Suggested Discussion Outline

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johnkarls
Posts: 1559
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

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Editorial Note: Even though the attachments to the following e-mail can be found elsewhere on this website, for your convenience they are posted below as "replies" to this posting.


---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
From: ReadingLiberally-SaltLake@johnkarls.com
To: ReadingLiberallyEmailList@johnkarls.com
Bcc: The Approximately 150 Recipients of Our Weekly E-mail
Subject: Meeting THIS WEDNESDAY Evening Sep 9th – The Impending Adverse Impact of New Technology on Employment and Income Inequality
Date: Sat, Sep 6, 2015
Time:
Attachments:
(1) RL-b827-SuggestedAnswersToTheShortQuiz
(2) RL-z525-The Suggested Answers to the First Short Quiz for our 6/12/2013 meeting
(3) RL-z528-The Suggested Answers to the Second Short Quiz for our 6/12/2013 meeting; and
(4) RL-z511-The bios for Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, as well as glowing testimonials from Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair
--------------------------------------------------------------------------


Dear Friends,

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESday evening, September 9th, at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South) in our regular Conference Room C which is on the lower level and accessible by the SPECIAL elevator just inside the EAST entrance.

Please join us for socializing from 6:15 pm > 7:00 pm or, if you prefer, come only from 7:00 pm > 8:55 pm for our formal discussion. We provide coffee/decaf and chocolate-chunk cookies and peanut-butter cookies. Or you could bring your own snack from home or the Salt Lake Roasting Co. branch on the first floor of the library.

[Everyone is welcome to join us afterwards half a block south at Cannella's for drinks to socialize and/or continue the discussion -- everyone is welcome but Dutch treat.]


********************
OUR FOCUS BOOK (Proposed By Ted Gurney, Retired U/U Biology Professor and Long-Time RL Regular)

Our focus will be The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee ($16.03 + shipping or $12.99 Kindle from Amazon.com -- 257 pages sans notes and index).

However, our policy has always been that first-time attendees are not expected to have read the materials.


********************
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Erik Brynjolfsson is the director of the MIT Center for Digital Business and one of the most cited scholars in information systems and economics.

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business and the author of Enterprise 2.0.


********************
RSVP’s REQUESTED + FREE FIRST ROUND OF DRINKS FOR NEW ATTENDEES (AND THEIR INVITERS)

Although we have enough RSVP’s to satisfy our minimum quorum, for the sake of good order please RSVP if you haven’t done so already and you plan to attend.

And since we always need new voices, please think hard for at least 60 seconds who, among your friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, etc., might make a good participant in our meetings. Our policy has always been that first-time attendees are not expected to read the materials.

Please take advantage of Yours Truly who always promises that at our post-meeting celebration at Canellas a half block south of the library, he will buy the first round of drinks for any first-time attendee and for the person who invited her/him.


********************
SKYPE PARTICIPATION

Non-Utah-residents (and residents who are out of town) are invited to participate in our meeting via Skype.

If you would like to do so, please press your reply button and type “request participation via Skype” and we will contact you to make appropriate arrangements.


********************
SUGGESTED DISCUSSION OUTLINE

Perhaps the best way to approach “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” (published 1/20/2014) would be to discuss the major themes contained in the Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz (a copy of which is attached for your convenience).

In doing so, it may be interesting to contrast “The Second Machine Age” with our focus book for our 6/12/2013 meeting which was “The New Digital Age” (published only 9 months earlier on 4/23/2013) by Eric Schmidt (Head of Google) and Jared Cohen (Head of Google Ideas - a global-initiatives think tank in NYC to apply technological solutions to problems faced by the developing world).

To facilitate the contrast: (A) The second attachment to this e-mail contains the Suggested Answers to the First Short Quiz for our 6/12/2013 meeting; (B) The third attachment to this e-mail contains the Suggested Answers to the Second Short Quiz for our 6/12/2013 meeting; and (C) The fourth attachment to this e-mail contains longer bios for Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, as well as glowing testimonials from Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair.

However, only the major themes contained in the Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz regarding our current focus (The Second Machine Age) are contained in the following Suggested Discussion Outline:

A. Definitions

A-1. First Machine Age – the QUANTUM LEAP in the RATE of technological growth since 1760.
A-2. Second Machine Age – the QUANTUM LEAP in the already-high RATE of technological growth that will begin any year now.


B. The Impact of New Technology on Employment

B-1. No theoretical reason why technological increases and employment increases should march forward together for any period of time.
B-2. As a historical matter, they have marched forward in synch from 1760 until the late 1990’s.
B-3. Since they late 1990’s, they have been de-coupled.


C. Examples From The First Machine Age

C-1. Henry Ford’s automated assembly lines
C-2. Eastman Kodak and film photography
C-3. Radio
C-4. Television
C-5. The Wright brother’s airplane


D. The New Technology – Character and Downsides (Other Than Unemployment and Income Inequality)

D-1. Character = digital (which our authors state virtually always has an adverse impact on employment and income inequality)
D-2. Driverless Cars – hackers can commit murder
D-3. 3-D Printing – per a PBS Special, terrorists do NOT need to pass a background check to obtain a 3-D printer which is capable of producing weapons from 3-D blueprints downloaded from the internet
D-4. Robotics – no additional downsides
D-5. Speech recognition/language translation/writing – no additional downsides


E. Glaring Blind Spots Vis-à-vis Policy Recommendations by Our Authors

E-1. Brynjolfsson and McAffee studiously ignore the U.S. government’s policy of exporting American jobs
E-2. Brynjolfsson and McAffee studiously ignore the U.S. government’s policy of importing Illegal Aliens to compete with American workers for jobs that cannot be exported geographically (e.g., construction and agriculture)
E-3. Brynjolfsson and McAffee attempt to flim-flam their readers into believing that the U.S. government’s policy of exporting American jobs (and Europe’s policy of exporting European jobs) had nothing to do with tax policy
E-4. Brynjolfsson and McAffee try to flim-flam their readers with out-of-context statistics about the relatively-recent decline in the number of Chinese factory workers
E-5. Brynjolfsson and McAffee believe in the right to a free flow of capital
E-6. Brynjolfsson and McAffee believe in the right to employ the cheapest “slave labor” available anywhere on the planet – regardless of the age and safety of the “slaves”
E-7. Brynjolfsson and McAffee studiously ignore America’s Permanent Under-Caste living in our Inner-City Ghettos


F. Our Invention for Feeding the World’s 100 Billion – One Trillion Human Population that Brynjolfsson and McAffee Imply is Just Around The Corner

