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Technology

China's Superior Technologies 692

paRcat writes "Still think China is a land too far away from everything? This article compares some of China's common uses of technology to what we're accustomed to in the West. With the genius traffic lights and the cell phone coverage... I'm kinda jealous."
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China's Superior Technologies

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  • Statistics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 ) <deliverance.level4@org> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:34AM (#10724744) Journal
    If you consider the growth of infrastructure in China to the rate of upgrading in the west is it any wonder they are ahead?

    They are clearly putting in far more effort than any western government to modernize their country.

    A government for the people, what a novel thought.
    • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:09PM (#10725168)
      China a "modern country"?
      With a "government for the people"?

      Hello? Is there anybody home?

      In China you get into jail for saying what you think. People are imprisoned and tortured. Human rights violated. How much a nerd does one need to be in order to trade cellphone coverage for freedom?

      (Amnesty International's report on China is worth a read: http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/chn-summary-eng)
      • by VagaStorm ( 691999 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:05PM (#10725964) Homepage
        How much a nerd does one need to be in order to trade cellphone coverage for freedom? This is a trick question, right :)
      • and we have... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:42PM (#10726500)
        abu-gharaib.
        We even export our human rights violations.

        • Re:and we have... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shotgun ( 30919 )
          What a silly thing to say.

          Abu-gharaib was a travesty that is ending with the guilty being brought to justice...well, at least some of them. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that all the criminals have been captured. But as least the rats are scurrying for cover.

          The human rights violations in China result in public acclomation and promotions.
      • Re:Statistics (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pilybaby ( 638883 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:43PM (#10726503)
        In China you get into jail for saying what you think. People are imprisoned and tortured. Human rights violated.
        You can be imprisoned indefinatly with no reason given and with no access to a lawyer - here in the UK, and the Patroit act does pretty much the same I believe.

        I'm so glad we're free.
        • Re:Statistics (Score:3, Informative)

          by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
          Get a small clue. The fact that you can say that you do not like it shows how free you are. Do you know anyone that has been arrested? Are you really afraid? Sure standing up saying that you do not like the Patriot act "and I do not" is important but saying that that the US or the UK has the same level of freedom as China is.... Well stupid.
          Yes oppose the Patriot act. Work to get it overturned. But do not equate it with China.
          • Re:Statistics (Score:3, Informative)

            Do you know anyone that has been arrested? Jose Padilla? Ahmed Hamdi?

            Lets be clear about this. This administration would like to have the power to keep United States citizens in detention, without access to counsel or judicial review. Why have they not been able to? Because the Supreme Court said they could not. So the system works right? We'll see. Bush named Thomas as one of his favorite justices. IIRC, Thomas was the only one of the justices that said, "Yes, the executive branch should have t
      • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Informative)

        by ChronoZ ( 561096 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @02:10PM (#10726810)
        Amnesty International's report on the USA is worth a read as well: http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/usa-summary-eng
    • Re:Statistics (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jlar ( 584848 )
      The GDP per capita was $5,000 in China (2003). This does not mean that all of China is poor but it does mean that in general China is not as rich as western countries. I would therefore contend the image that the author of the article paints of a throughout modern chinese society. In fact large parts of China are poor and underdeveloped.

      Of course this statement might not be true in 10 years time or so due to the quick rate of economic growth in China - and of course this does not mean that the chinese are
    • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:31PM (#10725513) Homepage
      They are clearly putting in far more effort than any western government to modernize their country.

      This is one of the tradeoffs between free markets and command economies. Although free markets are great from the point of view of moving quickly to a local optimum in resource utilization, their coverage and consistency are spotty. Command economies tend to pick winners too early and their implementations can be inefficient and hang around too long, but they usually achieve complete coverage and relative consistency.

      The best of both worlds is when you "let a thousand flowers bloom" in the early stages, pick a winner for full implementation, and revisit the infrastructure choices on a regular basis to reopen debate. Of course, ideologues of either stripe would usually disavow this solution, as that might force them to widen their narrow models of the world - far too painful to comptemplate!

      • by katharsis83 ( 581371 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:31PM (#10726334)
        "Let a thousand flowers bloom," is an interesting quote. This comment was made by Chairman Mao in the 1970's to see who really opposed his policies by letting everyine express themselves. There was a period of free speech and outpourings of democratic writings, especially on college Campuses, that was followed by brutal repression and jailings of many university students and professors when Mao felt like it had run it's course.

