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Michael Stuart Kelly

The Real Roots of the Internet and Social Media

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The Real Roots of the Internet and Social Media

The following video from Corbett is quite an education.

You can get the transcript and sources here:

Episode 359 – The Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Big Tech Doesn’t Want You to Know

If you want to know why the claim is bogus that big tech companies are private companies, therefore they should be able to freely censor whoever they please over political preference, take a look at this video.

Would one ever make political preference a condition for civil service or joining the armed forces? Of course not. There is a fact that is becoming clearer and clearer to the public as time goes on. Big Tech is Big Government in the guise of private companies. But the big tech companies were and still are funded in great part by the government. And they never strayed from their real purpose, covert surveillance and influence of people in foreign lands--and ditto for American citizens.

From that lens, a hell of a lot of mysterious happenings start making sense.

Michael

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MSK has been duped again ... big time.

Corbett asserts that the roots of the Internet and social media are government applications and surveillance by government. 😄

There is something surely wrong with a narrative purported to explain the birth and growth of the Internet and social media that says nothing at all about:

1. The invention of transistors, Bell Labs, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain.
2. Arnold Beckman, who financially backed William Shockley and Shockley's company Fairchild Semiconductor.
3. How Shockley was a terrible manager, from whom the Gang of Eight bolted to start their own business.
4. Transistors were the foundation of semiconductors.
5. Two of the Gang of Eight were Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, who greatly advanced the practical use of transistors and semiconductors and were the founders of Intel. Noyce and Jack Kilby invented the first integrated circuits or microchips that helped launch the personal computer revolution.
6. IBM and Control Data, the titans of the mainframe era.
7. The PC revolution led by (a) Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Microsoft, and (b) Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple.
8. The development of browsers, especially Mosaic and Netscape, without which there was no need for Google's or any other search engine.
9. Advertising, except for one trivial mention. The lifeblood of Google and Facebook is and has been advertising. "Facebook made more than $40 billion in revenue in 2017, approximately 89 percent of which came from digital advertisements" (link). "From Q3 2017 to Q3 2018 ... advertising from Google websites has comprised a relatively consistent 86.78% of total company revenue" (link).

Corbett's narrative also blunders big time as follows.

10. He gives nearly all credit for Silicon Valley to one man, Frederick Terman. Terman was a pretty minor character in the real history. There is a book titled Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age. Terman's name appears on 5 pages of Crystal Fire, a 352-page book. One of the 5 is in the Notes. Another is in the Index. That leaves only 3 pages in the main part.
11. Corbett's video asserts that Oracle gets 25% of its revenues from government. What about the other 75%? Duh! Oracle is huge in the business of information technology, especially databases, some of the software that controls the data of the information age.
12. Corbett's one mention of advertising is this: "The US government is not afraid of the Russians and their ability to “undermine American democracy” by purchasing thousands of dollars of advertising on Facebook." First, it is absurd to ignore all the other advertising on the Internet. Second, his assertion is absurd. Try telling that whopper to all the Democrats in the US government. 😄
13. The primary purpose of the Internet is not government applications and surveillance. It is communication. The purpose of ARPANET, prominent in Corbett's video, was communication -- email and file-sharing. If you believe the Internet is only about email and file-sharing, check your premises.
14. Facebook was conceived and first developed by Zuckerberg for social communication. If you believe his ulterior motive in Facebook's early years was a tool -- or now is -- for government control and surveillance, check your premises.
15. While the Internet does offer surveillance opportunities for other than advertisers, the major surveillance is for advertising. Sellers want data about computer (now also phone) users in order to sell the user something. That's where the money is and money talks.

For anybody with a greater interest in reality than a far-fetched conspiracy theory, I recommend Crystal Fire and Walter Isaacson's The Innovators. I posted about the latter on my blog in April, 2019. Another book I read about the government and Silicon Valley is The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato. I also wrote about it on my blog between April 29 - May 4. She doesn't have a sinister view of government's role in Silicon Valley. Instead, she strives to give nearly all of the credit for Silicon Valley to the government.

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3 hours ago, merjet said:

MSK has been duped again ... big time.

Merlin,

You really are a shill for Big Brother.

