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Cloud computing and economic planning: the legacy of Allende

July 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

http://www.amazon.com/To-Cloud-Data-Turbulent-World/dp/1612056164/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A21I6SH8GPCODY: To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World: blurb at end, after Cybersyn quote.
Last and First Men covered a lot of ground, too much, important materials are lost to view: one of the few books on the effort to deal with planned economies was Toward a New Socialism, with its classic treatment of the relationship of computer power to economic calculation. This book actually made it to the notes to Chapter 2 in LFM.
But as this book shows there is a lot of other history here, and, naturally, we have heard very little about it.
How many know that Allende in Chile started a major economic research program on computer-assisted economic planning, with the American computer expert Stafford Beer (??). Eden Miller: http://web.mit.edu/sts/pubs/pdfs/MIT_STS_WorkingPaper_34_Miller.pdf
I came across this by accident looking at a book on Cloud Computing: a strong signal that there is a lot of literature here we don’t see because it is deepsixed…To say nothing of fascist coups to stop figures like Allende….WE nee a way to recover the lost literature here, which experts know about but noone else.

Also, Project Cybersyn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Cybersyn

Project Cybersyn was a Chilean project from 1971–1973 (during the government of President Salvador Allende) aimed at constructing a distributed decision support system to aid in the management of the national economy. The project consisted of four modules: an economic simulator, custom software to check factory performance, an operations room, and a national network of telex machines that were linked to one mainframe computer.[2]
Project Cybersyn was based on Viable system model theory and a neural network approach to organizational design, and featured innovative technology for its time: it included a network of telex machines (Cybernet) in state-run enterprises that would transmit and receive information with the government in Santiago. Information from the field would be fed into statistical modeling software (Cyberstride) that would monitor production indicators (such as raw material supplies or high rates of worker absenteeism) in real time, and alert the workers in the first case, and in unnormal situations also the central government, if those parameters fell outside acceptable ranges. The information would also be input into economic simulation software (CHECO, for CHilean ECOnomic simulator) that the government could use to forecast the possible outcome of economic decisions. Finally, a sophisticated operations room (Opsroom) would provide a space where managers could see relevant economic data, formulate responses to emergencies, and transmit advice and directives to enterprises and factories in alarm situations by using the telex network.

The principal architect of the system was British operations research scientist Stafford Beer, and the system embodied his notions of organisational cybernetics in industrial management. One of its main objectives was to devolve decision-making power within industrial enterprises to their workforce in order to develop self-regulation of factories.

In the wake of revelations about National Security Agency activities many of which occur in the cloud this book offers both enlightenment and a critical view. Cloud computing and big data are arguably the most significant forces in information technology today. In clear prose, To the Cloud explores where the cloud originated, what it means, and how important it is for business, government, and citizens. It describes the intense competition among cloud companies like Amazon and Google, the spread of the cloud to government agencies like the controversial NSA, and the astounding growth of entire cloud cities in China. From advertising to trade shows, the cloud and big data are furiously marketed to the world, even as dark clouds loom over environmental, privacy, and employment issues that arise from the cloud. Is the cloud the long-promised information utility that will solve many of the world s economic and social problems? Or is it just marketing hype? To the Cloud provides the first thorough analysis of the potential and the problems of a technology that may very well disrupt the world.

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