        "Let a thousand flowers bloom," was more or less a political tactic by Mao to exterminate his enemies in the Communist Party. Not sure what this has to do with economic policy and such.
    • In the 1960s and 1970s Japan was growing leaps and bounds from a completely destroyed country at the end of the world war to nearly the level of US economy. The label "Made in Japan" changed from a denigration to a status symbol. But Japan was unable to go past the US economy. Perhaps capitalism can only so far at a given time. Or else Japan's local characteristics of capitalism- more cronyism, more conglomeration, face-saving hiding of problems, etc.- keeps it at its level.

      It will be interesting to
      • by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 ) <deliverance.level4@org> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @02:19PM (#10726889) Journal
        Actually Japan collapsed for another reason.

        Though part of it is what you are talking about.

        Their research isn't progressing where it needs to yet. Their country devoted itself singlemindedly to the war, then to industrial and economic growth, now they feel they are better than everyone else so they are essentially wanking.

        If you go for a haircut there will be 6 haircutters, people sweep the streets in business suits. Basically their entire economy went from manufacturing to service in a generation.

        Service economies are total bullshit, guess what YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF!

        The U.S. went from a manufacturing economy in the 50's to a pure greed mentality in the 80's to a purely consumer driven society in the 90's. It's amazing how changes like this can sweep a whole nation.

        Unfortunatly all these trends are negative, it's just the ignorant bouncing around. The people really gettting work done just say, hey there's this thing, might be worth doing, let's do it.
      • by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @03:46PM (#10727848)
        The one thing I like about Japan's stagnation is that there is no poverty there. It is amazing that in a country as rich as the USA, 12% of the people there live in poverty. Guess what, that is the same as in China.

        In USA when the economy suffers, it is mostly the poor on whom it is taken out on. They lose insurance, they lose their jobs and so on. In Japan, they stop growing but guess what, they are not really sweating it. They value different things. Americans value riches and expensive cars. The Japanese actually do get by with Toyotas. Witness how the Lexus brand ws only recently introduced in Japan after being in USA and Europe for the past 20 odd years. And it is owned wholly by a Japanese company. Because the Japanese do not have such big brand mentality, they will be buy a Toyota for the equivalent of $80,000. Americans will have none of that.

        USAs GPD per Capita is inflated by the very rich. Japan has one of the smallest, if not the smallest Gini coefficients in the world. There is much more even wealth distribution than in USA. The USA is a country full of individuals, but Japan is more of a community.

        In many ways Japan is far ahead of the USA. They still produce higher quality goods than USA and indeed just about every other country.
  • by CodeHog ( 666724 ) <joe.slacker@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:38AM (#10724794) Homepage
    A lot of these items were not technology related. Slipcovers for coats and purses @ resturants? Nice, but I'm not counting that as points to superior technology. Gotta admit that stoplight timer technology sounds good.
    • by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:42AM (#10724842) Homepage Journal
      technology isn't just computers. it can be coats and the materials they are made of or how they are made. all, uses of things can be technology. technology is a broad term
    • Gotta admit that stoplight timer technology sounds good.

      Oh, everyone has stoplight timers now. I think this is the programming:

      if (LATE_FOR_WORK)
      green() || construction();
      else if (ON_TIME)
      red(minutes(5));
      else
      red();

    • Thailand also uses this technology in many parts of Downtown Bangkok. The first time that I waited for a crosswalk signal watching the countdown timer, I was impressed. I was even more astounded when the crossing signal itself had a countdown "bar." (but no actual timer).

      I have seen the latter used in nearby Seoul, as well. I guess the Chinese are exporting these technologies?;)
    • Stop light technology wouldn't work in the US, people would try to time it and which in return will cause people to run red lights.
    • by acrid_k ( 696598 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:08PM (#10726009)
      In the early 90s I was in a small factory city in South West China. The town was a mass of concrete; an artless, treeless, birdless place dominated by factories. The only luxury goods available were cigarettes and rice wine. Once at the train station one of the locals lectured my friend (a Swiss guy who spoke fluent Mandarin) on how China was leading the world technologically--while the *steam* trains pulled in and out of the station. The local airport even had half a dozen bi-planes sitting on the tarmac and the soldiers had WWI era rifles. In the special economic zones you no doubt have something much closer resembling the standards of the West (and the seeds of the Communist's downfall). One city near the border with Hong Kong protected its appearance, replete with skyscrapers and the reflecting glass that dominated Western architecture in the 80s, with a massive mandatory carwash. Every vehicle coming into the city from the country was forced to go thru the carwash. The carwash also doubled as a inspection point as ordinary citizens needed permission to enter the special economic zone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In the Twin Cities.....

