• Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    those claiming to have kids intentionally, in order so that a new human can experience happiness, but are really doing it to advance technology.schopenhauer1

    There are two assumptions here, one possibly supportable. It may be that people have children so that a new human can experience happiness. That only sounds good. I don't know whether it is true or not. I think it is more true that people HOPE the child will experience happiness. That parents HOPE the child will be happy suggests that they are aware happiness isn't guaranteed. If happiness isn't guaranteed, then there must be some other reason for having a child.

    The claim that they are having the child to advance technology strikes me as altogether unsupportable. I just don't see any evidence of that. Where are you finding factual support for this view? Post hoc ergo propter hoc, anyone? (After this therefore because of this.)

    Schop, how forward thinking are most reproductive decisions? Having a child for any specific reason is a major gamble for most people. Produce workers to keep the tribe going? Produce cheap help on the farm? Produce people who will be smart and will keep the cultural fires burning? A farmer who is planning on sons but gets only daughters won't have the kind of workforce he was planning on. Parents planning on keeping the tribe a going concern assume the children won't leave to join a different group. Or all die of bubonic plague.

    I still think people have children because we, like other animals, are set up to reproduce whether we especially want to or not. Having children is the default mode. NOT having children takes special planning and effort. Once the kid is on its way, we start coming up with justifications and plans -- which might be more of a salvage operation than a celebration of EVEN MORE CHILDREN. I was not a wanted child. My parents had already had 7 (2 died early on) and were tired. WWII had just ended, everything was in short supply. None the less, Sex + fertility = baby. One woman in my home town had 18 children (!). Did she want 18 children? I don't know about the husband, but she DID NOT. According to her older children, it was a living nightmare. (Some of the 18 are apparently happy within reasonable bounds, some are decidedly not happy.)
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Well I’m connecting it with technology for a reason. There is the need for someone to master the technology and perpetuate it. Who shall it be? You do make a good point children historically are the result of the desire for sex with no birth control methods. The lofty goals were perhaps after the fact.

    The reality is survival requires the technology. It is primary to all else whether flaking stones and hut building techniques or machine coding.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    You are quite right that survival requires technology. That has been true for at least... maybe 200,000 years? Ever since we started to employ stone tools. Marx observed that "reproducing society" was an essential task of (who? Working Class? Middle Class? Ruling Class?). Reproducing society is more than repopulating it. Culture, technology, agriculture, language, art, etc. ALL of it had to be reproduced, or we would crash as a species.

    Whoever it is the responsibility of, society gets reproduced. Social reproduction (cultural, technological, population, etc.) is not an individual task--it's a collective, cultural task. Two crows can repopulate Crow City, but two humans by themselves can not perpetuate human society. Without an intact culture, humans would devolve very rapidly (or maybe they'd just drop dead). I can imagine millions of Americans dying from shock if television were to just disappear--probably within 24 to 48 hours of its disappearance. One very big EMP over North America and the lights would go out, zillions of printed circuits would be fried, and everything would come to a screeching halt. Sic transit gloria technocracy.

    So, there is much more than the individual delusions of prospective parents at work.

    IF society crashed, and 99.9% of the population were dead, I think the remaining remnant would be hard pressed to imagine that they were producing children so that they would be happy.

    But then, were you ever positing that parents "individually apart from society" imagined that their children would find happiness and nice technology?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    But then, were you ever positing that parents "individually apart from society" imagined that their children would find happiness and nice technology?Bitter Crank

    Well, let me put this in a broader context- think about the burden of technology. As you mentioned a large EMP over North America, I can hear in the background the proverbial technophiles in ThePhilosophyForum land saying statements like, "Actually, the North American grid is connected to such and such frameworks, this or that power stations, such that an EMP could not possibly fry the whole power grid, and perhaps only a quarter of the country would fail from such an event, and then go into the mechanics of how the possibility of a nationwide power failure would occur, and the slim chances of such occurrence. You see, someone has to know this. Someone has to work towards knowing this. Happiness is wrapped up in our ability to grasp, innovate, and further technology. The burden of the details has to be gained and furthered. You can spend years just knowing the details of some engineering concept.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    You might enjoy a series of "sort of sci-fi but more about energy and technology" books by James Howard Kunstler. It's his "World Made by Hand" series. The story begins with an off stage event involving just a very few atomic explosions, a few EMPs, and fried electronics. As is well known, integrated/printed/miniaturized electronics are very susceptible to EMPs, and very few people are still using vacuum tube devices which aren't susceptible.

