Divergence

The simplicity of this story has to make it appealing:

If you want to understand income inequality, you have to be willing to look at the bigger picture of what happened to wages after the introduction of mass-produced computer technology in the mid-1970s.

productivity

Various versions of this graph can be found all over the Internet and economists agree on the fundamental soundness of the underlying data. The graph basically shows that wages parted company from productivity in the 1970s. The epochal event that transformed economic reality in the mid-1970s was the introduction of mass-produced microprocessor technology, first in pocket calculators, then in affordable computers.

(Those confounding factors though …)

Precious Wisdom

Algorithmic market-making among book resellers can get seriously weird:

A few weeks ago a postdoc in my lab logged on to Amazon to buy the lab an extra copy of Peter Lawrence’s The Making of a Fly – a classic work in developmental biology that we – and most other Drosophila developmental biologists – consult regularly. The book, published in 1992, is out of print. But Amazon listed 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and 2 new from $1,730,045.91 (+$3.99 shipping). … Amazingly, when I reloaded the page the next day, both priced had gone UP! Each was now nearly $2.8 million. And whereas previously the prices were $400,000 apart, they were now within $5,000 of each other. Now I was intrigued, and I started to follow the page incessantly. By the end of the day the higher priced copy had gone up again. This time to $3,536,675.57. And now a pattern was emerging. …

(Eisen works out what’s going on.)

Money Machine

The first Bitcoin Computer is released:

The 21 Bitcoin Computer, which goes on sale Monday, is a small, bare bones, Linux-based piece of hardware in which the bitcoin protocol is a feature of the operating system. Any products or services built with it – games or music or any online content – would have bitcoin built in as a component. … The computer’s operating system will include a full copy of bitcoin’s code and related software that will allow developers to make bitcoin a core feature of the products they build. It also uses a chip 21 unveiled earlier this year that is linked to 21’s mining pool and provide a steady stream of bitcoin for the user. […] With this computer, 21 CEO Balaji Srinivasan explained, users can build a service or site in which conceivably every page view can be monetized. “The utility of bitcoin up until this point has been the speculation value,” Mr. Srinivasan said. “We have a new, pretty strong use case for bitcoin.”

(Detailed UF commentary: Awesome.)

Crypto-Security

Conceived as computational hardware, the scale of the universe sheds awesomeness fast:

The entire visible universe since the big bang is capable of having performed 10^122 operations and of storing 10^92 bits. While these are large numbers, they are still quite finite. 10^122 is roughly 2^406, so the entire universe used as a massive quantum computer is still not capable of searching through all combinations of 500 bits.
This limitation is good news for our ability to design infrastructure today that will still constrain future superintelligences. Cryptographic systems that require brute force searching for a 500 bit key will remain secure even in the face of the most powerful superintelligence. In Base64, the following key:
kdlIW5Ljlspn/zV4DIlsw3Kasdjh0kdfuKR4+Q3KofOr83LfLJ8Eidie83ldhgLEe0GlsiwcdO90SknlLsDd
would stymie the entire universe doing a brute force search.

Quick links (#32)

Shenzhen rises. Global Shanzhai. A giant (but mediocre) FT special report on Shanghai.

Anomie in Japan. A deadly nap in North Korea. Hersh swears by his story.

Complexity economics (plus). What is money? Non-economics.

Singularity — don’t hold your breath. A step towards brain mapping. Accelerated genomics. Crypto-frenzy and schizo-security. Robophobia. Retrocomputing. Social media polarization. After the cookie.

Evolutionary heresy, today. DSM-5 as OCD. Experimental music (plus, math and music).

Wark on Pasquinelli. Marxian eschatology. Weak cosmists. The ‘crawling horror’ of kludge. Refactored agency. Banana media.

Quotable (#79)

Melanie Swan on money-intelligence convergence (Capital teleology) and blockchain technologies:

Consensus mechanisms could be reinvented, moving from a proof or work or proof of stake model as are the current industry standards for cryptocurrencies, to other consensus mechanisms like proof of intelligence. This could be for higher-level blockchain thinking smartnetwork operations rather than simple transaction recording. In one way, proof of intelligence could serve as a reputational qualifier; as a proof of ability to participate. In another way, proof of intelligence could be an indication that some sort of ‘mental’ processing has taken place. For example, a new concept, idea, association, or knowledge element has had to have been generated to provide the skin-in-the-game for the consensus, to demonstrate the miner’s bonafide status in registering the transaction and receiving the Mindcoin, Ideacoin, or other system token rewards. Proof of intelligence could be used in different ways as a reputational commodity in blockchain thinking networks.