F-1. All animals, including humans, obtain their energy from oxidizing (aka burning) sugar (C6-H12-O6).
F-2. Animals obtain all of their sugar from eating plants (which obtain it from photosynthesis) or indirectly from eating meat (which comprises primarily sugar obtained, further up every food chain, from plants)
F-3. Creating sugar via photosynthesis is nothing more than using solar power to DRIVE IN REVERSE the oxidizing (aka burning) of sugar – as the sun forces the water irrigating your garden or farm, and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over your garden or farm, to combine in producing sugar and oxygen (6CO2 + 6H2O > C6-H12-O6 + 6O2). Which, of course, is the reverse of oxidizing (aka burning) sugar by animals (C6-H12-O6 + 6O2 > 6CO2 + 6H2O).
F-4. Since the world does NOT contain enough space for conventional farms to feed 100 billion to one trillion human beings, our invention is to use thorium fission rather than solar power to DRIVE IN REVERSE the oxidizing (aka burning) of sugar.
F-5. We have already made three Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail Campaigns (described in the first section of http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org) based on how thorium fission can supply 100% of the world’s energy needs for less than any alternative fuels (which is why it would be unnecessary to invade China to prevent it from bringing on stream one new monster-size coal-fired electric-generating plant EVERY WEEK) while, inter alia, eliminating 100% of greenhouse gases virtually overnight, eliminating our gaping foreign-trade deficits since we still import 50% of our energy, eliminating our need to kow-tow to oil-producing countries (and the need of our European allies to kow-tow to Russia on which they are dependant for most of their energy needs), etc., etc. All with thorium which is so safe that it is incapable of exploding. Which is why the U.S. turned to uranium and plutonium and away from thorium after an 18-month successful thorium demonstration project in the 1960’s by the U.S. Nuclear Research Laboratory at Oakridge TN.


G. Brynjolfsson and McAffee are way off track vis-à-vis K-12 education because they make the implicit and probably-false assumption that K-12 students are motivated, especially children in our inner-city ghettos who believe that they are not eligible for their dreams and that their only realistic career objectives are pusher or pimp, or girl friend of a pusher or pimp graduating to whore


********************

We hope to see all of you on Sep 9th.

Your friend,

John K.

PS -- To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."

johnkarls
Posts: 1559
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 1 -Suggested Answers To The Short Quiz-9-9-2015

Post by johnkarls »

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Suggested Answers to the Short Quiz for our 9/9/2015 Meeting focusing on The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by MIT Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Posted by johnkarls » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:38 am


Question 1

Are Brynjolfsson and McAffee (our authors) wrong about when “the first machine age” occurred?

Answer 1

The beginning of the title of their book (“The Second Machine Age”) implies that there was a “First Machine Age.”

It’s hard to be wrong when you coin your own term -- most historians describe much the same thing as “The Industrial Revolution.”

The Industrial Revolution is usually placed by historians as beginning in 1760 and lasting through most of the next century. It featured the replacement of water as the power source for machines, by steam and electricity obtained from coal as the new power source for machines.

Transportation by rail, steamship, etc., became commonplace. As well as factories that could then be located anywhere rather than only at a river or stream for water power. This meant, as a practical matter, that zillions of people began thinking about inventing new machines to do new things. For example in textiles, the power loom increased the output of a worker by a factor of 40. And Eli Whitney’s 1794 patent for the cotton gin, which quickly separates cotton fibers from their seeds, made cotton so cheap compared to other fabrics that there was an INCREDIBLE INCREASE in the demand for slaves to work cotton plantations.

[Though one wonders whether cotton would have become so attractive compared with other fabrics if the vast increase in slaves working cotton plantations had had their work valued as the work of human beings rather than the work of de facto farm animals!!!]

*****
However, even though Brynjolfsson and McAffee were careful to coin their own terms to avoid being criticized for the incorrect use of the historical term, they were still very sloppy if not wrong.

Though neither the graph on p. 5 nor the graph on p. 7 contains a label specifying “First Machine Age,” the graph on p. 7 shows “The Industrial Revolution” as extending through 2013 even though historians would say it ended before 1900. And from indications throughout the text that the “Second Machine Age” heralded in the book’s title is about to begin in 2015, reinforced by what Brynjolfsson and McAffee actually mean by the “First Machine Age” and “The Second Machine Age” (more about that below), it is clear that Brynjolfsson and McAffee believe that the “First Machine Age” extends at least through 2013.

However, on p. 101 there is a graph showing “Labor Productivity” in “The Second Machine Age” which shows “The Second Machine Age” as beginning in 1970.

Based on the over-arching point that Brynjolfsson and McAffee are trying to make with what they label as the First and Second Machine Ages, the charitable view would be that the graph on p. 101 (and similar sloppiness elsewhere in the text) are wrong -- perhaps caused by two different authors writing different parts of the same text with warring notions of what their own terminology means -- and the First Machine Age was meant to describe a QUANTUM LEAP in the RATE of technological growth about 1760-1890, and the Second Machine age was meant to describe an impending QUANTUM LEAP in that already-high RATE of technological growth that may begin any year now.

An apology may be warranted for such a long answer, but it is important at the outset to understand that Brynjolfsson and McAffee, despite their sloppiness, are attempting throughout their book to describe TWO INFLECTION POINTS where each comprises a QUANTUM LEAP in the RATE of technological growth.

Question 2

Is innovation something that should be feared because of its adverse impact on the need for human labor?

Answer 2

Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve Nirvana in which all human labor is a thing of the past???

But isn’t it important to make sure that all human beings are at least heading for Nirvana, even if their progress is at different rates???

Question 3

Who famously remarked -- after visiting India and witnessing a construction site featuring human beings with shovels, and inquiring why steam shovels weren’t being employed and being told that human beings with shovels were being used to increase employment -- sarcastically asked: “Then why don’t you give them spoons instead of shovels?”

Answer 3

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman who taught economics at the University of Chicago for more than three decades where he founded the famous “Chicago School” of Economics which emphasized monetary policy for stimulating/controlling the economy (vs. the emphasis of the then-traditional Keynesian School of Economics on fiscal policy).

Milton Friedman is probably more famous for another quotation -- "There is NO free lunch.”

Question 4

Is it theoretically possible that innovation can eliminate the need for human labor so that we can all enjoy nothing but leisure?

Answer 4

Of course!!! Virtually anything (unless it is a contradiction in terms) is possible theoretically!!!

Question 5

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee envision an impending leap in technological innovation?

Answer 5

Yes.

Though the impending leap that they envision may be a lot scarier than they intend!!!

For example, their graphs on p. 5 and p. 7 show virtually a 90-degree angle, the equivalent of the floor in a building meeting a wall.

The graphs both show, inter alia, the worldwide human population burbling along for 10,000 years at less than 0.3 billion -- and then suddenly mushrooming by a factor of more than 20 times to 7 billion during the 250 years since the beginning of The Industrial Revolution.

So if we are at a NEW INFLECTION POINT comprising a QUANTUM LEAP in the RATE of technological growth, Brynjolfsson and McAffee must be expecting us to figure out for ourselves that, inter alia, the worldwide human population will break through 100 billion in no time flat!!!

Question 6

Is the impending leap in technological innovation that Brynjolfsson and McAffee envision based on advances in computer applications?

Answer 6

Yes.

Question 7

Is one of their examples what we have heard about so often in recent years that cars will be able to drive themselves?

Answer 7

Yes.

Question 8

Will the new computer applications be subject to hacking? For example, could a hacker commit murder by hacking the computer program of a “driverless car” to go off the highway and crash?

Answer 8

Of course!!!

