Tightening the Tether on the Tasteless Tech

As economies have moved forward, more and more complex arrangements, instruments, and machines have come into existence. For example, the reason we can make music earbuds so small now is because of rare earth magnets, made of praseodymium, which is mined in the U.S., China, Russia, Australia, and India. Many of the resources needed to produce the inventions of our modern society are linked around the world. As I have stated on numerous occasions, we have been in a global economy since the East India Company of 1600. There have been several game-changers in economics, mostly two Industrial Revolutions, the revolution of the late 19th century when machines became essential to make other machines, and the more recent tech boom. Let’s review some of the industries that tech has affected.

 

Consider newspapers and magazines in the Digital Age. Contrary to popular belief, newspapers were on decline starting in the early 20th century. Many papers had disappeared or merged with other papers and the number of newspapers had been declining steadily for most of the 20th century; the tech boom just speeded up a process already set in motion. The money the print business once made is going to Big Tech.

 

In broadcast news, where there were three major networks, specialized networks emerged and catered to very specific audiences. Production of entertainment became much more diverse, with production companies emerging and producing content in both television and movies in much greater numbers than ever before. The money the entertainment and television businesses once made is going to Big Tech.

 

The original cable companies concentrated on the big cities, where one cable could serve hundreds of clients, and, along the way, make the cable owners filthy rich. The cable companies didn’t like the way, way out rural clients, where they had to run miles and miles of cable just to service a dozen clients. This meant that until the satellite television systems went online, the folks in the outskirts were left with the analog channels of whatever they could reach. The cable companies, with a nod, a wink, and substantial campaign contributions, rarely ever bothered to provide cable service to all, just the real profitable cities. Many argued that denying the rural populations the same cable service was unfair, but money talks and the politicians balked. The satellites finally offered internet and cable television. The cable and internet problem was the same as rural electricity and telephones of decades earlier, where running the electrical lines was not worth the expense to service only a few customers. The money the cable companies once made is now going to Big Tech.

 

Repetitive jobs such as entry accounting and price quotes for things like shipping became computerized, ending many number-crunching jobs. Data entry and documenting once addressed by clerks has gone away. The money the entry clerks once made is now going to Big Tech.

 

Retail jobs and brick and mortar stores were replaced by eBay, and the local classifieds were assumed by Craigslist, which took even more revenue from local newspapers. Robots replaced many workers, but not before some jumped too far ahead and lost millions with robots too specialized to adapt to changing work requirements. The money and commissions that the retail workers once made is now going to Big Tech.

 

Political campaigns are now dominated by the internet, where social media, fake news and campaigning have assumed a pivotal role in politics. The money once generated by the political campaign consultants is now going to Big Tech.

 

Tech expanded the medical field, making more treatments available, thus making more and more specialized positions in medicine. Tech expanded medicine and material science, just to name two. The money is still going to health workers, but a substantial portion of medical revenue is now diverted to Big Tech.

 

The Yellow Cabs in the big cities have lost out to Uber and Lyft. In cities like New York, independent cab owners paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a cab license, which is now about as valuable as a roll of Charmin. The money that the cab companies and drivers once made is now going to Big Tech.

 

Tech killed the market for musicians, and killed the traditional music business model. Musicians have lost the album and its revenue to digital downloads of individual songs. Where record sales used to make musicians wealthy, song selection and downloads have crushed the traditional music business leaving artists the only option left of touring to make money. Digital downloads offer far less revenue for musicians than records, CDs or cassettes ever did, and even when the potential buyers are well into the millions, the revenues are nowhere near what the previous mediums generated. By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, your digital downloads have a “shelf life” after which you cannot play them anymore, and you have to purchase the music piece all over again, much like Microsoft insisting that you pay a monthly fee for software for which you already paid. The money the music business once made is going to Big Tech.

 

An industry that is finally losing its grip on the American economy is the advertising industry. The advertising industry, once a stalwart of American creativity, marketing and persuasion, is on a race to the bottom. Like the music industry, the business model for the advertising, excuse me marketing industry, is undergoing a major restructuring. Like so many industries that tech has decimated, the advertising agencies that once commanded huge fees are now trying to figure out how they will survive in the Digital Age, and if the recent past is any indication, not well. Slashing budgets and bonuses, and losing talent like rats off a burning ship, the once-great agencies are facing competition of a nature they never would have considered before the Digital Age. The money once earned by the advertising agencies is now going to Big Tech.

 

Once controlled by only a few major players, the advertising industry has seen, just like the music industry, its profits running away from them and into the bank accounts of the high tech companies. Where marketing programs were once directed only by the geniuses of Madison Avenue, now marketing campaigns are targeted to very specific potential customers whose information was gleaned by Google, Facebook, and others. Products are specifically marketed to potential customers who meet the required demographics, as well as their economic profile and purchasing history. The money made from the demographics and information is going to Big Tech.

