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Exponential Finance

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Yves here. As much as the overall thrust of this guest post has merit, I’m always leery of forecasts that amount to “trees grow to the sky.” I’ve evaluated a lot of tech deals (really weird ones) and I’ve found almost without exception that people get too caught up in the investors’ world view and spend too much time focusing on the technology aspects of the deal (and sometimes the patents too) and not enough on the business side. The critical questions in tech deals that often don’t get enough scrutiny are: 1. How much will customers have to change behavior to adopt the new technology? 2. Have the principals defined who their competition is accurately? (almost always, they define competition from a tech standpoint rather than a user standpoint, and forget the “do nothing” option) 3. If the investment involves making a product, how quickly do they assume they get manufacturing scale efficiencies? (again, without exception, too quickly).

I’m sure readers will have other points of view, but this MacroBusiness post mentions in passing that Ray Kurzweil predicts that medicine will be “transformed” in about 16 years (hah, it could be “transformed” in a negative way, but that does not seem to be what he means).

But professions with restricted entry tend to be slow to adopt new technologies (readers have heard me rant about mammograms; thermal imaging is a better diagnostic and has been around for at least a decade, but radiologists don’t want to give up their installed base of equipment). And just as Max Planck said that science advances funeral by funeral, I suspect the same is true of medicine. Look at how resistant the medical community was to the idea that bacteria caused ulcers. I even recall reading a story around the time a Nobel Prize was awarded for this discovery (2005) that something approaching 1/3 of the doctors in the US still treated ulcers as if they were a stress related ailment.

Nevertheless, if you accept the premise that exponential returns sometimes do operate, it creates a set of interesting problems for investors.

By Sell on News, a global macro equities analyst. Cross posted from MacroBusiness

A talk by the futurist Ray Kurzweil was recently played on the ABC in which he talked about the accelerating rate of innovation when it becomes part of what is broadly termed the information technology industry. He argues that in the future medicine, biology, economy and social relationships will be subject to information technology and the law of exponential return. His contention is that whereas in other sectors innovation tends to be advance in a linear fashion, information technology behaves quite differently. For instance, he predicted that the human genome project would succeed within the desired time frame. When it was halfway through and only 1% of the genome had been mapped, he was told that he was going to be proved wrong. He replied that on the contrary it was right on track, exactly in line with the exponential growth curve. It came in one year ahead of schedule. Using the same logic, he says, solar power will dominate world energy supply in about 16 years. Medicine will be transformed in about the same time frame. We have already seen the phenomena in areas like the internet and social media.

My first thought listening to it is how difficult it makes investment, because it simultaneously creates great uncertainty in industry structures — see, for example, how social media has changed conventional media, or file sharing has changed the conventional music industry — while making timing excruciatingly important. It is not enough just to pick the new sectors, on exponential curves investment timing has to be just right. For most of us, it will be wrong. The dot.com boom is a case in point in going too early.

My second thought is that this exponential IT curve has already hit finance, and it explains an awful lot of the problems now being witnessed. The explosion of derivatives, now a startling $700 trillion, well over half the capital stock of the world, has been driven by IT geeks and rocket scientists. The explosion of high frequency trading, which is similarly startling, is also a geek domain. Finance is no longer a discrete industry, it is now part of the IT juggernaut. And it is not going back.

This creates, in my view, far more problems than it solves. In fact, it is downright dangerous, because it leads to self referring, feedback loops that do not occur in other industries. If the energy industry starts to become an IT industry, as Kurzweil predicts is occurring with solar power, then the outcome will be more energy capacity at a lower cost. If the medical industry becomes an IT industry, then the outcome will be much cheaper and new medical treatments. The music industry has been transformed by IT, reducing the cost of recorded music to levels that are negligible, and, in many cases, removing the cost completely.

Now how are these innovations measured, in terms of their impact? By price, or the amount of money required to get a certain outcome. So if the same thing occurs in the financial system, which it has, then how do we measure its effects? We measure the change in the volume and range of monetary instruments by price, or an amount of money. In other words, we measure it by itself. And because something cannot be measured by itself, then we have lost the most important role of money — its function as a store of value. To measure the value of something effectively, by definition you have to have something else with which to measure it. You cannot measure the value of something with itself. Grab your shoelaces as hard as you like and you will still not be able to lift yourself off the ground.

Such self referentiality is, I suppose, a characteristic of the post-modern, post industrial world. But no one is in any doubt about how dangerous financial “innovation” is to the architecture of the global economy. Innovation is entirely different in the finance sector to other industry sectors (I am even sceptical about calling finance an industry, although I suppose it is). Innovation in this area results in tampering with the rules on which everything depends, money being in the first instance rules about value and obligation. In 2008, we saw what that means.

The IT revolution cannot be unwound; finance is now an IT industry. But it MUST be seen as a special case, requiring much more intense governance and sensible thinking about risk control, as opposed to the circularities of models like value at risk, or the Ayn Rand inspired nonsense prosecuted by Greenspan, in which pure self interest was always and in every case beneficial. More specifically, you have to measure the effect of monetary innovation with something other than money. That means looking at things outside money, such as, perish the thought, morality, or, if that is all too hard, at least social utility.

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189 comments

    1. David L.

      If the ‘post’ continues to grow, then we have ‘proof’ there is exponential growth in IT based industries (e.g. in this case WordPress).

      1. ek hornbeck

        Off topic and sorry for the interruption.

        I have attempted to register again at Corrente and now my name is taken and I don’t have a password.

        Tracking you down like this (for which I again apologize) should certainly prove my non-’bot nature. I totally understand if you consider me too disreputable, I probably wouldn’t approve my account either.

  1. anon

    The human genome project was a weird special case, as it had a poor computational power constraint. The genome data was acquired, it only had to be data-mined. There was no human limit to it – it depended on the exponential nature from Moore’s law, which derives from the exponential nature of the semiconductor business (which performs a given ratio of a die shrink in every business cycle – rarely missing a beat).

    He is going to be seriously disappointed if he expects the other examples he lists (medicine, solar) to advance exponentially.

    1. anon

      Meant “pure computational project”, not “poor computational project”.

      Damn you, autocorrect ;-)

    2. Nathanael

      Medicine is essentially a scientific research problem. Those advance polynomially (some say linearly), not exponentially.

      Solar is going to advance very very fast and then hit the wall of genuine quantum limits — just like computer chips.

      1. enouf

        If by ‘quantum limitations’, you mean the inherent properties of Silicon itself.. then indeed, i concur — but i’m sure you’re aware that there are other materials such as Diamonds (and this is where the whole Business Model (Capitalism/Viable returns on Investment/Profit) factor in.

        I’m also sure you’re aware we already indeed ‘manufacture’ diamonds (rather than only mine/harvest) for mostly Industrial usages at this time. We *cook* them under extreme temp/pressure basically. IIRC, it’s quite similar to a grafting process, which then multiplies/grows onto itself.

        The whole (as Yves describes above much more succinctly than i could ever do) Investment/Research, price cost to manufacture, willingness of consumers to pay much higher prices for higher and faster speeds, etc, etc… all factor into whether Moore’s Law (as it pertains to Silicon-based chips) can continue to be a ‘law’ or not, heh. IOW, it’s hitting the wall as we speak already.

        Or maybe i misunderstood entirely, and you were already thinking Diamonds (and/or other exotic elements/minerals, etc)

        Love

  2. groo

    Kurzweil at best is sort of an ‘idiot savant’, in the sense, that he emphasizes one aspect (computational progress) at the cost of lots of others.

    His concept of singularity actually is based on hyper-exponentiality, which again is based on feedbacks of exponentials (machines building machines etc).

    Compare this to Limits to Growth.
    Kurzweil is the opposite of a limits guy.

    K. also tried to finance his latest grandiose ideas by creating a company specializing in high-frequency micro-transactions (>2006, as far as I can remember), a precursor to HFT.

    This seemed not to go so well.
    Now he seems to be terminally ill.

    …Kurzweil ingests “250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea” every day and drinks several glasses of red wine a week in an effort to “reprogram” his biochemistry…

    Yeah. A lot helps a lot.
    But never mind.

    …Kurzweil’s body will be chemically preserved, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at an Alcor facility in the hope that future medical technology will be able to revive him. …

    The godlike singularity then will resurrect him, presumably because HE/IT will be grateful for his Jesus-like prophet, who helped create HIM/IT.

    Amen.

    1. groo

      Notice that this is sort of an inverted/twisted Christian belief.
      Kurzweil:
      …”So you might ask ‘Does god exist?’ Well, I would say not yet.”…
      God–Creation–world/man–Armageddon/ judgement-day –end of time.
      versus
      Big-bang–world/man–singularity–God-creation–end of time.

      Kurzweil’s ego is certainly a big one.
      Not simply doing ‘God’s work’, but actually creating him.

      Can’t think of any country in the world where quacks like that could flourish, than in the US.
      Maybe North-Korea.
      But am not sure about that.

    2. tom allen

      Technological progress tends (IMHO) not to be exponential — J-shaped — but sigmoidal — S-shaped — because of the limit of resources. I’d expect a big boom, which we’re seeing now, and then a leveling off.

      1. David

        Tom Allen,

        Quite right, an example would be aviation/space where
        speeds increased rapidly from the Wright Brothers flyer
        to the 1960′s Saturn V rocket. There has been little or no increase since then.

    3. charles sereno

      “…solar power will dominate world energy supply in about 16 years.”
      This prediction makes the early Bob Prechter seem like a stodgy conservative, not to say anything about the Costa Rican gold bug sisters. It’s more like the Rapture than North Korea.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        cs, of course these guys are *Preachers*–the preferred means of propaganda for the *religious* citizens of America.

    4. LeonovaBalletRusse

      groo, perhaps not just *the resurrection of the dead*, but actually Kurzweil as *Jesus in flesh* NOT on a cloud, *the Mahdi* NOT on a white horse, or *the Messiah* NOT wielding the sceptre of Judah? O, say, can we see?

      Kurzweil will be the *Second Coming* whom ALL *Religious*, including the idolators of Hi Tech, Mammon, and the Golden Calf–have been waiting for.

