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  • feedwordpress 09:01:36 on 2018/01/11 Permalink
    Tags: Al Gore, Brian Arthur, , equality, , , , Superhighway Summit,   

    “When we achieved, and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew”*… 

     

    The term “technological unemployment” is from John Maynard Keynes’s 1930 lecture, “Economic possibilities for our grandchildren,” where he predicted that in the future, around 2030, the production problem would be solved and there would be enough for everyone, but machines (robots, he thought) would cause “technological unemployment.” There would be plenty to go around, but the means of getting a share in it, jobs, might be scarce.

    We are not quite at 2030, but I believe we have reached the “Keynes point,” where indeed enough is produced by the economy, both physical and virtual, for all of us. (If total US household income of $8.495 trillion were shared by America’s 116 million households, each would earn $73,000, enough for a decent middle-class life.) And we have reached a point where technological unemployment is becoming a reality.

    The problem in this new phase we’ve entered is not quite jobs, it is access to what’s produced. Jobs have been the main means of access for only 200 or 300 years. Before that, farm labor, small craft workshops, voluntary piecework, or inherited wealth provided access. Now access needs to change again.

    However this happens, we have entered a different phase for the economy, a new era where production matters less and what matters more is access to that production: distribution, in other words—who gets what and how they get it.

    We have entered the distributive era…

    From a very provocative essay by a very wise man, Brian Arthur.  You can– and should– read it in its entirety at “Where is technology taking the economy?

    See also: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution”*…

    * T.E. Lawrence

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    As we rethink the fundamentals, we might recall that it was on this date in 1994 that The Superhighway Summit was held at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Royce Hall.

    It was the “first public conference bringing together all of the major industry, government and academic leaders in the field [and] also began the national dialogue about the Information Superhighway and its implications.” The conference was organized by Richard Frank of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Jeffrey Cole and Geoffrey Cowan, the former co-directors of UCLA’s Center for Communication Policy.The keynote speaker was Vice President Al Gore who said:  “We have a dream for…an information superhighway that can save lives, create jobs and give every American, young and old, the chance for the best education available to anyone, anywhere.”

    According to Cynthia Lee in UCLA Today: “The participants underscored the point that the major challenge of the Information Highway would lie in access or the ‘gap between those who will have access to it because they can afford to equip themselves with the latest electronic devices and those who can’t.’”  [source]

    Vice President Gore at the Summit’s podium

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:05 on 2017/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: equality, , , , Jeremy Waldron, , , Samuel Moyn,   

    “Whatever is my right… is also the right of another”*… 

     

    After Charlottesville, it is clear once again that one of the most fundamental American tenets—that all human beings are created equal—is nowhere near universally accepted. When white men on the march are nostalgic for a time when blacks and women were subordinate by nature, it rightly stokes our anger.

    For the most implacable opponents of equality, differences in abilities or appearance or affiliation count for most. It seems doubtful that a philosophical argument that humans are equal will do the trick on its own. In fact, it has been strikingly hard to win over opponents of the proposition that all people are of equivalent worth in some morally pivotal sense. That doesn’t mean the argument is not worth making. Yet as Jeremy Waldron ends up showing in his new book, it is not simple to establish it…

    Equality is a modern idea.  Its detractors have included Plato and Aristotle; indeed, for most Western thinkers, humanity was marked by discriminatory divisions and distinctions.  Samuel Moyn considers Waldron’s new book, One Another’s Equals, and its fascinating– and challenging– project: “What is the Basis for Human Equality?

    * Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

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    As we join in the pursuit of his project, we might be relived to remember that today is the traditionally-accepted start of the Halcyon Days.  Ovid recounts, in The Metamorphoses, the story of Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, his daughter Alcyone, and her husband Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. When Ceyx was drowned at sea, Alcyone threw herself into the waves in a fit of grief– whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers).  When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it; so Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days (some believe fourteen) in each year, so she could lay her eggs.  These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur.

    While in modern usage the phrase has taken on a nostalgic cast (folks pine for the “Halcyon Days of Youth”), we can hope that they spell a safe and calm Holiday season in 2014…

    The Kingfisher

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