Karl Steinbuch

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Karl Steinbuch as a guest speaker at the CSU party congress in 1975

Karl W. Steinbuch (born June 15, 1917 in Stuttgart-Cannstatt ; † June 4, 2005 in Ettlingen ) was a German cyberneticist , communications engineer , information theorist and author of the New Right .

Steinbuch is regarded as the "theoretician of the informed or incorrectly programmed society", as a namesake and as one of the pioneers of German computer science , with his learning matrix as a pioneer of machine learning and artificial neural networks , as well as a co-founder of artificial intelligence and cybernetics . The terms "computer science" and " cybernetic anthropology " are his coining.

From the end of the 1960s, his political activity began to gain in importance compared to his scientific.

Scientific activity

Karl Steinbuch received his doctorate in physics from the Technical University of Stuttgart in 1944. After the Second World War, he initially worked as a freelance physicist , but then joined the Stuttgart-based Mix & Genest as a development engineer in 1948 and after about three years switched to Standard Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (SEG), which also belonged to the US ITT . In the period up to 1956 he mainly dealt with message transmission and modulation methods. At SEG and Standard Elektrik Lorenz (SEL), which emerged from it after the merger with C. Lorenz in 1958 , he led the development of the "ER 56", the first fully transistorized computer system in Europe. He was technical director and head of central research at SEL before he was appointed full professor and institute director at the Technical University of Karlsruhe (since 2009 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ), where he was director of the institute for communications processing and transmission until his retirement in 1980 . His work in the field of adaptive machines is considered a pioneering achievement. He was granted 56 German patents , including inventions for messaging, automatic character recognition, sorting of letters, speech recognition and learning machines.

He was a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Halle / Saale) and the European Academy for Environmental Issues .

In the 1960s and 1970s Steinbuch was active as a futurologist . In 1966 his book The Informed Society was published , which already showed the direction of his future topics. For example, in 1969 he was the scientific conference leader at a multi-day congress of the Society for Future Issues (GfZ), which took place in Munich. His bestsellers Falsch Programmiert from 1968 and Program 2000 from 1969 also dealt with questions of the future.

Political activity

At the end of the 1960s, Steinbuch began to be increasingly politically active. In terms of content, he initially mainly dealt with research and educational policy issues. In 1968 he criticized that "literary culture" would dominate educational policy instead of natural sciences . In an indictment to the “Hinterwelt” address, which he borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche , he tried to influence the educational policy of federal politics. With colleagues like Jean Ziegler from Switzerland, he formulated the expected educational emergency and the emerging bourgeois lobbying society.

Steinbuch was initially committed to the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD): In 1969, for example, he appeared as a speaker at an SPD state party conference in Bavaria and criticized the ruling Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) with the statement: “They have decades of conservative politics Solution of important social issues prevented. ”In 1971 he worked as an adviser for the research policy working group of the Education Policy Committee of the SPD party executive.

In the discussion of the consequences of technical progress in the 1970s, he turned in his non-fiction books against the emerging ecological orientation and against public television because of its allegedly dangerous information policy . A private cable television should counteract this. He called for a “technical court” to be set up, whose task it should be to issue research and application bans and whose judges should be staffed with experts.

Steinbuch soon distanced himself from the SPD. Between 1969 and 1972 he conducted a public, critical correspondence with Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt . In 1972 he moved to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). In the same year he became active in the conservative Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft . In 1973 he published course correction , another bestseller in which he attacked the political left. Heinrich Böll in particular was the target of Steinbuch's criticism. In 1974 he was a co-founder of the Free German Association of Authors .

In 1975 Steinbuch wrote in Yes to Reality against the SPD government : "[There] never before has such an unrestrained dismantling of Christian ethics, humanism and classical philosophy occurred in our country as under the responsibility of the SPD". He further criticized the political left with the words: “In my opinion - hardly during the Nazi era - a cultural nation with a great tradition has never been confused by such a small ideology as our people are currently by the arrogant movement that claims to be critical To embody consciousness' and to be 'progressive'. ”He said positively about the Union parties :“ [Our state and its economy] emerged mainly from the principles and government practice of the CDU / CSU ”. During the 1976 election campaign , a contribution by Steinbuch was published in Union alternative , a “government program in detail” of the Union.

At the end of the 1970s, Steinbuch began to work in right-wing conservative and new-right associations and institutions. In 1979 he was involved in the attempted establishment of the Liberal-Conservative Action as well as in the newly established Weikersheim Study Center . In 1981 he was active in the Schutzbund for the German people (see Heidelberg Manifesto ). The Schutzbund distributed the article The endangered existence of our people , written by Steinbuch, as a leaflet.