I have often wondered if your own money is tied up with government protection schemes.

When I first saw that side of you during the Trump election, that you loved the cockeyed crony foreign trade agreements like NAFTA, TPP, etc., and called those things "free trade" while insulting those who think crony arrangements are not "free," I tuned out.

But, you have a right to worship at the feet of any Big Brother you wish.

Constant snark does not work at convincing others, though, so I would work on my persuasion skills if that is your intent. If it's just the will to snark, do carry on...

I'm not going to waste time taking apart your misdirections. Man, did you come out of the gate hungry for winning some fight or other. It's kind of comical. :) Especially since, in a few of your points, it looks like you didn't even watch the video as they inaccurately describe what's in it.

I've seen you do this kind of start-with-bluster-and-bloviating stuff before and all it does is result a lot of posts containing snark and very little that is substantive.

I presume you have presented your best shot at taking me down a peg or two, showing the world your awesomeness, uncovering my dupedness for all to see, yada yada yada, and want to get to the good stuff, the snark, but I just don't have a lot of time for constant snark, so I prefer to let the reader decide.

Let interested readers watch the video, let them look up your facts, and let them decide which negate which, if any. (In fact, I'm not of the belief that just because so-and-so did not cover something, even a list of things, that debunks what he did discuss and makes you the savior of mankind, dispatching enemies left and right. :) )

On a happier note, I already have The Innovators (and several books by Isaacson, none of which I have yet read). Even though I haven't yet had time to get into it, that, and all his books, are all on my to-read list. I want to read his book on Steve Jobs first since I want to introduce myself to Isaacson's work with that one.

Also, I will look into The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths. It looks interesting, but from the Amazon description and a few reader comments, it sure seems to sing the praises of Big Brother.

In other words, Big Brother does market things like market innovation because the market is simply unqualified to do it on its own. And if anyone thinks differently, you will be debunked (see the book's very title :) ). Besides, the market cannot exist without government technocrats running it. (Any ideas on who should be running those things and ruling over the market. Merlin? Like, maybe, you? Or a bud of yours? :) )

All hail Big Brother!

And may we debunk forever and ever, amen!

:) 

Note to the reader, Merlin is plugging his blog. I not only don't mind, I encourage it. Please go there and read his stuff. He's very intelligent and gives great information and topics to think about. Also, he's much more snarky here than he is over there so, if you go there, you won't have to waste your time wading though his neurotic urges. Seriously, despite my criticisms, I recommend it.

Michael

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4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Merlin,

You really are [lies, fabrications, hysterics, psychologizing, snark, evasion, blanking out] :) ) 

😃  😄  😄  😃

 

4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Also, I will look into The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths. It looks interesting, but from the Amazon description and a few reader comments, it sure seems to sing the praises of Big Brother.

We agree on something, except I would say "does" rather than "seems to".

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Let me clean this last post up a bit. 

Me to Merlin:

2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

You really are a shill for Big Brother.

Merlin discussing a book he admires regarding my comment that "it sure seems to sing the praises of Big Brother."

35 minutes ago, merjet said:

We agree on something, except I would say "does" rather than "seems to".

That's a little clearer.

:)

Michael

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48 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Merlin discussing a book he admires

Regarding "he admires", you are fabricating again.

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btw - This is for readers. Whenever the name "Corbett" appears, a kneejerk happens among establishment shills.

It's like when the name "Alex Jones" appears.

They are dismissed and mocked sight unseen.

But Corbett, Jones and so on are like bulldozers uncovering the pile of crap (and the bodies) authoritarians want to remain hidden. After the brute force work is done of uncovering the mess on the ground, the clean-up crew comes in, then the rebuilders.

If you need a good metaphor for how to segment intellectuals, that's a pretty good one.

The kneejerkers don't grok this, though. They like to blame bulldozers for not being good at installing plumbing. They don't know how to segment, thus they don't know how to argue with (and about) people like Corbett and Jones except to raise their noses and talk about "baskets of deplorables."

:) 

But people who like major alt voices know you can't drink champagne with a bulldozer, but, still, they think bulldozers are great. Other people--the kneejerk critics--have enormous difficulty grasping this idea.