    The country is cast back into the late 19th century as far as technology is concerned. From now on, they will have to make what they need by hand -- hence the title. The story is NOT about lovely hand-made furniture.

    WMBH is set in a very small upstate New York village. Recovery is difficult, and there aren't really any miracles to help them out. If I remember correctly, the story covers 2 or 3 years, maybe a little longer. The reduced population of the village survive, and life goes on -- but in a very reduced way. Very large numbers of people in the country died off because adaptation was impossible for most people. (take Chicago, New York, LA, Houston -- feeding that many people can't be done without modern transportation. True, New York was large and was fed in the late 19th Century; so was Chicago and many other cities. But the existing organization and animal-based traction technology long since disappeared. Yes, 19th century tech can be recovered, but not in one or two years. It would take decades to reconstruct.

    There are several volumes in the series; they are realistic, pessimistic, but in someways hopeful. That's what Kunstler's lecturing and non-fiction books are about -- if we are going to survive as a species, we are going to have to radically change the kind of life we maintain and exist in. It will probably need to resemble the 19th century in many ways (animal traction, minimal electronic devices, a far less centralized economy, smaller population, etc.). We would have to live much like the Amish live.

    A World Made By Hand isn't going to change your ideas about the world, but they are very interesting stories.

    EARTH ABIDES is another one -- this much older, written in 1949. It posits a plague that quickly kills most of the world's population -- like... 99.99%. There's no horror in the novel. The story focuses on a small group's efforts to survive in Oakland, CA. They do survive, though along much different lines than their tech-oriented leader had thought they would.

    Earth Abides is interesting because the world that ended in 1949 was so much less "technical" than the present one. For instance, the star of the novel decides to drive across country and decides that Highway 66 would be the best bet. When I read that I thought... "why would he not travel on the interstate freeways?"... Oh right, they hadn't been built yet. Television? Invented, but barely in use; radio, yes; telephone, yes; electric lights, yes; refrigeration and natural gas, yes. All that was now gone. So there were many adaptations necessary. A surprising and interesting conclusion to the book.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    @Πετροκότσυφας
    Thanks for the book recommendations! I might have to add it to the reading list. As you know by now, these topics simply go back to the major premise I see about life. That is to say, structurally, we are always in a state of "lack". Certainly, technology (of any era) speaks to the lack of many things: the lack of the ability to survive without it, for example. If we always had what we needed, we would never want. But want is subversively valued as the summum bonum so that we can cope with our deficiency by praising that very deficiency. Lack brings want, want brings MORE STUFF, MORE STUFF brings MORE METHODS FOR GETTING THE STUFF! Just the fact alone, that we need health care STUFF, and food STUFF, alone means there needs to be more growth.. Then we need MILITARY STUFF, and scientific STUFF, which filters into CONSUMER STUFF. And of course that STUFF needs more STUFF to support the STUFF and administrations grows, and writing jobs to market it, and on and and and on. The growth of technology is the growth of the minutia. Every equation, every line of code, every twist of the manufacturing widget. It is an ultimate delve into the intricacies of the minutia of the intricacies of minutia. It is the ultimate culmination of our sense of lack.

    The rational "parent" brings new children into the world so that they can be MINUTIA MONGERS and bring us more STUFF. But of course, I am not talking about the simple sex = baby cases. This was meant for purely so-called rational reasons to bear and raise a child
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    The rational "parent" brings new children into the world so thatschopenhauer1

    I agree with a lot of your down-beat points. People who are consciously and deliberately upward mobile start planning their child's glorious career before ovulation. They already have the money (or they have a plan) to thrust this baby into the upper class if at all possible and they pursue it from the get go. Pregnant mama eats well, listens to Mozart, all that. Then attention showered on the baby, and early childhood education (way before first grade), private schools, tutoring, dancing lessons or whatever the fuck, push, push, push. If all goes well, these great expectations pan out pretty well, on a local basis, anyway.

    Successful people want more stuff, get more stuff, waste more stuff, and learn jack shit from the experience. Unsuccessful people do the same thing, just with lower quality stuff purchased from the dollar store or K-Mart.

    The book and series I suggested won't change your mind -- I think you will find Kunstler's approach affirming. His non-fiction books, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and The Long Emergency (among others) develops ideas about the logic of STUFF that you expressed. Mostly I suggested the books because they are great post apocalypse fiction and are far, far more pleasant than Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD which made me very uncomfortable. I watched the first few minutes of the movie The Road and decided it was going to supply too many intolerably vivid images of ghastliness. CLICK!