    We have parking status as you enter downtown, accessible also via a web page. Traffic cameras blanket the freeway system, also via web page.

    In St. Paul a lot of the traffic lights have countdown timers.

    They are also close to have the debit cars for our new light rail line.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:40AM (#10724814)
    Just watch.

    The USA refuses to adopt alternative fuels and prices are rising as fuel needs go up. Watch for china to lead the way in alternative fuel development and be the sole leader in the world. They need a cheap fuel soure to reach their goals of being a (or the) superpower.

    Our dependency because we are lapdogs of Saudi Arabia is going to bite us in the ass. We will be the ones buying the technology from the Chinese.
    • That and the Chinese have a certain mindset that isn't present here in the US. It has something to do with getting the job done well, quickly. The trend here seems cheaper and faster. The last point in the article points this out well by mentioning how well the customer was served at a clothing store.
      • by DaddyDonMynack ( 781272 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:08PM (#10725147)
        China's innovation relies mostly upon remaking things already patented in the West, just doing it cheaper by not paying the patent rights on it. This could be huge problem in the future, as many nations will require that they start honoring these agreements. I once worked with a client who did some of his manufacturing in China (toys, mostly) - he was stunned how quickly their products would turn up as black market ripoffs once they manufactured there - the plant managers typically run a shift a day making your stuff for you, then a shift at night making your stuff for them. They pulled their manufacturing from China after that. Also, I don't see China being much of a leader in alternative fuels - they are cutting deals with the Iranian mullahs now to become their primary oil supplier, and have much looser pollution standards that the U.S. or Europe (in fact, they use the U.S. pollution standards from the 1980's for their cars now). China will probably start making more alt fuel cars when the west demands it - meaning for export, not for domestic use. If you want to talk Asian innovators, Japan is still way, way ahead of China.
        • many nations will require that they start honoring these agreements.

          This is highly unlikely. We are far too reliant on their manufacturing capabilities to make unreasonable demands like this. This is especially true of American pressure. We are far too dependent on foreign currency holdings to prop up the value of the USD.

          Far more likely are the scenarios that either companies who own patents will negotiate very nominal payments for use of their patents or that the First World will simply learn to use t

        • by Neil Watson ( 60859 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @02:00PM (#10726711) Homepage
          China's innovation relies mostly upon remaking things already patented in the West

          I think America ignored European patents in the 18th and 19th century.

    • Or not (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There are a lot of things that foster innovation. One of them is culture and China may have a problem here. Confucian ideals do not foster innovation and those ideals are quite common in China. It takes a long time for people to get that kind of thing out of their bones.

      Right now, the US of A is the best environment in which to innovate. In fact it is our only advantage. If we manage to kill innovation, we are toast. DMCA, Patriot Act and software patents come to mind in this regard.

      About Jan Wong:
      • Re:Or not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:02PM (#10725071) Journal
        I actually cancelled my subscription to the Globe and Mail for sponsoring her articles about 7 years ago. Mean and vindictive, she had no place in journalism. She's a shrew and a thoroughly despicable person. Although it might be only me, I remember getting the impression that she was a bit of a Chinese communist sympathiser, so her writing an article on the technology 'innovations' of China does not surprise me.

        Regarding innovation, you are 100% correct -- that is the US' prime advantage. That plus abundant natural resources which can be exported, or at least support self-sufficiency. Even regarding oil, I believe the US only gets 30% of its supply from OPEC.

        Fortunately China is beholden to the US still in many regards. Its needs the US markets to sell products too; it relies upon the US currency to supply economic stability and prevent inflation in China while they go through this boom; and they need North America to provide raw materials and resources. We're a long way from the sunsetting of the American empire, but the US will be facing a new world power as a competitor (if its not already).
    • They already have a cheap fuel source, it's called coal. And they have no qualms about working with some of the "less savory" countries to get the oil that they need (i.e. Iran).

      Now, there's only so long they'll be able to run on coal (basically til everyone starts keeling over from black lung) but that point is probably a decade or two off. Your point about the USA going backwards is entirely accurate, though, and this election confirmed that Americans are really not that concerned with the vested oil i
      • China does love its coal. They have more than half of the top ten most polluted cities in the world. I've been through their coal country and coughed up stuff I never knew could fit in my repiratory tract in either direction.

        They are going to make the shift to nookular and hydro power much more smoothly than us. This is because:
        • They have less infrastructure to scrap than we do by abandoning coal and fossil fuels
        • They don't care so much about safety and accidents that kill a few hundred people (plenty
  • use of technology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:47AM (#10724891) Homepage Journal
    I must say they have adopted better uses for the technology. Technology is supposed to make your life easier and that is somethign they are doing that western culture isn't.

