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jeffolie

My family home has 4 people and 4 computers in addition to countless other devices with ICs.

Less than 10% of the computer usage is for productive activity while 90+% is for causal, recreational activity.

I guess that at least one of the four computers is logged on to the net 75% of the day.

Geoman

The home is a shadow of the workplace. Therefore whatever we have in the home is a cheaper, older version of what is occurring in factories around the globe.

Blue collar manufacturing jobs are going to start rapidly disappearing in the near future. In addition, Asian economies are going to have to change - once robots in the U.S. can make things as cheap and easy as Asia, why pay the shipping?

Computationally driven deflation will mean less work.

There is an old saying - the Great Depression was fun if you had a job. If not....

GK

Geoman,

Robots would be used in Asia as well, once they are cost effective.

Technological creative destruction always destroys some jobs, but creates new, better jobs in greater quantity. Also, more skillsets can be monetized than in the past. The problem is, this process is now getting faster than most people can cope with, even if aggregate wealth is rising.

jeffolie

One well know futurist in technolical creative destruction is Alvin Toffler. He molded at least one generations thoughts.

========================================

Alvin Toffler (born October 3, 1928) is an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, corporate revolution and technological singularity. A former associate editor of Fortune magazine, his early work focused on technology and its impact (through effects like information overload). Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism. He is married to Heidi Toffler, also a writer and futurist. They live in Los Angeles. They wrote the books credited to "Alvin Toffler" together.[citation needed]

Accenture, the management consultancy firm, has dubbed him the third most influential voice among business leaders, after Bill Gates and Peter Drucker. He has also been described in the Financial Times as the "world's most famous futurologist". People's Daily classes him among the 50 foreigners that shaped modern China.[1]

In his book The Third Wave Toffler describes three types of societies, based on the concept of 'waves' - each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.

First Wave is the society after agrarian revolution and replaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures.
Second Wave is the society during the Industrial Revolution (ca. late 1600s through the mid-1900s). The main components of the Second Wave society are nuclear family, factory-type education system and the corporation. Toffler writes: "The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy."
Third Wave is the post-industrial society. Toffler would also add that since late 1950s most countries are moving away from a Second Wave Society into what he would call a Third Wave Society. He coined lots of words to describe it and mentions names invented by him (super-industrial society) and other people (like the Information Age, Space Age, Electronic Era, Global Village, technetronic age, scientific-technological revolution), which to various degrees predicted demassification, diversity, knowledge-based production, and the acceleration of change (one of Toffler’s key maxims is "change is non-linear and can go backwards, forwards and sideways").
In this post-industrial society, there is a lot of diversity in lifestyles ("subcultures"). Adhocracies (fluid organizations) adapt quickly to changes. Information can substitute most of the material resources (see ersatz) and becomes the main material for workers (cognitarians instead of proletarians), who are loosely affiliated. Mass customization offers the possibility of cheap, personalized, production catering to small niches (see just-in-time production). The gap between producer and consumer is bridged by technology using a so called configuration system. "Prosumers" can fill their own needs (see open source, assembly kit, freelance work). This was the notion that new technologies are enabling the radical fusion of the producer and consumer into the prosumer. In some cases prosuming entails a “third job” where the corporation “outsources” its labor not to other countries, but to the unpaid consumer, such as when we do our own banking through an ATM instead of a teller that the bank must employ, or trace our own postal packages on the internet instead of relying on a paid clerk.

Aging societies will be using new (medical) technologies from self-diagnosis to instant toilet urinalysis to self-administered therapies delivered by nanotechnology to do for themselves what doctors used to do. This will change the way the whole health industry works.[citation needed]

Since the 1960s, people have been trying to make sense out of the impact of new technologies and social change. Toffler's writings have been influential beyond the confines of scientific, economic and public policy discussions. Techno music pioneer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" in Future Shock as inspiring him to use the word "techno" to describe the musical style he helped to create.

Toffler's works and ideas have been subject to various criticisms, usually with the same argumentation used against futurology: that foreseeing the future is nigh impossible. In the 1990s, his ideas were publicly lauded by Newt Gingrich.

In 1996 Alvin and Heidi Toffler founded Toffler Associates, an executive advisory firm committed to helping commercial firms and government agencies adjust to the changes described in the Tofflers' works.