 

What was once a diverse economy is becoming more concentrated, as sectors fold (or collapse) in to the Digital Age. Technology has taken the leadership role in media, music along with entertainment, marketing, and other industries. We now have corporate behemoths, generating billions of dollars, but dollars are just the beginning; they’re pulling in revenues in Euros, Yen, Francs, and currencies you have to ask your Swiss banker to convert, which they will happily do. If left up to Big Tech, the issue of who owns your data will never arise into the arena of public debate, much less the U.S. House of Representatives. Even if you supplied your data without a proper understanding of its value, Big Tech isn’t interested in you having any control of your information, because you’re hitting them in the bread basket when you control your data. The promises of privacy are nothing more than an illusion; every shred of information is vacuumed up and placed in an algorithm. You volunteered it, whether you understood the consequences or not. The vast majority of the public is like an ignorant suspect taken into custody who doesn’t understand the gravity of telling things that they think will exonerate them, when in fact, it only digs them further into the hole.

 

If you are on Facebook, you signed an agreement that you more than likely didn’t read, which, by the way, has been changed several times, each time to (gasp, I know you won’t believe this) make Facebook more money. The tech folks are convinced that they alone own your files, and it will take (literally) and act of Congress to get them to change their minds. The money your personal information would generate is now going to Big Tech.

 

You gave the information to them, and you keep giving them information, and they keep making revenue from your information. While your information is intangible, it is still valuable. By Facebooking and Twittering, you are offering the tech giants resources that they are using to make a great deal of money. They are, of course, offering you services for which you do not pay, you simply provide information, and the money that information generates goes to Big Tech.

 

If you haven’t discovered by now, information is power. Imagine that you knew how to construct an atomic bomb in 1943. If you know how to write code, how to set up financial instruments, how to treat cancer, how to repair cars, how to refine petroleum, and millions of other things, people will pay you for that knowledge. If you know how to take information from millions of people and construct algorithms to market products to those people, you can make lots and lots of money, but you need the information first; the best way is to offer a service for the information. Even better is that the free service that you offer is infused with revenue-generating advertisements. This is like me being paid to drive you around, while you’re being driven around for free.

 

The Europeans have decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook must allow citizens access to their digital files, and have instituted a law that gives rights to European citizens concerning their digital information. I especially liked when interviewed by CBS on Sixty-Minutes, the main U.S. lobbyist for the tech giants tried first to ignore the question of who owns their clients’ information that Google, Twitter and Facebook use to generate money. It is clear that the tech giants think they own your information. Big Tech wants the money your personal information will generate; how do you think they’ve become so wealthy?

 

From Wired Magazine, March 19, 2018:

On May 25, however, the power balance will shift towards consumers, thanks to a European privacy law that restricts how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up.

Instead, companies must be clear and concise about their collection and use of personal data like full name, home address, location data, IP address, or the identifier that tracks web and app use on smartphones. Companies have to spell out why the data is being collected and whether it will be used to create profiles of people’s actions and habits. Moreover, consumers will gain the right to access data companies store about them, the right to correct inaccurate information, and the right to limit the use of decisions made by algorithms, among others.

The law protects individuals in the 28 member countries of the European Union, even if the data is processed elsewhere. That means GDPR will apply to publishers like WIRED; banks; universities; much of the Fortune 500; the alphabet soup of ad-tech companies that track you across the web, devices, and apps; and Silicon Valley tech giants.

Comments

Stone-Eater Added Nov 13, 2018 - 2:17pm
Jeff
 
Thanks for that VERY valuable article.
 
In Senegal we have enormous difficulties to bring the biz cultures together. Here, everything works by handshake and personal contact, while in the West everything is on papers, lawfully agreed arrangements etc.
 
Africa isn't ready for the digital stuff at all. They don't even had the chance to get used to laws and paragraphs and such. Everyday people ask me; "Do we really need that ? It worked also before without it. We get to know who we're working with. We know the family, how they live, and how they think. That's enough. We don't need no papers.".
 
The digital age is, in my view, no progress for human relations. It's the opposite.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 13, 2018 - 2:20pm
BTW: Cool stuff to write the titles with same major letters :-) It's become your mark.
opher goodwin Added Nov 13, 2018 - 2:25pm
Jeff - the world sure is tech!! We're all trying to keep up!
George N Romey Added Nov 13, 2018 - 2:30pm
Jeff in the 1990s and 2000s Wall Street ruled politics. There's a power shift paradigm occurring.  Tech is taking the place of large corporations and banking concerns.  Tech companies have the ability to impact human beings like nothing else we have seen.
 