:) 

Michael

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18 hours ago, merjet said:

MSK has been duped again ... big time.

Corbett asserts that the roots of the Internet and social media are government applications and surveillance by government. 😄

There is something surely wrong with a narrative purported to explain the birth and growth of the Internet and social media that says nothing at all about:

1. The invention of transistors, Bell Labs, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain.
2. Arnold Beckman, who financially backed William Shockley and Shockley's company Fairchild Semiconductor.
3. How Shockley was a terrible manager, from whom the Gang of Eight bolted to start their own business.
4. Transistors were the foundation of semiconductors.
5. Two of the Gang of Eight were Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, who greatly advanced the practical use of transistors and semiconductors and were the founders of Intel. Noyce and Jack Kilby invented the first integrated circuits or microchips that helped launch the personal computer revolution.
6. IBM and Control Data, the titans of the mainframe era.
7. The PC revolution led by (a) Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Microsoft, and (b) Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple.
8. The development of browsers, especially Mosaic and Netscape, without which there was no need for Google's or any other search engine.
9. Advertising, except for one trivial mention. The lifeblood of Google and Facebook is and has been advertising. "Facebook made more than $40 billion in revenue in 2017, approximately 89 percent of which came from digital advertisements" (link). "From Q3 2017 to Q3 2018 ... advertising from Google websites has comprised a relatively consistent 86.78% of total company revenue" (link).

Corbett's narrative also blunders big time as follows.

10. He gives nearly all credit for Silicon Valley to one man, Frederick Terman. Terman was a pretty minor character in the real history. There is a book titled Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age. Terman's name appears on 5 pages of Crystal Fire, a 352-page book. One of the 5 is in the Notes. Another is in the Index. That leaves only 3 pages in the main part.
11. Corbett's video asserts that Oracle gets 25% of its revenues from government. What about the other 75%? Duh! Oracle is huge in the business of information technology, especially databases, some of the software that controls the data of the information age.
12. Corbett's one mention of advertising is this: "The US government is not afraid of the Russians and their ability to “undermine American democracy” by purchasing thousands of dollars of advertising on Facebook." First, it is absurd to ignore all the other advertising on the Internet. Second, his assertion is absurd. Try telling that whopper to all the Democrats in the US government. 😄
13. The primary purpose of the Internet is not government applications and surveillance. It is communication. The purpose of ARPANET, prominent in Corbett's video, was communication -- email and file-sharing. If you believe the Internet is only about email and file-sharing, check your premises.
14. Facebook was conceived and first developed by Zuckerberg for social communication. If you believe his ulterior motive in Facebook's early years was a tool -- or now is -- for government control and surveillance, check your premises.
15. While the Internet does offer surveillance opportunities for other than advertisers, the major surveillance is for advertising. Sellers want data about computer (now also phone) users in order to sell the user something. That's where the money is and money talks.

For anybody with a greater interest in reality than a far-fetched conspiracy theory, I recommend Crystal Fire and Walter Isaacson's The Innovators. I posted about the latter on my blog in April, 2019. Another book I read about the government and Silicon Valley is The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato. I also wrote about it on my blog between April 29 - May 4. She doesn't have a sinister view of government's role in Silicon Valley. Instead, she strives to give nearly all of the credit for Silicon Valley to the government.

You mostly aren't talking about what the video addressed. (I read the transcript.)

It's helpful to understand what is going on right now. 

These massive databases aren't so much to control you or me, but the very top of the national government. Even Trump may be controlled to some significant extent.

Going forward I see less Trump and more Obama/Bush/Clinton.

The political world is dissolving into 1984.

--Brant

but hoi polloi has computers too; 1984 was only a one way street (Orwell knew TV, not the PC)

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11 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

You mostly aren't talking about what the video addressed. (I read the transcript.)

It's helpful to understand what is going on right now. 

Whoop-de-do! Did you notice the title MSK gave this thread?  “The Real Roots of the Internet and Social Media" is very different from the title of the video. In contrast, my post was about the real roots of the Internet and social media, at least Facebook.

Did you notice MSK's absurd assertions?
-  the big tech companies were and still are funded in great part by the government
- they never strayed from their real purpose, covert surveillance and influence of people in foreign lands--and ditto for American citizens.