    China has something western society should model after. It kills me how often I hear, "We have always done it that way, why change"
  • But (Score:3, Funny)

    by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:47AM (#10724898)


    We're installing breakfast nooks and berber carpeting all on credit at 28% interest compounded daily! We have Disney trademark paint color choices at Home Repo! We're modern too!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:47AM (#10724899)
    I've known of one traffic death from a yellow before green in Europe way back. Giving someone a accurate way of determining when they can be moving the microsecond the light turns green is bad given that people have incoporated not just the delayed green but the delayed start after green in their calculations of how late they can run a red light.
  • by Thu25245 ( 801369 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:48AM (#10724903)

    Almost every developing nation has a higher rate of cell-phone coverage than the US (and many other "western" nations.)

    The Bell System and the various state-owned monopolies built reliable, universal landline networks across these countries almost a century ago. Since the majority of the infrastructure has already been made and paid off decades ago, use of these networks today is commonplace (and very affordable.) The technology is often proven, well tested, and reliable (often regulated.) Cell phones, on the other hand, are more expensive and less reliable.

    In developing nations, the landline systems are often unreliable and not much cheaper (if at all) than mobile systems. Users in these countries have every reason to invest in mobile phones. I wonder if this will continue to be the case with the deployment of VoIP systems.


    • A lot of smaller countries tend to have population densities that are noticeably highter than in the US. The higher density makes new technologies (like wireless) easier to deploy because more people can take advantage of the service, distributing the overhead cost over a greater number of people. The following list was copied from here [about.com].

      Population density of the continents:

      * North America - 32 people/mi2
      * South America - 73 people/mi2
      * Europe - 134 people/mi2
      * Asia - 203 people
    • Uhhhh, that century old infrastructure has been replaced multiple times over with new tech, from microwave to fiber to new copper. "Decade's old" infrastructure is no longer in use.
  • Over here! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You know, this is really what we should be trying to do. Better living through technology. If the Chinese can do it, there's no reason why we can't too.
  • by glowimperial ( 705397 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:49AM (#10724915) Homepage
    Although not a technilogical breakthrough, I am super jealous that you can get pants hemmed in-store, in minutes. I am 5' 3" and I have to have all of my pants hemmed. I have a sewing machine, and can do this myslef, but I hate doing it. Either start doing this or I'm moving to China, Dammit!
    • I am super jealous that you can get pants hemmed in-store, in minutes.

      That's what happens when there is no such thing as minimum wage and the concept of work or starve is the norm.

      • As the other poster said, this is a service that is available in Sweeden. I feel comfortable saying that Sweeden has good working wages, relative to both the U.S. and China. I don't think it has anthing to do with the cheapness of wages in China, it has more to do with their desire to be competitive as business by providing good service. In the states, retail businesses are staffed by undertrained, underpaid employees, and service and personal attention seems not to be a priority.
    • Re:Pants Hemming (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zerbey ( 15536 ) *
      They used too, ask your Parents and Grandparents. It was stopped, like many other services. Remember when you didn't have to get out of your car to get the tank filled (*I'm assuming you don't live in a state where it's illegal to fill your own tank, such as New Jersey*), a nice attendant did it for you. In the better petrol stations he washed your windows and checked your oil as well. This still happened when I was a kid, and I'm only 26. I'd happily pay extra for this convenience. [1]

      These excellent
  • "Beware ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:50AM (#10724927)
    ...of the Yellow Dragon when it awakens" -Napoleon

    I'd think it's time to say: "Good Morning, Yellow Dragon" :-)
  • by cswiii ( 11061 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:50AM (#10724931)
    Are they seeing the same ones that I saw when I was there? [wiw.org] ;).
    • Wow, that is strange. What were people doing at that light, stopping or going?
    • by The Wookie ( 31006 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:34PM (#10725536)
      That would explain the driver's manual that says "The green and red light to be going and stopping when lighted."
    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday November 04, 2004 @03:15PM (#10727495)
      Well, I'm sure the reason for this is they have a more advanced system that ourselves - currently lots of people run red lights in the US. But, when is it safe to do so?

      Enter the Red-Red/Red-Green light. Now the light just stays red all the time, since you're going to run it anyway - but the green light tells you when it's safe to run, and the second red tells you when it's safe to stop!

      Taking away the yellow makes it a simple state transition that reduces incidences of people speeding up for a light. And both directions change instantly, making it far more efficient as you never have an awkward moment when cars are not going through an intersection.