    Stuffiness of civilization is not new, of course. The touring show of Pompeii artifacts displayed all sorts of STUFF that reasonably well-fixed Romans needed. The tombs of Egypt are full of STUFF that the well-fixed Egyptian needed. Luxury goods, like a piece of thin leather about 3 sq. feet in area, delicately cut to look like woven fabric. Conspicuous consumption.

    We started to accumulate stuff when and where it was possible a long time ago. If we were somewhat settled down, food was reasonably plentiful, the climate wasn't too awful, stuff just started to accumulate. We and pack rats seem to have a similar urge.

    Are you familiar with Thorsten Veblen? He published his Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899. It is a slim volume. One of the themes in the book is about "conspicuous consumption". People consume in order to display their excess capacity. His classic example are fields of grass upon which no sheep are allowed to graze, yet the grass is short. "Lawns" are a demonstration that one can afford to grow grass for appearance and pay someone to cut it short. It's a totally non-productive pasture. The manicured pasture surrounding stately homes was quickly copied by the middle class (even the working class) who propagated much-fussed-over small pieces of pasturage upon which no cow will ever graze.

    You can get the collected works e-edition of Veblen for 99¢ on Amazon--buy it today! His "Leisure Class" is still in print in paper and is regularly re-issued. You need more STUFF, Schop; at least the e-edition doesn't take up much space.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    I agree with a lot of your down-beat points. People who are consciously and deliberately upward mobile start planning their child's glorious career before ovulation. They already have the money (or they have a plan) to thrust this baby into the upper class if at all possible and they pursue it from the get go. Pregnant mama eats well, listens to Mozart, all that. Then attention showered on the baby, and early childhood education (way before first grade), private schools, tutoring, dancing lessons or whatever the fuck, push, push, push. If all goes well, these great expectations pan out pretty well, on a local basis, anyway.Bitter Crank

    Very good description.

    The book and series I suggested won't change your mind -- I think you will find Kunstler's approach affirming. His non-fiction books, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and The Long Emergency (among others) develops ideas about the logic of STUFF that you expressed. Mostly I suggested the books because they are great post apocalypse fiction and are far, far more pleasant than Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD which made me very uncomfortable. I watched the first few minutes of the movie The Road and decided it was going to supply too many intolerably vivid images of ghastliness. CLICK!Bitter Crank
    Thanks for recommendations. They do fit the theme it seems. Fiction can often paint the picture, that a monograph can't quite get at.

    We and pack rats seem to have a similar urge.Bitter Crank

    Need a home to keep stuff.

    Are you familiar with Thorsten Veblen? He published his Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899. It is a slim volume. One of the themes in the book is about "conspicuous consumption". People consume in order to display their excess capacity. His classic example are fields of grass upon which no sheep are allowed to graze, yet the grass is short. "Lawns" are a demonstration that one can afford to grow grass for appearance and pay someone to cut it short. It's a totally non-productive pasture. The manicured pasture surrounding stately homes was quickly copied by the middle class (even the working class) who propagated much-fussed-over small pieces of pasturage upon which no cow will ever graze.Bitter Crank

    I've heard of this. Sounds like it is still relevant.

    I think Marx main contribution was showing that the material circumstances- like economic structures drive ideas. Well, to tweak that a bit- technology might even be more foundational than economic systems. It doesn’t matter who owns what, or what style of distribution. Rather, it matters more in how a society protects, maintains, and progresses the technologies. Our culture really is centered on this. The priests? The engineers.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    @Bitter Crank

    I'll put it this way. Try to make an argument against the fact that the most valuable people are the technology originators? You can be cynical and say its money that talks. Its technology that makes the money do anything.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Fiction can often paint the picture, that a monograph can't quite get at.schopenhauer1

    A World Made by Hand is fiction. Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and The Long Emergency are nonfiction. Similar themes explicated in both.

    Try to make an argument against the fact that the most valuable people are the technology originators?schopenhauer1

    There is a tricky connection between technology and money.

    There are many useful inventions that have been patented, and never saw the light of day. Maybe some were "earth shaking, paradigm shifting, watershed" inventions; some were good and useful inventions, and some were flights of imagination.

    Why?

    One reason is that a lot of money has already been sunk into other technologies. An obvious example is petroleum. Drilling for, pumping, refining, distributing, and selling petroleum products is very lucrative, but also very expensive. The sunk costs of the petroleum industry, and the reliability of the income are too large to risk investment in... wind and solar farms, highly efficient engines, mass transit systems, and so forth.