      Is this why we ALL are being preached the *Gospel of Kurzweil* and the *Revelation of Kurzweil*? is he *The One True God*, the *Godspeller*, and *The Revelator* in One–the Three in One, the New Trinity?

      ZIEG HEIL! “Let us bow down and worship Him.”

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Kurzweil is a *German Romantic* of the Old School. Beware Strange Gods! Beware wolves in sheepskin. What happened before can happen again. Read all about it:

        “META-POLITICS: The Roots of the Nazi Mind” by Peter Viereck (New York, Capricorn Books 1961, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1941).

        Ray Kurzweil is a dangerous man, who is *brilliant* and has the same VANITY and WILL TO POWER as: “THE PSYCOPATHIC GOD: Adolf Hitler” by Robert G.L. Waite (New York; Basic Books, Inc., Publishers; 1977). See also:

        When will we ever learn?

  3. jake chase

    Money cannot be a store of value because its supply is essentially infinite. Money still works because humans for the most part respect it. This makes money a confidence game. Greenspan was a complete charlatan who did not understand he was also a fool. Bernanke is doing his best to get toothpaste back into the tube without injuring anyone important. The result is paradoxical. On the one hand, a huge number of people with unserviceable debts groveling for chump change; on the other hand, a tiny minority rolling in money but having no sensible place to invest it with reasonable hope of return. In this circumstance, gambing in financial markets makes as much sense as anything else, up to the point where you have winnings. Then what? How much longer can this sort of thing continue? The best hope of continued stability would come from cancellation of all private debt up to say $100K. Just give everyone an equal amount of what the Fed has been dispensing selectively to chosen banksters. This would give us another ten or twenty years to do something sensible about finance. Nobody would really lose. The only mystery is why Bernanke refuses to consider it.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Chase;
      Re. “the best hope of continued stability..”
      This assumes a component of altruism in the “tiny minority” you mentioned. Considering the propensity for “never letting a crisis go to waste” that pervades our ‘governing’ elites, such a desire looks to have scant chance of coming true. I’ll echo others around here and put forward the Pethrarchian image of self satisfied elites holed up in their country retreats while the world burns around them. Oh Tempera Oh Mores!

    2. Terry Mock

      In response to Jake’s question and the article’s following conclusion:

      “The IT revolution cannot be unwound; finance is now an IT industry. But it MUST be seen as a special case, requiring much more intense governance and sensible thinking about risk control, as opposed to the circularities of models like value at risk, or the Ayn Rand inspired nonsense prosecuted by Greenspan, in which pure self interest was always and in every case beneficial. More specifically, you have to measure the effect of monetary innovation with something other than money. That means looking at things outside money, such as, perish the thought, morality, or, if that is all too hard, at least social utility.”

      While today’s existing global power structure continues to try to conduct business as usual and insist that the economy is in good standing, there is no question that existing systems are unsustainable. The economic value of all of our assets and resources are at stake, and dealing with the symptoms of the problem rather than their root causes, while delaying the consequences and numbing the public to their real effects, only exacerbates the inevitable results.

      In developing a sustainable endgame for the global economy, shifting investments from Wall St. and banking-based assets to the only investments which mitigate the increasing risk of systemic failure of the economy brought on by excessive debt – sustainable global infrastructure – is the best course of action from here. Only by investing in nature-based assets with lasting inherent value such as land, shelter, food, water quality, and other ecosystem restoration services will we mitigate the increasing systemic economic risk and achieve the short- and long-term wealth gains we all strive to achieve.

      State of the World Economy: The Emperor Has No Clothes
      http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/09/state-world-economy-emporer-clothes/

      Sustainable Land Development Initiative (SLDI)

    3. Glenn Condell

      ‘Greenspan was a complete charlatan who did not understand he was also a fool.’

      Charlatan maybe, fool no.

      ‘Bernanke is doing his best …’ Bernanke is playing his role, just as Greenspan played his. His strenuous efforts to fix the fuckup are in the same category as Greenspan’s crocodile tears for creating it. A circus to hide the theft of the bread.

      ‘The best hope of continued stability would come from cancellation of all private debt up to say $100K. Just give everyone an equal amount of what the Fed has been dispensing selectively to chosen banksters. This would give us another ten or twenty years to do something sensible about finance. Nobody would really lose.’

      Correct. Thank you Steve Keen.

      ‘The only mystery is why Bernanke refuses to consider it.’

      Riddle maybe, mystery no.

      1. Nathanael

        Oh, it will happen. The only question is when it will happen.

        There is an economic maxim whose author I have forgotten: “Debts which cannot be repaid will not be repaid”.

  4. Boston Scrod

    The seven paragraphs of this essay from MacroBusiness (beginning with “A talk by the futurist Ray Kurzweil was recently played on the ABC…”) appear to be unintentionally repeated in full (albeit without the hypertext links in the repetition). (They certainly don’t warrant repetition for emphasis.)

    As for Kurzweil’s thesis that the explosion of what passes for money and the self referential manner in which it is valued is inherently problematic, well, duh, yea. We are not even close to being out of the mess these finance geeks have created.

    1. PianoRacer

      Hey, the problem with our money is NOT the fault of “geeks”, finance or otherwise, the problem is the same problem paper money has had for thousands of years: its creation and issue is controlled by men. Everything else that is wrong flows directly from that. IT is just a tool to make your life easier. Like a socket wrench, or a burglars’ kit!

      1. F. Beard

        its [paper money] creation and issue is controlled by men. PR

        The problem is de facto money monopolies, not paper money itself.

        1. PianoRacer

          You’re right, Beard, paper money is not inherently and absolutely problematic or immoral. I was referring to our CURRENT paper money paradigm, which involves the coercive use of force by our government.

          If you want to enter into a private IOU with another party, by all means be my guest. It’s when your counterparty starts printing IOUs willy-nilly that things get dicey.

        1. Nathanael

          There is actually evidence for this. The sort of bad short-term thinking which causes financial bubbles and crashes seems to be directly caused by high testosterone levels.

  5. James

    “(I am even sceptical about calling finance an industry, although I suppose it is)”

    I think the old fashioned “racket” or “numbers game” (aka “confidence game”) are better descriptors. It’s no mere coincidence that the rise of casino capitalism derivatives markets for the rich directly paralleled the rise of casino capitalism casino gaming and state lotteries for the poor over the last two decades. Both are signs that investment capitalism has run out of ideas/marks and has proceeded directly to the end game – gaming itself in all its guises.

  6. gronk

    that medicine will be “transformed” in about 16 years

    Derek Lowe from pipeline.corante.com has something to say about this. (see http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/08/09/ray_kurzweils_future.php and other posts over there).

    If I’m not mistaken he thinks it will be 30, 50 years, and there’s a reasonable chance that it might be ‘too complex’ or ‘too costly’. There’s all kinds of nice stuff to be made when we know how life really works, but it’s going to cost shitloads of money. Somewhere around a few trillion in 2012 dollars.

    You also have the ‘intellectual property’-issue: yes, we have invested $5.000 bn in finding out how the interactions between genes, proteins, signalling drugs, etc. work, and in 2062 we might know how to change things without wierd side-effects.

    But why is making money of those drugs OK (which is basically an investment from us, and the benefit is for our children and their childen), while pushing the costs of global warming on our children is OK?

    1. ambrit

      Transformative gronk;
      Greetings fellow sophont! The trade off is acceptable because it alows our progeny to self evolve the species to adapt to the coming New World Climate Order. Silly Landling! We Sea Folk are doing fine!

      1. psychohistorian

        Hey ambrit,
        You Sea Folk in the Pacific better get used to a radioactive food chain for the next few hundred thousand years. Escaping to the rest of the oceans will only buy you a little more time……sorry.

        1. ambrit

          Most Felicitous Keeper of the Orgone Records;
          We here in Oceana have ample experience with the ‘problem’ thou alludest to; we call it Gojira, King of the Monsters!
          The Landlings have taken cognizance of that problem and are happily beavering away on something called the Mars Direct Program. Cheaper than doing something about the Crush Gaea fallout. (Not to mention, what do you do when that pesky fault line below the aptly named Diablo Canyon goes all shaky.)

  7. F. Beard

    We measure the change in the volume and range of monetary instruments by price, or an amount of money. In other words, we measure it by itself. And because something cannot be measured by itself, then we have lost the most important role of money — its function as a store of value. To measure the value of something effectively, by definition you have to have something else with which to measure it. Yves Smith

    Exactly. The silly gold bugs treat gold as a store of value as if a stupid metal* could do any such thing. But if gold does stores value it does so immorally via hoarding and a government enforced monopoly on money creation or the expectation thereof.

    Common stock is a different matter: It is part ownership of a dynamic human institution that can grow, adapt and improve to better meet human needs and desires.

    *Nuclear materials are a possible exception at least till fusion becomes practical since they contain energy – a FUNDAMENTAL resource.

    1. PianoRacer

      F. Beard, are you truly suggesting that an atomic element can possibly be “immoral”?! Wake up my friend, it is the GOVERNMENT that is immoral, please leave the poor defenseless elements out of it!

      At the risk of being labeled a “silly gold bug”, even apart from its rarity as well as its monetary qualities (divisible, durable, rare, portable, fungible), gold has many other qualities that a thinking Homo Sapien might find logical reasons to value:

      1. Gold is not only the most malleable, but the most ductile metal that we have discovered.

      2. Chemically, gold also happens to be the least reactive, aside from noble gases.

      3. Gold has been seen as extremely valuable since ancient, unrecorded times. We have proof of this in the jewelry, coinage and additional arts and decoratives that have been found in archaeological digs.

      4. Gold tends to withstand, likely because it is resistant to individuals acid attacks.

      5. Gold is used in many industries. It is commonly used in electronics, jewelry, dentistry, the production of colored glass and even to detail fine china.

      6. Due to it being a naturally occurring metal, it is considered to be fairly rare. In fact, it is most frequently found during abundant mining of other metals like copper.

      7. Gold is able to easily create alloys with countless other metals.

      8. Aside from gold being a wonderful conductor of electricity and heat, it will also strongly reflect infrared radiation.

