Thursday, August 23, 2012

Planned Obsolescence Enhanced: Planned Impenetrability

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You'll never see THIS revealed in The Annual Shareholders' Report. No Sir!

Planned obsolescence has given way to a new consumer-trapping variation on the same money-squeezing theme - I'll call it "Planned Impenetrability." Planned Impenetrability, a Lingovation sparked by my frustration with the cable modem in my house, may be defined as either 1) "The barriers imposed in the design of a device by its manufacturer which serve the principal purpose of making the device difficult to repair" or 2) "The ignorance perpetuated by manufacturers to consumers of simple ways to repair the manufacturer's devices".

Following is an article excerpt from TechRepublic's Newsletter which cites some wonderful examples of Planned Impenetrability. When you finished viewing the article, please return to this page so that the author of The Global Futurist Blog author may continue his rant.

Bill Detwiler shows you five ways manufacturers
are making our gadgets harder to fix
and gives you tips on working
around these self-repair roadblocks. Read more

In quick summation, just a few thoughts, both good an bad, about this Planned Impenetrability Issue:

1) When I first had to assemble some furniture with a specialized pentagonal wrench (as opposed to the evil hexagonal wrench), my original fears about this phenomenon truly took flight. Imagine: Without that one little tool, the whole furniture kit would have been non-constructable!

2) While this tactic does create headaches and worse for consumers, it creates opportunities for new jobs and enhances the viability and importance of existing employment.

3) While the mere idea of making something that is excruciatingly difficult to repair is unsettling, it is one very negative way of ensuring customer loyalty -- for a time -- until a new hack, workaround or product comes along -- at that point, the previously entrenched technology and the company on which it rode in, will be tossed aside with gusto and epithets.

4) I predict that this propensity will increase during the next few years in the older, larger, less dynamic industries to help them to retain some element of control over their captive consumers -- I would estimate that this propensity will continue during the next three to five years, and will peak as consumers utilize social media in order to spread the word aggressively about these programmed (i.e., deliberately designed) problems and how they might be fixed cheaply and easily without fostering any further undeserved reliance upon the large corporate and industry perpetrators.

5) In the tech sector, which is presently the most active entrepreneurially and growing the fastest in the industrialized nations (as is the basic service sector in the less-developed nations), the focus will change from complexity to simplicity, and products and service packages will be sold to either fix problems cheaply, or with designed simplicity built in.

Perhaps this will be the "Magic Jack" revolution, where the power shifts from service provider/ problem creators to service provider/ problem-solvers. I believe that the timing of this departure from the annoying trend of the present will be slightly ahead of the forecast described in item numbered 3), above and that this shift toward problem-solving as a way of capturing market share as opposed to problem-creating as a means of holding market share captive will drive the change described in item numbered 3).

The climate of increasing consumer mistrust and resentment of the monopolistic or dominant territorial service providers will not significantly impact the planned obsolesce tactic and its inculcated mentality, but that it will drive market share and responsive innovation in the general direction of solution providers and companies which are, in effect, winning market share with quality instead of ritualistically hog-tying an enslaving existing market share with brute force and dangerous, expensive dependencies.

Douglas E. Castle for The Global Futurist Blog and the Daily Burst Of Brilliance Blog

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Future Of War - And There Will Definitely Be A Big Future In It.. 4 Predictions For The Next Half Century

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War, and the obsessive urge to compete violently may be the result of some combination of hard-wired protective instincts (as in 'the best defense is a good offense'), hunter-gather deep-brained programming and societal environmental factors. There is a sad element of anti-social pragmatism to war, conquest and domination... it is far easier to take from another (by overpowering or outmaneuvering that person) than to go through the rigors of earning or creating our own.  The unspoken question has always been, "If I could steal it from somebody else instead of struggling to earn it, which would I choose, as a rational Human Being, if I could get away it, and go unpunished or unopposed.

The sense of entitlement so often associated with those who have already tasted great power and wealth (and also, just as sadly, with those who have lived on the dole or on government hand-outs for several consecutive generations) plays out like this...

"The middle class make it, and the entitled ones take it."

Philosophically, war may well be a more efficient means of satisfying some of our primitive and basic needs (as contrasted with Maslow's Heirarchy Of Needs), in that it is essentially a means of commerce (don't laugh) where you, as the conqueror, dominator, victor or racketeer simply get what you need at minimal cost, with minimal time and minimal effort. 

Children, when very young, steal toys from each other much of the time; each thinks of himself or herself as being the center of a localized universe, where instant gratification is right, and there are no other opinions or consequences to consider. Grownups embezzle, steal, defraud, rob and pillage to acquire the means to suit their needs through what are considered antisocial tactics and strategies. This is an economically driven choice.

But then, there are those who will do damage to the property and persons of others simply because of a sociopathic compulsion to inflict pain. Others love conquest and view it as a sport, or as a basic means of indisputably demonstrating superiority.

War has a long history. It dates back as far as archeological records indicate. And it has a guaranteed future. There are very few things of which a Global Futurist or a trend-spotter can be so certain. War has much more in its favor than does peace.

War provides a staging ground for testing new technology -- things like the atomic bomb, drones, poisons and pestilences;

War provides a laboratory for us to test the limits of the human body and mind -- the soldier makes a great test subject (with or without informed consent) for things like LSD, DMT, steroids, amphetamines and a host of other drugs, psychological operations and technologies that some less-than-empathetic scientists simply must "take for a spin." The Nazis did it. The Russians did it. And the Americans have done it.

