Re: [unrev-II] Availability of Knowledge & Consequences of Efficiency

From: David Kankiewicz (
Date: Fri Oct 05 2001 - 20:41:26 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Availability of Knowledge & Consequences of Efficiency"

    10/5/2001 4:46:04 PM, Eric Armstrong <> wrote:

    >David Kankiewicz wrote:
    >> ...I am just taking some time to consider the consequences
    >> before deciding whether to provide my ideas and specs for
    >> OHS/DKRs, augmentation, etc...
    >I think that is a valuable and noble effort. A few thoughts on the
    >1. "All" knowledge should NOT be available to everyone.

    I'll agree for now, but that raises the questions of who controls what? The
    rationality for them to have unquestioned control? And just how many new
    organization will we need?

    > That is one very good reason that a huge, global DKR is a bad idea.

    In smaller islands, the delegation of control (what's public, restricted, etc.)
    is switched to smaller groups. The most pressing issue than becomes
    conflict mediation between different groups with different goals, rationality,
    and opinions on what should be open vs. restricted to ?who?...

    > However, it is both impractical to construct and computationally
    > difficult to search, even if it existed, so I feel we're on safe ground,
    > there.

    Do not bet on that, I repeat, do not!! ;)

    > What we need and will have, instead, are islands of knowledge that
    > build bridges to one another. The information that flows along those
    > bridges will need to be automatically recalibarated (recategorized),
    > most probably using topic map translations, or their equivalent. I
    > forsee a huge new employment market developing for ontologists
    > who will set up the ontology-translation mechanisms that will allow
    > my island of information to reference and search information in your
    > island.

    You're right about exponential employment increase for maintaining
    transparently (bridged) ontologies, if that path is taken.

    >2. We *will* get radically more efficient.
    > And you rightfully point out that the drastically improved efficiency
    > has the potential for imposing a monumental social cost. If one
    > person can do the work of 10, where do the other 9 find work?

    I'm leaning towards the sustainability paradigm, the other 9 have to be re-
    intregrated in some way... Maybe they all get to check the work of the one?
    (just kidding... :)

    > This is a social engineering problem, and although we have done a
    > reasonable job of handling it up until now, I am not convinced that
    > we have done the best possible job.
    > Our response to increases in efficiency has heretofore been to
    > "raise the bar". The implications have been:
    > * Organizations that don't invest in the latest efficiency-improving
    > technology eventually succumb to the competition.
    > * Organizations that do invest survive, and the people who
    > master the new technologies become way more productive.

    See "loop error" coming up...

    > * The investment fosters more technological innovation, which
    > produces greater efficiency, in a feedback loop.

    Ahh, the "feedback loop" point, one well worth considering from both sides.
    It has lead to some major faults in "technological innovation"... Sample
    case: Microsoft can't create the "Perfect OS" with all the right features and
    no bugs for you. You know why!..

    > * The need to understand new technologies drives education,
    > because of the greater opportunities that exist for the
    > educated segments of the work force.

    Another possible "loop error;" the lack of super efficient knowledge
    technology has *left* small segments in our work force for those that
    have been in the right job arena to find wonderful opportunities. I see
    this as the most important issue any OHS/DKRs may have to account
    for in the future. For each new advance in knowledge management
    infrastructure will probably close down "these great little" opportunities.

    If any DKR like tech infrastructure is implemented, you could see some
    major impacts in government (management of resources), laws (how they
    are created and enforced, can you say lawyers!), democracy in general,
    and numerous other institutions.

    There is one exception to my argument found in the increasing
    enforcement of IP rights. With almost any idea, concept, algorithm,
    structure, etc. being patentable (if its *usable*, last I heard) or otherwise
    tied up in licenses (copyright, etc.) or courts; the possibility exists that any
    massive DKR will be forced into oblivion before it gets going... A sad reality
    for the most promising prospect for helping humanity overcome some
    difficult and challenging problems. (Luckily, I'm still optimistic... mostly
    because I've got one little card to play...)

    > * Those that don't keep up with the pace, and master new
    > technologies as they come along, eventually succumb to
    > competetive pressure, and retire or find new ways to make
    > a living.

    The possibility, however remote, still does exist that a larger number of the
    population could be more productive...

    >In general then, we've responded to increased efficiency by working
    >as hard -- or even harder -- and taking competition, figuratively and
    > literally, to the next level.
    >Now, is that a truly good thing? In some ways, yes. In others, no.
    >It's not the most humanitarian system around. An Australian aborigine
    >spends 2 hrs a day providing for their needs. We get to spend a lot
    >more than that.
    >And the opportunity cost of making a living is that there are projects I
    >would dearly love to work on that get very little attention, for lack of
    >time and energy. Multiplied by millions of others who have that same
    >problem, there is a huge opportunity cost, compared to what we would
    >have if those people had more freedom to "follow their dream".

