Wednesday 2012-03-28

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Action-thrill center of the brain pleasing story of a social game that envelops a planet. Like Frankenstein, it triggers fears of the new and how-do-we-deal-with-that questions arise:

Identity Assassination and Subterfuge
Say you ask a friend about maintaining their online persona, they'll probably talk about whatever social networking site they happen to use most at that moment. They're not thinking about all the electronic records tied to them via customer databases.

What happens when that electronic history gets trashed? From a computer perspective, we'd want to roll back to known good backups, or fail over to secondary systems. We currently have no way of rolling back electronic history for anyone. The alternative of creating a second legal identity appears costly or illicit.

The Cost of Capital
After that weird and disquieting question, you ask your friend about gov't eco-policies and which of the two alternatives is greener:

  1. Lower taxes on gasoline or higher?
  2. Lower fuel-efficiency cars or higher?

Your friend will probably say higher taxes and higher fuel-efficiency. Note that these two policies run contrary to each other; raising fuel efficiency reduces the incremental cost of driving and is similar to lowering the cost of fuel.

Your friend might point out that the efficiency gains might split so that we end up with less overall fuel consumption. However, our technological history can be viewed as always trying to do more with less, and we've only ever consumed more energy. Lowering the cost of something has generally only made it more accessible to more people, so production and usage ramp up.

What happens when the cost of capital falls? Marx pointed out that the relative value of labor should increase. He overlooked, and Suarez reminds us, this means that the cost of weaponry / war also falls and increasingly the targets will be the workers.

In Act of Valor and Spec Ops, we see military units augmented with large amounts of physical and human capital. It's not difficult to imagine field ops completely replaced by cheap bots. The only way to stop the pain is to destroy the weapons factories or their supply chain. Or to avoid detection in the first place.

[permalink] Did you read Freedom(TM) yet? I read these, recommended them to coworkers at my former employer, and they soon after added to our new-hire welcome kit.

[permalink] oops! posted by rkabir.