Sunday, July 6, 2014

Putting the Blind Men in their Place

I am glad to see that CNET seems to have decided that the best way to cover an interview with Larry Page and Sergey Brin conducted by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla was to assign the story to Chris Matyszczyk. Among those who write for CNET, Matyszczyk is not only probably the best at knowing bullshit when he encounters is but also the most adept at explaining to even the most naïve of his readers why it is bullshit. All that was missing from his assessment of this encounter was the metaphor of three blind men feeling up an elephant, the perfect example of what happens when you have individuals so drunk on their own Kool-Aid that each thinks he has both total information and the solution to all problems.


DigitalDan said...

I pretty much agree with Brin on the tech side, until he gets to the new world order stuff. That is, summonable self-piloting vehicles could vastly reduce and sometimes eliminate (for city-dwellers, the infirm, many others) the need for personal vehicles, also increasing flexibility of access. A base level of governmental/institutional meeting of basic needs would put an end to most of the bickering that marks our current politics (leaving meddling in personal decisions and defining the nature of borders?) The need to support those who do not "pull their weight" becomes more important as the amount of weight there is to pull is rapidly dwindling, due to automation. We must (a) find other useful things for people to do; (b) prune the population; or (c) agree that it's okay for people to be able to thrive without what we would call contributing. I never see this issue discussed by the "pundints."

Stephen Smoliar said...

My primary beef with all three of the participants is that the word "consequences" does not appear to be part of their working vocabulary. DigitalDan's comment reinforces my observation by taking the opposite stance. It is not all about identifying a problem and then working out the best solution (inevitably through technology). The question "What happens next?" is just as important, as illustrated by DigitalDan's penultimate sentence. Khosla never worries about anything other than finding the right time-frame for the right level of ROI. For Page and Brin, on the other hand, longer-range consequences are, as Douglas Adams put it, an SEP (somebody else's problem).