The development Toffler believes may go down as this era's greatest turning point is the creation of wealth in outer space. Wealth today, he argues, is created everywhere (globalisation), nowhere (cyberspace), and out there (outer space). Global positioning satellites are key to synchronising precision time and data streams for everything from cellphone calls to ATM withdrawals. They allow just-in-time (JIT) productivity because of precise tracking. GPS is also becoming central to air-traffic control. And satellites increase agricultural productivity through tracking weather, enabling more accurate forecasts.

Two major predictions of Toffler's - the paperless office and human cloning - have yet to be realized, not due to technological barriers but to sociological and politico-religious conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Toffler

Zyndryl

Better now pray like never before that an EMP strategic attack never happens to us.

GK

Zyndryl,

The risk of that would only grow with time.

Some chips are moving into photonic, rather than electronic, technology, however. Graphene and nanotube chips may also be resistant to this.

But I don't think a terrorist would get the capability to send an EMP across the 48 states. It would be much easier to spray nerve gas into the NYC subway.

Geoman

I predcit that in the future, everyone is rich, as long as they agree to work 15 minutes a day.

Tristan@tristanyates.com

Wow! Excellent article. I would look at how semis are manufactured. With the right equipment (i.e. capital cost) you can get 300+ CPUs off of a $100 wafer. High capital cost and low marginal cost which gives you massive economies of scale.

But that economy could apply to most manufacturing. The price for the actual materials used to make stuff is nothing, like <$1 a pound for glass, aluminum, steel, etc. That $50 barrel of oil holds 42 gallons so it's $1 a gallon. I think the whole idea that anyone's getting rich with commodities is laughable as they're just too cheap.

When services are delivered electronically, the same economy applies. Twitter is free and why shouldn't it be - the marginal cost of one more user is nothing and I add value by showing up.

However there is also a high risk creative destruction component too - suppose you build a $2B fab to make Athlons and six months later Intel builds a $5B fab to make Core 2 Duos. Intel wins and your $2B investment is worth *nothing* now. So even though the economics of low marginal costs is a great thing for consumers, don't overlook the risk for producers. There's only one Google but I know at least 50+ companies that built search engines hoping to exploit the favorable economics and are now worthless. The economics of networked software are still poorly understood because the business schools are always 10-20 years behind the industry. I've read the "gurus", Romer and Christiansan and they don't get it.

I also have a belief that the housing bubble and burst is also related to an economy of scale effect. If you've seen how houses are built, they put up an entire subdivision and truck in the materials and a gang of tradesman and put it all together. Don't tell me that the increase in going from 40 medium sized houses in the subdivision to 80 mcmansions is 4x the price - it's probably just 50% more. With those incentives everyone will try to build as many houses as they can, as big as they can, and as quickly as they can.

There is a stumbling block in the economics though, and that is in knowledge and expertise. If I were to teach you my "trade" it would take 2-3 years, and at the end of it I would still be smarter and better than you. It would take you another 2-3 years for you to become as good as me. Now I could make it easier for both me and you by writing a book, making some videos, setting up a school, etc, but you still have to do the actual learning and practice, and when you're learning that specialty you have to forgo productive work or other education.

The economics of transmitting the knowledge necessary to contribute to an advanced economy are stark and stagering. The average public school will spend $120k+ on each student, and you know what the quality of the average product is. Add in another $50k for a bachelors, $50k for a masters, etc. And then guess what? You're entry level and need to work for another 3-5 years just to get good at what you do.

jeffolie

Tristan

I enjoyed your post.

Regarding the cost of education, the cost is supported by the motivation that everyone has a chance to get ahead economically through education and experience. It is part of the Western world's ethic of meritocracy. Hope drives and motivates people to make a meaningful life with the status of a profession and education. Supply and demand are at work here and the demand is driven by hope and social status.

GK

Tristan,

You bring up many points that I have covered in prior articles, that you may like to read.

But that economy could apply to most manufacturing.

3-D printing is a technology that can get us closer to software economics being applied to hardware.

I also have a belief that the housing bubble and burst is also related to an economy of scale effect.

If this invention, which is still a long shot, works out, the economics of real-estate will be turned upside-down.

average public school will spend $120k+ on each student, and you know what the quality of the average product is. Add in another $50k for a bachelors, $50k for a masters, etc.