      Yes sir, that is is traffic light of the future.
  • Superior? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ralejs ( 779782 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:51AM (#10724940) Homepage
    I was a bit disappointed with these ten points. I live in Sweden and compared to our standards this list isn't that impressive. Our mobilephones work everywhere and they cost you 10 cents to buy (honestly!). We have computer seating maps in the theaters and movie theaters. And parking signs contain the number of free spaces.
    Sure, we don't have everything on the list though. I'd love to have those intelligent stop lights for instance.
    I guess the bottom line is that Canada is pretty far behind.
    • by Indy Media Watch ( 823624 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:04PM (#10725091) Homepage
      Sad.

      You live in Sweden and have been too busy playing with gadgets to notice hot blondes everywhere
      • by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @03:54PM (#10727945)
        You live in Sweden and have been too busy playing with gadgets to notice hot blondes everywhere

        I am an American student, fluent enough in Swedish, working on a degree in Sweden. I can tell you as an insider that they are neither hot nor blonde--anymore. Those women went extinct in the Eighties. Right now, they are my professors and bosses--not my peers. A list of grievences:

        1. Your typical Swedish girl is now fairly pudgy. Yeah, American girls are usually fatter (Swedes will usually counter with that statement when you start ranting about their women), but if one is comparing ones country's women to ours, then there must be a problem.
        2. They use rediculous amounts of make-up. If they do eventually get fatter than American women, I will be studying in a country of Mimi Bobecks. And it's not just the quantity--it's how they use it. Even if they used a 1/20 as much, they would still look like Cirque de Soulei. Make Sweden beautiful: Shoot a make-up counter clerk.
        3. Clothes. I am no fashion mongol, but I am morally appauled at how bad these people dress. They look like they have resurrected all the bad things of the 80's and put them on a 70's disco dance floor.
          100% dead-serious: At our student union building, we have an annual Bad Taste Party, where one dresses in bad taste, naturally. I could not tell--I honesty sat through a half-hour of our pre-party without noticing that was the theme.
        4. Attitude. Even before you speak, whatever the context, they are impatiently waiting for you to finish. They know that they are a well-known brand-name commodity (all name, no commodity) and act like it, too.
        5. Culture. Sweden is a progressive society--it's been that way for a very long time. As such, feminists have had a lot of success here. Economic equality, paternal leave laws, men pushing carriges nearly as often as women, and gaudy machismo is at an alltime low. Now the women are terrified to find that they got what they wished for and that they might have to have sex with men who not only possess an egalitarian outlook but *GASP* possibly make less money than them. While the money thing is a loss, they have fixed the other half of their problems by all learning Italian and going south fishing for boorish senoritos. Leaving the men of Sweden with an awful lot of Southeast Asian and Eastern European wives.


        In conclusion, if you are coming to Sweden to have good-looking lovers, only do so if you are a gay man--you'll save yourself a lot of disappointment.
  • Cool stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:53AM (#10724961)
    They have some cool ideas in China. The Styrofoam in the super markets might not work in the US because people might find it unsanitary. I like the traffic light idea and I've always thought about the system of identifying free parking spots every time I'm hunting for one in a large, crowded lot.

    However, some of these seem great because they didn't have to replace old technology. They mentioned how landlines were never popular, so they went from no phones straight to cell phones. The US had to piggy back the new system on the old system.

    So in 20 years, will they still be cutting edge, or will they be surpassed by other countries that either are just technologically developing or have been developed for a while and are "upgrading".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... you'll still be hungry again in half an hour! (Trolling off-topic, I know -- but it was worth it.)
  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:55AM (#10724986) Journal
    Another topic where half the posts will be comments that contain nothing but jingoism and nationalist comments rather than examine China's genuine potential for growth.

    Remember people, this is the world's biggest nation (by population), with the real potential to be the world's biggest manufacturer and the world's biggest marketplace. And, remember, that that potential is starting to be realised: China already has a import surplus of billions with most Western countries, including the US, and China is now starting to become a real consumer culture in its own right.

    They may have given everyone else a head-start but then so did Japan and Germany post-WWII, and look at how powerful their economies have become.
  • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @11:59AM (#10725035) Homepage
    it is superior use of existing technology and better organization. Sadly we're far behind in many aspects. Hopefully we can catch up.
  • that some of these 'technologies' are interesting, I just wonder what effect hindsight had on the improvement of some of them.