Question 9

And can we now expect a spate of Hollywood movies featuring plots involving murderers hacking the programs of “driverless cars” of complete strangers to cause those cars to veer across the center line and collide head on with the cars of victims that the murderers actually want to kill -- so that the police will be mystified by the lack of motive vis-à-vis the owner of the “driverless car” whose computer program was hacked?

Answer 9

Probably.

Question 10

Is another example, though barely mentioned by Brynjolfsson and McAffee, linking virtually everything you own (appliances, home-theater components, etc., etc.) to your iPhone so that, for example, from zillions of miles away you can instruct your front door to lock itself, you can instruct your vacuum cleaner to clean the living room, you can instruct your home-theater complex to record an on-air special about which you have just learned, etc., etc.???

Answer 10

Yes.

Question 11

Is this nothing more than an invitation to burglars by providing them with a menu of items that are worthwhile stealing? Coupled with a list of any alarm systems that will have to be disabled?

Answer 11

Of course!!!

Question 12

Do you think you would stand a chance of preventing the burglars from hacking your systems if the U.S. Government and such wealthy corporations as Sony Pictures, with all the money they can lavish on security, are NOT able to prevent their systems from being hacked???

Answer 12

Well, what do you think???

Question 13

What are some of the new computer applications extolled at length by Brynjolfsson and McAffee in addition to driverless cars?

Answer 13

Robotics, 3-D printing, and speech recognition - language translation - writing.

Question 14

What are some of the downsides to these new computer applications, other than their possible adverse impact on employment?

Answer 14

3-D printing is actually creating objects by printing the outline of incredibly-thin two-dimensional layers independently with each outline being capable of being filled by a liquid substance that solidifies.

It was the subject of a PBS Special a year or so ago red flagging the fact that 3-D printing instructions are often nothing more than blue prints for weapons and that terrorists anywhere in the world, including in a theater near you, won’t even need to undergo a background check to buy a 3-D printer and then download the blue prints for any weapon they would like to use on you.

[The weapon featured in the PBS Special was a fancy rifle made, would you believe, from hard plastic which was just as rugged and effective as rifles made from metal.]

**********
Those of us who are movie buffs have already been subjected to movies featuring armies of robots.

But why should robots be more fearful than actual weapons of mass destruction???

And even if robots should ever be capable of inventions (which is Yours Truly’s interpretation of what is meant by Artificial Intelligence), aren’t our actual weapons of mass destruction already capable of causing untold misery and destroying civilization???

Question 15

What has been the historical relationship between technological advances and employment?

Answer 15

Brynjolfsson and McAffee go to great lengths to describe two schools of thought -- that inventions will reduce the need for labor and that inventions will create an increase in the need for labor to produce the new inventions.

And to conclude that there is no theoretical reason why either condition should prevail for any length of time.

But that the historical record is that since the beginning of The Industrial Revolution in 1760 until the late 1990’s, technological advances and increases in employment have gone hand-in-hand while also keeping pace with the increases in population.

While seeing the DE-COUPLING of technological advances and increases in employment starting in the late 1990’s as new inventions are primarily digitally based and require little, if any, increases in labor.

Question 16

What was the attitude of Henry Ford vis-à-vis his workers after inventing the assembly line?

Answer 16

He raised the compensation of his assembly-line workers so that each of them could afford to buy a new Ford -- keeping the new assembly lines humming.

Question 17

How does this compare to the attitude of Robert Moses when he was constructing the extensive network of “parkways” in NYC?

Answer 17

For those of you who haven’t spent most of your lives in NYC, you may not realize that Robert Moses was, in many ways, the equivalent of J. Edgar Hoover (though most of you are probably too young to even know who J. Edgar Hoover was).

J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of what became the F.B.I. For half a century he ruled over the U.S. government because he had “a file on everyone” and no politician dared to cross him. Only death in 1972 at the age of 77 could stop him.

Robert Moses is described as the “master builder” of the Tri-State NYC Area in a wonderful biography, “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro (Alfred Knopf 1974).

Robert Moses was the UNELECTED head of many agencies from the 1920’s through the 1960’s, including the NYC Housing Authority and the Triborough Bridge Authority.

As with J. Edgar Hoover, mere politicians were all at the mercy of Robert Moses!!! He constructed housing, office buildings (including the World Trade Center), virtually all of NYC’s major bridges and tunnels, sports stadiums, state parks (including Coney Island), and virtually all of NYC’s famous parkways which were limited-access highways for automobiles flanked by wide park-like areas flanked in turn by forests.

Much of this construction occurred during The Great Depression, though the reason why he was not beholden to any politicians was that his various projects were self-financing from office/housing rental income and from bridge/tunnel tolls.

And equally important, all of his quasi-governmental agencies had been established by legislation granting the agencies the governmental power of eminent domain!!!

The comparison to (actually contrast with) Henry Ford???

As noted above, Henry Ford wanted all of his workers to be able to afford a new Ford.

In contrast, Robert Moses was fearful of not extracting enough money from workers!!!

He was afraid that busses would transport masses of people over his parkways to his state parks such as Coney Island!!!

And collecting parkway tolls from only a comparatively-few number of busses would never generate enough revenue to keep his empire rolling!!!

So he purposely constructed all of the overpasses on his parkways too low to accommodate busses!!!

So that only vast fleets of automobiles paying zillions in tolls could use the parkways!!!

Question 18

Was Eastman Kodak and its massive employment a good example of how a technological advance increased employment?

Answer 18

Yes.

Very few pictures had been taken in the history of humankind prior to the founding of Eastman Kodak in 1892. The peak employment of Eastman Kodak was approximately 150,000. This did not include all of the labor in the shops around the world that sold Kodak film and other equipment. And did not include all of the labor in the film-developing shops around the world.

In 2012, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy because nobody uses film anymore for taking pictures.

Question 19

Are there other good examples (other than fads such as Apple products) which involved increases in employment to produce newly-invented products for which there was great demand?

Answer 19

Radio and television. It doesn’t take long to think of zillions of others.

Question 20

Do new computer applications almost of necessity involve reductions in employment?

Answer 20

Yes, according to Brynjolfsson and McAffee.

Question 21

When do Brynjolfsson and McAffee claim that technological advances and employment became de-coupled?

Answer 21

In the late 1990’s.

Question 22

Why do Brynjolfsson and McAffee studiously ignore the U.S. government’s policy of exporting American jobs? And the U.S. government’s policy of importing illegal aliens to compete with American workers for jobs that cannot be exported geographically (e.g., construction and agriculture)?

Answer 22

God only knows!!!

Question 23

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee try to flim-flam their readers by comparing the U.S. experience to Europe?

Answer 23

Yes.

On p. 133, Brynjolfsson and McAffee flippantly claim that tax policy has nothing to do with the escalation in wealth/income disparity by saying that the same thing happened in Europe.

However, as we have studied many times in the past, both in America AND IN EUROPE, a major part of The Middle Class comprised blue-collar workers. Both in America AND IN EUROPE, the manufacturing jobs of those blue-collar workers were exported to previously low-wage primarily-agrarian countries such as China. And both in America AND IN EUROPE a major part of the exportation of manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries such as China was not only the failure of the U.S. government to subject to U.S. corporate income tax the profit of U.S.-Based Multi-National Companies (MNC's) from exporting jobs BUT ALSO THE FAILURE OF EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS TO SUBJECT TO EUROPEAN CORPORATE INCOME TAX THE PROFIT OF EUROPEAN-BASED MNC'S FROM EXPORTING JOBS.