That is why America stupidly is making it hard for smart people who want to immigrate here and contribute here, despite being educated from 1st grade up to a BS degree at the expense of another country.


Geoman

Good post Tristan:

The money is in the production of the oil, not the production of the gas. Saudi Arabia produces the oil for about $4 per barrel, so there are loads of money in commodities, assuming you have the lowest production price for a high valued commodity.

re. the cost of education - this is what happens when analog brains are trying to learn enough information to be competitive in the digital world!

Education will become increasingly irrelevant, and we will all be paid in accordance with our people skills more than anything else.

The advanced education I acquired with so much difficulty pre-internet seems to be worth less every year. Not because I'm not up to date on the latest developments, but the internet let's even amateurs catch up with a few days of research.

As exhibit A - I'm fairly sure you your self are not an expert on education, economics, and housing, yet you produced a quite cognizant post on the subject, and included several interesting facts.

Zyndryl

GK,

"But I don't think a terrorist would get the capability to send an EMP across the 48 states."

As space launch costs drop, so will the barrier of entry for terrorists to get a 'poor man's ICBM'. Already, if someone REALLY wanted to, they could purchase an improved SCUD from North Korea, put a 'poor man's nuke' on it and fire it from a freighter to detonate high in LEO somewhere above Denver. That will hit at least 44 of the lower 48 states, I bet.

Our own military has developed grenade sized EMP enhanced explosives. Non-nuclear. So, conceivably someone else can develop and deploy larger ones with enough juice to take out a city. Just 20 of those to shut down the twenty most populous cities can be synchronously detonated. That would be enough.

"It would be much easier to spray nerve gas into the NYC subway."

Yes. And that will no doubt happen also, especially with that nit-wit Janet Napolitano as DHS chief.

But getting the hordes of Americans in electrically dead cities to rip each other apart over the last cans of food on the store shelves would be a lot more bang for relatively not-so-increased effort (and falling), don't you think? Esp if cameras, batteries and satellite uplink equipment protected in Faraday boxes could be whipped out to film the carnage and show on Al Jazeera for the America-hating world (and US State Dept personnel, but I'm being redundant) to see and cheer.

The real sick part of my mind...the part as mentioned by that Bitch Who Must Not Be Named (interviewed on Keith Obermann)...the one that affects my limbic system so badly...says that is the only way to go as opposed to gassing a subway any day (been there, done that see Japan). Only actual nuking of our cities a la 'Jericho' or 'Cylon' style would top that. But it is still more rational for an enemy to inflict massive casualties instead of fatalities as that will cripple the surviving government way more than a lot of dead people will.

But I hope you are right and I am very, very, very wrong.

GK

Zyndryl,

I continue to be amazed that we have foiled at least 20 terrorist attacks on US soil after 9/11 - a 100% success rate. Even attacks in Europe have dwindled off. For this, we must thank those who enabled our success in Iraq, and the 'bugzapper for terrorists' that we made the Iraq theater become.

EMP Pulse - far harder to execute than other terrorist attacks (like a bomb at a college football stadium or even at a tea party). Particularly since EMP pulses, unlike nukes/atom bombs, have not actually been used in war or tested seriously.

North Korea won't do anything directly, as China depends on exporting to the US, and anything that damages the US economy will not make China very happy.

Any other country that does this would have committed an act of war on the United States, with all subsequent consequences of that action. So no nation-state would do it.

Terrorists don't have the capability to do an EMP pulse.

Tristan@tristanyates.com

Thanks for the pointers/feedback - just starting to read this blog and its really great.

Zyndryl

GK,

"EMP Pulse - far harder to execute than other terrorist attacks (like a bomb at a college football stadium or even at a tea party). Particularly since EMP pulses, unlike nukes/atom bombs, have not actually been used in war or tested seriously. "

Not used YET...and they have been developed and tested:
http://www.defensetech.org/archives/004688.html
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/03/emp-hand-grenades-and-wireless-tasers.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_pumped_flux_compression_generator

"North Korea won't do anything directly"

Didn't say they would. But they have no qualms about selling their missiles to anybody out there, it seems.

"Terrorists don't have the capability to do an EMP pulse."

