Tag Archives: Technology

Is Inequality the Fault of Technology?

On May Day, and with the UK General Election just a few days away, some thoughts on the role technology plays (or could play) in making the world a better (or worse) place.

Owen Jones in his Guardian piece, Don’t Blame Rising Inequality on Technological Change (Wednesday 8th April, 2015) makes short work of dismissing the ridiculous arguments that the widening gap between rich and poor is an unavoidable product of technological advancement. As he points out …

“Professor Anthony Atkinson is a pioneer of the study of the economics of poverty and inequality. His latest work, Inequality: What can be done?, is an uncomfortable affront to our reigning triumphalists. His premise is straightforward: inequality is not unavoidable, a fact of life like the weather, but the product of conscious human behaviour. The explosion of inequality as a result of intentional policy decisions has been rather spectacular. Take the US, which became steadily more equal from the end of the second world war to the late 1970s. By 2012, the top 1% had more than doubled the share of national income they enjoyed in 1979, and now receive a fifth of gross US income.”

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“To the Finish” … and Beyond?

Can we continue to make computing devices smaller and/or faster?  Can we do this without limit?  If so, how?  What’s the next generation?

Microchip designers use a wonderful armoury of terminology, most of it (deliberately, one suspects) impenetrable to outsiders.  However, one of the – on the surface at least – least alarming, and certainly most charming, is the phrase “To the finish”.  It’s an intriguing term and behind it is the spirit of an admirable intention.  The only problem is no one really seems to know exactly what it means.

“To the finish”, in its broadest sense, is some mythological-technological future in which logic circuits have shrunk to such an extent that individual components are measured on the atomic scale.  On one level, although in nominally different research fields, this is comparable to the “intelligent dust” predictions of the most enthusiastic Internet of Things proponents. Continue reading