Accordingly, the resulting escalation in wealth/income disparity in both America AND IN EUROPE was indeed caused, in major part, by tax policy!!!

How does this work???

The U.S.-based and European-based MNC’s orchestrate the creation of nominally-independent manufacturing companies in the low-wage countries to hire the workers. The nominally-independent manufacturing companies then manufacture the MNC’s products to the MNC’s specifications under the MNC’s supervision using the MNC’s technology.

The U.S.-based MNC uses a tax-haven subsidiary to interface with the in-country manufacturing company and often captures 99% of the MNC’s worldwide income in the tax haven. Historically, so-called “non-resident Singapore subs” have been the tax-haven subsidiary of choice for U.S.-based MNC’s dealing with China.

[And, historically, Microsoft for example had captured at one point more than $1 TRillion (yes, that’s TRillion with 12 zeros!!!) in tax-haven subsidiaries, causing stock analysts to value Microsoft as a BANK rather than as a SOFTWARE COMPANY!!!]

European-based MNC’s don’t have to bother with such elaborate arrangements because most European countries essentially exempt from corporate income tax the profit from exporting European jobs pursuant to a principle called "The Participation Exemption." The Participation Exemption principle employed by virtually-all continental European countries, unlike the foreign-tax-credit provisions of the U.S. and, effectively, the U.K. [foreign-tax-credit regimes apply the regular corporate income tax rate to the foreign income, but then grant a credit for any foreign income tax paid], does NOT tax the foreign income so long as there was some foreign income tax paid on the income -- no matter how small the rate or what foreign government imposed the tax. Historically, it has always been "easy as pie" for a European-based MNC to route its "contract manufacturing income" from low-wage countries such as China, through the Swiss branch of a Dutch-incorporated subsidiary for a combined total income tax of only 3.5% to the Swiss and Dutch as the cost of otherwise exempting completely the income from exporting European jobs.

Accordingly, the massive exports of jobs from both America and Europe were based not only on lower wages in the third world, but were also based ON THE FAILURE OF THE U.S. AND THE FAILURE OF EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS TO TAX THE PROFITS RESULTING FROM THE LOWER WAGES.

NB: President Obama campaigned on taxing such profits but has done nothing in this regard (other than, perhaps, collecting Campaign Contributions from U.S.-based MNC’s to refrain from taxing such profits).

But, in comparison, it is a major-league felony for Brynjolfsson and McAffee to claim that a failure to tax the profits from exporting American jobs had nothing to do with the exporting of American jobs, based on the ridiculous comparison to Europe in an attempt by Brynjolfsson and McAffee to flim-flam the reader into assuming that European countries DID tax the profits from exporting European jobs!!!

Question 24

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee try to flim-flam their readers with out-of-context statistics about the relatively-recent decline in the number of Chinese factory workers?

Answer 24

On pp. 183-184, Brynjolfsson and McAffee state that since 1996, manufacturing employment in China has FALLEN by 25% representing 30 million fewer factory workers, while output in Chinese factories actually SOARED by 70%.

Their flippant conclusion which is probably false???

“Both American and Chinese workers are being made more efficient by automation”!!!

As academicians, they should be ashamed to exhibit such a lack of curiosity!!!

It is respectfully suggested that the more reasonable hypothesis for testing the Chinese statistics is that during the 20 years since 1996, the high-tech companies have become more comfortable with locating their high-tech manufacturing operations in China which, years ago, might have been thought likely to swipe them!!!

While the rise in manufacturing wages in China due to the increased confidence of MNC’s to locate high-tech operations there caused the low-tech Nikes of the world to abandon China for even lower-wage third-world countries!!!

If these hypotheses are accurate (and Yours Truly is willing to bet anyone that they are -- any takers???), then the Chinese manufacturing statistics, though perhaps similar to the American statistics, are radically different with regard to causation, since the bottom has dropped out of American manufacturing employment because those jobs were exported to China and other low-wage third-world countries!!!

Shame on Brynjolfsson and McAffee for their attempted fraud!!!

Question 25

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee claim that the adverse impacts on employment and income equality have nothing at all to do with U.S. income tax law? (and, at least impliedly, nothing to do with European tax law?)

Answer 25

Yes. [Please see Q&A-23.]

Question 26

Are Brynjolfsson and McAffee purposely lying when making this claim?

Answer 26

It’s difficult to believe that MIT Professors are ignorant.

Question 27

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee appear to believe that there is a God-given right to the free flow of capital?

Answer 27

There is no evidence that Brynjolfsson and McAffee believe in God.

Question 28

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee appear to believe that there is a God-given right to employ the cheapest “slave labor” available anywhere on the planet? Regardless of even the age and safety of the "slaves"?

Answer 28

There is no evidence that Brynjolfsson and McAffee believe in God.

Question 29

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee think their readers are idiots who will believe anything Brynjolfsson and McAffee tell them about tax law?

Answer 29

What do you think???

Question 30

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee studiously ignore America’s Permanent Under-Caste living in our Inner-City Ghettos?

Answer 30

Yes!!!

Question 31

Are Brynjolfsson and McAffee presumptuous (and perhaps even pompous) in making recommendations about future policy, especially when they purposely ignore America’s policy of exporting jobs and purposely ignore the existence of America’s Permanent Under-Caste?

Answer 31

Of course!!!


*************************************
Some miscellaneous questions --

Question (A)

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee have some truly-bizarre notions about Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?

Answer (A)

Brynjolfsson and McAffee confuse the concepts of GDP and enjoyment.

Please forgive the sarcasm, but they suggest that if enjoyment can be derived from anything that does NOT cost anything, the value of that enjoyment should nonetheless be added to GDP.

Accordingly, since Law School 101 teaches taking a principle to its extreme to test its validity, Brynjolfsson and McAffee are effectively saying that if all Americans became Buddhists who could derive infinite enjoyment from proverbial “naval gazing” or ascetics who could derive infinite joy from watching sunsets, the obvious solution to America’s woes would be to convert everyone to Buddhism.

[Though perhaps the sarcasm is unwarranted because Brynjolfsson and McAffee may be right about changing the values of Americans.]

Question (B)

In other words, if all work in the future could be performed by robots so that humans would enjoy nothing but leisure, what would be the GDP?

Answer (B)

Economics is the study of scarce resources (material, time, etc.) and how to "economize" or prioritize their use. [And so-called macro-economics is the study of management, both stimulating and constraining, of scarce resources for an entire economy, rather than focusing solely on the micro level.]

Accordingly, GDP measures the amount required to induce workers to surrender their scarce time and effort from leisure for production. And the amount required to induce owners of capital to surrender their scarce resources to facilitate that production.

Accordingly, it is respectfully suggested that if future robots can handle all future work (including increasing their ranks to handle population increases and including inventing new products for the amusement of humans), GDP should fall to zero.