    For instance, the traffic light is new. However, there version could be viewed as an improvement. BUT, they had something to build on. I'm sure that in other countries, different and better (than what those countries currently use) traffic lights have been invented. But, there is a standard already in place - one that must be changed slowly due to it's nature.

    This is not to s

  • Let's not forget (Score:5, Informative)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:06PM (#10725119) Homepage Journal

    You can't drink the water from the tap

    Hocking loogies in public seems to be a national pastime

    Air pollution so bad that on some days it looks foggy

    Diseases like malaria and dengue fever (more a 3rd world than 1st world problem)

    China may have cool tech, but the basic infrastructure sucks.

  • by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:06PM (#10725122) Journal
    Everyone commenting seems to be all hyped up at the technology. Remember, China's one of the poorest, most overpopulated countries on this Earth in per capita terms. The elite, Party members, and other favored citizens may have access to all this wonderful stuff, but with an average GDP per capita below 5000 USD (as compared to about 38000 USD in the US) the vast majority -- if not most -- of the country has no access to any of the "technology" mentioned.
    • by bhv ( 178640 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:23PM (#10726232)
      You gotta be kidding right? Who do you think owns a good chunk of the US debt? China is fast becomming the next world military superpower, Little articles like this show they have the inclination. In fact they may well be already. We are just to stupid to see it.

      Look at the big picture. Large country, large population, technical savy, individually not wealthy but as a country very wealthy, and most importantly very secretive. Not much news gets in our out that they that the gov. doesn't control. Even internet access is managed.

      They could kick a little US ass without blinking an eye. They could lose an entire US population worth of soldiers and still come out smiling.

      Look at the N. Korea issue. US didn't have to deal with it, just nicely asked China to speak with them. After some humming and hawing China sends over a low level Gov. official and N. Korea goes quiet. Like the freakin mofia.

      Scares the crap outa me when I think about it to hard. I have to stop now.

      lalala.....flowers and trees....lalala.....
      • Forget that.

        To end the Cold War, the US didn't duke it out with the USSR using weapons - we spent them into the ground. Even at that, with the deficits involved, we darned near spent ourselves into the ground, at the same time.

        Right now China is heavily dependent on exporting the US, and it's helping to fuel their growth. I would expect that within 10-20 years their own economy and consumer base will be sufficiently developed that they won't need us, any more. I've already heard (unsubstantiated) that Chi
    • I love it when people post things that clearly indicate that they have never been to the place in question and experienced it for themselves, but feel compelled to express a cliched opinion.

      I've been there, and not just to the big tourist-friendly places like Beijing, but to the interior as well. Everywhere you look you see forward progress, even in the rural areas. Many of the things the article mentions aren't just for the party elite, they're widespread. Sure, it's a centralized Communist government, bu

  • Great...but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    We have most of that, with the exception of the stoplights with countdowns.
    Most large theatres today, whether live or movie, offer online and in person sales with displays of seat availability.
    Most traffic lights in the "almost large" cities that are below the fold of Chicago, LA, and NY, have timers on the crosswalks that effectivily give you the countdowns to a red or green light.
    Tailors (which doesn't exactly count as tech, unless it's 1750) are available at just about every large, expensive retailer at
  • It had to be said. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:10PM (#10725181) Homepage
    I'll take my basic freedoms and liberty any day over technology.

    Seriously. Don't you think there's a cost to all this? Do you really think a republic like the US could do something like this?

    The fact is -- it would be easier for us to modernize Iraq than it would be to modernize the US. Authoritarian control makes everything a ton easier for the government at the expense of the people.

    Pick your poison.
    • by Dread_ed ( 260158 )
      I agree with your comments completely, however something intriguing and a bit frightening occurred to me while reading this article.

      Imagine a society with wonderfully advanced and ubiquitously implemented technology that makes life easy, entertaining, and enjoyable. Now imagine that there are severe restrictions on personal liberty and privacy and that the society is kept viable by extreme taxation.

      Would that society be haing too much fun to decry the unfair treatment?

  • by Moken ( 780202 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:10PM (#10725182) Homepage
    I was in China earlier this summer and despite their "genius traffic lights" and cellphone coverage, you can still walk behind the internet bars and savvy shopping marts and find dirt roads, people living on other's garbage and sewage in the streets.

    The modernization of Chinese technology is less important than the quality of life of its people. In my opinion, they need to focus less on getting every single person in their country internet and more on getting every single person in their country fed and clean.
      • I was in China earlier this summer and despite their "genius traffic lights" and cellphone coverage, you can still walk behind the internet bars and savvy shopping marts and find dirt roads, people living on other's garbage and sewage in the streets.