    Investors hate risk, especially when they already are getting big payoffs from previous risks and investments.

    Why don't pharmaceutical manufacturers search for new antibiotics? Because a good, new antibiotic will result in sales of one or two bottles of pills per person per illness. Maybe 50 pills. Blood pressure medications, on the other hand, are a life-long proposition. So, chronic illnesses get investments that acute infections aren't going to get. Forget about making immunization serums. That's 1 shot per person per life-time. Where's the profit in that?

    Windmill and solar farms are getting built, and are generating electricity. More could be built, and more sustainable electricity could be generated, so why not? Again, sunk costs. The cost of a new nuclear generating plant are extremely high, so the existing ones are going to be run until they... blow up? Maybe, but at least until they really are no good anymore. Same for coal fired plants. They are reliable, the infrastructure is in place and operating well, and they make money. Global warming makes new coal-fired plants inadvisable (no such thing as "clean coal").

    Power companies are a little more forward thinking than General Motors and Exxon. The end of their fossil fuel is a bit closer. (Plenty of coal, but it's increasingly uncompetitive cost wise.) In a number of states, wind and solar are providing a significant and growing share of electric power (in states that have good wind resources--not every state does) and where there is lots of sun near large metropolitan areas. Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, and California are 4 states that I know are getting quite a bit of electrical power sustainablyb from wind. The SE states lack sustained wind streams, but they do have sun enough. But... southern crackers. What do you expect?

    So, great and good ideas generally die on the vine if somebody doesn't come along to capitalize them. Here's a small example: Somebody started a little mushroom powdering operation in town (this was... 20 years ago). It was a good product -- just dried mushrooms ground to a powder. Very good in a number of dishes, like casseroles, gravy, soup, etc. They disappeared from the market in a a couple of years. Why? The costs of expanding promotion, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution were too high. They needed an investor who, apparently, didn't materialize. No money, no powdered mushrooms. Powdered mushrooms are manufactured and sold on Amazon, by larger operations.

    Or, personal issue, take high efficiency water heaters. I could buy one, and it would use less gas than the conventional water heater I have. However, the savings per year would not equal the cost of this tank for maybe 20 years. The same applies to roof top solar power, adding extensive insulation, etc. The payback period is longer than my probable remaining lifetime. If it paid for itself in two years, hey -- I'd do it.

    Technology has to pay off reasonably fast, or people can't afford to adopt it, whether they are individuals or Fortune 500 companies.

    Excellent ideas alone usually won't fly. They require funds to lift them aloft.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Try to make an argument against the fact that the most valuable people are the technology originators?schopenhauer1

    Creators, inventors, come up with new ideas. Labor brings them to fruition. In a capitalist economy workers are wage slaves and without paid work starve. Creators require the means to manufacture -- that means a building, machinery, and workers. Further, they have to buy raw materials (like sheet metal). All of this requires cash. That's where investors come in: IF they think the idea will make enough profit, they may invest.

    Then there are intangible factors: Does the inventor (and owner of the technology) and the engineer who figures out how to turn the patent into a product, and the factory manager, the workers, and the investor all get along? There are frequent disputes. The investor thinks its taking too long to get production going. The workers think they are not getting paid enough. The engineer feels he is expected to pull rabbits out of hats. The inventor feels he's getting ripped off by everybody else. The whole process sometimes breaks down.

    Later, the factory is turning out the Barbot, the robot that helps you score at the bar. Demand is high. Hammacher Schlemmer has ordered 10,000 units. Then problems arise. The special processor that helps the Barbot exude charm is held up by labor unrest (aka, a union drive) in China. The Indonesian chemical company that produces the Barbot's special pheromones can't get enough extract of yak gland from Mongolia. The factory floor is flummoxed. 1,000 fully operational units are shipped, which only fuels demand which can not be satisfied.

    Finally Hammacher Schlemmer*** Hammacher Schlemmer decides to drop the Barbot for the Fully Obedient Stormtrooper, which isn't as charming, but is fully stocked at a warehouse.

    The Barbot operation can't get production going again; law suits are begun; Barbot goes bankrupt. Another one bites the dust.

    Meanwhile, the 1000 Barbots that did get made, shipped, and purchased are helping nerds do a land office business at the bar. What can't be accomplished with charm and pheromones can be accomplished, it turns out, with a vice-like grip. So, the Barbot introduces the potential bed mates it has located to its owner with a soto voce message in the ear of the potential bed mate, "or else. Just remember, we have vays..."