      9. Unlike many other metals, gold will not be affected by moisture, air or the majority of corrosive agents. This is why it is commonly used in jewelry, as a coating for metals that are more reactive and for coinage.

      10. Gold has been used worldwide monetarily – and still is – whether by coinage, standards or convertible shares.

      Now, should a given person value an ounce of the stuff more than 1,725 of their hard-earned Federal Reserve Notes or electronic representation thereof? That is a personal decision, and F. Beard’s rigid view of value doesn’t seem able to understand this.

      Value gold or don’t, it makes no matter to this silly gold bug. If the majority of the world should some day decide your electrons and cotton/linen rectangles aren’t worth anything to them, but rare atomic elements are, as has always happened throughout the history of fiat currency, well, don’t say you weren’t warned.

      1. F. Beard

        are you truly suggesting that an atomic element can possibly be “immoral”?! Wake up my friend, it is the GOVERNMENT that is immoral, please leave the poor defenseless elements out of it! PR

        What part of “and a government enforced monopoly on money creation” did you not understand?

        1. PianoRacer

          Because you conflate the actions of a repressive government with the inherent value of the metal. I agree that the government should not enforce a monopoly in anything, including gold. My point is that the metal has value without a government-enforced monopoly, which you may have noticed that we have not had for over four decades, and it is that value that causes the free market to choose it as a currency.

          The cycle goes like this: people barter, people value gold for above stated reasons, people find monetary qualities of gold make it conducive to barter, gold becomes standard barter items for all merchants, banks offer to securely store gold for receipt, people value receipts in place of gold (“good as gold”), banks print more receipts than gold, bank run, government intervention and revaluation of receipts, government uses extra printed receipts to grow, government cuts all ties between receipts and gold (“fiat currency”), government prints more and more receipts because they think it will bring prosperity or at least hold off devaluation (you are here), inflation, hyperinflation, repudiation of the currency, barter, and then we start all over again.

          As they say in BSG, “All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again”.

          1. F. Beard

            My point is that the metal has value without a government-enforced monopoly, PR

            Then why waste it in bank vaults or as money tokens?

          2. PianoRacer

            How is it wasted if it performs the incredibly valuable function as serving as a basis for our monetary system, which is far superior to barter in maximizing the efficiency of human endeavors in that it allows specialization?

            Despite the interesting scientific and aesthetic qualities of gold, I find it’s monetary value to be far greater. Silver, on the other hand… that stuff is pretty special.

          3. F. Beard

            How is it wasted if it performs the incredibly valuable function as serving as a basis for our monetary system, PR

            Because that purpose is much better served by ethical money creation.

            Even if gold was totally useless it still would not be an ideal money form. For one thing, what guarantees that the mining rate of gold just happens to be the ideal money creation rate at all times? And then there is the environmental damage mining it causes and the waste of human time, talent and effort.

            And ironically, imo, though silver is much more useful than gold, it makes far prettier coins. :)

          4. reslez

            Barter is a fiction. There is zero evidence markets actually develop with barter as an intermediary stage. Graeber demolished this myth pretty thoroughly in his recent book.

          5. Nathanael

            Your historical cycle is simply wrong. Look up the actual history of money.

            Debts and IOUs came *first*. Tradeable IOUs came *next*.

            Stuff like precious metals was used only between groups who didn’t know or trust each other at all.

          6. enouf

            Well said!
            (As well as your 10+ bulleted points for why gold)

            Funny how; many people don’t even realize holding/investing in Gold and Silver *Certificates* is very much part of the same Financial Terrorist induced ponzi-scheme implosion that will be witnessed in the coming months/years.

            Without the actual Bullion in/at hand — you’re doomed

            Love

            [note 1] There are many many stories out there about how China, Venezuela, etc are all demanding their Bullion (in tonnages) returned to them ..those which are *supposedly* stored in the UK, and the US, …hrm, has anyone check Fort Knox since the ’50s? Nope!

          7. enouf

            My above comments were in reply to Piano Racer’s earlier two posts.

            [this blog/whatever format kind of sucks ass -- the threading aspect is nice, but too shallow ,.. and searching/scanning for new/latest comments daily is more than a chore i can bear much longer]

            1) [...]
            “At the risk of being labeled a “silly gold bug”, even apart from its rarity …”

            2) “Because you conflate the actions of a repressive government with the inherent value of the metal. …..”

          8. enouf

            “Graeber demolished this myth pretty thoroughly in his recent book.”

            Sorry, but there’s no real nice way to say this, but the aforementioned Author is an idiot and a moron, ..and way too young to even know what Wisdom, World History and Mankinds’ Heart is (not that i do either).

            Love

          9. enouf

            “… Debts and IOUs came *first*. Tradeable IOUs came *next*. ….”

            Well duh .. when my cave-dwelling tribal members were betrayed, we’d hunt you down and bash your skull in. That goes a long way to gain future trust.

            As an apropos anecdotal quote;

            “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”― Robert E. Howard

      2. F. Beard

        I 100% support your right to use gold or anything else for private debts but the ONLY ethical money form for government debts is inexpensive fiat.

        And forget trying: “OK, fiat should be used for government debts but gold and other PMs should be allowed for private debts” because that doesn’t fly either. ANYTHING should be allowed for the payment of private debts, not just PMs.

        1. PianoRacer

          There’s no such thing as “ethical government debt”, because it is not possible for involuntary government debt to be ethical. It doesn’t matter if the government demands that you pay it gold, silver, dollars, deer hides, tobacco, first-born daughters: it’s all unethical.

          The reason it is unethical is because it is accomplished with the use of force against an unwilling “citizen”. It is no different from me taking a gun, going to my neighbors house, and demanding that they pay me in pieces of paper that ONLY I PRINT (or gold) because I have been doing them the courtesy of voluntarily shoveling their driveway for the past year, a service that they did not ask for.

          Your distinction between gold and paper is arbitrary when it is demanded by a gun-wielding maniac who controls almost every aspect of your life.

          1. F. Beard

            Government is a given. But what is not a given is that it must serve the interests of a few such as gold owners, gold miners, usurers and those who seek gains via risk-free hoarding (free riding on the risk taking of others).

            Government is force; its money needs and should have no other explicit backing but that force otherwise some special interest is being served.

          2. PianoRacer

            “Government is a given”

            BZZZZZT! Logical fallacy, “Appeal to tradition”. Please try again.

            http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-tradition.html

            Government, like religion, is one of the greatest scams perpetrated by mankind. I am not surprised to find that you have fallen for both hook, line and sinker. The first step is to get you to believe that you are a perpetual child who needs someone better than them watching over them and day and night, controlling your life. Everything else flows from there.

            You are a slave, and happy for your chains.

          3. F. Beard

            Government, like religion, is one of the greatest scams perpetrated by mankind. PR

            Read 1 Samuel 8 and you’ll see that even God’s Chosen People rejected Him and the great freedom they enjoyed for a central government.

            But aside from that, it would not be just to abolish government until it has reversed the previous injustices that occurred under its watch and under its protection of special interests, namely the banks.

          4. F. Beard

            You are a slave, and happy for your chains. PR

            Talking out your mouth has failed so now you resort to talking out your arse?

          5. ambrit

            Dear Beard;
            I think he’s paraphrasing Milton. Also, as one who has often mistaken his own flatulence for reasoned discourse, I plead for some mercy for the corespondent. The resort to ad hominem arguement indicates an exhaustion of resources. Be of good cheer, you wore them down.
            As for me, the allure of Gold, (you must admit that there is a distinct Glamour,) is the illusion of exclusivity. As if every coin and bar of the stuff were psychically attuned to all the rest, Multiverse wide. The unreasoning belief in Gold is essentially a religious phenomenon, Mammon. It is the Baal of the City. When the Lord rains fire upon the City and the Street, let us not be like Lots Wife.
            As were the Sodomites and Gomorrahenes of old chastised, so shall the Bankers and Buggerers of today be so served.
            Keep the faith baby.

          6. F. Beard

            The unreasoning belief in Gold is essentially a religious phenomenon, Mammon. ambrit

            Not totally. The gold-bugs do have reasons for their idolatry but those reasons don’t bear much scrutiny.

            They will fling their silver into the streets and their gold will become an abhorrent thing; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD. They cannot satisfy their appetite nor can they fill their stomachs, for their iniquity has become an occasion of stumbling. Ezekiel 7:19

            Our best hope for deliverance from this mess is some sort of debt forgiveness just as the freeing of Jewish debt slaves would have saved Jerusalem in Jeremiah 34:6-22 except they reneged and re-enslaved those they freed.

          7. Nathanael

            Government is unavoidable, PianoRacer. If you remove it, you will soon find another government arises, and one not to your liking.

            Even anarchists recognized this problem. And failed to solve it.

        2. JTFaraday

          ““Government is a given””

          Governance is a given. Unless you don’t mind me, let’s say, stalking you on the boards here and (for the sake of argument) I start calling you an a****** every time you post. (Which would only be because we’re on the internet. In person I could really make my presence felt).

          So, either I’m going to govern myself, or the moderatrix will eventually govern me. Given that I may not always feel like governing myself, it’s likely that some form of organized government is also a given.

          The way I see it, the problem is more that there is a contingent in the US population–call it “liberal”–which has never personally known TRULY bad government, and which has consequently has its critical faculties dulled with regard to malign uses of government institutions, especially large, centralized government institutions.

          Thus, it can be sleepwalked into all kinds of things, like *automatically* assuming that moving the state attorney general’s investigation to the federal level is a good thing, on analogy with federal civil rights legislation or ending the “states rights” defense of slavery.

          The camp that opposes them then makes the ridiculous error of thinking that today’s large banks, corporations, and multi-nationals are not effectively the very same government they’re complaining about, (not to mention even worse governments when forced to pledge fealty to them in person).

          Not calling it “govern-ment” doesn’t will it out of existence.

          1. JTFaraday

            And, actually, I know not to call you an a****** without a string of asterisks because I quoted someone who used the term and got out of moderation, and now MY post is hung up in the queue for causing offense to the internet gods.

            So, the topic of the law that protects you from my wrath is fresh in my mind.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            JTF, the “Gret Stet” of Louisiana leads the way in such matters: “La politique de Richelieu” pertains in the region Colonized by the .01% Global Power by Agents of *la belle France* through Agents of Standard Oil/Shell/Texaco and entities profiting the Bush Dynasty.

