Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WikiLeaks and Informatics

French version

WikiLeaks causes two diametrically opposed reactions: for some it is a criminal enterprise that puts democracy at risk. For others, there is nothing new in the documents that WikiLeaks publishes. But if these opinions are both negative, they clearly contradict each other: how could WikiLeaks put democracy at risk if it publishes nothing new? Those who express both critics are ridiculous.

Sarah Palin thinks Julian Assange is as dangerous as Osama bin Laden. Rush Limbaugh says that “back in the old days when men were men (…) this guy would die of lead poisoning from a bullet in the brain”. Joe Lieberman told reporters of The New York Times, who publish comments on the news published by WikiLeaks, are bad citizens. Newt Gingrich thinks Assange engaged in a military attack against the United States.

In France, Nicolas Sarkozy says that WikiLeaks provides "the highest degree of irresponsibility". The Minister Eric Besson believes that it "endangers the diplomatic relations". The Prime Minister Francois Fillon accuses it of "theft and deal in stolen goods"...

In order to clarify this, I went on and spent a few hours reading the news that the U.S. embassy sent to the State Department.

Wikileaks holds 251,287 cables it publishes steadily since November 28, 2010. On December 20 1,788 cables were published.

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I found that this reading contradicts the two opinions mentioned above: these mails contain things that are both interesting and new, and their publication increases rather than damages the prestige of American diplomacy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Effects of Informatization on the Economic and Financial Crisis

Intervention at the Conference of the Applied Econometric Association, Ankara, October 4th, 2010

Click here for a pdf text of this intervention (149 KB, with graphics))

The contemporaneous technical system

To understand the effects of informatization, it is useful to refer to the theory of technical systems. A "technical system" is taking place when a small number of techniques come in synergy, their alloy releasing a previously unknown effectiveness. This was the case with industrialization, which was build from the eighteenth century on the synergy between mechanics and chemistry, to which were added electricity and oil at the end of the nineteenth century.

Computerization relies on the synergy between microelectronics and software, to whom network was added in 1975: this synergy allowed the emergence of a contemporary technological system (CTS). The computer, which was previously devoted mainly to calculation, became - with word processing, spreadsheet, grapher, messaging and file sharing, then the Internet and the Web - a universal instrument that brought the assistance of the automaton to personal work as well as communication between people.

The origin of industrialization was purely technical but it had anthropological and geopolitical consequences: it has expanded the system of wage labor and gave birth to the modern corporation, to working class and class war. It has led to rapid urbanization and rural exodus, to rapid technological change and the use of scientific research, it has prompted the deployment of the education system and health system, encouraged imperialism and colonialism, caused wars which used devastating weapons provided by the industry.

It is the quality, the power of their industry which ranked the nations : those who had not been industrialized were soon dominated or colonized by the industrialized nations.