Perez: cycles, bubbles & golden ages

Carlota Perez in TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTIONS AND FINANCIAL CAPITAL: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages in a, to my mind, successful, attempt to explain Kondratiev Long Waves, creates a theory of cycles of technology and output. I find her arguments, illustrated by powerful historical example to be compelling,  I cannot understand why her theories are not more popular.

She argues that there have since the turn of the 19th Century been five technology revolutions, of motion and textiles, the original British industrial revolution, followed by railways, steel, oil & cars and latterly silicon, computers and the internet.

I came across the ideas a number of years ago and was revising an unpublished blog article which includes a piece about her book and ideas; I made the above collage and thought I’d share it now. … …

The digital economy, surplus value and monopoly

The digital economy, surplus value and monopoly

More thoughts from a seminar. It was organised by one of the North London CLPs and was advertised as a look at the Digital Economy. So what did I learn and what did I think?

On asking how transformational is the Digital Economy, I am reminded that CV 19 has shown who are essential workers and raises the question as to why they are so poorly paid and that the Digital Economy is not yet ubiquitous. Distribution is not yet virtual and will never be, although with AI driven trucks and airborne drones, a lot of jobs can still be eliminated but I am reminded of Carlota Perez’s comments that the railways created demand for more horse drawn freight miles. The other work apart from the obvious health service workers that cannot be virtualised is cleaning and security.

One thing that was not said is that the platform companies and their software benefit from massive economies of scale, and the critical scaling factor is the number of market participants i.e. the consumers and suppliers; for Air BnB, room providers and renters, for Uber, drivers and riders. While some market place creators have applied massive imagination and science to the problems of IT scalability to support their global marketplaces, the IT plant is not at the heart of the value of these market places although we need to recognize that we’ll have to pay for cycles and the power they consume.

Copyright and closed source makes the software monopolistic which is then applied to the relationship with Labour, and in the case of both Air BnB & Uber non software capital is outsourced to the supplier! The value of the company is based on this market activity, not the value of capital employed and not the so-called cost of the software; the software expropriates the surplus value from the suppliers and the size of these markets acts as a further barrier to entry for competitors.

Copyright since it inhibits copying of the software, also underwrites the share value. This is important as we consider if these monopolies should be placed under common ownership. We need to recognize that copyright enables rental income on an infinitely available resource i.e. the software.

These problems are not new, it’s about how combine labour and the world’s natural resources to produce new stuff, the market is meant to optimise this and the platform companies break these economic rules, but fortunately we know how to regulate monopolies.

There is a need for some new thinking about the value of software and how markets might ensure optimal resource allocation but today the basic facts are that software copyrights enable the expropriation of surplus value and establish a rental income yielding super-profits, super-profits funded by the consumers.

The relationship between these marketplace platform companies[1] and their suppliers is exploitative, copyright laws add to the barriers to entry. Their practices are contrary to decent behaviour and the monopolistic nature of the enterprise, together with the subversion of the capital markets undermines their economic justification.

That’s the problem for socialists


[1] Banks are platform companies. …

Automating the professionals

Automating the professionals

I attended a seminar the other day which raised some questions in my mind about the next and prior waves of automation, the location of value creation and the legal/social barriers to adoption. Much is spoken of the use of artificial intelligence to augment or replace professional workers and this note briefly looks at this. It examines the nature of decisions and the need to transparently serve a human rights agenda, the question of regulation and assessment by one’s peers, and why it’s so hard to organise Trade Unions amongst the software authors. …

It’s cold outside

It’s cold outside

Carlotta Perez argues that Kondratiev Long Waves have an internal shape. One of the trends is the rollout of the driving technology from the core to the periphery and this takes place in the maturity phase as profitability of the once new technology declines. Another important event is the next eruption and where that takes place. Between the Steel & Oil phases, the world’s core moved from England, the economic and political epicentre of the British Empire to the USA and we should remember that this role was contended for by both Germany and the Soviet Union. It’s moved once, it can move again but it’s most unlikely to come back to England. I wonder what being part of the periphery will be like. I suppose it depends upon where the core is. Will it remain in the USA or move, to China or even the EU. The key will be the dynamism of the innovation economy; it looks like, due to Brexit, the UK’s Universities will decline and that much of aerospace and biosciences will leave the UK. Otherwise the UK & US industries may be defended by the ubiquity of English, but the EU has had 40 years of using it as their language of commerce and to a great extent the language of government.

I can’t see it clearly, but the corruption and financialisation of the anglosphere economies are stymieing innovation and inhibiting “creative destruction”; there is opportunity for other national economies to do better. It would also seem that Perez’s predicted regulatory correction is nostalgic this time, looking back to times when things seemed better, or defending old out dated business models. We  cannot recreate the industries of the steel revolution.