            Louisiana is the model of what the USA!USA! has become. Suckers!

          3. charles sereno

            “Recto-cranial Inversion” (L Strether)
            Simpler in Hawaiian — “Okole Maluna” (Bottom Up).

          4. ambrit

            Mr Strether;
            I presume you are using the term “Invert” in its’ strictly psychological/sexual sense, hmmm ducky?

  8. t3chiman

    A couple more information-dependent trends:
    – DIY genome mapping
    – 3D “printing” of physical prototypes

    On top of who-knows-what outcomes from the relentless improvements in wireless bandwidth and connectivity.

  9. F. Beard

    Using the same logic, he says, solar power will dominate world energy supply in about 16 years. Yves Smith

    Assuming we avoid or survive WW III? The last Great Depression was a MAJOR cause of WW II.

    What we need are ethical means to fund peaceful research and development. Government can do that via spending money into circulation. That is perfectly ethical so long as that money is not de facto legal tender for private debts as well as for government debts, its proper role. As for the private sector, ethical money creation will naturally occur once unethical money creation is abolished.

    1. Nathanael

      Actually, if WWIII starts, solar power really will be the dominant form of energy production in 16 years.

      For starters, the winning militaries of the world will be those who adapt to using it….

    1. travizm

      TROLLL ALERT!

      If Norway was so darn good the effin Trolls would never have become computer literate.

      —-Javisst, enda en norsk kuksuger, akkurat det vi trenger!—–

  10. self-evident, but underappreciated observation about exponential growth by Geoff. West, a physicist

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZFvy0j8FYg

    The most distrubing part of this clip is that supposedly many “senior” policy makers have no idea of what exponential growth means, c’mon you guy forgot first year pre-calc?

    1. enouf

      whilst we’re at youtube, look up the ‘exponential function’ in what’s something called; “the most important video you will ever see” (or similar)–pertains to everything from nefarious peak oil outlooks to overpopulation and beyond.

      Love

  11. PianoRacer

    All of the features that would make an IT-based financial network better suited to increasing the productivity of the money system (transparency, security, equality of access, reasonable delays (no HFT), etc.) are 100% solvable IT problems that a good team could implement in a transparent and well-documented way.

    The system is the way it is because that is how they want it. If we had a free market and a non-repressive fascist government, somebody could create a competing system and the market could decide which was better. Of course, that would violate several federal statutes, which Bernard von NotHaus discovered at the cost of his freedom after daring to try.

    If you folks want to continue to gamble the product of your time and labor in a system that is obviously rigged against you, go right ahead. Just don’t blame the built-in exploits on IT.

    Little known fact – if you input ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA on a BofA ATM, it will print you a crisp $20, no questions asked.

    1. PianoRacer

      Also, Kurzweil is amazing. Check out the film Transcendent Man for a good doc on his amazing accomplishments and ideas.

      THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR

      1. F. Beard

        THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR PR

        It won’t happen because the existing Supreme Being will not allow it. Why? Because mankind in aggregate has not proven that it can responsibly handle the power it already has.

        1. PianoRacer

          “It won’t happen because the invisible man in the sky for which there is no evidence whatsoever will not allow it. Why? Because of a fairy tale written by an enclave of cultists to enrich themselves hundreds and hundreds of years ago” – F. Beard (paraphrased)

          Your opinion has been noted, sir. Thanks for the heads up.

          1. F. Beard

            for which there is no evidence whatsoever will not allow it. PR

            Whether you believe in the Creator or a future Singularity the question is: Why should He/It resurrect you?

            And apart from that is the problem that even if a perfect copy was made of your personality, it would not be you as far as you are concerned.

          2. PianoRacer

            “Whether you believe in the Creator or a future Singularity the question is: Why should He/It resurrect you?” – F. Beard

            I’m with you on that one, Beard. I think we can both agree with Chris Hitchens when he said:

            “You’re expelled from your mother’s uterus as if shot from a cannon, towards a barn door studded with old nail files and rusty hooks. It’s a matter of how you use up the intervening time in an intelligent and ironic way, and try not to do anything dastardly to your fellow creatures.”

          3. F. Beard

            “… It’s a matter of how you use up the intervening time in an intelligent and ironic way, and try not to do anything dastardly to your fellow creatures.” Chris Hedges via PR

            Are creatures that God must prove His existence to before they behave properly creatures that He could safely turn His back to?

          4. reslez

            Whether you believe in the Creator or a future Singularity the question is: Why should He/It resurrect you?

            The Singularitarians already thought about this one. If a future culture has the technological ability to un-cryofreeze and revive you, it will likely be enlightened enough to do so for good purposes. As for why they would revive you, why wouldn’t they cure/revive someone given the ability? We don’t turn dying people away from emergency rooms today and our civilization sucks. If a future civilization were not enlightened, it would likely destroy itself and lack the technology to revive you. But since you’re dead anyway it’s not like you’d be around to care.

          5. F. Beard

            If a future culture has the technological ability to un-cryofreeze and revive you, it will likely be enlightened enough to do so for good purposes. reslez

            But you are assuming that one has been frozen in the first place. What if one has not been?

            So are we going to be like the ancient Egyptians and waste enormous resources on preserving dead (or perhaps still living) bodies?

            Or if you assume that the Singularity can somehow reconstruct your personality without needing a preserved body (very doubtful) then the problem is that the reconstruction would think it was you but as far as “you” are concerned why would it be? For example: Suppose we have a machine that can make perfect copies of humans. Suppose you copy yourself and then commit suicide. Do you live on in your copy or are you dead?

        2. groo

          F. Beard,

          …because the existing Supreme Being will not allow it. …

          I expected you to say that.

          You somehow have an intimate contact to this being via the scriptures, right?
          Kurzweil resembles Bahai belief, i.e. an emerging god, who needs help by humankind, to emerge.

          I am somehow sympathetic to that, because this world needs some serious error-correction, right?
          But in general, not.

          Nothing new under the sun, just different flavors of follies.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Such quarrels indicate why “Not to be born is the best for man” (“Death’s Echo” by W.H. Auden).

          2. Glenn Condell

            ‘“Not to be born is the best for man” (“Death’s Echo” by W.H. Auden)’

            Or as Brother Theodore put it:

            ‘The best thing is not to be born. But who is as lucky as that? To whom does it happen? Not to one among millions and millions of people!’

      2. Nathanael

        Kurzweil is crazy. His “Singularity” is not going to happen any time soon, and not for the reasons F Beard suggests.

        The reason is that our research in some areas is vastly, vastly behind our research in others. Something Kurzweil has failed to notice.

  12. pws

    “But professions with restricted entry tend to be slow to adopt new technologies (readers have heard me rant about mammograms; thermal imaging is a better diagnostic and has been around for at least a decade, but radiologists don’t want to give up their installed base of equipment). ”

    This is probably the key, especially for technology of necessity rather than technology of convenience. Hospitals, for example, don’t change their infrastructure often, neither do airlines. Get in their first, and you’ll be supporting an aging tech infrastructure for decades… longer if you are working for the government.

    The good thing is that it’s steady reliable income, as the technology becomes old and decrepit and must be fixed with chewing gum and bailing wire to keep it going. The bad thing, though, is that you don’t get to work on cutting edge stuff.

    1. F. Beard

      The bad thing, though, is that you don’t get to work on cutting edge stuff. pws

      Keeping up can be a real chore as one gets older which is one reason why workers should be paid with equity.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      pws, and let’s not overlook the obvious: how many MDs are financially invested in MRI and other machines and the “clinics” for using the same.

    3. ambrit

      Dear pws;
      And the point is? Too many people get into high status lines of work for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Lot and lots of perfectly good drugs and procedures are abandoned due to financial incentives. So, who is the master, and whom the slave?

  13. WorldisMorphing

    ["In other words, we measure it by itself. And because something cannot be measured by itself, then we have lost the most important role of money — its function as a store of value."]

    1. I think that is one of the main problem with how we conceive the monetary system. From a pragmatic rational perspective, money should be viewed as a –resource transfer authorization– …not a storage of value, which only makes sense if you program a system to induce a high rate of consumption, transactions and volatility …purposeful or not…

    2. In such system, you’re utterly dependent on liquidity and, no doubt about it — greed. The advent of high power computing perverted an already dubious activity; stock trading. Eventually, the need for greed and liquidity brought us the very life-improving innovation of –shorting mezzanine tranches of subprime mortgages backed CDO’s.

    But really, …we should have seen it coming after the Enron jack-offs crashed their zeppelin…

    1. groo

      WorldisMorphing,

      seems you are trapped into something,

      Consider ‘value’ as variable.
      If it shifts from the stock market and such, you are lost in the woods.

      Value-shifts do not happen instantly, but can well do within a lifetime.

      The surest store of ‘value’ is within society at large.
      Whether there is a global value system in the near future? I doubt that.

      1. F. Beard

        The surest store of ‘value’ is within society at large. groo

        Correct. “America is great because America is good, when America ceases to be good it will cease to be great.” – Alexis De Tocqueville

        What amazes me is that when it comes to money creation even “Thou shalt not steal” is controversial.

        1. groo

          F. Beard,
          Knew You understood that viscerally, so to say.

          But Tocqueville’s statement is a tautology.
          Agree?

      2. WorldisMorphing

        ["The surest store of ‘value’ is within society at large."]

        -True.

        ["Whether there is a global value system in the near future? I doubt that."]

        -Remember 2009 ? The Chinese among others have argued for the adoption of a global reserve currency(expanding from SDR’s).

        But you are right, things do not seem to be evolving in that direction …really fast.
        The argument for it besides ending crippling volatility
        would be that it is hard to conceive that every country will develop enough exporting domestic industries to compete with already existing international ones AND provide living wages for all–
        –without s o m e m i n i m a l amount of central planning&capital controls. No need to go on a New World Order freak-out here…

        After all, there is still essentially one petro-currency and if your country is not resource rich and has a practically worthless currency, then the pace of the project of pulling your country out of its misery is not determined by what one would call ‘reason’ or level of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ alone.
        Some would argue that its the pace of ‘freedom’…I contend we can probably exercise a less violent and more efficient one.

