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

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Apr 19 09:01:35 UTC 2005

On Mon, Apr 18, 2005 at 01:46:18PM -0700, Adrian Tymes wrote:

> 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?

Most of IT professionals make a living feeding on detritus from Redmond.
(Admittedly, professional coprophagia is an acquired taste. Uck. Ptui).

> 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

This assumes the people so occupied would be capable of serving 
other industries, and not be out of job.

> 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.

What do you think would be such budding industries, and why would displaced
IT people have suitable skills (not all of them are trainable, assuming
there's money and incentive to pay for training) to be employable in those 
local budding industries?
> Yes, there would be significant short-term economic dislocations, big
> enough to strain our social safety nets.  But imagine the computing

I'm living right in the middle of an economic dislocation, and given that it's
in its second decade it's not that short-term. Prospects are pretty dismal.

> applications that would become feasable if you really could trust
> stnadard personal computers.  Imagine the collapse in bandwidth prices,

Who would be paying to write these applications? Such talent is rare, and
already well accounted for (but in the developing countries).

> and subsequent high availability of bandwidth for everyone, if DDOS
> attacks and spam became mostly historical footnotes.  (And I'm sure we

DDoS and spam have about zero impact on the traffic cost. ISPs are
well-equipped to deal even with surging traffic due to P2P, given the
postdotcombomb overcapacity. 

> can all also imagine many other pleasantries if most spam transmitters
> simply stopped dead forever tonight.)  Would it not be worthwhile?

How much does spam cost, some 10 gigabucks/year? I'm not sure we'd notice
much economic improvement if spam was suddenly history. 
> 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?

You'd do well by identifying these technologies first. Right now, in the old
industrial countries there aren't any. Automation is releasing lots of people
into the unemployed pool, and we haven't even started yet (financial and postal
is hemorrhagic heavily, and logistics is next).

Add AI and robotics, and it truly hits the fan.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144            http://www.leitl.org
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http://moleculardevices.org         http://nanomachines.net
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