But most importantly, war provides and opportunity to either stimulate a sluggish economy, distract the suspicious or disgruntled citizenry ("Let 'em worry about the war! It'll keep 'em too busy to question some of our slickery [a Lingovation] and keep 'em too busy to mount an internal rebellion."), and to make certain of us incredibly wealthy. Heck - don't you see the other, more mundane meaning in the time-honored designation "Soldier of Fortune"?

The following is an excerpt from a posting (more like a treatise) by a gentleman named Paul Mattick on The Economics Of War, published in 2010. Take a deep breath, and read it in its fullness:

Ever since Lord Keynes’ dictum that wars—like pyramid-building and earthquakes—may serve to increase wealth, it has been increasingly recognized that war and preparation for war are necessary aspects of the prevailing economy and a condition of its proper functioning. Because, in recent history, only inflation and war have resulted in full utilization of productive capacities, the question has been raised whether this association between war and full employment is an accident or a necessity. It is usually answered with the assurance that, although it is no accident, it is not a necessity, for government expenditures can lead to full employment whether they are geared to the needs of war or to the requirements of peace. With full employment as the sole goal of economic activity, even people opposed to war do not seriously object to the creation of "wealth" in the form of armaments and military installation, even though they may prefer "wealth" in the form of social welfare. Quite independent of preferences, government spending includes an always growing amount for purposes of defense. The "military wealth" of the United States is said to exceed $124 billion. This "Real and Personal Property of the Defense Department" does not include investments in atomic energy estimated at $12 1/2 billion, nor the properties of the "National Plant and Equipment Reserve," nor the supplies and equipment in overseas depots, nor the military assistance to allied and favored nations. The great bulk of the inventory consists of things that can be used up, wasted, or that will become obsolete. The Defense Department is actually a tremendous business enterprise. In 1955, for instance, it spent more than $42 billion, or about one-seventh of the national income. It was directly responsible for the employment of close to 4 1/2 million people, or about 7 percent of the national labor force. As always, so now, too, there is much talk of cutting government spending and reducing the budget deficit. This economy talk, however, does not include spending for military purposes. On this point both "savers" and "spenders" think alike. The "defense establishment," as the President made clear recently, "is an exception to the general desire of living within the amounts set by the Budget Bureau after it had cut the spending requests." Opposing all cuts and arguing for increased government spending, Truman’s former chief economist Leon H. Keyserling found it necessary to complain that "we remain content with a defense strength far below the minimum judged essential by most experts." But then, spending for defense loses its sinister implications when it is referred to as ‘‘rising cost of peace." 

Aside from the economic lure of war, as stated before, there is the in situ experimentation process which accompanies the profiteering activity. This is discussed in an article excerpted from BigThink, which I have read several times. Please take a moment to read it and let your mind run free in an imaginary futurescape of endless wars. After that preparatory exercise, please come back for several predictions about war which I would like to share with you. Really. PREDICTIONS.

DANGEROUS IDEAS [From BigThink Ideafeed]
Military Readying Mind-Reading Equipment for the Battlefield
Mind reading devices that can alert soldiers to things they've seen, but that their brains aren't yet aware of, could save lives. Some scientists worry it could also extend the theater of war.

During the next half century, there will be a great deal of wars. But they will be different in many ways than they have ever been before. As this entry is being written, the reader should bear in mind that more than 70% of the world's proclaimed and recognized sovereign nations are involved in militant hostilities, either directly or indirectly...


1) Much of nation-to-nation warfare will be conducted utilizing remote robotic technology (drones and the like), computer hacking (and cracking) to destroy key utilities, subliminal messaging through the social media, and communications blackouts or blockades (to destroy command and control, and to keep the citizens or subjects of a targeted nation from being able to communicate without physical contact. Viral propaganda and computer viruses will play major roles [front and center] in generalized full military and civilian attack strategies;

2) Ground warfare (infantry), and air warfare, both physical and logistical by their nature will utilize combined technologies incorporating: stealth; motion detection; heat signatures; infrared; encrypted radio satellite uplinks and downlinks for precise geolocation and constant communication; weaponry using advanced supersonic and subsonic psycho-emotional disruption; plasma waves, laser weapons, and localized climatic disturbance weapons and variations on the augmented railgun will be used in lieu of conventional automatic weaponry and explosive devices because of the increasing demand for A) non-nuclear weapons with high megadeath and geographical coverage potential, or, [ironically] B) because of their tactical targeted precision - each the opposite of the other, yet both complements of each other;

3) There will be sobering incidences of the use (limited to major cities and to portions of countries) of chemical and biological weapons, as well as a weaponized deployment of  swarming nanotechnology -- this last technology is analogous to a swarming of bees with a united goal, instant telepathic communications (as if of one mind), and heuristic adjustments to overcome impediments to target neutralization -- this man-made peril could have more killing potential as biological and chemical weapons;

4) Most substantial strike forces will be privatized armies (mercenary forces) with allegiance only to the multinational mega-companies which either contract with them or which own them captively as defenders and as internal company profit centers. These soldiers will be true warriors, psychologically, emotionally and physically engineered and trained for targeted destruction. There will be experiments with, and the testing of machine "enhancements" implanted into these warriors.


It promises to be a dim future for law and a bright future for order, as war becomes a privatized, incorporated enterprise, Loyalties will be tested and shifted. The geographical boundaries of many of the countries as we now know them will be altered. My prediction is for the emergence of a high-technology replay of Medieval times -- a frightening version of a science fiction writer's combination of incredible technolgies in the hands of brutes with Middle-Ages mindsets. 

I am frightened of our invariable movement in this unenlightened direction.

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