    2. enouf

      “[...] 2. In such system, you’re utterly dependent on liquidity and, no doubt about it — greed….”

      ..and the Biggest Banks in the world are entirely INSOLVENT .. sorry folks to be the bearer of the bad news. Oh, ..and oh dear, there’s one of those se7en deadlies again.

      Love

  14. Peter Pan

    I’m skeptical of the estimated time as way too many things can go wrong. How can anyone know the future outcome in 16 years?

    Regarding innovation in finance, it seems that it’s mostly just innovation in fraud. Remember how the US Chamber of Commerce complained about SARBOX stifling innovation? They were actually upset it would stifle innovation in fraud. Large corporations need to find new ways to pick your pocket.

    1. enouf

      “… How can anyone know the future outcome in 16 years? …”

      Indeed; all one needs to do is watch James Burke’s “Connections” (and its sequel/successor series) series.

      Love

    1. Susan the other

      I disagree Wells; I think medicine will not only be effective, it will be affordable thanks to technological advances.

        1. groo

          Yep.

          it is not EFFECTIVE medicine, which pays, but the ineffective.
          Propaganda and fake tests are much cheaper than doing the hard work of developing a drug that works.

          Every CEO in the industry knows that. And if you can sell a drug to compensate for the sideffects of the previous one, this is growth!
          Eventually exponential.

          In this sense, Kurzweil is a true believer. At least he managed to take 250 drugs a day!
          And a glass of wine everyday.
          I suppose his consumption of this ‘drug’ is underreported.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Sto;
        I’m afraid I must agree with LBR on this. A recent personal experience with the pharmacological racket has shown me clearly how greed and corruption will drive up the price of even simple philtres. A medicinal compound I must use for a while is selling for around $7.00 per pill if bought inside the United Snakes. If mail ordered from an Indian supplier, and manufactured in an American FDA approved factory to boot, the cost drops to around $1.00 per pill! This arrangement is fostered by the Indian Government no less! A sardonic comment on the middleman web site says that as of 2010, the U S Government has suggested it will not prosecute importation of non narcotics. Wonderful choice given there; go bankrupt or die!
        That’s why I have always been for some form of National Health system in America. It’s not even being discussed in ‘polite circles.’ I’m with Beard on this one; “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

        1. groo

          ambrit, You nailed it.

          See my comment above.

          The profit-motive does not work in medicare.
          It is the other way round.

          It is an exponential of sorts DOWNWARD, nevertheless is ADDED to GNP.
          To pay due respect to the sigmoid character of the affair:
          100% is the limit, if you are not going into debt.
          There are other factors competing for the 100% pie, we all know.

          The connection to Kurzweils fantasies is straightforward, so I spare you/me that.

  15. Susan the other

    Exponential Finance. Its kinda like the wizards decided that global finance needs 1.4 quadrillion $ in order to make world markets work efficiently. So all the central banks are printing up all sorts of money. And pretending like it is a crisis. And this new money is interpreted as massive debt and devaluation. How can you devalue something that has no intrinsic value?

    The figure of $1.4 quadrillion has been dropped into discussions several times in the last few months. Is it because electronic transactions need to be matched in the real world with little pieces of paper? Finance has probably gone exponential out of necessity and one of the main causes is probably, as Stiglitz points out, that productivity has gone exponential. It leaves us desperately seeking a good investment and when we can’t find one money just speculates foolishly. We are too impatient. Technology did take off like a rocket and it left bankers and money printers scrambling to keep up. Money is just a utility. It is a technology itself, a political one. Money itself can only be valued by what it achieves. Nothing more.

    1. Susan the other

      Ah, unrequited returns. The best thing is not to behave like the lovelorn, but to be a valuable person, a valuable project, a valuable education; in short a valuable society.

    2. James

      “Finance has probably gone exponential out of necessity and one of the main causes is probably, as Stiglitz points out, that productivity has gone exponential.”

      Productivity has gone exponential? So that’s why so many of the factors of productions are laying idle just now? How about valuation has gone exponential? Why look for fancy hi-tech explanations when an age-old very simple one will do?

      Finance, financiers, and investors all suffer from the same age old delusion that they’re entitled to something for nothing. As in, you come up with a good or service and the physical means to produce it, while we’ll provide the worthless pieces of paper (digital ones and zeroes these days) to facilitate your hard work, taking complete control of your endeavors in the process, and then demand the lion’s share of any of your profits to be had in the end. And in the end, no matter how much you produce, you’ll be expected to produce more and more annually to service our need for an ever increasing supply of your profits, or we’ll simply pull our digital ones and zeroes and go look for better opportunities.

      Why is this organized criminal enterprise allowed to exist? Because it was gradually organized and codified into law by the same group of wealthy criminals who were practicing it at the time, and then sold to the masses as an opportunity for them to get rich off the labor of someone else too! And they bought it! Something for nothing. The original slow motion ponzi scheme. In its death throws currently in a country near you. Rated XXX, not suitable for actual human audiences, for human rights abuses, environmental depletion/degradation, and establishment of a world wide military police state.

      1. F. Beard

        Well said and the shame, since 1602, is that an ethical form of finance has existed – the common stock company.

        So why aren’t we all exchanging “shares” for goods and services instead of equity-less pieces of paper (or electronic substitutes) whose quantity is beyond our control and which may be created for purposes we abhor?

        1. enouf

          “… since 1602, is that an ethical form of finance has existed – the common stock company. … ” — F. Beard

          hrm ; see any parallels with the Protestant Reformation almost a Century earlier and introduction of the Authorized KJV of the Bible in 1604-1611? Just curious.

          ..and right, the timeframe you mention is almost a century prior to William (the Orange) and Mary, who then chartered the Bank of England in very late 17th Century.

          Love

      2. kevinearick

        too funny…poor Fed…new meaning for collateral damages…at some point, laughter is the only medicine left…

      3. jake chase

        James, you are on the right track. An immoral society inevitably produces dishonest money. As ours requires every man to fend for himself, as no government can be trusted, as no government official ever even considers telling the truth, or acting in any interest except his own, this dishonest money provides the only chance anyone has to keep himself and those for whom he is naturally responsible above water. Because human capacity is hugely variable, hierarchy is inevitable. I don’t think any society can survive without noblesse oblige. In America it surfaces so rarely as to be virtually extinct. All you have left is a handful of big tippers. Where is George Marshall when we need him?

        1. groo

          …An immoral society inevitably produces dishonest money. … jake

          Well worth consideration.

          If money is considered a store of ‘value’, which it is, then we come to the surprising conclusion, that money is a store of collective morals.
          It materializes iself into what it is spent for. (eg wars)

          Right?

          A thesis with rough edges, so pardon me.

          1. enouf

            Please forgive the rant-i-ness of what follows, .. it just seemed like the proper place to insert these feelings — thank you;

            IMHO; ‘Value’ (on a Societal/Social level) to me is;

            a) A workers ability to actually work and produce

            b) Land/Property (because of all the potential resources to sustain LIFE (and the self-sustaining Ecosystem needed to do so) that might be derived from said parcels from everything from digging/mining resources, to farming/agri, to ..and most importantly; NOT infringing upon a Neighbors property in the process–hence Clean Air, Clean Water, ..and most disturbingly Genetically Modified Organism pollination (cross-border) and anything which might achieve the same totally insane result

            Too many (especially the bible belt thumping southern clown show) seem to promote a righteousness claim for their views/stances/agenda; However, theirs is an *Indignant* one (and this all alludes back to the whole concept of Morals and Ethics in Society, which is dispicably hilarious to me to even read, ..let alone watch on the boobitrapped MSM–which is why i haven’t owned a TV in years.

            Nevertheless, a FIAT currency system is a *religion* with much dogma attached; I don’t believe the axioms presented that a Governance, nor a Government needs to be able to “print” money — especially when, as i try to show above, you canNOT *print* value.

            Love

          2. enouf

            oh crap; heh, i forgot to do the quoted italic text prior … at the top …

            “… If money is considered a store of ‘value’, which it is, then we come to the surprising conclusion, that money is a store of collective morals.
            It materializes iself into what it is spent for. (eg wars)

            Right?
            …”
            — groo

    3. Glenn Condell

      ‘Finance has probably gone exponential out of necessity and one of the main causes is probably, as Stiglitz points out, that productivity has gone exponential.’

      Isn’t it rather the opposite? That exploitation of the store of wealth available; ie, the earth, has become static? There is no more ‘there’ there. Consumer debt saturation is just a late stage symptom of a disease contracted long ago. Derivative structures are extend and pretend, and so on unto the Financial Singularity, in which some will be fortified enough by their years of plunder to stand in the still centre while the rest will be spun off at great speed to nowhere.

    4. enouf

      … Money is just a utility. … –’Susan the other’

      (In its current FIAT FRB form) A utility that buys Freedom — freedom from justice, freedom from despair, freedom to make governing (illegal) laws that benefit oneself (and his/her minions) … the freedoms are endless.

      So; Utility == Freedom?
      heh, sounds like ‘Free Markets’ propoganda to me.

      Love

  16. Min

    Old quote: “Money is like manure. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and it helps things grow.”

    (Sorry. I don’t know the reference.)

    According to that simile, the function of money as a store of value is not worth much. One metaphor for money is blood. Again, it is the circulation of money, not its pooling, that is important. :)

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘Old quote: “Money is like manure. Pile it up and it stinks. Spread it around and it helps things grow.”’

      David Graeber’s work shows that those discredited kings and tyrants of yore often knew that better than our whiz kid controletariat.

    2. groo

      Min,

      …the function of money as a store of value is not worth much…
      …it is the circulation of money, not its pooling, that is important…

      This is no contradiction, it is a matter of time/speed.

      Besides that, ‘money’ is a multipurpose vehicle, and rests on the notion of property, which has, so to say, eternal value, as long as it is guaranteed by some force, and can be monetarized at will.

      You -hopefully- immediately see, that there is a problem!