The DoD & NatSec foks disagree with you.

http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

GK

Zyndryl,

I don't know - the five easiest terrorist attacks to undertake are :

1) Shoulder-fired missile shot at an airliner while hiding in the bushes near a runway.
2) Poison gas in the NYC subway.
3) Bomb at a college football game. The OSU and Michigan stadiums each can seat 100,000, and a bomb that blows up even a quarter of the stadium would kill many thousands.
4) Suicide bomber at a tea-party or any other outdoor gathering.
5) Poison the water supply.

Yet, against all odds and probabilities, none of these have happened. So the EMP pulse just doesn't make it to very high on the worry list.

GK

Tristan,

Thanks. My postings are infrequent, but I hope that is balanced by the fact that most articles are 'evergreen' and remain relevant for years after initial publication.

Check out the 'Core Articles' and 'Accelerating Change' in the Categories section. That should cover most of the best.

Zyndryl

GK,

Airliners being hijacked and used as Super-sized Cruise Missiles weren't considered to be very high on everyone's worry list either -- until it did happen.

But it was mentioned in several studies by people who were paid to think about these possibilities and study up on them.

The same people who write about the threats from EMP weapons.

BTW, a non-nuclear E-Bomb capable of taking out a medium sized city can be made for mere thousands -- some think even just hundreds -- of dollars.

Cheaper than a shoulder fired missile.

Again, we're talking SCALE vs cost and comparing rewards [ROI] from it to other actions. The costs have plummeted and will only plummet further for someone to use EMP on an attack in the West and developed East. Compare that to the reward vs that received from just shooting down one airliner or gassing one football stadium or busy shopping mall.

"Why do I rob banks...because that is where the money is." -- Willy Sutton

Marius

I love this website, its so... sane.

On the EMP thing,I read on a military/national security blog that one Iranian medium range missile could be fitted with a nuclear warhead and placed on a tanker. Sail that tanker to the gulf of mexico and launch the missile, setting it to detonate about 1500 miles over kansas. This would create an emp wave that would wipe out most electronic devices in the continental U.S., reducing it to a pre-industrial state for weeks at least. The death toll would be in the millions at least and decades of digitally recorded economic, personal and technolgical data would be lost. So lets hope that computer chips that are strengthed to withstand emps are made pretty damn quickly.

jeffolie

Genetic analysis shows the flu strain is a never-before-seen mixture of swine, human and avian viruses.

This is a real, clear and present danger.

There is an extremely low probability that this flu strain came to be naturally. The BIOWAR is here and now.

jeffolie

At least this flu does not appear to be weaponized against anti flu vaccines.

Geoman

Jeffolie,

A never before seen mixture of human, swine, and bird viruses? Well, a global flu pandemics usually involves never before seen mixtures of human, swine, and/or bird viruses, by definition. If it wasn't never seen before, then we would have some immunity to it. Certainly the Spanish flu was such a mixture.

It doesn't inherently mean BIOWAR (love the caps).

GK

It is not a terrorist virus.

In fact, the Impact of Computing will save us, as we can now sequence the genome of any new virus in a matter of days, which was not possible even a few years ago.

jeffolie

My first reaction to "the Impact of Computing will save us" from the Mexican flu was to laugh. I suspect that it was a lab created flu that computers were instrumental in its bio-engineered creation.

If the Mexican flu is like the Spanish flu of 1918, then the real damage will not show up until the next flu season in the fall.

OK.

I agree that computers and medical science have reached new heights and may save the day for rich countries that can afford bio-engineered vaccines. But, for poverty stricken billions there will be no relief. The WHO pushed up the rating of the Mexican flu to level 4 of 6 levels because of its method of contagion.

On the plus side, the CDC declared that the death rate is much lower in Mexico than previously thought. Most of those 152 deaths were not caused by the Mexican flu.

jeffolie

Just after I posted the above, I heard on the news that the WHO pushed up its rating to level 5.

jeffolie

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health published genetic sequence data Monday morning of flu samples isolated from patients in California and Texas, and thousands of scientists immediately began downloading the information. Comparisons to known killers -- such as the 1918 strain and the highly lethal H5N1 avian virus -- have since provided welcome news.

"There are certain characteristics, molecular signatures, which this virus lacks," said Peter Palese, a microbiologist and influenza expert at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. In particular, the swine flu lacks an amino acid that appears to increase the number of virus particles in the lungs and make the disease more deadly.

