAI) developed. Countries with a high UAI want to avoid uncertainties as much as possible and are characterized by a high number of established laws, guidelines and safety measures. The citizens of these countries are considered to be more emotional and often more nervous.

The population of countries that accept uncertainty is usually considered tolerant. They have few rules, and if in doubt, they can be changed on the fly. Feelings are rare and not expected. For Germany, the UAI is given as 65, for China as 30. The fact that this is not a geographical assignment, but a cultural cause, can be seen very clearly if you place the UAI for Japan next to it, which is given as 92.

Fixed rules down to the sweeping week

In daily life, too, everything should be as predictable as possible. This also applies to the weather outlook, which is called a weather report in German, although it refers to the future. There are numerous weather apps for this purpose, and for buses and trains there are apps that track the vehicles and predict possible delays. Meanwhile, Berlin-based startup AVA has an application that uses publicly available information such as statistics and social media to assess risks related to crime, terrorism, fire, industrial hazards, health, and natural hazards using artificial intelligence.

For example, they want to warn drivers when they want to park in places with an increased risk of vandalism. After applying for a patent for the security app, the system is now being marketed to insurance companies, police authorities and operators of critical infrastructures. The insecurity felt (rightly or wrongly) by many citizens has been allowed to drive the commercial success of the application, which plans to begin regular operations this year.

Can uncertainty also be positive?

In other regions of the world, insecurity is a common element of daily life. Instead of extensive laws and regulations, people in Southeast Asian countries, for example, are trying to get along with the spirits, which are usually traced back to their ancestors. For this reason, after the new deep well was drilled and the pump was installed, friends provided a good dinner for the pump spirit, which was completely eaten the next morning and still ensures the function of the pump today. In Germany, they had probably signed a maintenance contract.

"Center for urban insecurity"

As a result of the 2017 Darmstadt Schader Foundation Summer Camp, a Center for Urban Insecurity (ZuU) was founded. The group is concerned with the fact that security is usually only perceived as a risk or danger in connection with its absence.

At the same time, according to the artists, insecurity also brings opportunities. Here is an example from the author: As part of the 22. Karlsruhe Talks on Smart Cities, one of the speakers told of a colleague who was waiting at a bus stop for his late bus when it started to rain. Since the young woman standing in front of him in the queue didn’t have an umbrella with her, he offered her his. In the meantime the two are married.

Uncertainty allows the ZuU to be a part of "Discovering new things, seeing the seemingly familiar in a different way, and questioning unreflective routines through rekindled curiosity." The intention is therefore to move deliberately into a gray area and, even with a twinkle in the eye, to encourage people to think about the pair of terms "Security-uncertainty" to which Joachim Ringelnatz is quoted with the sentence: "It is certain that nothing is certain. Even that."

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