  17. Blissex

    «My second thought is that this exponential IT curve has already hit finance, and it explains an awful lot of the problems now being witnessed. The explosion of derivatives, now a startling $700 trillion, well over half the capital stock of the world, has been driven by IT geeks and rocket scientists. The explosion of high frequency trading, which is similarly startling, is also a geek domain. Finance is no longer a discrete industry, it is now part of the IT juggernaut. And it is not going back.»

    Nahhh, in part IT is an enabler of some specific forms of some scams, but derivatives and HFT are very ancient scams, wildcat insurance and frontrunning.

    The derivatives and HFT scams are not geek domains; the geeks do not even get a cut of the profits of that scams, they just get paid a high salary to provide its technological platforms to obfuscate the traditional scams that are being wrapped in new packaging.

      1. enouf

        which should have been #11 on PianoRacers 10 bulleted list of the unique characteristics of Gold as Bullion. The discovery of the scraping across a “loadstone” to determine its purity quickly ended that.

        BTW — that’s why there are ridged edges on our Coinage these more recent days; from when they were actually made from precious metals (mostly Silver and Copper)

        Love

        1. enouf

          sorry for being retarded – i’m just a dumb american;

          it’s *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lodestone* (not loadstone)

          Love

          1. enouf

            Wow .. i sincerely apologize for not researching my memory ;-)

            It’s called a TOUCHSTONE …dammit — see here

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hukkfbevWM

            “James Burke : Connections, Episode 2, “Death In The Morning”, 1 of 5 (CC)” (<<– the series i mentioned earlier which bolsters my earlier points of this nonsensical 16yr outlook — just ask yourself this; Did the Bush/Cheney Crime Cartel predict or cause/allow 911 to occur …duh)

            @3:31 into the 10min video — thanks for understanding — start earlier @ 3:15, or stomach the whole 10 min of a 5-part episode (which i highly recommend) .,.. seems the touchstone came about in Lydia, (now Turkey) ~700 B.C.

            Love

  18. Nate

    Managing complexity and Managing changes. These are the two important aspect to consider going forward.

    Simplification and Resiliency are two important factors to consider when a system is designed and implemented. Also self diagnostics and automation.

    Based on these aspects, today’s financial system is dinosaurs. Banks can be completely automated without any people involved.

    Medical devices that do diagnostics for patients without doctors. Small hand-held smart devices that one can plug into Internet and strap onto your body. Expert system will find out everything for medical conditions, if any.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Nate, when the daisy chain of robots is perfected, no humans need apply.

      This is Kurzweil’s crazed dream of *energy efficiency* delivered to the Global .01% , who tell him: “We don’t need no stinkin human workers.”

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘Kurzweil’s crazed dream of *energy efficiency* delivered to the Global .01%’

        Apparently Kurzweil has served on the Army Science Advisory Group, which AFAIK is partly responsible for gifting our children drone swarms, those mechanical rat and snake analogues for ‘warfare’, the human flesh-eating battlefield robots, and so on. That’s progress!

        1. groo

          meanwhile drones need exponential human resources for supervision.
          Those supervisors are exponentially mentally exhausted.

          Wonder how this plays out.

          Hand them over to medicare, which has its fair share of the exponentials?

  19. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Kurzweil is still positioning himself as The God, and on ABC mass media yet! He still is determined to replace humans with Whiz-kid robots like himself.

    Here’s an innovation: consider all technological change within the frame of how good it is for the 99% vs. the .01% and their trickle-down agents the .99%. For example, we know that *planned obsolescence* is best for the Owner .01% (and wannabe .01%) in *high tech* gadgets and processes, while *externalizing costs* bankrupts the 99% who eat those costs.

    Think F%#$book: How is that turning out? It was pushed into the *market* of gullible Know Nothings seduced by the “Next Best Thing for Winners” — and now everybody knows that it was a Mega-Sucker Play for Profit to the FBook .01% and their .99% Agency for the FBook total of 1%.

    Is this good for the 99%? How good is it for the 1%? Let’s be CLEAR:

    “THE TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY” and “PROPAGANDA: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” by Jacques Ellul march hand-in-hand to profit the 1% at the human expense of the 99%. This applies to Monopoly Finance practices in spades.

    1. groo

      LeonovaBalletRusse,

      Are You akin to Your nick?

      I want to marry You! ;)

      Poor me ‘groo’ has grown a couple of neurons, which plague me every day.

  20. Max424

    Am I reading this right? The idea is, let’s meet our exponential problems with exponential solutions?

    I like it! Exponential risks always lead to exponential rewards! So let’s double up on the exponential function!

    In other news, solar is going nowhere (just ask global solar leaders Portugal and Spain, who recently had their backs broken by the banks. Solar and forced austerity don’t mix!).

    Nope, solar is dead green energy source walking. Forgotten and reviled, black and dirty COAL, on the other hand, is following a classic exponential growth pattern (albeit in peripheral regions of the globe containing smallish populations –places like developed Asia, Africa, and China):

    http://gregor.us/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Developing-World-Coal-Use-1989-20081.jpg

    btw; Global Warming is following a standard exponential growth curve. There’s nothing we can do about it, obviously, so I think our Obama-led global leadership is doing the right thing, by ignoring it.

    1. Fiver

      Many billions of future people, and an enormous amount of other life on earth, will be destroyed by Climate Change – were it not for the fact that most of these populations (human and otherwise)will crash long before CG hits its stride late in the century and next – unless we pull a couple of extra planets out of the hat OR snap out of it. Kurzweil is of no value whatever in that regard.

  21. LeonovaBalletRusse

    The Absolute Certainty of *F. Beard* is impressive. Perhaps he should go head-to-head with Kurzweil with regard to our imminent Salvation.

    1. F. Beard

      with regard to our imminent Salvation. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Here’s the problem with resurrection by a future Singularity: Though it might create a perfect copy of our personality that copy would not be us though the copy would think otherwise.

        1. skippy

          “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

          Skippy… SO(2)-(3)and Hamiltonian time-evolution of a system spectrum, the set of possible outcomes when one measures the total energy of a system, with an eye to negative energy’s.

          *Unitarity* is a restriction on the allowed evolution of quantum systems that ensures the sum of probabilities of all possible outcomes of any event is always 1 (see negative energy’s).

          Between e, q and g… is y. For me, a singularity is to large and obvious… a place for your god to hide or maybe its the contact between universes… when they touch.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            skippy, George Kantor went insane thinking about *infinity* like this. He was onto it, and it blew his mind.

          2. skippy

            “George Kantor went insane thinking about *infinity* like this. He was onto it, and it blew his mind.” … LeonovaBalletRusse

            Wasn’t it hostility of others that was root of his depression and not the thought of infinity, the mental expansion exercised to envision it. So how and why you derive at your assertion is a mystery or not… methinks.

            Skippy… anywho isen’t that what dada is for et al? Monty Python, Devo or my new fav… Do you smell like ranch dressing?

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpaPBCBjSVc

            BTW the kid in the glasses is my youthful doppelganger… is go[o]d a cute young girl… for if so I married mommy.

            Then I found Craazyman… directing music videos with a performance.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_PrT25o8Vs&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

            But me… “Just Got To Be”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBPGm4Fbo0Q&feature=BFa&list=AVGxdCwVVULXdxQg3gJslRpoQH6pT-4yqW&lf=list_related

            At the end of the day… I find American[s biggest – is – *simply* a complete lack of understanding in regards to absurdity and irony. Self inflicted wounds thingy.

            PS. what utility does Rick Santelli serve the U-verce.

          3. ambrit

            Most Estimable Antipodean;
            Ever feel like Orpheus diving into the mirror?
            I’m with the Poet on this one:
            “Send not to ask for whom the bell (curve) tolls, it tolls for thee.”

          4. skippy

            With out a creator / foundation myth millstone, all one is doing is observing and extrapolating from it (how does that induce madness).

            Skippy… the record is quite clear on this matter, attenuating effect on discovery, yet whom is that has the fiat like voice (personhood via mass alone).

            BTW beards self confessed years of struggle, mental anguish at settling conflicts inherit in these tombs, is indicative of ones rational slowly being destroyed.

            PS. Florida and Arizona citizens, some of the most fervent believers, now where has the pit been dug the deepest with foreclosures? God is fickle, ask Mitty, Newt, Obamawan.

          5. F. Beard

            is indicative of ones rational slowly being destroyed. skippy

            And what hope do you have for your own rationality? Ya know, that decay thingy?

          6. skippy

            Laws of nature are distinct from religious and civil law, and should not be confused with the concept of natural law, which deduces rules of moral behavior. Nor should “physical law” be confused with “laws of physics” – the term “physical law” usually covers laws in other sciences (e.g. biology) as well.

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

            Skippy… observation has rules, get out more and make some of your own, globally. Armchair optics are a old form technology, like flat earth was before it.

          7. F. Beard

            No, I mean your OWN personal rationality.

            What’s to save your rationality from Alzheimer’s or dementia or a stroke or death?

            You’re just dust in the wind if there is no Creator.

            Immortality through your children? One cannot even depend on that since children often rebel against their parents.

            And the true irony is that the scientific reasoning you so treasure probably has its roots in the Bible anyway. Even the Greeks came after the Old Testament was written.

          8. enouf

            … And the true irony is that the scientific reasoning you so treasure probably has its roots in the Bible anyway. … — F.Beard

            It most certainly is; check out ligonier.org and Renewing Your Mind episodes (Along with many great series like; The Consequences of Ideas, etc)

            Love

    2. enouf

      hi LBR;

      actually the word is *immanent* (unless i misunderstood you, but it is a lovely word ;-)) ..and also note *I* personally used the word ‘Indignation’ improperly somewhere i mentioned righteousness in these comments–i suppose i meant ‘undignified/false righteousness’.

      Love

  22. Aquifer

    Adopting new “medical advances” is a 2 edged sword – if, indeed, the new technology/medication is indeed useful, early adoption is a plus. If, however, it is actually detrimental, early adoption is a real bummer. A recent example is the metal on metal hip replacement system “the next generation” of hip implants – apparently proving to be e real problem in a number of cases. Then there was the thalidomide fiasco – Europe was an early adopter – luckily our FDA at the time was a considerably better gate keeper than now and we avoided a lot of the disaster that drug caused. Lately, however, it seems that it has become more of a captured agency under pressure from the industry to allow faster release ..

