use value vs. exchange value
September 1, 2012 12:12 AM   Subscribe

What Is Value? What Is Money? (via via)
What is value about? and how do we measure value? Traditionally, the way of measuring value has been not been through measures of value, but actually through measures of appropriation: measures of the amount of money that you can appropriate through that business, not the value that it generates in society. We're starting to see this difference.
Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data
With Big Data we can now begin to actually look at the details of social interaction and how those play out, and are no longer limited to averages like market indices or election results. This is an astounding change. The ability to see the details of the market, of political revolutions, and to be able to predict and control them is definitely a case of Promethean fire -- it could be used for good or for ill, and so Big Data brings us to interesting times. We're going to end up reinventing what it means to have a human society.
more on 'data science'
-No, Really, Some of My Best Friends Are Data Scientists
-Data Science: The Problem Isn't Statisticians, It's Too Many Poseurs

more on 'big data'
-Moving from Big Data to Smart Data
-Top 10 categories for Big Data sources and mining technologies
-Hadoop 2.0
-Grid computing
-NSA Overview of Cloud Computing

When Central Is Essential - "economist Glen Weyl* views changes in technology as leveling the playing field between central governments and free markets"
In his famous 1945 article, "The Use of Knowledge in Society," F. A. Hayek argued that despite their inequity and inefficiency, free markets were necessary in order to allow the incorporation of information held by dispersed individuals into social decisions. No central planner could hope to collect and process all the information necessary for social decisions; only markets allowed and provided the incentives for disaggregated information processing. Yet, increasingly, information technology is leading individuals to delegate their most "private" decisions to automated processing systems... While these information systems are [currently] mostly nongovernmental, they are sufficiently centralized that it is increasingly hard to see how dispersed information poses the challenge it once did to centralized planning.
The Optimist's Case For Information Technology
Schools have poured a ton of money into ICT and tech-focused startups are circling the education sector aiming to disrupt it. Something's going to change here. IBM built a supercomputer that can win at Jeopardy which is cool but useless and now they're trying to turn it into a medical diagnostic engine. Computer-driven cars are already a real thing. Right now, price is a big barrier to adoption but if there's anything we know about ICT hardware it's that the price will fall... I don't know that doing a medical consult with your home computer and then having your prescription automatically disatched by autonomous vehicle equals a change comparable to indoor plumbing, but it's a big deal.
Two Types of Knowledge: Human Capital and Information - "Human capital is knowledge that is hard to transfer. Information is knowledge that is easy to transfer."

Desire Modification: the ultimate technology - "With humanity divided into clades by motivation and personality type, evolution would be very important." [1,2]

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*The Situation Bears Watching - "Hermann Weyl, the mathematician who was Einstein's friend, was a great uncle."
posted by kliuless (15 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yet, increasingly, information technology is leading individuals to delegate their most "private" decisions to automated processing systems... While these information systems are [currently] mostly nongovernmental, they are sufficiently centralized that it is increasingly hard to see how dispersed information poses the challenge it once did to centralized planning.

Why centralized planning? Why not decentralized planning ala Parecon?
posted by phrontist at 12:41 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


India's Planning Commission has begun incorporating scenario planning (and passing on the knowledge to East Africa, it seems, as well)
posted by infini at 1:44 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Btw, only the first link has much to do with the concept of value, I find the others are not so well connected to the topic as framed.
posted by infini at 1:49 AM on September 1, 2012


Wish in one hand and shit in the other.
See which one comes true first.
posted by hypersloth at 3:08 AM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


While these information systems are [currently] mostly nongovernmental, they are sufficiently centralized that it is increasingly hard to see how dispersed information poses the challenge it once did to centralized planning.

Information gathering is the least of centralized planning's difficulties. The real problem is combinatorial explosion. "If we set the price of wheat to X, that means the price of gas will have to be Y, which ripples over to the price of toilet paper like THAT so we need to make paper like THIS which ricochets back and means wheat has to be Z" etc.

Optimizing an economy is an NP-complete problem (he said, waving his hands) and the only known "solution" to that is distributed processing and heuristic optimization (simulated annealing, evolutionary programming, etc). Both of these properties are captured by a free market, with excesses regulated to keep it from shooting to infinity in various ways.
posted by DU at 4:31 AM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Russian equivalents of economists used to work on the problem DU has framed above. Will dig up stuff on that.
posted by infini at 5:02 AM on September 1, 2012


In order to ensure the success of the plan it was necessary to ensure that inputs from one part of the economy matched outputs from another part of the economy. Gosplan achieved this using a methodology called the system of 'material balances'. For a plan period (in detail for one year and in lesser detail for a five-year plan) Gosplan drew up a balance sheet in terms of units of material (i.e. money was not used as part of the accounting process).

The first step in the process was to assess how much steel, cement, wool cloth, etc. would be available for the next year. This calculation was based on the following formula: production minus exports plus imports plus or minus changes in stocks).

The second step was to identify where there were mismatches between levels of outputs of one material that was used as an input in another part of the economy i.e. where there were differences between supply and demand within the economy. If mismatches between supply and demand were identified then, for the one-year plan, utilization plans for a particular input material could be cut or alternatively effort was made to increase supply. For the five-year plan mismatches between supply and demand could be mitigated by modifying long terms plans to increase productive capacity.

Using this method any changes in the plan to remove mismatches between inputs and outputs would result in hundreds, even thousands, of changes to material balances. This meant that, without the aid of information technology, Gosplan could only deal with the economy in very general terms.
Wiki
posted by infini at 5:33 AM on September 1, 2012


Russian equivalents of economists

Also known as...russian economists:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassily_Leontief
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:38 AM on September 1, 2012


Russian equivalents of economists used to work on the problem DU has framed above. Will dig up stuff on that.

We had a thread about it awhile back.
posted by zabuni at 5:55 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I like the framing of the value question so explicitly through appropriation, this is really nothing new. David Graeber has an entire book on value, which discusses the same problem and connects it to the concept of values.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 6:05 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read the edge article a few days ago... I found myself wishing he would focus on a single topic more.

But all his topics are interesting. His point about use value vs exchange value is a good one and provides an useful frame for the whole rethinking GDP (nyt) debate, as well as economics in general.
posted by ropeladder at 6:14 AM on September 1, 2012


OH LOL!

Zabuni, that's the book where I read about this linear programming stuff and it was there where the case was made that the Russian specialists couldn't technically be called economists. I must have missed the thread because I was on a plane on the 30th of May.
posted by infini at 6:20 AM on September 1, 2012


Value analysis previously (from a different angle)
posted by infini at 6:22 AM on September 1, 2012


What is Value? What is Money?

I read that first link, and came up with a further question:

What is your Goddamn Point?!

Seriously, what a meandering ramble...
posted by Skeptic at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2012


Skeptic : Seriously, what a meandering ramble...

I think he had a lot of good "mini" theses in that ramble, but yeah, overall reading that made me think two things:

1) This guy has some great ideas.
2) MIT needs to seriously increase their English/Communications requirements.
posted by pla at 9:13 PM on September 1, 2012


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