From artificial intelligence that will take away millions of jobs to invasion of privacy the future is being shaped beyond what most want to think.  What happens when police departments begin to monitor your every move in a car sending out a summons every time you caught speeding, driving aggressively, not stopping at a full stop?  What happens when your employer can ease drop on every minute of your personal life?
 
None of this is Star Wars fantasy.  Its current technology and Silicon Valley could make trillions selling it.  You the chump will destroyed in the process.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 13, 2018 - 4:06pm
Thanks Stone. I'm not sure a lot of folks know about all the industries that have been impacted (ok almost destroyed) by Big Tech. It's a lot an it keeps growing. Thanks Stone.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 13, 2018 - 4:07pm
Thanks Opher. The question might be should we speed up or should Big Tech slow down. It is obvious that many of them have not thought the situation through, they're just going for the money. Thanks Opher.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 13, 2018 - 4:10pm
As always, George, dead on target. They just keep introducing things without really thinking about them. Uber gets in trouble for unlicensed drivers (or some such thing) Facebook coddles foreign governments who attempt to disrupt our democracy. They're all apologetic after the fact, and, image that, after they've made the money. Thanks George, always great insight.
Bill H. Added Nov 13, 2018 - 11:20pm
Great write, Jeff!
Having been a cable industry pioneer since 1968, our goal became to eventually convert newspapers to a short-lived technology called "Teletext". Many experiments were done, and it eventually died. We also were the first system to test both data delivery and interactive traffic light control and traffic monitoring via a two-way cable system in the very early 1980's.
I watched our systems grow from 12 channels in 1968 to well over 800 channels when I retired in 2012. Our systems were the first to implement satellite downlinks in 1975. In the early days, I became an expert at installing Scientific Atlanta 4.5 meter satellite dishes and Hughes LNA's, along with being able to align a dish with "in the box" precision.
In my view, technology is no longer driven by consumer demand or needs, It is driven by people who think they know what the consumer might fall for, or whatever they can convince the consumer that they need.
If one is able to convince customers that they need a new iPhone every 6 months, and simply get away with obsoleting the firmware to force customers to do so without any complaints, then I guess they have total market control, right?
Mircea Negres Added Nov 14, 2018 - 2:38am
Great piece, Mr. Jackson!
I was housesitting a couple of weeks ago, when the alarm woke me up at around 03:40 because as I discovered, there was no power going to the unit. I realised it was a power cut, punched in the code and went back to sleep. When I woke up, there was still no power and joy of joys, my client used electricity for cooking. Couldn't even boil water for coffee, damn it! Using my laptop and dumbphone (as Stone-Eater calls the damned thing I want to kill at least once a day), I checked online for information about what was going on and when power was expected to come back on. Fuck all. The usual sites, including City Hall, had nothing. I eventually found out a transformer had blown and power was expected to come back on between 17:00 and 19:00. Without coffee, I came to the conclusion there are only two things which differentiate modern life from a couple of centuries ago: electricity and instant access to information on the internet. One day, a 5 megaton nuke goes off above the atmosphere and a country rediscovers life in the 19th century. Just imagine how the "tech giants" will shit when they have to find a way to power everything with steam engines...
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:54am
Thanks Bill. Man, you must have been there with the cutting edge. I knew some folks that lived out in the country and had a satellite dish for TV. I remember when the federal government ruled that if the producers didn't want people watching stuff pulled off the satellite without paying they had to scramble the signal. One local company was making a fortune on satellites, until cable came in and their were in the tank in less than six months. Thanks for your comments Bill, cool story.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 5:00am
Thanks Mircea. I have stayed with some folks out in the rural areas where if breakfast was warm you had to put wood in the stove. It was actually a pretty good life, the food was fresh, and the living was simple. We're so dependent on technology that many of the young people have no idea what to do when it goes out. Yes, if we have an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) in the atmosphere, we'll lose a bunch of stuff. Hopefully someone might still have some of the old stuff that isn't overloaded by an EMP. Thanks for your comments Mircea.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 6:42am
Jeff
 
I'm not sure a lot of folks know about all the industries that have been impacted (ok almost destroyed) by Big Tech
 
They should have. The math is easy: 100 workers produce a car in 1950. 2 workers produce a car and the computer system (including robots) finishes the production.
 
Now what to do with the 98 workers which aren't needed anymore ? They might be 45 years old. Get them an MBA in computer science so they can switch over ?
 
What will happen is as follows: The ones which still have work will scream and shout "Lazy bastards going on welfare ! If I really want to work I find it !"
 
