RE: REVIEW: Kurzweil talk

Billy Brown (
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 10:26:49 -0600

jeff churchill wrote:
> I haven't been following this particular thread so i don't know the
> context that was taken out of, but i have to ask... do you think that
> advances are held back regularly to increase profits? Would a certain
> technology thus be slowed in its progress towards its limiting factors?
> Would that possibly mean that capitalism is NOT the ideal way
> to achieve progress? (I've always hoped we could do better anyway.)

Well, any system is going to have to let those who pay for an invention make enough money from it to pay for the R&D - otherwise, how do they pay for the next round of research? I suspect what you are actually concerned about is companies holding up new products so they can make more money charging high prices for the old ones.

This is actually a very stupid thing for a company to do. If you have real competition, your competitors will bring out their own version of the new product and gain market share. If you don't, then you are creating a financial incentive for someone to begin competing with you (if you sell an outdated product at a high price, you make it very easy for someone new to enter the market with a better product and/or price). In any industry with significant technological progress this is a strategy which is rarely attempted, and usually has disastrous results.

The only cases I can think of where this sort of thing was done long-term are those where the government forbids competition. Even then, the monopoly usually breaks down eventually - some unrelated industry springs up that can provide the same service a different way, and for a lower price. The history of railroads, trucking, and air freight is an interesting example of this theme.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I