One might wonder why the return on capital should fall to zero.

Even though we are only having fun dealing with theory, there should be two reasons: (1) why would the owner of capital care about earning anything when the robots are already providing everything s/he could possibly want??? And (2) if an owner of capital wanted to be so brazen as to expect a return, robots not owned by her/him would presumably put that owner and her/his robots out of business in no time flat!!!

In other words, there is NO SCARCITY of robots, so there is nothing to economize and there is no shortage that would command any compensation at all for anything.

Question (C)

Do Brynjolfsson and McAffee almost seem to talk as if digital technology is all there is to America’s and the world’s economy?

Answer (C)

Yes.

Question (D)

But taking the U.S. as an example, how much of GDP is devoted to government? How much to the basics (food, clothing and shelter)? How much to healthcare? College costs?

Answer (D)

According to the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, total governmental spending in the U.S. was 41.6% of GDP for 2014.

Of the remaining 58.4% of GDP (“disposable income”), Brynjolfsson and McAffee report on p. 168 that America spends 32% on the “basics” (housing, clothing, food at home and transportation). Which is 18.7% of total GDP.

Healthcare costs in the U.S. have been running at 17% of total GDP. However, approximately 60%-65% of these costs are paid by such governmental programs as Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the V.A. So only approx. 6% of total GDP is consumed by non-governmental healthcare costs. And 6% of GDP is 10% of Disposable Income.

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Analysis of Data from the OECD, higher education costs in the U.S. in 2010 were 2.5% of total GDP. This is 3.5% of Disposable Income.

Re-Cap --

41.6% of GDP = Total Governmental Spending
18.7% of GDP = Basics
6% of GDP = Non-Governmental Healthcare
2.5% of GDP = Higher Education
-------
68.8% of GDP = Total
-------

This doesn’t look too bad.

So what are the glaring problems???

First, the incredible poverty of our Inner-City Ghettos.

[According to UNICEF, 23% of U.S. children live in poverty!!! No other industrialized country tolerates even half that rate -- it is triple the rate in Germany, Austria and France, and quadruple the rate in such nations as Denmark, Slovenia, Norway, the Netherlands, and Finland.]

Second, Brynjolfsson and McAffee report (p. 169) that between 1990 and 2008, American family income rose only 20% while prices for housing and college rose about 50% and healthcare costs more than doubled by rising more than 150%.

Question (E)

Isn’t it true that information-technology can make improvements in each of these activities, but it will probably be longer than Brynjolfsson and McAffee think before robots will be able to make as much headway in these sectors as they have in manufacturing?

Answer (E)

Brynjolfsson and McAffee are way off track vis-à-vis K-12 education (please see Q&A-F below).

They are probably right about the continuing gradual improvement in all other areas except food production.

And for all of you who have failed to focus on anything since Q&A-5 because of your horror over the prospect of the world’s population growing from 7 billion to more than 100 billion in no time flat as we enter The Second Machine Age, take solace in how easy it should be to feed those 100 billion souls!!!

We have made three Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail Campaigns (described in the first section of http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org) based on how thorium fission can supply 100% of the world’s energy needs for less than any alternative fuels (which is why it would be unnecessary to invade China to prevent it from bringing on stream one new monster-size coal-fired electric-generating plant EVERY WEEK) while, inter alia, eliminating 100% of greenhouse gases virtually overnight, eliminating our gaping foreign-trade deficits since we still import 50% of our energy, eliminating our need to kow-tow to oil-producing countries (and the need of our European allies to kow-tow to Russia on which they are dependant for most of their energy needs), etc., etc.

All with thorium which is so safe that it is incapable of exploding.

[Which is why the U.S. turned to uranium and plutonium and away from thorium after an 18-month successful thorium demonstration project in the 1960’s by the U.S. Nuclear Research Laboratory at Oakridge TN.]

Now please stop to consider the basics of modern agriculture.

Yes, virtually all agricultural fertilizers come from petrochemicals.

But more importantly, solar power provides the energy, directly or indirectly, for all living organisms.

Vegetarians know that virtually all of their energy comes from oxidizing sugar (C6-H12-O6) in a process that produces carbon dioxide and water (C6-H12-O6 + 6O2 > 6CO2 + 6H2O).

And even non-vegetarians obtain energy from oxidizing the sugar which comprises most of the meat of any fish or animal and which the fish/animal has derived, toward the top of any food chain, from plant life.

Now we have 100 billion people to feed, rather than the mere 7 billion that we have today.

There probably is NOT enough space on earth for conventional farms to produce that volume of food.

[And, even if that’s possible, Brynjolfsson and McAffee will tell us we are headed for 200 billion people or even a trillion pretty quickly!!!]

But what do conventional farms do anyway???

All they do is use solar power, with the help of petrochemicals, to create food in a process called photosynthesis!!!

[Photosynthesis is really nothing more than using solar power to drive IN REVERSE the oxidation or burning of sugar which produces carbon dioxide and water. In other words, sugar containing energy accessible by oxidation has to be created and the energy is put into the newly-created sugar by transforming solar power into sugar power as the solar power forces the water irrigating your garden or farm and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over your garden or farm to combine in producing sugar and oxygen. In chemical terms -- 6CO2 + 6H2O > C6-H12-O6 + 6O2. Does that formula look vaguely familiar???]

Why couldn’t thorium be used as the power source to produce all that food???

Brynjolfsson and McAffee should be proud of our invention of huge thorium-powered food-manufacturing plants on the back end of petrochemical plants -- as tomorrow’s replacement for farms!!!

And yes, I would be delighted for anyone else to take the credit for this invention as they “feed the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fishes”!!!

Question (F)

Isn’t it true that digital-technology cheerleaders like Brynjolfsson and McAffee are unrealistic when it comes to on-line education for K-12 students? After all, aren’t Brynjolfsson and McAffee making the implicit and probably-false assumption that K-12 students are motivated, especially children in our inner-city ghettos who believe that they are not eligible for their dreams and that their only realistic career objectives are pusher or pimp, or girl friend of a pusher or pimp graduating to whore?

Answer (F)

Yes. Yes.

Question (G)

Brynjolfsson and McAffee spend a great deal of time talking about winner-take all markets and power-curve (vs. normal or bell-curve) distributions, but aren’t Brynjolfsson and McAffee merely describing the rewards for inventiveness which (both inventions and their skewed rewards) are as old as human history?

Answer (G)

Yes.

Question (H)

And aren’t Brynjolfsson and McAffee being overly-dramatic in predicting such distributions for inventiveness as all-pervasive in the future -- unless their robots are able to eliminate employment in government, basics (food, clothing and shelter), healthcare and education?

Answer (H)

Probably.

johnkarls
Posts: 1559
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 2-SuggestedAnswersToTheFirstShortQuiz-6-12-2013

Post by johnkarls »

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Suggested Answers to the First Short Quiz - For Our 6/12/2013 Meeting focusing on “The New Digital Age” by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

Posted by johnkarls » Sat May 25, 2013 3:05 am


Question 1

Does the internet foster democracy by enabling citizens and groups such as Reading Liberally to break through the monopoly that 3-4 news organizations used to have in determining what events are “news” and how we should view the events they select?