    ***The actual Fully Obedient Stormtrooper is much larger than it appears in the illustration.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I can come up with more scenarios, but I need positive reinforcements. Drop a quarter into the slot, every now and then.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    You paint a very good picture of how investment, manufacturing, engineering, and invention work. However, what I mean by money doesn't do anything without technology is literal. Money is only as good as what can be done with it. Otherwise, its just paper. So where does money get put to use? Basic survival-like needs such as homes, heating, appliances, electricity, etc. What do the taxes need to do? Other survival-like stuff at the community level. Roads, electrical supplies, stop lights, all sorts of infrastructure. Then of course, luxuries are spent on. Stuff needs to get made, is complicated to configure and make, and takes the brains to make it, and yeah the brawn to put it together.. But the workers need to have the technology as well, otherwise there is nothing to work on, build, and fix, or the building and fixing would be of a very home made, 17th century type technology.

    So, you can describe the methods for which investments promote technology, but LITERALLY money means nothing without the BACKING of the value technology gives money. Yeah money can be seen in lots of ways, as an exchange or a "store of value"..but none of it stores anything unless there is the technology for which the money can obtain. That is the final telos of the money.. It is waiting to be cashed out in technology.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Creators, inventors, come up with new ideas. Labor brings them to fruition. In a capitalist economy workers are wage slaves and without paid work starve. Creators require the means to manufacture -- that means a building, machinery, and workers. Further, they have to buy raw materials (like sheet metal). All of this requires cash. That's where investors come in: IF they think the idea will make enough profit, they may invest.Bitter Crank

    All of this is based on the current technology which is used to make further technology. The workers and investors rely on technology. So it is still the inventors and engineers that are needed most. The very platform we are using was based on computing technology with all the computer engineering, and programming that goes into it, as well as networking technology, then forum technology, and further, the very nice format of "Plush Forums" which this particular forum is based. Of course that is not mentioning every other supporting technology, such as the electrical ones and manufacturing that goes into the devices we are using and keeping them powered.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    So, you can describe the methods for which investments promote technology, but LITERALLY money means nothing without the BACKING of the value technology gives money. Yeah money can be seen in lots of ways, as an exchange or a "store of value"..but none of it stores anything unless there is the technology for which the money can obtain. That is the final telos of the money.. It is waiting to be cashed out in technology.schopenhauer1

    True, and not true, maybe. I'm not all that knowledgeable about this.

    For a Roman, a gold coin was the value of gold. It didn't represent anything, it just was. Now the value of any currency is what the world's consensus of its value is. Value "jiggles" up and down continuously. Currency is connected to real stuff through what? Trade? A country which has (practically) nothing to sell is going to have a virtually worthless currency. If you sell stuff then you can buy stuff, and if you pay your bills, your money is good. Stop paying your bills and your currency might turn into cat litter. Value comes from the market. The currency of Zimbabwe was so worthless (nothing to sell, couldn't buy anything) that they started using other countries' currencies -- to the extent that they could get them.

    Money is itself a technology. Several hundred years ago the social infrastructure of Holland was solid enough that one could say, "Hey -- I want 500 tulip bulbs. Let me give you a check..." (which was a promissory note). You got the tulips bulbs, the bulb seller took your check to your bank and got the gold coins. That was good for a few hundred years. Then we figured out how to make the promise to pay through an intermediary -- the credit card company. You hand the man your card, he swipes it, the credit card company (eventually) pays him and (eventually) unsubtly informs you that it is time to pay up or else. (Quite a bit of money is made by the "or else" -- usurious rates of interest).

    Now we can point our phone and pay for something. Soon you will be able to merely think of something and a sale will be charged to your account. "Oh, nice shoes" -- WHAM! $600 deducted from your account and the shoes are on their way. That'll put a brake on daydreaming at the mall.

    What gives a society the ability to command respect for its currency isn't so much "technology" as "production". The major currencies (euros, dollars, yens, renminbis, pounds) are "major" because they are backed up by trusted economies that turn out a lot of goods people want. Back in the day when Japan made "cheap jap junk" (after the war), the yen wasn't worth much. When Japan outstripped Detroit as the #1 Auto Maker (1980), the yen got lots of respect.