Ok. Sure. There is a new generation starting to try to find jobs......
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 6:43am
2 workers produce a car and the computer system (including robots) finishes the production.
 
in 2018. Sorry, added now.
George N Romey Added Nov 14, 2018 - 7:47am
The promise of technology was that we all would work less hours. So far the only thing its delivered as that fewer of us work (in good jobs.)  The future is going to get ugly.  At some point even the $10 an hour service jobs are going away.  Retail will be dramatically downsized as Baby Boomers die off and millennials come into prime purchasing years and use this thing called Amazon.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 8:16am
George
 
The system "work = pay" is dying off, and a replacement hasn't been found yet...
Dino Manalis Added Nov 14, 2018 - 8:43am
 Globalism increases competition and reduces prices!
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 9:00am
Thanks for the comments Stone. I was not aware of the shrinking advertising companies that are losing revenue by the millions, and the copywriters who used to write things being told there is no more work. The automated assembly lines are certainly taking over. My question is, when no one works or makes money, and the robots going to buy the cars?
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 9:02am
Right on George. Tech has created only a small number of jobs compared to how many it has eliminated. Industries that I hadn't thought of, like advertising, are facing massive layoffs. Thanks for your comments. 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 9:05am
Thanks for comment Dino. I would like to see some global folks like Google or Facebook do some competing, There is a Chinese Google, but only because the Chinese government won't allow Google to answer any searches because they fear their citizens will learn things they're not supposed to know. Thanks Dino. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 9:09am
My question is, when no one works or makes money, and the robots going to buy the cars?
 
A redefinition of what is "work" and what not is needed. We will be running into a lot of problems when the value of blue collar work is diminished further as it is and "work" of people clicking away in stock exchange is honored as such....and overpaid by FIAT money. Virtual fortunes are no more than virtual. Which means in times of trouble they disappear as fast as they were created artificially.
 
Then, the one will have power who stocked the gold and sits on energy source fields. Not the Hedgefunds blender.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 9:11am
Dino
 
 Globalism increases competition and reduces prices!
 
Yep. And it enforces exploitation of the poor masses.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 10:25am
Jeff  - good piece as always. You manage to get to the gist of societal problems without having to resort to political pieces as many of us do. I have done some thinking on what the human ecosphere will be like when it is only a few folks who need to have a production job to make the stuff that is needed to keep the civilization going. My own thought is that it will not be pretty. Humanity is not well suited intellectually to deal with idleness. It is a minority of folks like us who find challenge and meaning in sharing their thoughts with others. Most would rather consume culture than create it.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 10:43am
Thanks Even. I agree, we tend to look askance at the idle, excepting, of course, the Idle Rich Class, whom we all admire. I agree, think that it will get quite ugly as things progress and tech addresses all of our needs and fewer and fewer do anything useful, or even need to work at all. My biggest fear would be war, even if fought by robots, eventually they will start killing off our species. I think when (not really if, anymore, just when) that happens, the cyber-criminals will really come into their own. My question is, when machines create more value than humans, will human value fall second place to machines and take second place in the order of needs? 
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 14, 2018 - 10:44am
I'm with Stoney and Mircea on this one Jeff. The big tech companies like to talk about disruptive technologies but what they mean is destructive technologies. Amazon always intended to destroy traditional retailing, Uber always intended to destroy the cab business and Google always intended to destroy the advertising industry.
And while these companies are destroying the opposition their prices will be highly competitive. But when they have, with the help of the psychopathic misanthropes we call politicians, created their monopolies, watch what happens to prices then.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:14am
I completely agree Ian. Look at Microsoft who was taken into court by the EU for not opening up their platform. Google has faced similar charges,  and yes, like in the cable television example,  they take the big profitable pieces of the market and leave just low-revenue high-expense for whoever is left. The EU did the right thing by limiting and restricting the use of personal data. The U.S. needs to do that very soon as well. We shall see... Thanks for your comments Ian. 
Bill H. Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:21am
 
When we decided to implement robot-assisted automation, we should have began the process of training the younger generation on the technology required to engineer, produce, and maintain these systems. This could have resulted in a smooth transition without the resulting job loss, along with creating a multitude of opportunities here in the US.
It has been projected that at least 50 million jobs in the US will be lost to automation. A local large grocery chain is in the process of testing the replacement of checkers with robots at several of their nationwide locations. Of course, just like most companies that automate, they will be using Japanese or German produced equipment, and in many cases will be using H1-B-visaed workers with the skills to install and maintain the systems. Many automated factories are also implementing system networks that are actually operated and monitored by offshore companies on the other side of the world. We have a big one locally that has done it's best to cover up this fact, but it is well known by the employees who are being replaced with contract workers at the same time, which has pretty much devastated what morale. Being that the systems were both engineered and produced overseas, this also opens up the threat of "back door" hacking and manipulation, which has always been the concern with using foreign-produced integrated circuit chips and hardware within US Government and Military systems that control our defense assets.
Why do we continue to ignore opportunities to create jobs here in the US? From what I see, their is no real interest in doing so by either the corporations or the government.
Again, it's all about the month-end stockholder report.
George N Romey Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:29am
Technology from the beginning was about replacing human effort.  The first massive computers in the 1950s replaced the slide rule.  In theory this is a wonderful development in human history.  Suddenly those tasks that are boring, dangerous, dirty, mind numbing or just too hard can be given to the bots.  Look at a retail clerk.  That person is using maybe 10% of their brainpower in their occupation.  Wouldn't that person want to be more challenged to use more of their natural intellect?
 