Answer 1

Yes.

Question 2

Will access to the internet in jurisdictions with repressive regimes ever be unfettered? Or will access always be a Cat And Mouse game as possession of Smart Phones (with internet access) is criminalized and transmitters to which Smart Phones are tethered are programmed to block internet access?

Answer 2

Probably not. Probably.

Question 3

Will the Smart Phones of the future operate directly off satellites rather than transmitters so that anyone with the courage to keep in her/his possession a smuggled-in illegal Satellite Smart Phone will have internet access (subject to the repressive regime’s ability to jam satellite reception)?

Answer 3

The kind of small TV satellite dishes in use in the U.S. during the last decade (Dish TV and Direct TV) have been in use in Japan for more than half a century because Japan is so mountainous. [Transmission towers were impractical and cable was too expensive outside Japanese metropolitan areas.]

So why don’t we (not just Japan) already have Smart Phones that also operate directly off satellites rather than transmission towers???

Question 4

Will so-called Crowd Funding of start-ups via the internet create scandals because, in reality, Crowd Funding is nothing more than an end run on all of the Securities Laws so carefully crafted in the 1930’s to prevent fraud and abuse?

Answer 4

Of course!!!

And the U.S. Attorney General should encourage all U.S. attorneys to institute such prosecutions ASAP to publicize the fact that Crowd Funding violates the Securities Laws!!!

Question 5

The news has been full of reports recently about how a University of Texas law student up-loaded 3-D printing instructions for the creation from standard blocks of plastic of a pistol which was fired in a video clip on the PBS Newshour (the instructions were down-loaded more than 100,000 times before the student voluntarily took down the website at the request of the FBI) -- so does 3-D Printing mean that any future terrorist can simply download 3-D printing instructions for Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Answer 5

Probably.

Though for suitcase-size atomic bombs and/or dirty bombs, terrorists will still have to obtain enriched uranium or plutonium.

Though that shouldn’t be too difficult considering the facts that: (1) 178 Soviet suitcase-size nuclear weapons went missing long ago and have long-since been assumed by experts to be in the hands of terrorist organizations, and/or (2) it shouldn’t be too difficult for terrorists to purchase weapons-grade uranium on the “black market” from North Korean, Pakistani or Iranian sources.

Question 6

Is the Common Wisdom correct that in order to maintain cyber security, it is only necessary to have two computers, one of which is NOT connected to the internet and data transmission between the two is ONE WAY ONLY with the CD’s used for one-way transmission destroyed afterwards (or donated to charity)?

Answer 6

Yours Truly had to employ the common wisdom during the three years he was suing by himself 15 of the world’s largest financial institutions for $84 billion on behalf of 10 million inner-city children (please see the third and fourth sections of this Bulletin Board for details about those lawsuits).

Yours Truly always had to smile when his main computer always took several minutes while shutting down while it vainly tried to transmit all of his key strokes to the law firms of the financial institutions while displaying a message that said “Downloading (X number) of Microsoft (Windows, Office, Whatever) Updates”!!! Even though it hadn’t been connected to the Internet to receive any updates!!!

However, please see Q&A-7.

Question 7

Or has Scorpion/Thresher technology already made it possible for super-thieves to take a picture of your hard drive from miles away with no connectivity (like a Paparazzi) in order to replicate all of your computer files?

Answer 7

The Thresher was a U.S. Nuclear-Powered Submarine that sank in the North Atlantic about 220 miles east of Boston on 4/10/1963 with a loss of all 129 personnel.

The Scorpion was a U.S. Nuclear-Powered Submarine that sank in the North Atlantic about 400 miles southwest of the Azores between 5/21/1968 and 6/5/1968 with a loss of all 99 personnel.

During Jan 1968 – Oct 1969, Yours Truly served as a U.S. Naval Officer on board a command, to which one of the attached aircraft squadrons was skippered by a member of the official U.S. Navy Board of Inquiry regarding the loss of the Scorpion.

During that period, Yours Truly’s staff included a Senior Chief who had a family living in Navy Housing at the Newport RI Naval Base which he visited whenever possible.

After one visit, the Senior Chief returned with a copy of the main Newport RI civilian newspaper which contained an article describing how a high-ranking Soviet scientist had recently defected and had claimed that both the Thresher and the Scorpion had been killed by a Soviet anti-submarine weapon (1) that he and his group of Soviet scientists had developed and perfected, (2) that was capable of disabling all underwater electrical systems within a radius of several miles, and (3) that was tested against the Thresher in 1963 and against the Scorpion in 1968.

Yours Truly showed the article to the aircraft-squadron skipper who was on the Official Scorpion Board of Inquiry. He appeared incredibly shocked, but was able to regain his composure and refused to comment. However, he also refused to return the newspaper. My interpretation of his reaction and action was a confirmation of the contents of the article.

A second Straw In The Wind is that during the period that Yours Truly served in the Navy 1967-1969, it was common wisdom that U.S. Spy Satellites were capable of taking pictures from orbit that were able to distinguish the grain of railroad ties on the earth’s surface.

Accordingly, should we be surprised to learn in the future that the U.S. government has long-since combined the principles of these two technologies to develop an instrument that can take a “picture” of your computer hard drive from a distance of several miles with no connectivity in order to replicate all of your computer files???

Question 8

Has the essential hardware comprising the internet already been located in jurisdictions whose laws, current and future, will permit the internet to operate in an unfettered manner? As distinguished from, say, U.S. connectivity to the essential hardware located “on Mars” so that U.S. law can only address U.S. connectivity rather than how the internet itself operates? Does this mean, to wallow momentarily in the mundane, that the U.S. Congress will never succeed in requiring state sales taxes to be imposed on internet sales?

Answer 8

Probably. Probably. Probably.

Question 9

If the essential hardware comprising the internet (vs. connectivity to it) has been located in jurisdictions with favorable legal systems, do those jurisdictions have sufficient military power to ward off hostile regimes? Or even Somali pirates?

Answer 9

Who knows??? Who knows???

Question 10

If the U.S. can’t control access to terrorist websites, how important is it for the U.S. to be able to monitor the websites its citizens/residents visit? Or would it suffice for anti-terrorist organizations to create the most-enticing terrorist websites and then see who logs on?

Answer 10

Monitoring terrorist websites to ascertain which citizens/residents visit is probably essential to preventing terrorist attacks.

However, fake-terrorist-website sting operations may be the best we can manage, whether for practical or legal reasons. Even though this may mean more dead Americans than if terrorist websites themselves were monitored.

Question 11

Is there any chance that false or hateful content can be kept off the internet?

Answer 11

Probably not.

Question 12

And, to finish on a light-hearted note (pun intended), do Schmidt and Cohen hold out any hope for classical-music lovers that the LOW FIDELITY AUDIO that has plagued the world to this day and is an ABOMINATION when contrasted with the HI FI(delity) that we used to enjoy during the analog/vinyl era -- will ever be rectified???

Answer 12

Short answer = no!!!

Background information =

During the analog/vinyl era, the Gold Standard for Hi Fi was 10 Herz to 20,000 Herz.