    Economic activity doesn't have to be high tech to count. China may make iPhones, but they also take shiploads of waste paper and turn it into cardboard. Not exactly high tech. China outsells other producers by using that lowest of tech devices, low paid workers.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    So it is still the inventors and engineers that are needed most.schopenhauer1

    An economy might need consumers more than inventors. 70% of US GDP is personal consumption spending. I buy a little tech every now and then. Most of what I buy are food, utilities, health insurance, property insurance, and miscellaneous stuff -- as high tech as a kitchen pan, underwear, bike tires, etc. I bet most of your household spending is similar.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Most of what I buy are food, utilities, health insurance, property insurance, and miscellaneous stuff -- as high tech as a kitchen pan, underwear, bike tires, etc. I bet most of your household spending is similar.Bitter Crank

    Yes I agree, but how much technology goes into all of what you described? A lot more than used to be. So tech here is meant broadly, not in the narrow definition of electronics or something similar when we think of technology
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Also, it is the burden of knowledge. The best must create. The best must have the knowledge. The best have to be specialized.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    You can call it technology if you want, but if it's defined so broadly enough it could just as well be called output, production, GDP, or whatever.

    I'm not minimizing the value of technology; granted, it's a component of some pretty ordinary things. But I don't like the idea of shifting the 'pivot point' of society from brute economic activity (which almost all of it is) to this entity of "technology". What Intel or Samsung does in their factories is complex manufacturing, certainly, but it isn't really all that much different than what goes on in a Ford plant. Men and machinery are combined to produce highly engineered objects. Modern dairies are much more "technological" than they used to be -- in some operations cows and robots move around in the barn as they wish. When a cow wants to be milked (and they do want to be milked at least twice a day) the cows solicit the services of a robot. Whether it's done by a robot or a guy carrying a Serge milking machine from cow to cow, milk is sucked out of mammary glands.

    High tech and low tech operate the same way in the economy.

    Ford and Intel are making a product from raw or previously processed material, then selling the product for as much as the market will bear. In both cases, there is a major markup in price between the factory and the final purchaser -- probably by a factor of 10. (Each stage--manufacturing, warehousing, selling, shipping, incorporation into another product, more warehousing, distribution, etc. adds a little more to the final cost. By the time you buy something at Target, a lot of handling costs have been added. That's true of an eggbeater from Target or a computer from Dell.

    I prefer to think of "technology" as one factor in products along with initial cost, toxicity, repair costs, longevity, convenience, and so on.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Who are the best?

    One instance where "the best" technology is bought, where tech is tech, is in the purchase of patents. Large tech operations sometimes buy small competitors only for the value of the patents they own. Once the sale is complete and the patents have changed hands, the recent acquisition is flushed down the drain (if it isn't otherwise worth keeping).

    Oddly, the patents might not be needed for future manufacturing. They may be useful only for future litigation. It's like if some small company owned the patent for "the computer mouse" they could sue all sorts of computer makers for patent infringement, and make a nice income. Apple, for instance, keeps unneeded patents on hand to sue or counter-sue competitors. They all are involved in this "high tech" legal maneuvering.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    You can call it technology if you want, but if it's defined so broadly enough it could just as well be called output, production, GDP, or whatever.Bitter Crank

    But this is why I specifically called out technology- it is not the output aspect or the economic indicator that represents output. It is the technology that is the basis for the output.

    What Intel or Samsung does in their factories is complex manufacturing, certainly, but it isn't really all that much different than what goes on in a Ford plant. Men and machinery are combined to produce highly engineered objects. Modern dairies are much more "technological" than they used to be -- in some operations cows and robots move around in the barn as they wish. When a cow wants to be milked (and they do want to be milked at least twice a day) the cows solicit the services of a robot. Whether it's done by a robot or a guy carrying a Serge milking machine from cow to cow, milk is sucked out of mammary glands.Bitter Crank

    You think cars aren't extremely complex technology? This all takes the engineering knowledge, of course. Something as simple as a milking machine, are also engineered.

    Ford and Intel are making a product from raw or previously processed material, then selling the product for as much as the market will bear. In both cases, there is a major markup in price between the factory and the final purchaser -- probably by a factor of 10. (Each stage--manufacturing, warehousing, selling, shipping, incorporation into another product, more warehousing, distribution, etc. adds a little more to the final cost. By the time you buy something at Target, a lot of handling costs have been added. That's true of an eggbeater from Target or a computer from Dell.

    I prefer to think of "technology" as one factor in products along with initial cost, toxicity, repair costs, longevity, convenience, and so on.
    Bitter Crank

    Again, great description of the economic factors. However, it is the technology that creates the items. We survive and are entertained through technology. None of the stuff you mentioned exists without someone figuring out a better code to program the machine to make a more efficient or "superior" product.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Who are the best?