It’s unlikely to be pleasant, especially if the UK moves from being a 2nd tier economy to peripheral one. …

Regulation

I have been a fan of Carlotta Perez’s work since reading her book; her account of five phases of capitalism with dominant technologies and morphing socio/political structures seems to explain so much. I have just started Mitchell & Fazi’s “Reclaiming the State”, and in their pursuit of why the State was lost, they talk about the “regulation theory school”  which  states that capitalism co-exists with other oppressive forces and that, in their words, capitalism “develops across its history through a series of discontinuous stages”. They see Michael Aglietta as its first proponent, and it would seem that the word Regulation comes from his 1979 paper, “A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The US Experience”. (Why did we not do this stuff at University?) More to read! …

At Orgcon 17

I am just back from orgcon17, and here are my notes; this was a two day conference, with many sessions on issues of concern to digital liberty campaigners on regulation of the use personal data. It took place over two days, consisting of lectures & panels and workshops. On the first day, at Friends House, where we had the use of the amazing central meeting room it looked at the coming legislation on investigatory powers, the use of the law to make political advances (it’s slow & uncertain), an interview with Caroline Criada Perez, the campaigner who got the first woman on British bank notes and a women’s statue in Parliament Sq.. It looked at e-voting systems in Taiwan where the government used a consensus building software product to engage the population in traffic management solutions design. Jamie Bartlett spoke about privacy vs. security. There was a session on Digital Liberty & regulation in Nigeria. There was also a session on the privacy vulnerability to the coming “age verification for porn users” regulations. Much of these lectures are available on the ORG’s Video channel.

The second day consisted mainly of workshops focused on campaigning. There was a workshop that reviewed the technical architecture of the investigatory powers bill (as they then were i.e. the architecture and legislative stage). There was a workshop in using the Freedom of Information Laws to enhance campaigning, and also about the likely campaigning tools to be offered by the coming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) i.e. enhanced subject access requests, the right to be forgotten, of remediation and to object and stop processing.

There were sessions on building local Open Rights Group groups, how to perform IT security effectively for campaigners and a review of the ORG’s Blocked tool.

I chaired a session on building a Charter of Digital Rights, with Richard Barbrook and Mara Leverkuhn. Richard announced his initiative to put some more detail behind the Jeremy Corbyn’s Digital Manifesto which they created to support his 2016 Leadership Campaign. I documented/advertised this session on my blog https://davelevy.info/digital-liberties/

ooOOOoo

The relevance of this conference to CISSP certification is in the Regulation & Compliance domain. One of the critical to IT organisations is failing to keep up with laws and regulations. The ORG focuses on the law as it relates to privacy, censorship & intellectual property. Businesses need to keep these laws in mind when designing their risk taxonomy and control catalogue.

This was written in Oct 2018, nearly 12 months after the event; I did it to claim CISSP CPD Credits. I have as normal, for me, in these circumstances backdated the article to the time of occurrence. …

The next evolution of capitalism

The next evolution of capitalism

How much is Capitalism changing due to the silicon revolution in the means of production. A bunch of books, articles and reviews have been released over the last few months considering the short and long term future of the techno-economy. We are on the cusp of Silicon Revolution’s “Golden Age”, when the people rein in the excesses of the capital market’s hypergrowth excesses. This story was originally created in the Summer of 2015, my hope was to read both “Post Capitalism” and “The 2nd Machine Age” and write a blog on my views as to the nature of the changes coming; but life got in the way. …

Commoditisation killed Sun Microsystems

Commoditisation killed Sun Microsystems

Eric Raymond,  wrote a short article on his blog, “Commoditization, not open source, killed Sun Microsystems”, which I commented on. This blog article says a little bit more than I felt I had room for on someone else’s blog, and I probably abused his hospitality there. I have thought long and hard about this, because I worked there and thought it i.e. the company was worth saving. Here’s what I said on Eric’s blog, and a bit more.  I start by saying that the first thing about Sun’s failure is that it all depends on where you want to start; Sun’s failure was baked in long before the 2000 fall from profit.  …

Don’t (British) girls want to code?

Don’t (British) girls want to code?

Among the debates about the UK’s futures is how to ensure that there are enough high wage jobs and skilled labour to perform them for our future. The need for effectively skilled people today & tomorrow requires a clear education and skills supply policy. Furthermore there is a lack of clarity as to where these jobs might come from, with some arguing that we need to ‘rebalance’ the economy, usually away from the financial services industry, others that we need stronger copyright laws in order to allow our ‘creative’ industries to grow. Carlotta Perez and her acolytes, with others suggest that the IT revolution is not over and that it and its multiplier effects are the source of future work and wealth. …

Hyperloop and Hope

Hyperloop and Hope

In California, they have been planning a San Francisco – Los Angeles bullet train. This was brought to my attention by a story by Molly Woods at CNET, which points at an alternative, the Hyperloop.

For some reason the politics of developing infrastructure in the USA is tortured and this project is no exception. It has the economic and environmental objections which we have all begun to get to grips with as the national debate about HS2 begins to take off. In California this debate is exacerbated by the US’s unhinged dislike of government and taxes. …