However, what's not been developed is the alternative.  In the 60s through 80s as companies embraced big tech it was assumed we'd have a much shorter work week and there'd be a rebirth of our educational system to retrain workers.  Of course none of this became reality and just stayed in the pie in the sky realm.
 
Artificial intelligence on whatever you want to call it is coming from fast food worker to seven and eight figure stock and bond traders.  Technology will always win out over human effort.  We've avoided this problem trying easy to understand and digestible supposedly solutions like trade barriers.  The truth is the real enemy isn't the Chinese its the factory that now needs just 200 workers not 2,000 or the Accounting Department that will need 5 workers not 50.  In fact the technology boom is killing China.  Why do you think China has run up trillions in national debt employing Chinese to build unneeded infrastructure.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:37am
Excellent point Bill. If you look at many of the companies, and I have said this many times, they are not looking to train anyone on how to design, produce, or service the automated systems. The government could give them tax breaks, or many other incentives to keep this  labor and talent local or at least in the U.S. The HR people scream that they cannot find any qualified people, but none (or very few) of the companies want to invest in their employees and train them to do something. Many of these companies would prefer to farm it out, rather than pay for talent on the inside and keep them employed. 
1) They don't want to pay salaries anymore. Hire temps and let them go at the first sign of a downturn. 
2) They don't want to train anyone. Let someone else pay for training.
3)The offshore rates are cheaper, and therefore inherently better.
4)They have to make that next quarterly profit or the shareholders will freak out and "clean house."
5) It's OK for a CEO to make $25 million, but God forbid you pay anyone over $10.00 an hour.  Make sure the time clock takes them off the clock at midnight no matter how late they work or what loyalty or devotion they show. (This from Chipotle.) 
Thanks for your comment Bill. 
Bill H. Added Nov 14, 2018 - 12:36pm
 
I stated in another article comment that in our area we have been trying to get things like "shop classes" back into middle schools and high schools, along with reinstating "hands-on" technology classes in local junior colleges. Seems that neither local politicians or industries are interested in investing the efforts and capital to do so, but the corporations that could use these trained workers would rather import them from a local personnel outfit that deals strictly in importing workers by actually offering them incentives that reportedly include citizenship and cash bonuses to relocate. In turn, the employer is able to pay them substandard wages and work them long hours.
 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 1:19pm
Thanks for your example Bill. Ah, the advantages of those who don't understand the laws and regulations in America. And people wonder why we're slipping, why our middle class is disappearing, and why our nation is deeply in debt. We will not get ahead or out of debt if our middle class doesn't make any money. The middle class built this country, and all of the Carnegie libraries are nice, but it was the sweat and savings of the middle class. As it declines, so does this society. Thanks again Bill. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 14, 2018 - 1:37pm
Jeff
 
The EU did the right thing by limiting and restricting the use of personal data.
 
That's a big fake. Everything that is said or written or stored never gets lost. We have Petabytes available to no end. Domains are still mainly controlled by the US/EU. Our domain is swaxe.consulting. People ask me: Ok, but is that .com or .org or what ? Nope, it's .consulting. Every provider has ALL the data you ever send on the net saved - if he wants to or is told to. 
 
Try to be clever and use Duckduckgo or Tor ? Uuuhh...the darknet. LOL. Fine-tuned systems to combine people who do NOT want to be followed, controlled by ? services or government agencies.
 
Facebook, Google, Amazon and all those biggies are no more than economy-government controlled/organized companies working for Orwell 2.0. They know how much you earn, what you buy, how many kids you have, and big data makes sure that a holiday of a Russian tourist ends at the US border because there is "a Facebook entry which...."
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 14, 2018 - 7:30pm
Good point, Stone. I think that sooner or later the biggest threat to any population will be a government (and not an enterprise) that takes all of the information and uses it to hold down a population. Oops, China is already doing that. The dystopian novels were prophetic after all. Nice insight Stone.
Koshersalaami Added Nov 15, 2018 - 12:30am
And still the obvious is ignored by the financial sector:
Robots don’t buy shit.
Lower prices can’t be lower enough to compensate for the loss of income because there are too many expensive areas where prices are not dropping, like medicine, secondary education, credit card interest rates, and housing. 
 