How is the first anywhere near truthful when near 90% of Google's and Facebook's revenues are from advertising? Regarding money, tech companies and government, the opposite is more truthful. Care to guess how much Google, Facebook, and their employees pay in income and FICA taxes?

How is MSK's assertion that their real purpose, covert surveillance and influence is anywhere near truthful? Are getting revenues -- a big chunk of which is used to pay their employees -- and surveillance for advertising purposes non-existent or irrelevant per you and MSK? Was Zuckerburg's aim years ago to create an online social community non-existent or irrelevant per you and MSK? Was the Google founders' effort to make a search engine years ago non-existent or irrelevant per you and MSK?
 
Have you noticed MSK's -- like his messiah's -- fondness for hyperbole? "[A] little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration -- and a very effective form of promotion." - Trump: The Art of the Deal

A "little" hyperbole, "truthful" and "innocent"?  😄  Did you notice MSK's massive insinuation-hyperbole that I am a shill for Big Brother? 😄

Did you notice MSK's near complete failure to engage any of the 15 points I made yesterday, and instead he jumped immediately to slurs, cheap shots, and argumentum ad hominem?

 

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On 7/6/2019 at 8:10 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Merlin,

You really are a shill for Big Brother.

I have often wondered if your own money is tied up with government protection schemes.

[...] But, you have a right to worship at the feet of any Big Brother you wish.

Constant snark does not work at convincing others, though, so I would work on my persuasion skills if that is your intent. If it's just the will to snark, do carry on...

Michael

I see that I have not missed much...  I did "heart" both the lead video and merjet's reply. Discussion is good. I do note the reflexive pot-kettle thing here about "snark." 

21 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

btw - This is for readers. Whenever the name "Corbett" appears, a kneejerk happens among establishment shills.

It's like when the name "Alex Jones" appears.

I have no idea who "Corbett" is. I found out about Alex Jones when I moved to Austin. I have listened to a bit, both on commercial and underground radio here. It's OK. But I also get Time magazine, just as I read news on Fox and listen to NPR. Back about 1976 or so, a couple of Firesign Theater people created a radio play, How Time Flys (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Time_Flys, about an astronaut who returns to Earth after 20 years to find the government shut down. His mission logs are sought by an entrepreneur, Mr. Motion. "It's all entertainment."

And on that note, is ObjectivistLiving just a node in the Big Govenment Corporate Control Network.??  Is it just a way to monitor misfits who might be (but never really are) dangerous to the Corporate State?  Does MSK shill for them as a false flag?  

My head is spinning.

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I haven't read the article , so I don't know who is shilling for whom. But whenever I hear about conspiracy theories relating to tech companies becoming seemingly tech behemoths it makes me wonder whether the behemothing was orchestrated by other than market forces. Especially things tech/social/media. I get there can be tons of money chasing info /data the sellers can take advantage of for marketing and such. It would be hard to direct all that spending toward mining that data if it were spread out far and wide, fortunately the behemoths aggregate a lot of it and fortunately since a large majority of everyone uses the behemoths we are pretty comfortable using them .

It's odd there is Coke and Pepsi but no Google and .., or YouTube and .., no? I get Carnegie built US Steel , but he acquired and built his way to that, bought other independent companies , integrated supply chains ect.

US internet behemoths feel like they sprang from nothing to everything , did Facebook ever experience a lack of servers that limited their capacity ? Or YouTube? Did they acquire others' capacities ? How much investment is/was needed for the hardware ?

I am completely ignorant of the cost structure for the industry , but I assume the price of raw computing power has decreased in at least the last decade, though I doubt Mom or Pop would be able to out compete the existing titans just on the hardware costs alone.

But as I said I'm ignorant of the cost structure and perhaps that just feeds my bias toward sympathy for the idea that Big Brother helped to make sure all the lovely data and control bottlenecks seem to be limited to a few players.

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"I have listened to a bit, both on commercial and underground radio here. It's OK." Syra wrote. That line just brought up memories of when I lived in California. There was a large radio tower in Baja that used to blast its way into Southern California. I think they said naughty things and played rock and roll. And wasn't there a guy more recently broadcaster off the Atlantic coast from a boat? But now there is the net . . .    

