The problem with abundance (link)

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the problem with abundance.... (link)

"What do traffic jams, obesity and spam have in common?

They are all problems caused by abundance in a world more attuned to scarcity. By achieving the goal of abundance, technology renders the natural checks and balances of scarcity obsolete."


http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20031007.gtdejageroct7/BNStory/Technology/ [Broken]
 
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Plus how about the abundance of information. We are swamped with information. Alot of misinformation and disinformation.
 

dduardo

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I don't really like Peter de Jager. He is known to be sensationalist and hypes small problems with simple solutions. His last "famous" paper was entitled "Doomsday 2000"

-------------------------------

What do traffic jams, obesity and spam have in common?
Nothing.

They are all problems caused by abundance in a world more attuned to scarcity. By achieving the goal of abundance, technology renders the natural checks and balances of scarcity obsolete.
Thats just sensationalism.


The automobile made it possible for individuals to travel 100 kilometres in an hour. The result is that roads and parking must potentially accommodate everyone driving downtown from an area approximately 200 Km in diameter. The speed of travel reduces the constraints of distance. When we unthinkingly increase the speed at which we can travel, we increase the distance we travel without thinking.
Traffic jams happend because of a lack of a coordinated systems. If every car was intellegent to drive itself then traffic jams wouldn't exsist. It would take the same time to go from point a to point b because traffic would move at a constant rate.

The human body was designed to survive on scarcity, and it has served us well over the past 50,000-plus years. On those rare occasions when food was abundant it was stored as fat in advance of future scarcity. Today we are surrounded by an excess of food and the body continues to follow a proven survival strategy — it stores energy in fat for lean days which no longer arrive.
Obesity has nothing to do with abundance and everything with lazyiness. Obesity can be overcome with a little thing called exercise. Or if your really lazy you can take pills or do liposuction.

The ability to send sales pitches via e-mail at a negligible cost means it is economical and good business practice to send-millions of e-mails even with response rates as low as .001per cent. That pile of fetid Spam in your mailbox is a direct result of technological progress. There should be no surprise here; the rise of Spam follows the same growth curve of books after the invention of the printing press, although in a much shorter time frame. The speed and negligible cost of e-mail delivers an abundance of potential customers to anyone with a computer.
Spam also has nothing to do with adundance. There is already very effective spam filters. I would even go as far to say the snail mail is worse at spam then email. At least computer users have the ability to filter mail before they see it. Snail mail must be filtered manually.

There are other obvious examples. Today the music industry is being hammered on the anvil of abundance. We've always copied music, but in limited quantities because copying that LP/Cassette to an audio tape took time, was expensive and the quality wasn't the same.

Today, we cheaply create our own CDs by the hundreds and the quality is exactly the same as those we buy for $20 or more. The rise in the number of people copying music and burning their own CDs, has collapsed the music industry's ability to dole out tiny snippets of music as if it were a scarce resource. Their attempt to hold back progress is to sue the consumer.

Ironically, it was the music industry which embraced and introduced both the CD and digital music to the consumer. They never thought about the long term consequences to their business, although they had ample warning of future problems. When their cost to produce the CD dropped drastically to the point where consumers could create their own music CD for less than 50 cents, warning bells should have rung out loudly. Perhaps they did, but obviously nobody paid attention until the consequences began to nibble away at their profits.
Isn't the purpose of the computer and the internet to make replication of knowlege and information easy, allowing dessimination of culture to a large audience. I don't see whats wrong with abundance here.

The increased capability to communicate effortlessly with anyone in the world is an amazing result of technological know-how. It also means we can significantly reduce costs by sending work to the other side of the world, rather than employing people closer to home. Work is now geographically ambivalent and all white collar work is at risk of displacement.
It is called cheap labor and nothing else. I'm sure if people in the US started to work for 1 cent, employers would be scrammbling to get US workers.

A technology which has, as its primary advantage, an ability to create abundance, carries within it the potential to create problems invulnerable to simplistic solutions. Like genies let loose from the bottle, they are almost impossible to control. We can't solve traffic congestion by reducing the speed of traffic to 10 KM/Hr. Nor can we solve obesity by reducing the shelves in the supermarket, or Spam by making it difficult and costly to send e-mail.

It's not that it is physically impossible to do these things; it's that people will resist with all their might, those who attempt to replace new found abundance with their parents' scarcity.

Anyone considering a new technology should at least ask the question: "What are the long term consequences if this advance reduces costs to zero, or increases access so that everyone with a desire to do so, can use the technology?" That might seem to be a giant 'societal' question of value only to economists and city planners, but it has applications closer to home.

What does it mean for "family time" when every room has a TV?

What does it mean for my company when everyone has instant messaging?

What does it mean for newspapers when everyone has access to digital paper?

What does it mean for the telecom industry when everyone has a wireless network?

Any technology which creates abundance poses problems for any process which existed to benefit from scarcity.
I have outlined very simple solutions above. It should be blantently obvious how rediculous this person's claims are. I only hope after through examination that you see how sentationalist de Jager's work is.

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[edit] Sorry for the mess, I was running out the door while finishing this post. Hope this is better now.
 
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Originally posted by dduardo
(SNIP) Traffic jams happend because of a lack of a coordinated systems. If every car was intellegent to drive itself then traffic jams wouldn't exsist. It would take the same time to go from point a to point b because traffic would move at a constant rate. (SNoP)
Humm, this isn't actually true as I had worked in the 'related industry' and have heard of the studies that show when a highway achieves it's maximium working volume of traffic, adding in just a very small number of cars more 100 - 300 more can stop the traffic completely, a limitation of road space coupled to car sizing.

P.S. I find the style in which you have presented your arguements, against this person, difficult to read as per it's not being distinctly separated, and personally, I find this particular writing, of this person, to carry merit! as it points to what is occuring. That's why I haven't addressed the rest of your rebutal....
 

dduardo

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Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
Humm, this isn't actually true as I had worked in the 'related industry' and have heard of the studies that show when a highway achieves it's maximium working volume of traffic, adding in just a very small number of cars more 100 - 300 more can stop the traffic completely, a limitation of road space coupled to car sizing.
What if cars where lined up like a train. I've seen experiments that do this where they put magnets in the ground and have the car follow it. You could in theory have the cars going 200 mi/hr, they wouldn't crash, and no matter how slow the person in front of you is driving you would go the same 200 mi/hr because everyone is going the same speed. I would hope that this would eliminate traffic.

Just think Minority Report.
 
Originally posted by dduardo
What if cars where lined up like a train. I've seen experiments that do this where they put magnets in the ground and have the car follow it. You could in theory have the cars going 200 mi/hr, they wouldn't crash, and no matter how slow the person in front of you is driving you would go the same 200 mi/hr because everyone is going the same speed. I would hope that this would eliminate traffic.
Just think Minority Report.
Eliminate??? how?? it simply 'aligns' it, and is still limited in it's volume capacities, so waiting might still be the requirement, just that in your scenario, you would now be waiting to "get on/in".
 

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