Henry Ford got that consumers and employees were the same people. As long as industry doesn’t acknowledge that, they’re mining their own foundation.
Bill H. Added Nov 15, 2018 - 1:30am
Also being involved in early computer technology back in the mid '70s, I built both an Altair 8800 and an Imsai 8080 computer. I was part of a user group that had meetings twice a month and I actually met both Bill Gates and Paul Allen at a couple of the meetings at one of the first "computer stores" in Santa Monica, California. We would discuss things like hardware modifications, machine language programming shortcuts, and how to interface the early I/O boards to the "Real World". The concept back then was to implement computers to help humans make better decisions. To make a long story short, technology has evolved to a point where not only do we now allow computers to make the decisions for us, but the technology is more and more being used by the "bad guys" to control our lives and thought processes.
We never foresaw that back in 1975.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 15, 2018 - 5:15am
Bill
 
Interesting ! I started off with an 8086 IBM PC green on black :-) Command.com and autoexec.bat. COBOL 74 and magnetic tapes at work.
 
Now I'm a Linux fan from SUSE to Ubuntu, Debian and n other derivates. Why ?
 
Because Linux allows me TOTAL control of the system, at least locally......unlike Windows. Of course the networks I set up mostly have either Windows clients or thin Linux clients. Less support work, and people simply like Windows as tool of work better, because that's what they have at home. Anyway. Africa is poor, and besides the fact that nobody pays Windows licences due to that or simply uses workarounds like Spico, Linux is free, and the youth like it - because they can experiment with it and can follow when there's a problem, trace it back and fix it.
 
Unlike Windows....;-)
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 5:42am
Yes, Koshersalaami excellent point. When GM started using robots in the 1980s (much to their error, because they weren't flexible and were useless when they changed models) The GM exec (Smith, maybe) was showing one of the union presidents the new machinery and the union chief asked: "That's great. How many cars do you think they'll buy?" Thanks Koshersalaami.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 5:46am
Thanks Bill, interesting background. The road to heck is paved with good intentions. The problem is, and always will be people who want to steal and control. There's no stopping that. Thanks Bill.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 5:50am
Thanks Stone.  I have never played with Linux, but as you say, it is free, and I understand you can program with it to make it do things for you. Funny, why does Linux do that and Windows charges for everything, even now coercing money every month? Greed maybe? Thanks Stone, very interesting aspect to all of this.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 15, 2018 - 8:22am
Jeff
 
It's all PUB. I mean I can program my Android cell right down with the right tools why I'm restricted with iStuff....a lot more work...
 
But the funny thing is: Once a lady came up to me and said: I forgot my password for my ibook and now I can't get in anymore. 
 
Hm.....sorry, I'm no good at iStuff but let me see.
 
On Google I found a keyboard shortcut to get into /root before login. Ok, I'm in prompt.
 
Then I tried a Linux admin password reset command and voilà - it worked. Easier than Windows, in fact LOL
Stone-Eater Added Nov 15, 2018 - 8:23am
why = while. Sorry....grrr !
Stone-Eater Added Nov 15, 2018 - 8:25am
BTW: That's the iCheat: They use Linux/UNIX base, a FREE OS, and sell it to the people overpriced because they put a GUI on top which is easy to use.----
George N Romey Added Nov 15, 2018 - 8:27am
Henry Ford operated in a time when one could run their business as they saw fit.  Again technology makes it so anyone trying to run a business suddenly finds intruders everywhere.  A few years back when Delta Airlines starting making real money again the CEO gave everyone an average raise of around 20%.  His belief was that airline employees for years were subject to pay cuts, firings and having their benefits and pensions cut and now they should get back some of that sacrifice.  Wall Street howled in anger.  How dare he take away from shareholders.  That was their money, not the employees. 
 
Ultimately the guy had the guts and balls to stand his ground.  Most of the CEO class today does not.  Most are in the CEO professional class meaning they are part of this little clubby world, born rich with the best of education and connections.  The CEO being the guy that worked his way up for the past 30 years in a company has gone away.  With companies owned by private equity or venture capital its the same mentality.  Short term results, future be damn.
Koshersalaami Added Nov 15, 2018 - 8:50am
One thing that determines that is privately vs. publicly held. Privately held companies have a lot more latitude. 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 10:07am
Wow Stone, you should write a short book on the shortcuts that you know how to implement. You could make a fortune. Thanks for the tip and software tricks. I never got beyond COBOL. Thanks again Stone. 
George N Romey Added Nov 15, 2018 - 10:11am
But many (more than you would think) are held by private equity, joint ventures, venture capital or even a few large wealthy shareholders.  The pressure for short term profits is as pressing as publicly traded companies.  Why?  Because the strategy is to hold onto these companies for 3-5 years and either take them public or sell them off to another private venture at a substantial profit.
 