On September 17, 1983, he gave a speech entitled About the responsibility for the crime victims at a general meeting of the White Ring in Heidelberg. In that speech, he accused liberal intellectuals and publications of being to blame for increasing crime. Steinbuch further expressed himself in a revisionist way : "Without the barbarism of the Versailles Treaty, Hitler's barbarism would not have existed." His lecture was also directed against gender equality with population-political arguments : "[...] has a devastating effect [...] z. B. the intention to establish 'equality' for women in politics and business - and thereby deprive them of their children ”. Steinbuch's speech prompted PEN to publish a statement against “attempted or actual restrictions on the diversity of information and opinions” and “blanket and personal denunciation of journalists and writers”.

In 1986, the right-wing extremist magazine Nation Europa published Steinbuch's article The Endangered Existence of Our People . In 1988 Steinbuch wrote the brochure Asyl ... yesterday and today together with the later NPD chairman Günter Deckert . Steinbuch later became close to the right-wing small party The Republicans, which was founded in 1983 . He published articles in the party's own journal Der Republikaner and advertised the party on the board of trustees of the Weikersheim study center . He regularly published articles in Criticón magazine .

honors and awards

In 2004 Steinbuch was honored with the establishment of a scholarship in his name. The MFG Foundation Baden-Württemberg supports IT and media projects with the Karl Steinbuch grant . Every year 10 to 20 scholarships are awarded to particularly qualified students who implement innovative projects in the field of IT and media outside of their studies. Since 2011, the MFG Foundation has also been running the Karl Steinbuch research program , which funds research on the IT and creative industries at Baden-Württemberg universities of applied sciences and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University. In 2009 the computer center of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was named after him: Steinbuch Center for Computing .


  • "The human brain is not designed to organize rational processes, but to bring about the survival of an organism."
  • “When faced with social needs, it behaves like a doctor who complains with the sick, but does not care about the causes of their illnesses. You fumble with the symptoms of obvious grievances and use philanthropic words to create a clear conscience. "
  • "With technical systems there is optimal interaction between adapted sources and receivers: In the social area, however, this consideration leads to the humanly quite unworthy notion that the behavior of the well-lubricated little wheel in the clockwork would be optimal."
  • “The problem of machine language translation can already be technically solved today, if only the languages ​​weren't structured so unsystematically. Actually, the languages ​​should first be made systematic. "
  • It inevitably arises from the current handling of information, which - similar to the way alchemists deal with their elixirs - has little to do with understanding and responsibility, but much to do with misunderstanding, deception and deception. We are informed, confused and cheated at the same time, we hardly see reality anymore, almost only backdrops and reflections.
  • “We are informed, confused and cheated at the same time, we hardly see reality anymore, almost only backdrops and reflections. It's not good to live in such a horror cabinet. "


  • 1961: machine and human. About human and machine intelligence , Springer
  • 1962: Taschenbuch der Nachrichtenverarbeitung published by Dr.-Ing. K. Steinbuch. Springer publishing house.
  • 1963: Learning matrices and their applications (together with Dr.-Ing.U. Piske) (published in IEEE Transactions on Electronic Computers)
  • 1966: The informed society. History and future of communications technology , Deutsche Verlagsanstalt Stuttgart
  • 1968: Wrongly programmed. About the failure of our society in the present and ahead of the future and what should actually happen. (Bestsellers, listed in: DER SPIEGEL)
  • 1969: 2000 program . ( No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from April 6 to June 14, 1970 )
  • 1971: Automat and humans. On the way to a cybernetic anthropology (4th, revised edition)
  • 1971: Human technology future. Tomorrow's problems. (Awarded the German Non-Fiction Prize)
  • 1973: course correction
  • 1974: Taschenbuch der Informatik in three volumes (published together with Wolfgang Weber), Springer-Verlag Berlin (extended new edition of the Taschenbuch der Nachrichtenverarbeitung , 1967 and 1971)
  • 1975: Yes to reality
  • 1978: Excessively informed. The expropriation of our thinking
  • 1981: The right future. Against progress madness and pessimism.
  • 1984: Our manipulated democracy. Do we have to live with the left lie?
  • 1989: The disinformed society
  • 1992: Collective stupidity: polemic against the zeitgeist
  • 1992: The Errors of Time in Why So Depressed? Germany has a future . Published by Hellmut Diwald , Hohenrain-Verlag , Tübingen 1992, ISBN 3-89180-034-7 .
  • 1995: Coping with the future: Germany in search of its identity


  • Wolfgang Hilberg : Great Challenges in Information Technology - The Adventure of Research; 384 pp., ISBN 3-928161-05-9 .
  • Wolfgang Hilberg: Karl Steinbuch, an unjustifiably forgotten pioneer of artificial neural systems. Frequency 49 (1995) 1-2, pp. 28-36.
  • Philipp Aumann: Cybernetics as a technically conditioned science and as a knowledge-based technology: Karl Steinbuch and the learning matrix . In: Technikgeschichte, Vol. 74 (2007), H. 4, pp. 311–334.

