Home > Ape Mind, Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Economy, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology, Thoughts on Economics, Zero Sum > Legacy Institutions, Protocols and Algorithms Cannot Work Properly In The Current World

Legacy Institutions, Protocols and Algorithms Cannot Work Properly In The Current World

How many of you use computers running DOS as the operating system, use an outhouse, drive a Ford Model T, fly in propeller driven planes or not take antibiotics for bacterial infections? How many do not use the Internet, courier services, amazon.com type e-shopping, cheap airline flights, cellphones etc?

Humans tend to use the most optimal available technologies to achieve their goals. What is not commonly understood is that using newer technologies changes the option palate and possibilities thereby altering the feedback loops which were put in place during a previous era. In most cases, this will undermine and ultimately cause failure of legacy institutions, protocols and algorithms.

Let me explain..

Is traditional religion and absolute monarchy viable in countries where the population have access to the printing press and used it feely? Is it a co-incidence that parts of the world with traditional religion and monarchy (eg Saudi Arabia) still have relatively low levels of literacy and limited use of the printing press? Can widespread brutality and genocide occur in countries with widespread use of personal photography and means to convey images to the outside world? Have you been following the news lately?

In a previous era- infections such as STDs, pneumonia etc often caused significant morbidity and mortality in otherwise healthy people. Do they still do that? Doesn’t the availability of good sewage disposal, water treatment and food inspection systems change the ability of people to travel and live in ways not previously possible? Does not the availability of cheap air travel and reasonably priced hotels allow people to experience worlds that they only fantasized about before? Does the ability to use your cell phone in almost any populated place in the world not change the way you perceive the world and interact with it?

Does the birth control pill, Viagra, condoms etc not change what we can do? Does online porn not change our option palates? Does google, smartphones, wordpress, facebook, twitter not change what we can find about and how we choose to use this new information?


All of our institutions from government, bureaucracy, schools, universities to media, armies, banks, security apparatus are based on assumptions that were partially true in the 1950s. They are however not designed or optimized to work in a world where the average person has abilities, resources, sources of information and community well beyond the level of what was considered feasible 50 years ago.

All systems of control, repression, legal theft and indoctrination are rooted in their legacy assumption of what was possible when they were created or evolving. You can patch the system for a while with new regulations, expansions and hope that legacy users (older people) will still play by the old rules. But what about those who grew up with newer technology and attendant possibilities beyond what the previous generation dreamed of?

Will they still play by the old rules? Look around you.. do you see younger people restricting themselves to the thought patterns and possibilities of their parents?

In a way, this intergenerational drift started with the industrial revolution and has been growing ever since the early 1800s. Institutions to govern people are always reactive and legacy user based with a limited ability to modernize. They cannot handle non-linear transformations or even linear ones with high rates of change.

The type of democracy found in most western countries was feasible until the 1980s. It depended on ignorance based chauvinism, racism, information isolation, lack of serious external economic competition, archaic rules, media control and the inability of people to easily connect beyond their local circle of acquaintances. It also depended on continuous increase in living standards to pacify dissent and isolate heretics.

To put it another way- the assumptions the current form of western democracy is still based on are gone and the legacy user base is getting older and more irrelevant/ vulnerable. It appears that an upgrade with a newer and more relevant version of democracy will be necessary to avoid hardware failure.

Will write more in future posts.


  1. Matt
    March 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    In the long run, conservatives always lose.
    In the short run, liberals usually lose.

    Some changes are always the right answer down the road, the question is: which ones?

  2. March 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Same point was made by Alvin Toffler 20-30 years ago…

    Yes, but at that time the old system still had enough inertia and adherents to prevail. Remember that Netscape 1.0 came in 1994, AOL instant messenger in 1997-1997, Google in 1997, cheap and ubiquitous cell phones with cameras came about in the early 2000s.

    Today a new and very usable laptop can be had for less than 400$.

    • March 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Well, it is only a measure of acceleration of change. The general trend was obvious back then.

      True.. but we are now seeing the beginning of fruition for those ideas.

  3. March 6, 2011 at 1:00 am

    True.. but we are now seeing the beginning of fruition for those ideas.

    Especially now, in Middle East, where Facebook, combined with global satellite TV networks is fueling unrest and revolutions.

  1. March 22, 2011 at 10:14 am
  2. May 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm
  3. October 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

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