Re: Near-Term Scenarios

Mark Crosby (
Mon, 11 May 1998 07:13:17 -0700 (PDT)

> Computer Technology (Processing, Interface,
Software, Networks):

These will disappear ... swallowed by The Wall (AKA
TV) ... ubiquitous ... only a few AI techs will
recall the quaint terms "megabyte" and "megahertz".

> Communication Technology:

>From a BLS news summary of April 16, 1998: "In its
first major study of the economic effect of the
Internet, the Commerce Department says that Net
traffic is doubling every 100 days, and electronic
commerce should reach $300 billion by 2002. More than
100 million people are now on line, according to the
wide-ranging report. The 'digital economy' is growing
at double the rate of the overall economy and
represents more than 8 percent of the gross domestic
product, it said."

Still, it looks like the old material economy is
still keeping a spike in the swell of the digital
economy, for a while yet ;-)

> Neuroscience/Neuromedicine/Bio-cognitive Science &

One response says "no effect on everyday life", but I
agree with others who see prospects for big advances
in slowing brain degradation in the elderly, perhaps
allowing this growing segment of the population to
continue productively contributing their vast stores
of knowledge, not to mention their well-tempered
reason (but conservative biases as well..) to the
advancement of society. Helpfully (because their
numbers will decline ;) religious Puritans will
resist these drugs & technologies.

> Genetic Science and Technology:

Weekend news: "accord gives the project enormous
genetic sequencing capacity and could trim years off
the current timetable for making a map of the human
genome". Still, it's going to take many more years to
explore the back country of this map, even with the
help of robust AI - which might even finally emerge
from this area.

> Manufacturing and Materials Science & Technology

Last week's news: Susan Warren writes about "Whatever
Happened to the Buckyball?" in the May 4th WSJ noting
how "Buckyballs [STILL] cost $11k and up per pound"
but they'd need to drop to $2.5k per pound to be
useful for pharmaceuticals, $680/lb for catalysts,
$100/lb for optical materials, and $15/lb or less for
most other materials applications.

> Business & Finance Technology and Practice:

The key economic statistic, productivity, "slowed
sharply in the 1st qtr", supposedly "a reminder that
it is still an open question whether the U.S. economy
can sustain vigorous expansion with low inflation". I
work at BLS and am convinced that these productivity
figures are pretty meaningless. Yet, the Business
Council uses these to promote slower growth, hoping
this will inspire the Fed not to raise interest
rates. Here we see that quaint notions and political
pressure from entrenched rate-sensitive industries
are conspiring to keep us saddled with slow-growth,
status-quo macroeconomic policies.

Also, today's WSJ "Outlook" column deals with "Fixing
[the] Tower of Babel In Global Accounting", something
essential so that corporations can list on any stock
market world-wide and open the global economy to
investors everywhere. However, count on things going
slowly here because "they create thorny political and
regulatory problems" for the Nanny-State.

>From another front-page WSJ article today, headlined
"Growing Up": "The emphasis on mergers is as much a
reflection of the stock market these days as it is of
the telecomm industry: What junk bonds were to the
takeover-crazed 1980s, muscle-bound stock deals are
to the merger mania of the late 1990s".

Meanwhile, 737s are being grounded to check for
wiring problems - time for a nap in the terminal...

Mark Crosby

"And the seasons, they go round and round, and the
painted ponies go up and down, we're captured on a
carousel of time. We can't return, we can only look
behind from where we've been, and go round and round
and round in the circle game" - Old Popular Song
(that, unfortunately, keeps repeating in my mind this

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