 

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4 hours ago, syrakusos said:

And on that note, is ObjectivistLiving just a node in the Big Govenment Corporate Control Network.?

Michael,

No.

4 hours ago, syrakusos said:

Is it just a way to monitor misfits who might be (but never really are) dangerous to the Corporate State?

No.

4 hours ago, syrakusos said:

Does MSK shill for them as a false flag?

No.

4 hours ago, syrakusos said:

My head is spinning.

I wish I could help. But this is a discussion forum. 

May I suggest seeing a doctor?

:)

Michael

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Hmmmm...

4 hours ago, merjet said:

... MSK's massive insinuation-hyperbole that I am a shill for Big Brother...

How is the following quote from me an insinuation?

On 7/6/2019 at 8:10 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

You really are a shill for Big Brother.

I think this Merlin dude uses English a lot differently than I do.

:) 

Michael

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43 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

You really are a shill for Big Brother.

 

43 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

think this Merlin dude uses English a lot differently than I do. 

I was tactful. So now I will be blunt, Snarky. Do you prefer calling it false or a lie?

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6 hours ago, tmj said:

... whenever I hear about conspiracy theories relating to tech companies becoming seemingly tech behemoths it makes me wonder whether the behemothing was orchestrated by other than market forces.

T,

You can say that again. But I'll let you dig into the government-corporation lovemaking on your own. There's plenty of stuff around. Let's just say that without government protections, funding and resources like satellites and subsidized power (in addition to way too much stuff to list here), Google would not be the Google behemoth it is today.

Here's a 2018 book for ya': Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder.

Gilder is the guy who correctly predicted a bunch of important stuff about big tech and even the Internet back during the television years. And he's been right over and over since. You might be interested to know that the view of human nature of the Google folks is essentially Marxist (and, by extension, this applies to other big tech folks as well, but not as much as with Google). I'm going to push the bounds of fair use and provide some  relevant quotes from Gilder's book.

Quote

... Silicon Valley seems to have adopted what can best be described as a neo-Marxist political ideology and technological vision. You may wonder how I can depict as “neo-Marxists” those who on the surface seem to be the most avid and successful capitalists on the planet.

Marxism is much discussed as a vessel of revolutionary grievances, workers’ uprisings, divestiture of chains, critiques of capital, catalogs of classes, and usurpation of the means of production. At its heart, however, the first Marxism espoused a belief that the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century solved for all time the fundamental problem of production.

The first industrial revolution, comprising steam engines, railways, electric grids, and turbines—all those “dark satanic mills”—was, according to Marx, the climactic industrial breakthrough of all time. Marx’s essential tenet was that in the future, the key problem of economics would become not production amid scarcity but redistribution of abundance.

In The German Ideology (1845), Marx fantasized that communism would open to all the dilettante life of a country squire: “Society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.”

Marx was typical of intellectuals in imagining that his own epoch was the final stage of human history. William F. Buckley used to call it an immanentized eschaton, a belief the “last things” were taking place in one’s own time. The neo-Marxism of today’s Silicon Valley titans repeats the error of the old Marxists in its belief that today’s technology—not steam and electricity, but silicon microchips, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, algorithmic biology, and robotics—is the definitive human achievement. The algorithmic eschaton renders obsolete not only human labor but the human mind as well.

All this is temporal provincialism and myopia, exaggerating the significance of the attainments of their own era, of their own companies, of their own special philosophies and chimeras—of themselves, really. Assuming that in some way their “Go” machine and climate theories are the consummation of history, they imagine that it’s “winner take all for all time.” Strangely enough, this delusion is shared by Silicon Valley’s critics. The dystopians join the utopians in imagining a supremely competent and visionary Silicon Valley, led by Google with its monopoly of information and intelligence.

AI is believed to be redefining what it means to be human, much as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species did in its time. While Darwin made man just another animal, a precariously risen ape, Google-Marxism sees men as inferior intellectually to the company’s own algorithmic machines.