Accordingly there's enormous pressure to make short term profits, even if it screws the business in the long run.  In fact it can be worse because few outsiders are going to question strategies like selling off profitable divisions for a short term gain. 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 10:13am
Absolutely George. The short-term focus has, and is continuing to destroy our economy. Some of the economists are recognizing that our economy is concentrating wealth in the hands of the wealthy and the working class is getting poorer, and the end result will not be pretty.  Thanks George.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 10:19am
Yes, Koshersalaami, private companies have much more leeway, with no shareholders to please. Cargill is one of the largest private companies in the world, and I can honestly say I almost never read anything about them nor do I know much other than what they do. Shareholders have only recently (in economic history) insisted that corporations pay them dividends, this intensified after the banks no longer paid those hefty interest rates. They're lining their pockets while draining the talent and knowledge of corporations, eventually cutting them up for scrap and costing thousands of jobs. Thanks for the comments Koshersalaami. 
Bill H. Added Nov 15, 2018 - 11:23am
 
George - I think there are still many CEO's out there that know what they really should do to make a business successful and increase profits over the long run, but you are right - they are forced to abide by the Wall Street "code of conduct" simply to appease stockholders. I always operated in the "long term" mode over the years, as did most others I worked with. We were able to keep profits up, morale high, and continue investing in infrastructure, as did many other businesses within the community. The result was a thriving community where people could afford to by merchandise from other local merchants and keep tax revenues flowing to further improve the community.
This short-term vision that companies are now used to operating under is a total farce, and is the driving force for eventual failure of our system.
We really need more Ed Bastains around!
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 15, 2018 - 12:07pm
Now, Bill, are you challenging the young geniuses the likes of Zuckerberg, Thiel, Bezos, Hseih and the other young geniuses that are leading our economy into this dimly-lit, high-income concentrated, short-term gain, why can't everyone be a tech guru, huge income differential future? 
In the tech world, the entire world changes in a matter of weeks, so there is no point in planning for the future. Economically, in the future, as Galbraith said, we're all dead. No point in trying to make the present livable, especially when you are taking over all kinds of industries that built the economy that you are pillaging.
Those old ideas of fair wages for working people and loyalty have gone away. Indulge today, for tomorrow, we may die. Get what you can while you can, whoever dies with the most toys wins. Oh, one more thing, send some money to Africa to assuage your guilty conscience. 
Neil Lock Added Nov 15, 2018 - 2:38pm
Jeff: A fine article, many thanks. And an excellent comment thread.
 
You say: I think that sooner or later the biggest threat to any population will be a government (and not an enterprise) that takes all of the information and uses it to hold down a population. Absolutely - that's what is behind their plan to get rid of cash, so that every single transaction anyone does is individually visible, and so taxable at will.
 
George: what's not been developed is the alternative. (To the system of "work = pay"). You're right there, and it needs to happen - fast.
 
...and: Henry Ford operated in a time when one could run their business as they saw fit. That isn't possible today. Large businesses are beholden to rich shareholders. And small businesses, like me, are declared "illegal." That's something we need to change.
Bill H. Added Nov 15, 2018 - 2:40pm
Yep - I know some people that work for Zuckerberg. They all talk about the long hours, total lack of organization, and ego issues. The consensus is that if you want to get married and have a family, FB is not the place to work at all. The only good things they would mention was decent pay and free food.
JP Added Nov 15, 2018 - 3:08pm
Jeff what happens to those displaced by all this tech? The ones who now have to retrain in new skill sets to provide for their needs. How are those people to feed and clothe themselves in this new world with dwindling entry level jobs filled by tech. Ever increasing world population levels can not be maintained without providing a mechanism to help people with those physiological needs? To avoid conflict for resources.  Do we go back to an agricultural era. Like the Cubans in Cuba did after the fall of the Soviet Union? Calls of socialism and a form of communism have come to the forefront when solutions like a basic living subsidy for all is proposed. It will take generations to change the current capitalist winner take all mindset. To begin to find those who are willing to bring froth viable solutions. We must willing to embrace those ideas outside the current global economic model and big techs choke hold on them.    
goldminor Added Nov 15, 2018 - 5:44pm
Neil Lock ...your last part in your comment is a key point. Over regulation of small business which generally employed the lion share of workers. Government needs to keep hands off on small businesses as much as possible. My brother has the old family business in North Beach, San Francisco. The City places all sorts of regulatory burdens plus taxes on  all businesses therein, with the exception of gifting some especially large tech companies with subsidies to keep them iin there.
 
