George Dyson is a fascinating person and the grandfather of another fascinating person, Esther Dyson, who I have mentioned before on this blog.
I found Dyson’s quote featured in the (EDGE #295) as relevant for 2020 as it likely was in 1990: Our misbehavior is in failing by optimize for the right things.
While the cost of maintaining healthy humans sky rockets upward (healthcare costs), the costs of producing technology and innovation goes down.
But what good is cheap technology if we’re not able to enjoy it?
From, The Theory of Games and Economic Misbehavior:
…the current misbehavior of our economy, however much it reflects misbehavior by human individuals and institutions, is more a reflection of the behavior of self-reproducing machines and self-replicating codes.We measure our economy in money, not in things.In the age of self-reproducing automata, we can suffer a declining economy, and pandemic unemployment, while still producing as much stuff as people are able to consume. We are facing the first economic downturn to include free cell phones, more automobiles than we have room for (in many locations you can now rent a car for less than it costs to park one) and computers that cost less than a month’s health insurance yet run at billions of cycles per second for years.Why the growing imbalance between the cost of people and the cost of machines? What prices are going up the fastest? Health care is the cost of maintaining human beings. What prices are going down the fastest? The cost of information and machines. What, really, is health-care reform?Human beings are being cared for by a dysfunctional, antiquated system, and we hope that this can be reformed by adopting efficiencies from the domain of machines. Where will this lead? Are we using computers to sequence, store, and more faithfully replicate our own genetic code, or are computers optimizing our genetic code (and health) so that we can do a better job of replicating them?