Web links

Commons : Karl Steinbuch  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Richard Stöss : The "new right" in the Federal Republic . In The Rebirth of Nationalist Thought: Danger to Democracy; a conference of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on 23./24. March 1995 in Potsdam . Research institute of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, department of labor and social research. Bonn, 1995. ISBN 3-86077-411-5
  2. ^ Stefan Rieger : Cybernetic Anthropology. A story of virtuality . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-518-29280-3
  3. ^ Karl Steinbuch: INFORMATIK: Automatic information processing [Standard Elektrik Lorenz AG] SEG-Nachrichten Heft 4 (1957)
  4. a b c d 27048 Karl Steinbuch estate (inventory). In: German Digital Library. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, accessed on July 27, 2020 .
  5. ^ Karl Steinbuch - computer scientist from the very beginning. In: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology . March 2, 2018, accessed July 27, 2020 .
  6. H. Härtl; E. Dachtler; K. Köberle, T. Lutz, G. Jung: SEL Stuttgart data center. (PDF; 1.83 MB) 1962, accessed on July 27, 2020 (special print from SEL-Nachrichten 10 (1962), issue 1, pages 1-17).
  7. Bernard Widrow , et al .: 1917 Karl Steinbuch 2005 , pdf, accessed on October 27, 2010
  8. ^ Patent applications and patents by Karl Steinbuch in Germany. Search query: PC = DE AND ((PA = (Karl (L) Steinbuch)) OR (IN = (Karl (L) Steinbuch))). In: Depatisnet. Retrieved on August 14, 2020 (only counting of the B-documents with patent grant, without taking the registrations into account).
  9. ^ Peter W. Tügel: Systems 69 . In: Die Zeit, November 28, 1969
  10. ^ Theo Löbsack : 45,000 teachers too few . In: Die Zeit, October 4, 1968
  11. a b c d Karl Steinbuch: Wrongly programmed . 1968, p. 20 ff. ("Anklage gegen die Hinterwelt"), p. 26 (quoted from the pagination of the dtv paperback edition, 5th edition 1970, http://d-nb.info/458223182 )
  12. a b Die Zeit : Zeitspiegel , September 19, 1975
  13. http://www.bund-freiheit-der-wissenschaft.de/content/g_hpi.htm
  14. http://bund-freiheit-der-wissenschaft.de/content/g_moderator.htm
  15. Father is missing in Der Spiegel , 15/1973
  16. ^ Frank Finley: On the Rationality of Poetry: Heinrich Böll's Aesthetic Thinking . Page 8 1996
  17. Archived copy ( Memento from September 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  18. ^ Christian Graf Krockow : The covered up class struggle . In: Die Zeit, February 27, 1981
  19. C.-CK What the Union offers the people . In: Die Zeit, October 1, 1976
  20. Wrong foot . In: Der Spiegel 6/1979
  21. Creative monastery . In: Der Spiegel 44/1979
  22. http://www.apabiz.de/archiv/material/Profile/SDV.htm
  23. Hans Sarkowicz : The old right on new ways . In: Die Zeit, January 9, 1987
  24. ^ Fritz J. Raddatz : The restoration marches . In: Die Zeit, October 28, 1983
  25. Time mosaic . In: Die Zeit, December 2, 1983
  26. P. 181 Christoph Butterwegge: Topics of the Right - Topics of the Middle: "Immigration, Demographic Change and National Consciousness"
  27. ^ Bartholomäus Grill : Elective affinities on the right margin . In: Die Zeit, April 10, 1992
  28. http://www.nadir.org/nadir/archiv/Antifaschismus/Themen/szw/seiten/szw.html
  29. http://www.apabiz.de/archiv/material/Profile/Criticon.htm
  30. Astrid Lange: What the Right Read . Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-37404-2
  31. www.scc.kit.edu
  32. From Karl Steinbuch: Automat und Mensch . quoted from Hoimar von Ditfurth : Die Evolution der Automaten in Die Zeit , May 3, 1963, No. 18
  33. From Karl Steinbuch: Incredibly informed - The expropriation of our thinking , Goldmann Sachbuch 11248, 11/1979
  34. Excessively informed. The expropriation of our thinking. Herbig Verlagbuchhandlung, Munich, Berlin, 1978, ISBN 3-7766-0908-7 , p. 16.
  35. http://www.buchdienst-hohenrain.de/Grabert-Hohenrain-Titel/Zeitgeschichte/Diwald-Hellmut-Hg-Warum-so-bedrueckt.html