    One instance where "the best" technology is bought, where tech is tech, is in the purchase of patents. Large tech operations sometimes buy small competitors only for the value of the patents they own. Once the sale is complete and the patents have changed hands, the recent acquisition is flushed down the drain (if it isn't otherwise worth keeping).

    Oddly, the patents might not be needed for future manufacturing. They may be useful only for future litigation. It's like if some small company owned the patent for "the computer mouse" they could sue all sorts of computer makers for patent infringement, and make a nice income. Apple, for instance, keeps unneeded patents on hand to sue or counter-sue competitors. They all are involved in this "high tech" legal maneuvering.
    Bitter Crank

    Interesting point. Consumers are not valuable. Only the creators of technology are. That's the thing. The investors are nothing without the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They are needed by consumers, owners, and investors alike. There is no real production without it.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I don't think we are getting anywhere. Nor do we have anywhere to get to. Were we to go on a tour of factories, I think we'd both point out the same things as significant.

    Consumers are not valuable. Only the creators of technology are. That's the thing. The investors are nothing without the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They are needed by consumers, owners, and investors alike. There is no real production without it.schopenhauer1

    They are all critical to the others' success. No production without consumption; no production without finance; no technology without production -- and visa versa.

    But when you think about technology, how far back are you going? Isaac Watts? The mechanical loom? Water power?

    Manufacturing is just applied tech. In the "lithic" eras, stone tool production was not a mass operation; it was a boutique operation. The entire tribe didn't gather together to knap flint rocks for a week. It was skilled work, taking a lot of practice and time. What whole tribes did do was trade. In south central Minnesota, for instance, there are all sorts of flint tools and flint chips accumulated over 9,000 years which are not obtained from local rock formations. Some of the stone tools are from as far away as 100 to 300 miles. There is no obsidian anywhere close to south central Minnesota. They traded stuff that x tribe made for different materials that tribe y had.

    There was quite a lot of technological knowledge worked into the stone tools. A producer had to know how a type of rock (of which the traded supply was very limited) would respond to the kinds of knapping blows that it might receive. Sometimes only pressure was applies to a location to achieve the desired material removal.

    There are a lot of "home manufactured items" in our history. Fabric is a major one. Taking animal hair (like wool) and turning it into a durable garment is, like stone knapping, skilled labor, often varied out alone. There are all sorts of things made by hand, 2 hands at a time. But there were also group efforts. Ore was dug up and smelted by numerous individuals working together.

    Moving all this forward... at some point, individual workshops turned into group workshops turned into factories. Water power would have enabled the factory to use several mechanized processes.

    So, in my view, technology goes back quite a ways. I'm pretty sure that early factories (like cotton spinning factories) had to have had investors, or the founder would have needed to be rich from the start. You can't have technology without infrastructure (like a dam, a mill pond, water wheel, power shaft, over head leather pullies, a solid building, windows, etc.

    I mean, tech isn't a person. It doesn't walk in a magically transform nothing into something. Something has to be there first, and it has to be paid for early on. This hasn't changed in a long time.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    But when you think about technology, how far back are you going? Isaac Watts? The mechanical loom? Water power?Bitter Crank

    Yes, all of it. Of course the more modern we get, the more reliant the technology is on specialized engineers and scientists.

    I mean, tech isn't a person. It doesn't walk in a magically transform nothing into something. Something has to be there first, and it has to be paid for early on. This hasn't changed in a long time.Bitter Crank

    But investors, eventually need to make money on tangible products and output. Eventually, making money on money only goes so far before it needs something real that actually is producing the profits. Products need the inventors and engineers to originate and further technologies. That is the piece that everyone else needs. An inventor can just invent. But a consumer needs those inventions, and an investor needs the tangible output- whether they be stone tools for cutting meat, or any number of modern products.

    Sure, we can think of scenarios where the products are primitive to not need inventors or services with little skill, but that society doesn't exist anymore, if it ever did. The inventors and proto-engineers were always needed since civilization began (whether they were called that or not).
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Not sure what you mean. That seems like an incomplete thought.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Bitter, one of the main reasons for this thread is to not only point to the supremacy of technology has a basis for which all society is organized, but rather to show its effects on the kind of people who can originate and maintain this technology. Its main effect is that those with the most MINUTIA MONGERING- the ability to specialize in extremely minute points of math/science/engineering are who are most valued and de facto "needed". This is interesting to me the precision of detail needed in modern times that our brains must focus on, and the kind of performances that we rely on as a society to maintain and increase technology.