      With the exception of dirt streets you can find all that in most American cities too. Granted the sewage in the streets is mainly from homeless people just going wherever it's convenient but it's there.

      You'll also find plenty of dirt roads (and gravel ro

  • They have parking lot displays all over. Toronto's new airport parking structure has them, they've had it in Copenhagen for a while now.
  • 10. Free hemming This doesn't count as cheap labour because only three people service an entire department store. Hm. So all a US Department store would need to do is hire 3 people (US$32,760 salary, plus FICA, etc) per location from the profit on pants....
  • No. 11 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bluprint ( 557000 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:19PM (#10725342) Homepage
    If you protest the government, they imprison you, or just gun you down on the spot, free! No more paying for Dr. Kevorkian's euthanasia services. Yeah!
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @12:33PM (#10725533) Journal
    And yet, somehow, life in the old USA goes on.
  • by code addict ( 312283 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @01:35PM (#10726401)
    I think a major issue that arises in Capitalist countries is that profit is the main (only?) motivator for most technologies. In other words, if it isn't going to sell more copies, or reap more profit it's not worth doing. Many of the items mentioned in the article would have existed long ago in other countries had it been profitable to do so. Unfortunately, modern capitalism seems to trend towards maximizes proft, and minimizing cost (for both the businesses and consumers). This means that most people will suffer incoveniences to benefit from lower prices.

    Supermarkets and other retail outlets are perfect examples of this. It's the classic service vs. price.

    Even the stop lights in the article are an example of this. Most citizens would rather have dumb traffic lights and lower taxes than smart ones and higher taxes. Unfortunately this leads to a lifestyle that is filled with minor incoveniences.

    A sad indicator of this is how surprised we are when someone gives us good service without charging us an extra fee.

  • by fupeg ( 653970 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @02:10PM (#10726805)
    Miss Wong is clearly comparing China to Canada. Her article failed to impress me with China, just made me glad I'm in Silicon Valley, not in Canada. Let's take a look at her list :
    1. Cellphones
    My cellphone works in elevators, subways, and parking garages too. The no cell phones in hospitals is a safety issue, not an issue of technology. And doctors here break the rule all the time, too. The docotor who delivered my son got a call from his wife (she was going to Taco Bell and wanted to know if he wanted anything) right in the middle of delivery.
    2. Informative stop lights
    As others have alrady pointed out, this is not the safest thing to do for cars. Most crosswalks where I live do the same thing, except they actually count down the number of seconds (how novel.)
    3. Transit debit cards
    This is a trivial (though very convenient) "innovation." It's really a product of government. When you have a centralized government that controls everything, you can standardize everything. When you have more freedoms, then different municipalities will do things differently.
    4. Adult playgrounds
    This is just another product of socialization, and has nothing to do with technologies.
    5. Anti-theft slipcovers
    A useful innovation when you have problems with crime.
    6. Daily banking
    My bank is open six days a week. If people demanded it be open seven, it would be open seven so that it could do more business and make more money. This has nothing to do with technology, and is simply an example of free people choosing how businesses operate via a free market vs. a government mandating how businesses operate.
    7. Wireless service bells
    This has little to do with technology and is much more a cultural issues. This would NOT be desirable at most upscale resteraunts in the west, where good service is expected and rewarded. Now it might be desireable at low-end resteraunts, but in the west, you get what you pay for.
    8. Parking data
    This is interesting. Do you really need to know how many empty spots there are? Isn't it really just a boolean, i.e. there is at least one empty spot or there are no empty spots? Any paid parking lot is going to keep track of this, and is also going to advertise so that you can find it. So I guess this is talking about free lots. Again it's a function of a free market vs. socialism.
    9. Computer seating maps
    When I buy tickets to a SF Giants game, I have this exact kind of technology. I don't have this for movies, but movie theaters here are not assigned seating.
    10. Free hemming
    Again, not technology, but cultural.
  • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwin@a m i r a n . us> on Thursday November 04, 2004 @02:38PM (#10727094) Homepage Journal
    To list the things that you find in the U.S. v. China, or in Europe v. China, that I find superior in U.S., or Europe, or Japan, or wherever?

    But those are First World countries! They should be superior in EVERY WAY!

    Nonsense. This First World/Third World delineation is extremely rough, at best.

    China is a rapidly developing country. While there are factors which still relegate it status to 'third' world, they have come a long way, and will make it to first world soon.

    The thing is, you don't always get optimum deployment of technology in a wealthier society, and this has little to do with the economic system (Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Anythingism).

    In a nutshell: The economic system determines who has the power to allocate wealth/resources.