    For myself – I would prefer to be a “late” adopter – it takes awhile for “the bugs” to be worked out … and the premier order of the day is “primo non nocere”, or perhaps from a market perspective – “let the buyer beware, this stuff is new and we don’t really know what it will do down the road” ….

    1. Fiver

      This man doesn’t give a rip about the host. He actually claims all this wonderful technology has made things more “democratic”. That is one of the stupidest statements I’ve ever heard from a “genius” – or it’s simply bullshit he thinks he has to package this poison in.

  23. kevinearick

    good luck putting the genie back in the bottle…

    bringing a bomb to a computer fight is like bringing a knife to a gun fight, “inadvisable”…

    careful about the geek assumption…intelligent physical aggression always tips the balance…in the case of computers, it is implicit in the code…the empire is a stage, created for the purpose…

  24. Fiver

    Have not had a chance to read the comments and am sure others will be as little impressed as I am by this fantasy. He is the epitome of “too smart to even imagine he could be full of shit on something” category. I wrote the following but did not post late last night because I had not yet listened to the interview. Now having done so, I can post without changing so much as a comma:

    Great to see this piece on a very big and important subject.

    Yves has quite correctly identified a pivotal weakness of our (unfortunately) techanistic society (essentially unregulated corporate experimentation on a global scale), and provided some sage advice – never, ever, accept this sort of glittering “projection” from a tech enthusiast, no matter how accomplished or well-intentioned, without asking some tough questions. Because this fellow has techno-tunnel vision in spades – the real world has conflict, and plenty of it, all the time. And it’s mostly based on the enormously warped distribution of power, which has been made much, much worse by the very “exponential” (of course, ultimately ridiculous conceptually)pace of concentration of power.

    To me this man’s logic is like something delivered from another dimension, just importing for example, Moore’s Law characteristics of Universe A (eg the original Intel exponential capacity to store data in chips) just plugged into Universe B (where, for example, what we need are thousands of new water sources found for desperate people) – as if it’s all in your laptop. Well, it isn’t.

    There has been an incredible amount of work done on what it is going to take to actually move off oil/other liquids/coal. Estimates vary, but on one end are those (I am not there – yet) that believe we are right at the edge NOW in terms of cheap resources available to make the switch we need to make even if we wanted to, i.e., even in a global, fully coordinated, effort (and will it be coordinated, or compelled?). Because any serious effort that is sustainable for our billions of people over the course of successive generations means what we are talking about is rebuilding the cumulative set of energy, transportation and industrial infrastructures created over the course of 2 centuries to produce, process, refine, and utilize energy for widely varied purposes. That is one huge frigging job.

    The Techno Idolator is the kind of thinker that doesn’t really think critically. He or she is mesmerized by the immediately evident level of “coolness” of the current project accompanied by a virtually unlimited one-dimensional projection of refinements and upgrades of an all positive benefits flight path from the fastest possible “roll-out” and expansion of the new product and also ASAP with all its possible spin-offs (profit at or near the top of reasons why people always get into this stuff).

    Marshall McLuhan, Jacques Ellul and Norbert Weiner for example knew what they were talking about when discussing the course or impact of technology, then at the nexus of computers, communications (and especially TV), the pill, the Bomb, and the National Security State. Alvin Toffler had good stuff in his book Third Wave some portions of which played out right in front of our eyes. And this fellow has made a couple of good calls – in his area of expertise.

    But this just-about-not-quite-Star-Trek radiant bloom of human ingenuity and beneficence inside of 16 years? After what we’ve just witnessed? Not from my pigeon hole – or that orbiting satellite.

    That doesn’t mean health care cost isn’t going to continue to rocket in cost and be very, very profitable. You can be sure it will, no thanks to Obama. But can you get him to ask himself at this rate how long it will it be before we’re stacked 20 feet deep in people if we do as he says (assuming it’s even remotely possible)? Just how much life (and non-renewable resources)is a given generation entitled to? Suppose the next generation just ups and refuses to die? To hell with kids?

    The very last thing we need to do is attempt to replicate what’s happened with the Internet, finance, surveillance, the military and just-in-time + connectivity-everything that has in fact made us FAR, FAR more vulnerable as a species than anything since the Ice Age. This is not the time to indulge in a third decade of Whizkids’ Technobation. It’s like the Japanese and there long quest for some form of humanoid robot technology, seemingly convinced Japan’s future has these robots etched, no, deeply grooved into coming events. And for God’s sake concentrate on the energy/resources/ecology equation from a multi-generational future, NOT the elite attempting to buy Maximum Me Life Time to play with our Godlike Gadgetry while everything and everyone else goes totally to hell.

    Unbounded technology is what got us into such deep, deep trouble to begin with on this shrinking planet. Just witness the asymmetric power it has so recently conferred on the likes of this fellow, Apple, Google, THE PENTAGON, the NATIONAL SECURITY STATE, and of course, the global bankster cartel.

    I just might live long enough to see this man discover he’s built something he no longer understands and cannot control – the long way around to Worship the New God.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Fiver, thanks for the well-thought-out statement, so true. The techno-creation, *Frankenstein Squared*, hit the fan in 2008 big time. IT was made by the same old crooks in MonopolyFinance, aided and abetted by Tech and Quant geniuses, who mistook the *energy* of exponentials driving *Pie in the Sky* to Kingdom Come. Such was/is the spontaneous *Life* of Free Market (so-called) Trading– “It’s ALIVE!” but it’s a monster gone berserk.

      History shows these *geniuses* need to be kept on a short leash, far away from the Real Economy and Real Medicine for the People. Mary Shelley got it.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        That is, the math geniuses cannot see their flies in the ointment, or if they see them, the deny that they could be there, or they lie in complicity for money.

        1. Nathanael

          I have secondhand stories from many of the “Quants”. They were offered vast sums of money to devise things like HFT systems. They often actually warned their bosses that the systems could blow the company up if used carelessly — their bosses didn’t want to hear it and told them to make it anyway.

          So they did so, took the money, and ran. Not entirely moral, but their bosses, the know-nothings who didn’t *want* to understand their own business, Veblen’s leisure class, were the real monsters.

  25. Glenn Condell

    ‘It won’t happen because the existing Supreme Being will not allow it.’

    Would that be the bloke from Nazareth, or the one from Mecca? Or perhaps the fellow from Nepal?

    ‘Why? Because mankind in aggregate has not proven that it can responsibly handle the power it already has.’

    I am not religious. I devour popular cosmology and astrophysics (Rees, Barbour, Smolin, Greene etc) and find myself moving closer as time goes by from an atheistic position to a wary and generally private agnosticism. Not the sort of agnosticism which entertains the possibility of a Judeo-Christian Pre-Eminence (or any other flavour), but one which fears that, if there is indeed some higher being sitting in the type of stern judgement you refer to, it is not likely to be be clothed in sober robes, sepulchrally intoning His/Her/It’s disappointment in our transgressions from The Law. I see rather a sort of glorified computer geek, a cosmic future Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg or indeed Ray Kurzweil, with a whiny voice, cracking up with his fellow deities, likewise just more highly evolved ex-primates for whom our existence is not some sort of moral test, but a game, the ultimate game – life, the universe, and everything.

    All the sages say that there are several baseline requirements for a universe containing matter, and each one of these may randomly exist in any one of billions of potential states or levels, and in an even greater number, infinite perhaps, of combinations with each other. A tiny shading this way or that in any of them and hey presto, no planets, just cold and dark eternally. Our neighbourhood is literally a chance in a trillion of being here, or anywhere, and as for the chance of us evolving into self-aware inhabitants – get out of here!

    Which is why, when I read news items like the one about how scientists have just worked out how to make something invisible for a nanosecond, or the one about how detection of the granular, pixellated fabric of reality is within a toucher, or how they can now make something go faster than the speed of light, or something else hotter than the core of the sun, I tend to imagine the explanation lies closer to a kind of Great Game that some of our best and brightest (if not the great and the good) have managed to crack and exploit, maybe in the universe’s previous iteration, or one several aeons ago. So our nerdily divine overlords may well be ancient rather than modern, past not future. Our own dear old deities I’m afraid don’t seem to me to have the ‘chops’ for all this.

    The other possibility I guess is that this step into controlling Godhood for certain uniquely qualified Elect is not distant in time either way. Maybe The Singularity is Near.

    ‘The “freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form” is, according to Kurzweil, “an essentially spiritual quest.” The Singularity’s chief apostle sees the universe “waking up” as it is saturated by our intelligence, expanding to fill it at a speed possibly exceeding that of light. (“It will achieve this by reorganizing matter and energy to provide an optimal level of computation to spread out from its origin on Earth.”)’

    http://rigint.blogspot.com.au/

    1. F. Beard

      I see rather a sort of glorified computer geek, a cosmic future Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg or indeed Ray Kurzweil, with a whiny voice, cracking up with his fellow deities, likewise just more highly evolved ex-primates Glenn Condell

      But who made them?

      It boils down (according to current science and probability theory) to one of two possibilities:

      1) an ultimate Creator

      OR

      2) an infinite number of universes and we just happen to be in one that allows intelligent life else we would not be here to know it.

      Take your pick. Currently the odds are 50-50 EXCEPT for the historical testimony of miracles, fulfilled prophecies, improved lives, etc.

      Personally, I’ll go with Pascal’s Wager since there is little to be gained by not doing so and a lot to potentially lose.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ’1) an ultimate Creator’

        And who created Him/Her/It?

        You prefer chicken, I like eggs.

        Must break for lunch, a chicken and egg sambo! With lots of cheese…

      2. ebear

        There’s a third possibility.

        We don’t know, and we (possibly) never will.

        Unfortunately, most people can’t manage uncertainty. Easy answers trump hard questions. Poor old Pascal, brilliant as he was, suffered from the same affliction.

      3. Nathanael

        Pascal’s wager is bullshit, for a rather obvious reason.

        Have you accepted Krishna as your personal savior? If not, you will suffer as you sink lower on the cosmic wheel by failure to do your dharma!

