Monday, November 14, 2016

"Borg Complex: A Primer"

From The Frailest
Borg Complex: A Primer

I coined the term “Borg Complex” on a whim, and, though I’ve written on the concept a handful of times, nowhere have I presented a clear, straightforward description. That’s what this post provides — a quick, one-stop guide to the Borg Complex.

What is a Borg Complex?
A Borg Complex is exhibited by writers and pundits who explicitly assert or implicitly assume that resistance to technology is futile. The name is derived from the Borg, a cybernetic alien race in the Star Trek universe that announces to their victims some variation of the following: “We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.”

For example:
“In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it.” (Nathan Harden)
“It may be hard to believe, but before the end of this century, 70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation. Yes, dear reader, even you will have your job taken away by machines. In other words, robot replacement is just a matter of time.” (Kevin Kelly)

“I’ve used [Google Glass] a little bit myself and – I’m making a firm prediction – in as little as three years from now I am not going to be looking out at the world with glasses that don’t have augmented information on them. It’s going to seem barbaric to not have that stuff.” (Phil Libin)

What are some other symptoms of a Borg Complex?
These symptoms may occur singly, or in combination:

1. Makes grandiose, but unsupported claims for technology
Of MOOCs: “Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.”
2. Uses the term Luddite a-historically and as a casual slur
”But [P2P apps are] considerably less popular among city regulators, whose reactions recall Ned Ludd’s response to the automated loom.”
3. Pays lip service to, but ultimately dismisses genuine concerns
“This is going to add a huge amount of new kinds of risks. But as a species, we simply must take these risks, to continue advancing, to use all available resources to their maximum.”
4. Equates resistance or caution to reactionary nostalgia
“There’s no reason to cling to our old ways. It’s time to ask: What can science learn from Google?”
5. Starkly and matter-of-factly frames the case for assimilation
“There is a new world unfolding and everyone will have to adapt.”

As noted a week ago in "Short Selling Prerequisite: Empathy (and Charlie Munger quotes)":

We live and die by the Charlie quote below. The Einhorn isn't bad either...

...“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
-Charles Thomas Munger
 Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Daily Journal Corporation, Berkshire Hathaway