Legend has it that the first commercial audio compact disc was designed to contain all of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony -- the most popular piece of classical music by far!!!

The reason why Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is/was so popular is also legendary!!! Beethoven lived 1770-1827. In 1832, shortly after Beethoven’s death, Samuel Morse turned his attention from a career in painting to inventing the telegraph [his famous first message "What hath God wrought?" was sent 5/24/1844.] Samuel Morse was an admirer of Beethoven and, on a whim, decided to represent the letter V in his Morse Code with dit-dit-dit-dah in honor of the incessant motif of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony because the letter V stands for the Roman Numeral for five. However, the letter V can also stand for Victory, as a result of which virtually every concert in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II featured Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as a gesture of protest!!! Yes, the orchestras of occupied Europe were playing V for Victory for the entire first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth!!! But how could the Nazis object since Beethoven was German!!! And the popularity of Beethoven’s Fifth has never faded since World War II!!!

Unfortunately, the engineers who were tasked with putting Beethoven’s entire Fifth Symphony on the first commercial audio compact disc found they could not include 10 Herz to 20,000 Herz.

So they made the decision, WHICH SHOULD BE CRIMINAL WITH NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, to omit everything above 10,000 Herz on the assumption that most human beings cannot hear frequencies above 10,000 Herz.

[The reason why instruments playing the same pitch sound different from each other is that every instrument, including the human voice, is simultaneously sounding harmonic frequencies above and below the primary frequency.]

And classical music lovers, as a class, do tend to be able to hear the harmonics between 10,000 Herz and 20,000 Herz.

Which is why classical music lovers find digital recordings such an ABOMINATION compared to live performances.

And why classical music lovers will probably never have their needs met.

After all, symphony orchestras and opera companies hardly have any incentive to lobby for recording technology that will equal their live performances and leave classical music lovers with little incentive for attending live performances.

Enough said!!!

Before my blood boils!!!

johnkarls
Posts: 1559
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 3-SuggestedAnswersToTheSecondShortQuiz-6-12-2013

Post by johnkarls »

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Suggested Answers to the Second Short Quiz - For Our 6/12/2013 Meeting focusing on “The New Digital Age” by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

Posted by johnkarls » Tue May 28, 2013 11:27 am


Question 1

Many of the predictions of our authors can be classified into either the Optimistic View or the Pessimistic View -- what are these views? Is this what Bill Clinton was talking about when, with respect to The New Digital Age, he stressed the importance of “making the right choices today”?

Answer 1

The optimistic view is that The New Digital Age means greater political awareness on the part of the masses, making democracy almost inevitable and dictators as extinct as dinosaurs.

The pessimistic view is that The New Digital Age means that the tools enabling George Orwell’s Big Brother have finally become a reality and it will not be long before Orwell’s vision of a worldwide totalitarian government based on complete thought control is a reality.

It would appear that this contrast is what Bill Clinton was talking about. Though it would also seem obvious that Bill Clinton can’t possibly mean that the “right choices today” will suffice for all time, but rather that this will be a perpetual battle during which the “wrong choices tomorrow” would also spell doom.

Question 2

What is Sina Weibo?

Answer 2

Sina Weibo is China’s social media network enabling 600 million people (per the Huffington Post interview of our authors posted in the Reference Materials section of this bulletin board) to “criticize the government through microblogs on every issue from tainted milk to train wrecks and pollution to corrupt officials.”

However, it is respectfully suggested that this description of Sina Weibo should be read as evidence that the Chinese government is more interested in being popular and relatively benign, rather than focused on Orwellian-style repression. And it is respectfully suggested that this appears to be a choice the Chinese government has made, rather than one that is/was forced on it.

[If anyone would like to noodle this further on her/his own, it is respectfully suggested that s/he consider whether Stalin would have been able to play the role of Big Brother in Schmidt/Cohen’s New Digital Age.]

Question 3

Does its existence support the Optimistic View of our authors?

Answer 3

Please see the parenthetical at the end of Answer 2 and Answer 7 in its entirety.

Question 4

What is internet Balkanization? Was it developed by Google to accommodate China? Does it portend the ability of repressive regimes to maintain their control?

Answer 4

Balkanization, both geographically throughout history and in terms of The New Digital Age, means separate with little or no connectivity.

Google famously accommodated the Chinese government by Balkanizing their internet so that Chinese citizens have little or no access to many Western websites.

Who knows what Balkanization portends since technology, whether enabling citizens to access information and organize together, or whether enabling governments to play the role of Big Brother effectively, will probably be decisive.

Question 5

Our authors spend a great deal of time talking about P-2-P communications: What is it? Is it really the panacea that they seem to think?

Answer 5

P-2-P is shorthand for Person-To-Person. Our authors, for example, include Skype in this category.

Skype is nothing more than Vonage, a now-old internet-based telephone service, but with a video capability added so that you can now see the other party as well as converse together.

But whether or not Skype/Vonage use the internet, or large corporations and governments use private or co-op satellites, all P-2-P systems have to exist in the physical world which invokes the age-old possibility of interception.

In this regard, should we be surprised to learn in the future that, say, at least NSA has been intercepting everything transmitted by all satellites and everything sent over every fiber-optic cable for years and, just like Google which has long-since admitted that all of your G-Mail is preserved permanently in their databases where it is subject to future searches, NSA has been doing the same thing with regard to everything?

Accordingly, the assumption that P-2-P solves very much would seem naïve.

Question 6

Our authors spend a great deal of time talking about encryption: What is it? Is it really the panacea that they seem to think?

Answer 6

When Yours Truly served as a U.S. Naval Officer 1967-1969, he had a Top Secret Clearance with Cryptographic Access because, as a collateral duty, he stood Communications Watches. This meant, inter alia, being cleared to read anything sent to our skipper while he was asleep concerning our nuclear weapons.

Although it would not be proper to discuss even today the encryption techniques for encoding messages 45 years ago, it is impossible to conceive that even a large corporation or the world’s most wealthy individuals would be able to obtain/develop encryption techniques that a large governmental agency such as NSA would not find to be amusing child’s play to break.

The most a large corporation or wealthy individual could hope for would be an encryption system that was developed by some techies that had left NSA and that might have limited effectiveness against small corporations and poor individuals.

But the assumption that encryption will really solve anything, particularly vis-à-vis the NSA’s of the world, is naïve.

Question 7

What is Boulean logic? Do Boulean-logic searches mean that a repressive government would have to spend very little time monitoring its citizens in order to weed out virtually all of the trouble makers effectively?

Answer 7

Over the years, Google has vastly improved its Advanced-Search capability (you can access it by typing Advanced Search in the Google search box and then clicking on the top hit).

With Advanced Search, you can now specify, for example, that a website must (1) include all of a list of specified words, (2) contain an exact phrase, and/or (3) contain none of a list of specified words.

However, this still does not hold a candle to a Boulean-logic search.

For anyone beginning a legal career in the 1960’s, Lexis-Nexis was already on the scene for conducting searches of data bases containing all legal cases, all law-review articles, etc., etc. using Boulean-logic searches.