 

Gilder continues in the quote below. The reason I separated the passage (it continues from the previous one) is that, although it does not deal specifically with Marx, it shows how the Marxist model inevitably leads to "walled gardens" and "company stores" with arbitrary market practices, both of which need a massive security system in place for protection. He also shows the bait and switch of "free" software in this Marxist model. The free not only serves as the bait, it isolates Google from complying with many legal business requirements.

Quote

Life after Google makes the opposing case that what the hyperventilating haruspices Yuval Harari, Nick Bostrom, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Tim Urban, and Elon Musk see as a world-changing AI juggernaut is in fact an industrial regime at the end of its rope. The crisis of the current order in security, privacy, intellectual property, business strategy, and technology is fundamental and cannot be solved within the current computer and network architecture.

Security is not a benefit or upgrade that can be supplied by adding new layers of passwords, pony-tailed “swat teams,” intrusion detection schemes, anti-virus patches, malware prophylactics, and software retro-fixes. Security is the foundation of all other services and crucial to all financial transactions. It is the most basic and indispensable component of any information technology.

In business, the ability to conduct transactions is not optional. It is the way all economic learning and growth occur. If your product is “free,” it is not a product, and you are not in business, even if you can extort money from so-called advertisers to fund it.

If you do not charge for your software services—if they are “open source”—you can avoid liability for buggy “betas.” You can happily evade the overreach of the Patent Office’s ridiculous seventeen-year protection for minor software advances or “business processes,” like one-click shopping. But don’t pretend that you have customers.

Security is the most crucial part of any system. It enables the machine to possess an initial “state” or ground position and gain economic traction. If security is not integral to an information technology architecture, that architecture must be replaced.

The original distributed Internet architecture sufficed when everything was “free,” as the Internet was not a vehicle for transactions. When all it was doing was displaying Web pages, transmitting emails, running discussion forums and news groups, and hyperlinking academic sites, the Net did not absolutely need a foundation of security. But when the Internet became a forum for monetary transactions, new security regimes became indispensable. EBay led the way by purchasing PayPal, which was not actually an Internet service but an outside party that increased the efficiency of online transactions. Outside parties require customer information to be transmitted across the Web to consummate transactions. Credit card numbers, security codes, expiration dates, and passwords began to flood the Net.

With the ascendancy of Amazon, Apple, and other online emporia early in the twenty-first century, much of the Internet was occupied with transactions, and the industry retreated to the “cloud.” Abandoning the distributed Internet architecture, the leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs replaced it with centralized and segmented subscription systems, such as Paypal, Amazon, Apple’s iTunes, Facebook, and Google cloud. Uber, Airbnb, and other sequestered “unicorns” followed.

These so-called “walled gardens” might have sufficed if they could have actually been walled off from the rest of the Internet. At Apple, Steve Jobs originally attempted to accomplish such a separation by barring third-party software applications (or “apps”). Amazon has largely succeeded in isolating its own domains and linking to outside third parties such as credit card companies. But these centralized fortresses violated the Coase Theorem of corporate reach. In a famous paper, the Nobel-laureate economist Ronald Coase calculated that a business should internalize transactions only to the point that the costs of finding and contracting with outside parties exceed the inefficiencies incurred by the absence of real prices, internal markets, and economies of scale.6 The concentration of data in walled gardens increases the cost of security. The industry sought safety in centralization. But centralization is not safe.

The company store was not a great advance of capitalism during the era of so-called “robber barons,” and it is no better today when it is dispersed through the cloud, funded through advertising, and combined with a spurious sharing of free goods. Marxism was historically hyperbolic the first time round, and the new Marxism is delusional today. It is time for a new information architecture for a globally distributed economy.

Fortunately, it is on its way.


The help on the way that Gilder talks about is blockchain and cryptocurrency. In the next chapter, Gilder gives an explanation of the "free" as it pertains to both philosophy and practice. Marx is not mentioned, but the mechanistic view of human nature (people as robots that can be programmed) inherent in Marxism is clear.

Quote

Under the leadership of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google developed an integrated philosophy that aspires, with growing success, to shape our lives and fortunes. Google has proposed a theory of knowledge and a theory of mind to animate a vision for the dominant technology of the world; a new concept of money and therefore price signals; a new morality and a new idea of the meaning and process of progress.

