Dagdha's Blog

Technological Evolution vs Capitalism

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on November 7, 2011

Every nerd worth his or her salt is familiar with Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors able to fit on a given space doubles every eighteen months.  Although not a strict law, the concept has been accurate at predicting the development of electronics for quite some time.  In the past few years, however, I have noticed a decline in the rate at which more powerful electronics become available, and I  wonder to what extent technological development is being impaired by corporate motives.

A few months ago I read an article by a software developer who argued that console gaming systems hinder the evolution of video games because commercial pandering usually dictates that programming facilitate the lowest common denominator of hardware.  In other words, instead of designing games that push technological limits, developers are more focused on moving units.  From a business perspective in an ominous economy, developers can hardly be blamed for this approach, but it’s interesting to consider where games could be if they were more focused on progress than commerce.  (In order for video games to come into their own as a form of high Art, gaming needs to make such a shift, but that’s a topic for another discussion).

There are other examples of corporations throttling available technology in order to optimize profits, but the future implications of this methodology is my main concern.  As we approach the physical limitations of Moore’s Law and the size of transistors continues to shrink, the efficiency of adding more produces diminishing returns, which is why manufacturers are now building processors with multiple cores for parallel computing, though ultimately it’s prolonging a similar dead end.  Quantum computing is really the next major step that will transform human society and catalyze our evolution into a Type 1 Civilization.  In order for that to happen, however, global solidarity is needed to prevent ourselves from destroying each other.

I used to believe that technology was universally good – our triumph as man over nature and her intellectually humble creatures.  Over time though, I’ve realized that there are many kinds of technology, and mechanical technology, which I have been discussing, is often used maliciously to assert supremacy over other people, either by limiting their understanding of certain processes or through the sheer use of power (i.e., military technology).

I believe that in order for technology to grow in any significant way, our international society has to shift from a monetary structure based on greed to a humanitarian system based on progress.  Although Capitalism is the most successful economic practice in recorded history, the class divisions it creates are not sustainable in an age of globalization.  Like most people, I have plenty of complaints and few resolutions, but the OCCUPY movement is a big step in addressing the need for a new system, and I hope it manages to endure and create a lasting change.  The Large Hadron Collider is a testament of what can be achieved when nations work together for the sake of technological development, and CERN is only made up of select European countries.  Imagine how quickly we could advance technology if the U.S. and China similarly contributed, or – even more far fetched – if knowledge was freely shared instead of tirelessly copyrighted.

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