A Boulean-logic search looks almost like a mathematical formula which contains many more relationships than the Advanced Google Search (for example, “assault” within three words of “conspir!” where the exclamation point means any word beginning with “conspir” such as “conspire,” “conspiracy” or “conspirator”). And adding parentheses around “assault w/3 conspir!” makes it simultaneously a unit with respect to which other relationships (within, and, not, etc.) can be specified in a never-ending cascade of nested parenthetical relationships.

So all our future Stalin needs is one savvy programmer who can specify a Boulean-logic search that will identify every potential trouble maker from all of the NSA databases of all messages that every citizen has ever transmitted, and a Praetorian guard ready to execute all such dissidents when the signal for the coup is given in the middle of some night, and Big Brother is now in charge. [With, of course, the Praetorian Guard being highly remunerated as befits the inner military/police circle of any effective dictator.]

And if anyone wonders how many potential trouble makers might have to be eliminated, the old Soviet Union provides an interesting study. Stalin’s famous Gulags had a capacity for killing 7 million people per year.

[Soviet apologists will often try to dispute this fact by citing official governmental statistics which, for example, showed that by the 1930’s Stalin had NOT killed 50 million more people that even the most cynical observers had thought possible and landed the uncooperative Soviet census takers who refused to certify Stalin’s higher official population numbers in the Gulags themselves where they were promptly liquidated.]

The reason why the Gulags are instructive?

Because they were actually constructed by Lenin immediately after the revolution to kill 7 million intelligentsia and aristocracy per year.

So why should we think for a moment that the world is incapable of producing another Lenin or Stalin? Or that the capabilities of The New Digital Age in the hands of the new Lenin or Stalin could not produce Big Brother?

Question 8

How easy would it be in the future for the leader of a democracy to stage a coup against her/his own government in order to become a dictator?

Answer 8

Please see Answer 7.

Question 9

Does the future of the physical world look bright, so long as the dangers of the cyber-world do not screw things up (please pardon “my French”)?

Answer 9

A future based on thorium-reactors for energy at virtually no cost (please see the materials on this bulletin board for our 10/10/2012 meeting and the Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-Mail Campaign that resulted) means that not only fossil fuels but even wind and solar will consigned to history. And energy will effectively be free (as well as safe and environmentally sound).

And using the oceans to cultivate plant food for the increased billions of human beings occupying our earth is also a challenge that can be met.

Accordingly, it would seem that only the possibility of Big Brother (please see Answer 7) would be likely to screw things up (please pardon “my French”).

Though admittedly this does assume that the political problems of the real world such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction can be addressed effectively.

*****
And, to finish with some comparatively-irrelevant but hopefully-amusing tidbits --

Question 10

Does Germany discriminate against its senior citizens? Do our authors inadvertently promise such discrimination will be overcome?

Answer 10

Germany does not permit its citizens to drive after they have reached age 70.

Our authors talk about diver-less cars of the future that will chauffer us including (without our authors focusing on the issue) German senior citizens.

Question 11

Even though our authors did not promise to help classical-music connoisseurs (please see Q&A-12 of the First Short Quiz), have they inadvertently “promised the world” to balletomanes?

Answer 11

Our authors talk quite a bit about holograms (three-dimensional images) that can be produced in your own office or home.

And in connection with your home, they describe the action of a movie appearing to take place in your own living room in what would appear to be a Broadway play or even appear to be real life.

Most ballet lovers are smitten with the beauty of movement and don’t care that much whether it is accompanied by Low Fidelity digital music rather than the old Hi Fi analog recordings of a now-distant Golden Age or the Hi Fi that is a live performance (please see Q&A-12 of the First Short Quiz).

Accordingly, it would now appear that balletomanes are about to enter The Promised Land, unlike classical music and opera aficionados who appear to be condemned to wander perpetually in The Wilderness.

Question 12

The London Telegraph reviewer of The New Digital Age twitted our authors about their alleged ignorance regarding their usage of the phrase “brave new world,” but in doing so did Matt Warman really disgrace himself instead?

Answer 12

Matt Warman twits our authors with: “Schmidt and Cohen call that future ‘brave new world’ without awareness of the irony of Shakespeare’s phrase from The Tempest.”

Warman’s attempt at being a pedant is laughable because he is turning a blind eye to the fact that this phrase was made famous as the title of a famous book by Alduous Huxley in 1931 which for many decades was compared to, and contrasted with, George Orwell’s 1984 which introduced the concept of Big Brother. The uncharitable view would be that wannabe pedant Warman has never heard of Huxley. The charitable view would be that Warman was attempting for supreme pedantry by maximizing obscurity (though among intellectual snobs, the Shakespearean origin of the phrase is a popular trivia Q&A because of the Huxley novel).

Nonetheless, Warman’s attack is still silly because he is really saying that our authors should have garbaged their book with this (and, therefore, presumably many other) true but irrelevant facts.

johnkarls
Posts: 1559
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Attachment 4-Bios-EricSchmidt-JaredCohen+Testimonials-6-12-2

Post by johnkarls »

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Testimonials + Author Bios - For Our 6/12/2013 Meeting focusing on “The New Digital Age” by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

Posted by johnkarls » Sat May 11, 2013 5:43 am


ERIC SCHMIDT is Executive Chairman of Google, which he served as Chief Executive Officer from 2001 to 2011. A member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Schmidt also chairs the board of the New America Foundation and is a trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton NJ (an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry and home to such luminaries as Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, J. Robert Oppenheimer, George Kennan, and Noam Chomsky).

JARED COHEN is The Director of Google Ideas (a global initiatives think tank in NYC to apply technological solutions to problems faced by the developing world), an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Advisory Board of the Director of the U.S. Government’s Counterterrorism Center. Cohen is a former member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff 2006-2010 where he was one of the youngest members in history when he started under Condoleezza Rice and one of the few kept on by Hillary Clinton and where he focused on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, Middle East/South Asia, Youth, and Technology -- three months before he left to join Google 9/10/2010, he was reported to have the third largest number of Twitter followers in the U.S. Government behind President Obama and Senator McCain. Cohen is a former Rhodes Scholar 2004-2006 and the author of “One Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide” (Rowman & Littlefield 2006) and “Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East” (Penguin 2007). According to the New York Times Magazine, he was one of the principal architects of what has become known as “21st century statecraft.”

Testimonials include --

BILL CLINTON -- "Every day, technological innovations are giving people around the world new opportunities to shape their own destinies. In this fascinating book, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen draw upon their unique experiences to show us a future of rising incomes, growing participation and a genuine sense of community -- IF we make the right choices today." (original emphasis on IF)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT -- "This is the book I have been waiting for: a concise and persuasive description of technology's impact on war, peace, freedom and diplomacy. The New Digital Age is a guide to the future written by two experts who possess a profound understanding of humanity's altered prospects in a wireless world."

HENRY KISSINGER -- "Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen have produced a searching meditation on technology and world order. Even those who disagree with some of their conclusions will learn much from this thought-provoking volume."

TONY BLAIR (Former UK Labor Prime Minister) -- "This is a book that describes a technological revolution in the making. How we navigate it is a challenge for countries, communities and citizens. There are no two people better equipped to explain what it means than Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen."

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