The Google theory of knowledge, nicknamed “big data,” is as radical as Newton’s and as intimidating as Newton’s was liberating. Newton proposed a few relatively simple laws by which any new datum could be interpreted and the store of knowledge augmented and adjusted. In principle anyone can do physics and calculus or any of the studies and crafts it spawned, aided by tools that are readily affordable and available in any university, many high schools, and thousands of companies around the world. Hundreds of thousands of engineers at this moment are adding to the store of human knowledge, interpreting one datum at a time.

“Big data” takes just the opposite approach. The idea of big data is that the previous slow, clumsy, step-by-step search for knowledge by human brains can be replaced if two conditions are met: All the data in the world can be compiled in a single “place,” and algorithms sufficiently comprehensive to analyze them can be written.

Upholding this theory of knowledge is a theory of mind derived from the pursuit of artificial intelligence. In this view, the brain is also fundamentally algorithmic, iteratively processing data to reach conclusions. Belying this notion of the brain is the study of actual brains, which turn out be much more like sensory processors than logic machines. Yet the direction of AI research is essentially unchanged. Like method actors, the AI industry has accepted that its job is to act “as if” the brain were a logic machine. Therefore, most efforts to duplicate human intelligence remain exercises in faster and faster processing of the sort computers handle well. Ultimately, the AI priesthood maintains that the human mind will be surpassed—not just in this or that specialized procedure but in all ways—by extremely fast logic machines processing unlimited data.

The Google theory of knowledge and mind are not mere abstract exercises. They dictate Google’s business model, which has progressed from “search” to “satisfy.” Google’s path to riches, for which it can show considerable evidence, is that with enough data and enough processors it can know better than we do what will satisfy our longings.

Even as the previous systems of the world were embodied and enabled in crucial technologies, so the Google system of the world is embodied and enabled in a technological vision called cloud computing. If the Google theory is that universal knowledge is attained through the iterative processing of enormous amounts of data, then the data have to be somewhere accessible to the processors. Accessible in this case is defined by the speed of light. The speed-of-light limit—nine inches in a billionth of a second—requires the aggregation of processors and the memory in some central place, with energy available to access and process the data.

The “cloud,” then, is an artful name for the great new heavy industry of our times: gargantuan data centers composed of immense systems of data storage and processors, linked together by millions of miles of fiber-optic lines and consuming electrical power and radiating heat to an extent that excels most industrial enterprises in history.

So dependent were the machines of the industrial revolution on sources of power that propinquity to a power source—first and foremost, water—was often a more important consideration in deciding where to build a factory than the supply of raw material or manpower. Today Google’s data centers face similar constraints.

Google’s idea of progress stems from its technological vision. Newton and his fellows, inspired by their Judeo-Christian world view, unleashed a theory of progress with human creativity and free will at its core. Google must demur. If the path to knowledge is the infinitely fast processing of all data, if the mind—that engine by which we pursue the truth of things—is simply a logic machine, then the combination of algorithm and data can produce one and only one result. Such a vision is not only deterministic but ultimately dictatorial. If there is a moral imperative to pursue the truth, and the truth can be found only by the centralized processing of all the data in the world, then all the data in the world must, by the moral order implied, be gathered into one fold with one shepherd. Google may talk a good game about privacy, but private data are the mortal enemy of its system of the world.

Finally, Google proposes, and must propose, an economic standard, a theory of money and value, of transactions and the information they convey, radically opposed to what Newton wrought by giving the world a reliable gold standard.

As with the gentle image of cloud computing, Google’s theory of money and prices seems at first utterly benign and even in some sense deeply Christian. For Google ordains that, at least within the realm under its direct control, there shall be no prices at all. With a few small (but significant) exceptions, everything Google offers to its “customers” is free. Internet searches are free. Email is free. The vast resources of the data centers, costing Google an estimated thirty billion dollars to build, are provided essentially for free.

Free is not by accident. If your business plan is to have access to the data of the entire world, then free is an imperative. At least for your “products.” For your advertisers, it’s another matter. What your advertisers are paying for is the enormous data and the insights gained by processing it, all of which is made possible by “free.”