    What if they had the combined experience (knowledge) of those "Multipled
    by millions"? I think that's when things start to get interesting...

    >On the other hand, a lot of useful work gets accomplished because we
    >are willing to work for a living -- and the work we do is something that
    >*someone* considers valuable enough to pay us to do it. If we didn't
    >have to work for a living, how much of that work would get accomplished?
    >I really wonder.

    Same here. Only ask yourself what won't be automatic, computer
    controlled, trivial net transactions, etc. in ten short years? Not to go too
    sci-fi on you but I'm uncertain how many people are necessary to keep the
    wheels turning...

    >For some reason, I think about it especially when I travel. At home, I
    >don't come into contact as frequently with the people who really keep
    >the wheels turning -- the people behind the checkout counter at the
    >airport, and at the car rental station -- the people behind the desk at
    >the hotel (I was one such in my later college years), the people who
    >come clean the room, and fix things.
    >If it weren't for the need to make a living, who would do these things?
    >Not me. Probably not anyone.

    I'm not sure the current social rules (with regards to sustainability) are the
    only one we have to play by or plan to use in the future...

    >Then, too, I wonder how much we could benefit if we had a cooperative
    >economy, rather than a competitive one. You make shoes. I'll make
    >Then George could grow apples. But if he goes into the shoe business,
    >then one of you is going to suffer. Or maybe both of you will. Or maybe
    >the consumer will suffer. Or maybe the consumer will be way better off,
    >because the price will go to the lowest possible level, due to the
    >So a pair of shoes may be "worth" a whole crop of apples, because your
    >feet get cold in the winter. You'd have to sacrifice a lot of other luxuries,
    >but you'd get your shoes. On the other hand, if two people are selling
    >shoes, pretty soon we'll find out how much they really *need* in
    >exchange for the shoes. A bushel of apples will probably do it.

    Now add the technological aspect to the setup (and a lot of knowledge)
    and the shoe becomes almost worthless, if the resources are available
    and the results a equally distributable. Its the availability of the underlying
    resource that sets the base price of commodities (before all the
    competition/fitness/profit margins of the organism "company" take effect).

    Noting, not *one* truly large scale modern "cooperative" society has ever
    existed... Maybe everyone (that is globally inclusive) would have to be
    virtually *connected* before it becomes possible. Who knows?

    >Thinking about it, it seems clear to me that the transition from a barter
    >economy to a fixed-price economy came about *entirely* as a result
    >of competition. I mean, even if money is the medium of exchange, we
    >still have to figure out how much your 3 beaver pelts are worth, and how
    >much my ax is worth. Even if we buy and sell for cash, we need to
    >barter to settle on a price for the ax, and a price for the pelt. And if
    >you happen to *need* an ax at the moment, brother the price will go up.
    >But when competition enters in, prices have a more stable, enduring
    >quality. An ax is "worth" so much, because you can go down the
    >street and get one for near that. (At the outset, of course, price
    >setting was still mostly a matter of bargaining. But over time, they
    >have zeroed-in a more "fixed" quality.)

    Interestingly, the competition enters because a larger number of
    individuals have the knowledge to compete, with lots of mobile assets
    (cash, *mostly* labor [without anyone really knowing why this job x is worth
    n amount of money, anyway], etc.), and access to distribution

    The reason I'm actually here, discussing this, feeds directly into your
    "cooperative vs. competive" societies ideas. My take on the cooperative
    side is extremely optimistic (if only I could get past justifying the destruction
    of most tech IP jobs), especially, with my belief that an *almost* infinite KB
    complete DKR could be built and increase human efficiency.

     (I know that sound inpossible but, I assure you, it is fully capable of being
    built today or tomorrow - i.e. whenever somebody puts the puzzle
    together... With time required to fill it, of course, measured in years...)

    Now, using your argument about "the Multiplied by millions" of others who
    might have more freedom to "follow their dream" or atleast decrease the
    number of hours required to provide for their needs (say ~six hours), what
    would humanity be able to accomplish cooperatively? I'm not a history
    buff, so I'm not sure, but I'm really intrigued by the possibilities (even on
    small scale tests).

    >So, darn it all. I really wanted to find a way to propose a system where
    >people would be free to do what they are interested in doing, and a
    >system where we would be more efficient by favoring cooperation
    >over competition. But I seem to have argued myself around until I
    >find myself headed full-steam in the opposite direction.

    Did I miss something?

    >Funny how that happens, sometimes.

    [big grin],
    David Kankiewicz

    P.S. Some how, you've made me convince myself that it has to be created,
    no matter what the cost... Hmm, I'm still thinking...

    ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~-->
    Get your FREE VeriSign guide to security solutions for your web site: encrypting transactions, securing intranets, and more!

    Community email addresses:
      Post message:
      List owner:

    Shortcut URL to this page:

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Fri Oct 05 2001 - 20:24:35 PDT