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-sci-swine-reality30-2009apr30,0,3606923.story

Seamus

Why not quote Ophelia accurately? "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

Beryl Muddle

While an EMP to cover the whole country may be difficult, delivering an EMP to take out a major city is relatively trivial.
Suspend it from a helium balloon on a windless night. Launch from any backyard.

Tom Kelley

Forget EMP and the like. If you want a real scare, watch this:

http://www.public.iastate.edu/%7Emcleod/didyouknow/DidYouKnowBrenmanAnimated.wmv

Originally produced by a highschool IT director in Colorado, the video presents an ominous perspective on the challenge of educating the next generation of employees.

sonspot

Some scientists are concerned that a large EMP event may be generated during high sunspot activity. Once the current 200 year minimum activity ends, who knows when the uptick will be or how large?

vg

i didnt bother to read all the posts but am unclear how the discussion went to emp. so please excuse if this does not follow the rest of the comments.

I am a physician working full time at a hospital, that is implementing a major comuterization strategy to amongst other things keep up w federal mandates. So how does this affect productivity?

Well to answer that question, you would have to define what is produvctivity in the setting of an ICU in a hospital.

Is it how much reports and paper that can be generated, or the number of patients that can be seen and cared for per health care worker (I would only include doctors and nurses here as the rest- adminstrative personell- are a caboose that lives off of our productivity).

Well here is my experience:
I see around 25 patients on an average day. Since computrization started around 3 years ago (ie I am not on the upslope of the learning curve anymore), I spend an average of 5 -10 minutes per patient more to deliver the same care as i did before. our patient to nurse ratios have gone up as nurses have to spend all their time entering BS into the computer.

As far as easier access to information is concerned, here si arecent vignette. My administration needed a critical report to make a crucial business descision. two years ago we had a manual log book, I, as medical director, could have obtained the information in 10 minutes. However, with computerization we abandioned the log book, as a. we didnt have the time for this anymore and b. we were told that this data could be queried anytime we wanted.

well it took a week to get the report, that covered 16 printed pages of a spreadsheet, took me the same 10-15 minutes to read the spreadsheet and give a sense of the numbers. problem was that the data was completely unreliable.


Now this may simply be a problem of implementation, in that the computrization proceeded in a top down manner, with Zero inuts from the end user. But i am not so sure.

I love computers, i spend an inordinate amount od time every day infront of one. i am an information hound and I just love the instant access to information i have. it is intellectually satisfying, has improved my enjoyment of life, and is exteremely entertaining. However, it has NOT made me more productive in what i do for a living.

You cannnot eat a silicone chip or wear one or live in one or drive to work in one. while i am not saying that the above may one day come true, it hasent happened yet.

Just my 2 cents

jeffolie

vg

That was an outstanding post.

GK

vg,

Your situation sounds like an issue of learning curve as well as implementation. Chaos reigns for the first few months until the learning curve of uses catches up.

I know many doctors who have greatly accelerated their transcription process through speech-to-text recognition software.

You cannnot eat a silicone chip or wear one or live in one or drive to work in one.

But you can earn a living via one. In ever more ways that are employing ever more people.

vg

sorry GK but no learning curve issues here

part of the problem is fundamental to computerization and part is simply a bad system purchased by management ( a not for profit- and we all know that not for profits meens that the profit goes out the side door out of sight of public scrutiny)with as i said zero input from the end user. after three years a resonably intellegent person should be reasonably up on the learning curve, and whatever else my faults, being dumb is not one of them.

ces

LCDs are not "impact of computing". They are "impact of material processing". LEDs and PV also fall in this category. These don't fall in price because of computing. They fall in price because you grow the market fast enough to afford improvements in the materials and processing to further lower the cost.

GK

ces,

They still qualify as 'Impact of Computing', as does magnetic storage (hard drives). The cost drops are much faster than merely 'growing the market', and the materials improvements are enabled by greater computing power in the research tools.

Franklin

Jim, EMP issues have been arunod since the 1950s when an H-bomb test burst in the Pacific fouled communications in Hawaii. With all of the other immediate worries about the global economy, one would think EMP would be pretty far down the worry list, especially since the likelihood of world nuclear war has dropped quite a bit since the USSR fell apart 20 years ago.Peter Galuszka

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