So the cascades of “free” began: free maps of phenomenal coverage and resolution, making Google master of mobile and local services; free YouTube videos of luminous quality and stunning diversity that are becoming a preferred vessel for Internet music as well; free email of elegant simplicity, with uncanny spam filters, facile attachments, and hundreds of gigabytes of storage, with links to free calendars and contact lists; free Android apps, free games, and free search of consummate speed and effectiveness; free, free, free, free vacation slideshows, free naked ladies, free moral uplift (“Do no evil”), free classics of world literature, and then free answers, tailored to your every whim by Google Mind.

So what’s wrong with free? It is always a lie, because on this earth nothing, in the end, is free. You are exchanging incommensurable items. For glimpses of a short video that you may or may not want to see to the end, you agree to watch an ad long enough to click it closed. Instead of paying—and signaling—with the fungible precision of money, you pay in the slippery coin of information and distraction.

If you do not charge for your software services—if they are “open source”—you can avoid liability for buggy “betas”. You can happily escape the overreach of the patent bureau’s ridiculous seventeen-year protection for minor software advances or “business processes” like one-click shopping. But don’t pretend that you have customers.

 

Don't forget, whenever we talk about Marx, we already know the fundamental issue is power over the individual (collectivism). 

If you want to know all about the data centers, the subsidized electrical power Google uses (the Dalles Dam between Klickitat, Washington, and Wasco, Oregon) and so on, this book will give you all the information you need.

For a relatively quick and general overview of Gilder's thinking about Google, I can't recommend highly enough the following video. If you watch it, in less than one hour you will know vastly more about Google than most of the "experts" around you. He even goes into the Marxist thing (from a different and more limited view, but still he covers it).

Gilder doesn't cover Google's Darpa and Pentagon stuff, Google's incestuous relationship with the former Obama administration (a crapload of Google's employees got hired by Obama and a crapload of Obama folks got hired by Google--all at the same time), and so on, but I think Gilder's perspective for the long run is more important than Google's icky politics.

Just because I am against the way Google wants to rule over everyone, that doesn't mean those Google dudes are stupid. On the contrary, they are brilliant. Imagine if, one day, they ever became committed--for real--to not being evil...

:) 

Michael

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54 minutes ago, merjet said:

I was tactful.

No, you were inaccurate.

Totally wrong, in fact.

Insinuate does not mean "really are" even at the 5th definition level on down.

Maybe you were lying?

:evil:  :)

(I swear, I'm trying, but I can't take you seriously. Be well, though. I do wish you well.)

Michael

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16 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

No, you were inaccurate.

Totally wrong, in fact.

Insinuate does not mean "really are" even at the 5th definition level on down.

Maybe you were lying?

:evil:  :)

(I swear, I'm trying, but I can't take you seriously. Be well, though. I do wish you well.)

Michael

Heh. A nitpicking, failed gotcha trying to defend a falsehood or lie. No, what I said was neither inaccurate nor totally wrong. It was an innocent, little hyperbole. I was no more at fault than when Trump said there were airports during the Revolutionary War. 😄

Nor do I take you seriously, based on your countless -- you are well on your way to a googol 😊 -- absurd and hugely false assertions. Your arbitrary and patently false assertion, "But the big tech companies were and still are funded in great part by the government," belongs in the Howlers Hall of Fame.

Thanks for bringing Gilder's book to my attention, though.

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Yes, thank you MSK for the book recommendation.

( I was hoping my implicit laziness would be enough to prod you into foregoing a due chastisement and giving up some goods : ) )

e-luddites unite !

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5 hours ago, merjet said:

Heh. A nitpicking, failed gotcha trying to defend a falsehood or lie. No, what I said was neither inaccurate nor totally wrong. It was an innocent, little hyperbole. I was no more at fault than when Trump said there were airports during the Revolutionary War. 😄

Nor do I take you seriously, based on your countless -- you are well on your way to a googol 😊 -- absurd and hugely false assertions. Your arbitrary and patently false assertion, "But the big tech companies were and still are funded in great part by the government," belongs in the Howlers Hall of Fame.

Thanks for bringing Gilder's book to my attention, though.

 Maybe It's they all got into bed together way back then and liked it so much they're still there.

--Brant

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