Lucky for my brother that he got the goldmine as most other restaurants in North Beach come and go like clockwork. A new restaurant can face having to pay 10 or 20 K per month for rent, and then the city steps in with all sorts of fees and rules. Several years ago it was mandated that all employers have to hand out yearly raises to all of their employees, regardless of merit. Nice concept, right? Big businesses in SF just recently had a homeless tax imposed on them. Well, I guess that they all make enough money to afford that, but who really ends up paying that tax at the end of the day?
Stone-Eater Added Nov 16, 2018 - 3:26am
Jeff
 
Wow Stone, you should write a short book on the shortcuts that you know how to implement. You could make a fortune.
 
Nowadays no LOL But if you have any questions….I'm on LinkedIn ;-)
Stone-Eater Added Nov 16, 2018 - 3:34am
JP
 
I have friends in Cameroon (they call it Silicone Mountain) which do excellent community work, teach kids in app development and site design, network structure and more. And they do it all with Linux. Otto Akama from Buea hosts that one..
 
https://www.afrohustler.com/
 
But unfortunately such things go largely unnoticed. But slowly it develops. Seen that these people work with almost no cash and use computers which are museum in our world, I have the utmost respect. And they can fix ANY hardware problem. Unlike our youth…...
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2018 - 8:01am
Well, JP, I'm not one for socialism, I believe that we are entering another era similar to the "Robber Barons" and the "trusts" where a very few firms with interlocking directorates controlled too much of the economy and make slaves of the working class. I have said plenty of times that the Sherman Antitrust Act was made to keep one company, or a trust from controlling too much of the market because that is not capitalism. If Amazon gets too big and constrains the market, the government will step in, and Amazon is reaching that point. Thanks JP.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2018 - 8:02am
BillH Thanks for confirming my suspicions on Facebook. I thought so, you have confirmed my suspicions. Thanks Bill.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2018 - 8:27am
goldminor isn't it amazing how multi-billion dollar companies skip free from taxes and the little guys get burdened with taxes to the point it is no longer a viable business? People are leaving California because of the taxes it imposes. Businesses are moving to Texas and Arizona for lower taxes and a business-friendly environment. Some of the  cities in Texas are becoming high-tech centers, like California. California will never tax its way to prosperity. I hope your biz does well and serves its customers and employees well too. Best of luck, and thanks for your comments goldminor. 
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2018 - 8:32am
Thanks Neil Lock for your comments. Back in the day, corporations gave stock to their employees, so that the employees has some "skin in the game" and were looking out for the welfare of the corporation because that was where they made their living. Having a vested interest in where you work brings a whole new perspective to employment. Now the big money players are the majority stockholders and they demand returns on their investments that are many times what any other investment would yield, and if they don't get it, they cut it up. It is really sad what has happened to American  business, and George always has great insight on that as well. Thanks for your comments Neil. 
Bill H. Added Nov 16, 2018 - 11:48am
 
I'm also told that close to 20% of Facebook employees are here on H1-B work visas. I saw a figure recently that over 30% of California's silicon valley employees are here on H1-B visas.
Yet we still hear the echo's of "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs".
Yep, seems there are more jobs, but look who's getting them.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2018 - 11:54am
If all we can do is offer jobs to foreigners, we can't really claim America is moving ahead. Are there any countries where the tech industries (or any for that matter) are staffed more than 25% with foreigners working on visas? Thanks for the info Bill. Rather disheartening, but the truth hurts sometimes. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 16, 2018 - 1:34pm
Jeff
 
….the US is immigration country. Always was.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 18, 2018 - 6:14pm
Yes, Stone, but are we creating jobs for the rest of the world? Is there any reciprocation?
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 21, 2018 - 3:30pm
Jeff, earlier today over at Medium I was looking at an article recommending 'smart' investors to put their money in autonomous cars, 'because they're the future'.
The usual points had been made about technical problems, costs and general uselessness away from big cities.
I added my own advice, forget autonomous cars for now - there's no point investing in hype and also be wary of electric cars, when the subsidies have ended in a few European countries, sales have dropped by 80% because they cost twice as much as a comparable ICE car.
But I tipped them that savvy investors will be going long on cobalt. With every electric or hybrid car battery pack needing 10 to 20 pounds of cobalt and an estimated 7 million tons global reserves if EVs do take off it's going to be a struggle to replace even half the current 1.4 billion cars on the planet. The price can only go up. And with China controlling most of the known reserves, it's not going up by pennies.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 22, 2018 - 8:48am
Yes, Ian, I am hearing more and more about cobalt and the demand that will be expanding, probably exponentially, in the near future. One of the other issues will be, when these governments see the high cost of cobalt, they just might start taxing it, because it will be a new and very expensive commodity. As you say, and I agree wholeheartedly, I am not thrilled with China having the reserves, because China is playing a lot of dirty, self-serving tricks on everyone that does business with them. They are looking to control many markets, and not for the benefit of humanity. Thanks Ian, nice perspective.

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