Friday, December 23, 2011

"Are We Ready for a Future of Abundance?"

From Big Think:
Tom Stewart: 10 years ago, I think, our, in many cases, mutual friend, Paul Saffo, told me, it was more than that, it was 15, said that, called the internet a “full employment act for entrepreneurs.”  I think you could now say, you could use that phrase again about the cloud and mobility, you could say, these are also new opportunities for a full employment act for entrepreneurs.

But the question is, as we see the rollout of technologies and also as we see the continued story of globalization, and like the internet, you know, globalization is a 25-year-old story and you ain’t seen nothing yet, as we see these rollout, are we seeing more, in the business of the future, are we going to see large companies?  Will large companies still play as big a roll in the business eco system that they do now?  Or will we see many more small companies networked together?  Is it a big company future or a small company future?

Michael Schrage:  The answer to that question, of course, is yes, but I think that you framed it in exactly the wrong way.  Because you’re going to have very large companies that don’t employ a fraction of the people that large companies employed in the year 2000.

Tom Stewart:  So sales huge, employment small?

Michael Schrage:  The revenue to employee ratio is going to be transformed because of the brilliant innovations from people like SAP and the entrepreneurs represented here.  And the one other area where I’m going to disagree with Professor Kaku is, you know, you can’t mass produce minds.  Forgive me, but my serious academic background was AI.  You know?  And if there’s anything that we’re focusing on, it’s the ability to algorithm-ize, to use technology as a vehicle to either leverage individual minds or to usefully and cost-effectively automate or augment how people make decisions and how people create.  So the economics are being transformed for this and I think it’s going to be a very interesting challenge how people are going to find jobs.  I don’t know what the answer to that is, but I know what the answer is not.  The answer is not four years in college.

Tom Stewart:  I’m going ask… I’m going to pick a little quarrel with the word jobs, because I think that may be the model that doesn’t work.

Michael Schrage: Oh, I thought you meant Steve Jobs, sorry.

Tom Stewart:  No, one never picks a quarrel with him.  But it may just be that the idea that a, for those of us who are Americans, the idea that the choice between a W2 and a W9 may just become a different choice, in terms of how you add value.  But, yes?

Michio Kaku:  I must disagree with my esteemed colleague here.  First of all, let me say that science is the engine of prosperity.  From steam power to electricity, to the laser, to the transistor, to the computer—

Michael Schrage: That’s science, that’s not true, we’re talking about technology.

Michio Kaku:  Hey, can I have my—you had your say, let me have my say.  However, the information revolution has a weakness, and the weakness is precisely the educational system.  The United States has the worst educational system known to science.  Our graduates compete regularly at the level of third world countries.  So how come the scientific establishment of the United States doesn’t collapse?  If we’re producing a generation of dummies, if the stupid index of America keeps rising every year, just watch network television and reality shows, right?  How come the scientific establishment of the United States doesn’t collapse?  Let me tell you something.  Some of you may not know this.  America has a secret weapon.  That secret weapon is the H1B.  Without the H1B, the scientific establishment of this country would collapse.  Forget about Google!  Forget about Silicon Valley!  There would be no Silicon Valley without the H1B.  And you know what the H1B is?  It’s the genius visa.  Okay?  You realize that in the United States, 50% of all PhD candidates are foreign born.  At my system, one of the biggest in the United States, 100% of the PhD candidates are foreign born.  The United States is a magnet sucking up all the brains of the world, but now the brains are going back.  They’re going back to China; they’re going back to India.  And people are saying, “Oh, my God, there’s a Silicon Valley in India now!”  “Oh, my God, there’s a Silicon Valley in China!”  Duh!  Where did it come from?  It came from the United States.  So don’t tell me that science isn’t the engine of prosperity.  You remove the H1B visa and you collapse the economy....MORE, including video.
Meanwhile, over at ZeroHedge:
Guest Post: Risk And The Indentured Servitude Of Student Loans
Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds
Risk And The Indentured Servitude Of Student Loans
Students stuck with gargantuan loans for life are bound in a bank-dominated "improvement" of indentured servitude.
Yesterday (Risk is Necessary for Adaptation, Innovation and Success) I discussed the inevitable failure of systems in which risk has been transferred from those who reap the gain to others. In the case of student loans, the risk has been transferred to students who enter decades of indentured servitude.
Indentured servitude has a long history in the U.S.; many immigrants accepted servitude of between two and seven years in exchange for passage to the New World. Orphans were indentured out of orphanages to the age of 21--potentially a much longer servitude. Indeed, the labor of anyone on the public dole could be auctioned off:
From Wilma A. Dunaway's Online Archive:
By the time of the Revolutionary War, indentured servitude had been a common practice in the United States for 150 years.

Following British laws established during the colonial period, post-Revolutionary public authorities indentured the labor of those who were likely to fall upon the public dole. Appalachian county governments bound out indigent adults and children whose families could no longer care for them. The age, gender, and racial trends are clearly documented in early records of Appalachian poor houses, for women and orphans represented more than two-thirds of the individuals whose labor was auctioned off by county governments.

Isaac Miller of Anderson County, Tennessee, advertised in 1819 for the return of Margaret Hutcheson who had been bound to him by the county poor house. Obviously, the seventeen-year-old girl had tried the patience of her master, for he offered only "a reward of 6 1/4 cents to the person who w[ould] deliver her to [him]," caustically adding, "but I will not thank any person for doing so."

When an orphan was bound out by the county poor house, the child was legally tied to the master until the age of eighteen or twenty-one.

Orphans were often bound to tradesmen or farmers until age 21, and indigent adults were typically bound for three to seven years. However, there is no way to document how many laborers were bound out by their own families. When parents indentured their own children, it was for "a usual term of seven years if a girl, or five if a boy."
Let us consider the modern form of indentured servitude, student loans, which now exceed a staggering $1 Trillion: "It's Going To Create A Generation Of Wage Slavery" (Zero Hedge), or perhaps more accurately, indentured servitude, because the debt cannot be dismissed via bankruptcy....MORE