    Perhaps @fdrake can chime in on the phenomenon of technology and the necessary knowledge of minutia to push it forward.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    So, I'm seeing your point here.

    Minutia mongering: Excellent.

    I submit that we have probably passed our capacity to monger all the minutia we have to manage. All the code that it takes is too voluminous, too complex, too inter-connected, for any individual or team to adequately oversee. The result is all sorts of failures (cleverly called bugs rather than mistakes) that are discovered only by putting the product into the hands of millions and letting them find all the errors by the brute force of daily use. EDIT: JUST NOW THE NEW VERSION OF iTUNES (which I didn't ask for) WOULDN'T LET ME QUIT; I COULD CLOSE THE WINDOW, BUT NOT TURN IT OFF. I HAD TO USE "FORCE QUIT" TO SHUT IT OFF. A small example.

    The stakes are not very high for a draw program running on a tablet. The stakes are rather higher if the program is running the air traffic system, a nuclear plant, oil refinery, or missiles, or a big bank, or that autonomous self-driving car everyone is waiting for. I have read that legacy systems (like that running the FAA system or Social Security) are often so complex that officials are reluctant to replace them, because, of course, errors would be catastrophic.

    So, yes: software engineers are very, very valuable.

    As time goes on, and complexity continues to grow (as it will) we will have to off-load a substantial portion of the burden onto computers, which (or who) have a much larger capacity to finagle complexity than we have. As we do so, we will, of necessity, relinquish a degree of control over the programs themselves.

    Bear in mind, though, that the drive to increase technology is top down rather than bottom up. Tech is the product du jour. The reason Apple and Samsung and who-the-fuck keep coming up with new and snazzier phones is that maintaining profits requires new phones. You don't need a new phone; I don't need a new phone; nobody on earth needs yet another version. Apple, Samsung, and who-the-fuck need new phones so that they have something to sell that is different than what they sold yesterday.

    The same thing applies to apples. There are already I don't know... around 5,000 apple varieties. One would think that those 5000 apple varieties probably suffice. But no: places like the U of Minnesota keep breeding new ones. You like Honey Crisp? That's one of the U of M varieties. They've introduced it's successor this year. Successor? Right. People are tired of The Apple of the early 21st century. Apples must be perpetually sweeter, crisper, juicier...

    Why? Because apple growers need new apples to generate consumer interest. "Consumer interest" is a different beast than "feeding people", you understand. Consumer interest is about selling stuff.

    The technologists who analyze consumer behavior are also very valuable people. More valuable than we band of brother-philosophers, certainly.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    The technologists who analyze consumer behavior are also very valuable people. More valuable than we band of brother-philosophers, certainly.Bitter Crank

    :grin: I like that reference.

    I submit that we have probably passed our capacity to monger all the minutia we have to manage. All the code that it takes is too voluminous, too complex, too inter-connected, for any individual or team to adequately oversee. The result is all sorts of failures (cleverly called bugs rather than mistakes) that are discovered only by putting the product into the hands of millions and letting them find all the errors by the brute force of daily use. EDIT: JUST NOW THE NEW VERSION OF iTUNES (which I didn't ask for) WOULDN'T LET ME QUIT; I COULD CLOSE THE WINDOW, BUT NOT TURN IT OFF. I HAD TO USE "FORCE QUIT" TO SHUT IT OFF. A small example.Bitter Crank

    Excellent point! This is really where I'm getting at. This is why I put "phenomenology" in the title. WHO is the person. What TYPE of person. Why that type of person? What are the THOUGHT PROCESSES of that person who needs to know the lines of code.. the testing of the code...the compiling of the language...the inventor of the language.. the mathematics behind all of this...the engineering behind all of that. And on and on it goes.

    What does this mean as a lived human? Where does that put the person who DOESN'T do these complex, focused, processes based in the minute understanding of the expert? What is the VALUE of the mind of a person who CAN do these things..that MOVE technology and that the cultural-economic fabric relies upon. What implication does this mean in terms of taxonomy of USEFULNESS.. What does this mean for consumers vs. producers.. What does this mean as a theory of value? What does this mean as a theory metaphysically in terms of WHAT the phenomenon is?

    I get that often technology is foisted from the top down through marketing, but we must admit that civilization relies on its substrate of technology. The technologists are the ones that carry these nuts and bolts processes and outputs to fruition. It is the phenomenon of the MINUTIA MONGERING technologist that I am trying to get at.
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