[extropy-chat] Turbulence of obsolesence (was: Anti-virus protection -- problem fixed!)

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Mon Apr 18 20:46:18 UTC 2005

--- Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> One shudders to think how many people would go out of business if
> Redmond would start shipping well-engineered systems.

On the contrary.  Ignoring criminal hackers and other agents of ill
(who would be applauded if they resigned en masse without
replacements), how many of our technically capable people have
settled for a professional life of cleaning up Microsoft's messes?
What kinds and quantities of good could they do, if that need were not
there and their labors free to serve other industries?  'Tis like the
buggy whip manufacturers on the eve of the Model T, whose leather and
labors subsequently went on to find other uses that could not
profitably be served while buggy whips were needed.

Yes, there would be significant short-term economic dislocations, big
enough to strain our social safety nets.  But imagine the computing
applications that would become feasable if you really could trust
stnadard personal computers.  Imagine the collapse in bandwidth prices,
and subsequent high availability of bandwidth for everyone, if DDOS
attacks and spam became mostly historical footnotes.  (And I'm sure we
can all also imagine many other pleasantries if most spam transmitters
simply stopped dead forever tonight.)  Would it not be worthwhile?

But still, a problem we wished we have (so we could enjoy the things
that come with the problem) is still a problem, and problems generally
need solving.  And this problem has a more generic form that we will
face, if our dreams come to pass - and it is a pretty large one.  I
wonder, is there a useful way to break down the problem of
transitioning workers and investments, once they have been displaced by
new technologies, into other markets - including and espeicially ones
made possible, or at least profitable, by these same new technologies?

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