        Have you accepted the Buddha of the Pureland as your personal savior? If not, you will suffer for eternity and never achieve nirvana!

        Et cetera. You clearly haven’t researched enough religions to realize how absurd Pascal’s Wager actually is.

      4. Nathanael

        By the way, as an *empiricist* — a *scientist* — I will point out that explanation 2 is not particularly necessary.

        Things are what they are. They need not ever have been created. They need not ever have started. (God isn’t even an explanation for creation — who created God? If God can be non-created, so can the universe).

        Anyway, #2 actually has support. It turns out that the physical laws of the universe create a band suitable for our sort of life at a certain distance from the center of a galaxy, during a certain time period in the lifespan of that galaxy, and a planet a certain distance from a star of a certain type within that galaxy. Life has probably happened many times within those parameters — and gone extinct again as the window closed.

        Science fiction writers often want to imagine humanity lasting for trillions of years, spreading across thousands of stars — instead, we’ll go extinct within the solar system, almost certainly. Based on current trends, the time period during which we will have had radio broadcasts will be vanishingly short, which explains why we never heard anyone else’s radio broadcasts.

        1. Fiver

          I’m familiar with the Anthropic principle as well as the “just right for life” argument in a less obviously circular form, but don’t understand why the supposed galactic bands in their billions of billions that are suitable wouldn’t still afford an immense number of planets even for our form of life (who knows how many other forms?)over an equally immense span of time does not instead skew things in favour of contact IF we’re smart enough. Our own signals have only gone roughly 100 light years (who knows what shape they’re in at that stage). Maybe us half-wit humans go belly up, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of others that don’t. It would be a shame, though, if their return signal arrived to nothing, or if they’ve been trying to get our attention all along, but in a manner we don’t understand.

          Don’t sell whatever it is that drives the totality of Life short, Nathanael.

          My brother is working on a completely different view of the fundamental laws of the Universe you may be interested to see. Cannot share it now as it’s in pre-publish mode. I will pass along to you in about a month assuming we’re both still here and kickin’.

        2. F. Beard

          If God can be non-created, so can the universe). Nathanael

          I said the odds were 50-50 (if you discount historical evidence of miracles, changed lives, fulfilled prophecies, etc). It’s your choice.

        3. skippy

          Hartle – Hawking… “Law of initial conditions”.

          vs.

          Penrose… “smoothness from the onset” – mathematical details need not concern us.

          Any way its all about *observational consequences*, *Heisenberg*, at this level.

          Skippy… beard just has zero problem with reproducibility and arbitrarily lays claim (ownership snicker) too all kinds of shite ( zero observer interrogation or validity ) .

    2. reslez

      Right, so if our universe is just a “Great Game” designed by some Hacker Techno-God, where the f*** did his universe come from?

      The problem with these non-explanations (“God”, “the universe is a simulation”) is exactly that: they explain nothing and predict nothing so there’s zero test for truth. What a load of b.s. Go figure…

    3. enouf

      …I see rather a sort of glorified computer geek, a cosmic future Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg or indeed Ray Kurzweil, with a whiny voice, cracking up with his fellow deities, likewise just more highly evolved ex-primates for whom our existence is not some sort of moral test, but a game, the ultimate game – life, the universe, and everything. –Glenn Condell

      Either you are thinking of Aliens (no, not the movie), or something akin to the Matrix (yes, the movie), AFAICT.

      I appreciate though the move from atheism to agnosticism–it’s a first step ;)

      BTW; i believe astrophysicist Michu Kaku has a vid (on youtube) about *stages* of *civilization*. According to him, we are still in the 1st of 5 possible stages. IOW, e.g., 2nd stage allows *us* (humans as a collective civilization) to control almost anything in our Solar System (or perhaps that’s stage 3, maybe stage 2 is controlling all Earthly natural events; Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, etc .. and heh; yet we won’t even admit that *we* collectively are allowing for these events to become more severe–GlobalClimateChange).

      Love

    4. enouf

      … Which is why, when I read news items like the one about how scientists have just worked out how to make something invisible for a nanosecond, or the one about how detection of the granular, pixellated fabric of reality is within a toucher, or how they can now make something go faster than the speed of light, or something else hotter than the core of the sun, I tend to imagine the explanation lies closer to a kind of Great Game that some of our best and brightest (if not the great and the good) have managed to crack and exploit, maybe in the universe’s previous iteration, or one several aeons ago. So our nerdily divine overlords may well be ancient rather than modern, past not future. Our own dear old deities I’m afraid don’t seem to me to have the ‘chops’ for all this. …. –Glenn Condell

      For me, there is no need to understand ANY of all these phenomena you mention; what’s important is understand Man’s Heart and his role (whatever it might be to you) in helping our fellow brothers and sisters from suffering due to Mankind’s Behaviors. To me God has given us primates all the necessary tools to do so–and *suffering of all* in some way, might be in His Plan..for reasons we might never comprehend. We really do live in a sort of “Garden of Eden” if only we can understand ourselves, through Him, and make it just so.

      Love

  26. Fiver

    Yves (and everyone),

    Your link to the ABC site brings up this page:

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/2012-01-31/3793018

    In the blurb on Kurzweil and his achievements, it contains this statement:

    “He is the inventor of optical character recognition.”

    Now last night (February 4 at about 5:30 am EST) when I read that, a minor alarm went off, as I actually worked with a much older man than myself back in the mid-’90′s who had a technology he had developed for a scanner that could read printed letters. The corporation I worked for gave the technology a whirl. It did not work out for THAT application and I have no idea what became of him or the company. The thing is, this man then HELD THE PATENT for OCR (optical character recognition). I could not remember his name (not my strong suit) until a couple hours ago and only now have a chance to put this out there.

    Here is the man’s Wiki and obit in the New York Times:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_H._Shepard

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/us/11shepard.html

    While the technology has come a long way since, Kurzweil’s claim is at best an unwarranted embellishment, at worse a bald-faced lie.

  27. Fiver

    Liked the piece on the link you provided. Have bookmarked and will look for more.

    I would not, though, bet the farm on the musings of current cosmological thought.

  28. groo

    There have been a lot of good comments here, possibly overwhelming our good host Yves Smith.

    Increasingly the focus shifts from the surface-phenomena of our money system to a more fundamental level, which is both frightening and enlightening.

    All the best to all of Us!

  29. Lafayette

    ECONOMIC UTILITY

    We should note that neither Apple nor Microsoft were innovated with massive amounts of VC-funding. Both Jobs and Gates found a hole in the dike (called IBM and the Seven Dwarfs) and pulled the cork out.

    They innovated a market niche and without their particular genius, IBM would be still dominating IT today.

    Schumpeter may have been right about creative destruction, but we are wrong to believe that a Mitt Romney is some Great VC Visionary. He’s just a lucky guy amongst a number of such lucky-guys amongst a much larger number of unlucky people who tried and failed.

    We always, in this country with a viscerally Individualist Culture, bump with a trumpet those who “succeed” because our sole metric in consideration is the wealth. On just about any other metric, like moral dignity, I wonder how Romney would look were we to consider the number of jobs he destroyed versus the number he supposedly created – and the Net Income Value to Families of both.

    What is more important in the aggregate, the Net Worth enhancement that Romney resold to make a colossal fortune for himself or the net-income loss of families who’s lives were never again the same. Mind you, I believe in Schumpeter’s Cycle of Creative Destruction. I do not believe in how it is achieved, given the societal harm done.

    We should praise VCs for their ability to scavenge the detritus scattered about the the corporate wasteland. There is obviously an economic utility in that work.

    But why the exaggerated adulation of such? It is simply incomprehensible how the excessive accumulation of riches is laudable. I do know, for a fact, that had there been no VCs these companies would have inevitably died and been replaced by others. So, there is no special magic going on by means of Venture Capital.

    Furthermore, if we need an Overarching Vision of Value it should be that of the well-being of all our people and not just a select few. And the verdict on that judgment is in and has been for more than a century. The rich get richer and the poor can go to hell, because we live in a Darwinian Economy.

    There is no economic or social Utility to the unlimited accumulation of capital. It does comparatively very little in terms of economic benefit – the prime motor of our economy being Consumer Demand not Business Investment. Most accumulated wealth is put in the hands of Asset Managers and (for better or for worse) simply begets itself – mostly on capital gains and not all that much on “creating jobs” for the economy.

    No, to my mind, taxing accumulated riches obtains more utility for the well-being of our people, because it permits the implementation of Public Services that enhances the standard-of-living of all citizen – who really need them and would not have them were they left to private enterprise to provide.

    Let us look at the most egregious case-in-point: Health Care. We have an HC-system that is one of the world’s most expensive and covers only 84% of all Americans. Whilst, I, in France, have the world’s best (according to the World Health Organization), costs a third of that of the US, and covers 100% of the population. (Meaning that HC here in France is a birthright.)

    I could go on to another subject, like Education. But I suspect the above example is sufficiently pertinent to make my point at present.

    Our nation needs fundamental socioeconomic and political reformation. But, if we, the sheeple, do not understand that need and how it can better our lives then – as in the past – we are going to swallow the electoral campaign bullshit shoveled at us. We will reelect a cast of politicians who have prevalently been a disservice to us in the past. They are serving themselves, not the people.

    MY POINT

    Nothing will change in LaLaLand on the Potomac, where our system of governance must change. We must get money out of politics, where it does not belong.

    POST SCRIPTUM

    Such creative-destruction is like saying highways should have no speed-limits because, after all, time is money and getting to one’s destination is the prevalent utility of highways. The deaths that excessive speed obviously produces is a small price to pay for the greater economic utility of time-saved?

    Speed kills. Period.

    1. enouf

      Lafayette — .. ECONOMIC UTILITY … ….

      My take of that entire speil is (and this is what i believe is the essence of *capitalism* mantra-asshats is);

      Define : Capitalize — to take advantage of others for self-gain, or otherwise *monopolize* on your current situation/circumstances for self-aggrandizement (“Pride” ; oh dear, not another of those se7en deadlies).

      In laymens terms; *Capitalize == Exploit* (and at any/all costs)

      If Mankind cannot stomach his own nature, how will he ever possibly understand or know a *Other* (Holy).

      Love

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