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Star Trek Economics 888

An anonymous reader writes "Rick Webb has an article suggesting we're in the nascent stages of transforming to a post-scarcity economy — one in which we are 'no longer constrained by scarcity of materials—food, energy, shelter, etc.' While we aren't there yet, job automation continues to rise and the problem of distributing necessities gets closer to being solved every day. Webb wondered how to describe a society's progress as it made the transition from scarcity to post-scarcity — and it brought him to Star Trek. Quoting: 'I believe the Federation is a proto-post scarcity society evolved from democratic capitalism. It is, essentially, European socialist capitalism vastly expanded to the point where no one has to work unless they want to. It is massively productive and efficient, allowing for the effective decoupling of labor and salary for the vast majority (but not all) of economic activity. The amount of welfare benefits available to all citizens is in excess of the needs of the citizens. Therefore, money is irrelevant to the lives of the citizenry, whether it exists or not. Resources are still accounted for and allocated in some manner, presumably by the amount of energy required to produce them (say Joules). And they are indeed credited to and debited from each citizen's "account." However, the average citizen doesn't even notice it, though the government does, and again, it is not measured in currency units—definitely not Federation Credits.'"

Open Source Facing a Difficult Battle For Cloud Relevance 141

A recent eulogy for open source's relevance to cloud computing by Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady caught the attention of Matt Asay, who breaks down the difficulty of this David and Goliath problem. "In a world where horsepower matters more than the software feeding those 'horses,' in terms of the entry cost to compete, and where big vendors like Amazon and Google are already divvying up the market, the odds of a small-fry, open-source start-up challenging 'Goliath' are slim. It's not a new argument: Nick Carr has been suggesting for some time that only a few, big companies can afford relevance in this hardware-intensive business. Given this fact, O'Grady thinks the best we can hope for (and he thinks it's pretty important) is 'a loose coalition or confederation of [open-source] projects and vendors that will together comprise an increasingly viable top to bottom alternative to some of the cloud providers today.' He includes projects like Puppet (Reductive Labs) and Hadoop in this mix, but is careful to point out that he doesn't see a full-fledged, open-source alternative seriously challenging the closed platforms of Google, Amazon, Salesforce, and the other mega-clouds."

Google Street a Slice of Dystopian Future? 325

An anonymous reader writes "According to a recent CNET article, Google Street View 'is just wrong'. The short piece which makes up part of a larger feature about 'technology that's just wrong' goes on to explain that Google Street View is like a scene from George Orwell's terrifying dystopian vision of 1984 and that it could ultimately change our behaviour because we'll never know when we're being watched. 'Google? Aren't they the friendly folk who help me find Web sites, cheat at pub quizzes, and look at porn? Yes, but since 2006 they're also photographing the streets of selected world cities and posting the results online for all to see. It was Jeremy Bentham who developed the idea of the Panopticon, a system of prison design whereby everybody could be seen from one central point, with the upshot being that prisoners learnt to modulate their behaviour — because they never knew if they were being watched. And that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?'"

If bankers can count, how come they have eight windows and only four tellers?