    Then, this decision maker decides how much of societies resources should be spent on what developments.

    If 'smart' stoplights are not a high priority, even if 'dumb' ones are an annoyance, you won't get them, period. Even in Utopia.

    In China, government decision makers simply implemenent whatever policy they feel is appropriate.

    In the U.S., popular demand determines the allocation of wealth and resources. Don't think that I am naive enough to not realize that large companies&governments are capable of influencing this demand. Still, by deciding how much you are willing to pay for a certain service, or expressing your political preference by voting, you contribute to averaged indicators that establish this allocation.

    In the U.S., people are willing to spend less of the adjusted per capita wealth on cell phones than are people living in Europe, or Japan.

    As such, our cell service is crappier. Sure, there are geeks like you (slashdot reader) & me who want better service. But the Jane Doe's of the U.S. bring the average down.

    The same thing probably happens with regards to Jane Doe's preferences. I might not be interested in what she wants, and as such, I bring the average allocation down with regards to her preferences.

    You see clear, similar trends with regards to broadband service. Price is simply more important that quality of service/performance, and as such, as a society we allocate less towards our Broadband, and we have crappier service.

    Now that you are conceptualizing resource allocation as I have described, the effects of government become clearer.

    In much of the rest of the world, governments have 'kickstarted' demand by providing for an initial investments in broadband, cell service, and other 'public' goods.

    You get better service, but the costs involved in the government 'kickstarting' necessairly come from somewhere else.

    This government influence necessairly introduces economic inefficeny.

    Not that that is always bad, mind you. I certainly accept that economic inefficency is necessary such that our resource allocation is not totally mindless/mob oriented.

    But we need to consider that it is a spectrum. Somewhere between total government control of everything economic allocation, and total free market laissez faire absurditiy, is the world where I want to live.

    Wow. This has been rather long winded. In sum, and in short, all I'm really trying to say is that a certain country not having, or having, various technology improvements does not mean that country is doing worse, or better, than other nations. Specific aspects of resource allocation are not a good way to summarize notions of wealth.

    They are more important indicators. Not that the U.S. is doing particularly well in these other indicators. But we aren't doing so badly, and I feel that discussions of these indicators are far more important that discussions of anti-theft slip covers, or smart traffic lights.

    Just my 20000000 cents.
  • The Caveat (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hershmire ( 41460 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @03:51PM (#10727898) Homepage
    How good is cell phone reception inside a political prison?
  • by Cleetus Freem ( 633000 ) on Thursday November 04, 2004 @05:29PM (#10729133)

    Very few Americans know much at all about China.

    People THINK they do but to someone like me (i.e. a white guy who spends months at a time each year in China, is married to a Chinese woman, is well versed in China's history both recent and ancient and speaks Mandarin), listening to American folks discuss China is almost always very frustrating.

    The country is not nearly as oppressive as some of you seem to think. Communism is really just a WORD over there... not an ideology... not anymore. Yes the government has it's problems and for the most part are not too well liked but daily life in China (well, for city dwelling, college educated people anyway) is little different from life here. People own pets, they don't eat them, they have cars, cell phones, high speed internet, live (and thus, not so controlled by the government) news on TV, they go shopping, walk in the park, meet friends for coffee, hit the clubs on Friday and Saturday night or go see a soccer match, whatever.

    Many places in China would strike the most ardent neo-conservative as the very height of capitalism. Contrary to what one person posted you CAN talk about/criticise/make fun of the government. I have talked with so very many Chinese about their government and they are usually quite frank. No one is hiding behind their hand whispering, no one is "disappeared". Last time I was there (May-August 2004) there were even some fairly large labor protests in a nortern city. Protests that were not crushed, put down, blocked. We just don't hear about this sort of stuff in the states. Viewed objectively (my wife, a professor of communications, has done much research in the area of media coverage between China and the USA), our government's opinions regarding China, the average citizens beliefs on China and the stories we get about China from our media leave us with a general impression that is, quite simply, wrong and negatively biased.Statistically about equal to the bias you would find in the Chinese press about the USA.

    Technologically, China IS rapidly pulling ahead of the U.S.A. in many areas (cell phone technology and IT in particular) and China has it's "Microsofts" waiting in the wings eyeing the world market (the Lenovo Group [hoovers.com] (formerly known as Legend Group) in particular). Bottom line is, most Americans don't know enough about China to make any sort of accurate commentary regarding it. Yes there are many problems in China and with it's government but it is much closer to life here (once again, in the cities, not the countryside) than you probably think.

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