Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 1

Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 1

One of the defining features of the past two decades in west has been the dominant position in public consciousness of corporations involved in manufacturing personal computer hardware (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, IoT crap, embedded electronics etc) or making them function and do stuff (‘IT’ corporations such as Google, FakeBook, MicroShaft etc). One could say that Amazon is a an ‘IT’ company which sells stuff that people used to buy in department stores. A large part of current market value of many stock indices in the west now comes from corporations who either make personal computational hardware or the software they run.

But have you ever asked yourself- has these rise of these corporations or the widespread usage of products and services sold by them actually improved the quality of life for the vast majority of people. To understand what I talking about, let us ask two more basic questions. Question #1: Would the absence of personal computing “revolution” during past twenty years have any negative effect on the quality of life or somehow constrain development of other technologies? Question #2: Has the computing “revolution” improved quality or reliability of other products and services, let alone increase the general quality of life for vast majority? As you will soon see, the answers to both questions are obvious as well as surprising.

The unpleasant fact for many geeks is that the computational ‘revolution’ of past two decades has been the most sterile and unproductive period of general technological advancement in the past two hundred years- and I do not make that claim lightly. To better understand what I am getting at, ask yourself if you can name a single non-computer product that has improved your life or is somehow associated with the modern world which would not have existed without this pseudo “revolution”. Give it a try.. can you think of any non-compter product which would not have exsited without this so-called “revolution”.

Since we have to start from somewhere- let us start with modern jet airliners? Well.. every airliner designed until the late 1990s was largely designed by competent engineers using their engineers using their experience and some combination of slide rules, desktop calculators, 8- or 16- bit desktops connected to a few clunky mainframes. The DC-9, DC-10, 737, 747 etc were designed in what was essentially pre-computer era. The A-320 was designed at very start of era where electronic computers (mostly mainframes) of any type were widely used for aircraft design. The 777 was the last aircraft designed with a combination of good engineering and primitive CAD technology. Only the 787 was designed in era of modern “computing”- and it has been the most over-budget and troubled design of them all.

And this is not just restricted to airliners. Consider space exploration and missiles. The space race between erstwhile USSR and USA occurred before the modern computing “revolution”. People went into space before even their vehicles had a single solid-state transistors, let alone a IC or CPU, within their rockets and vehicles. The flight control computer used in Apollo missions was a hand-made computer with about the same computational capability as an early Apple II, TRS-80 or Commodore PET- though it was a 16-bit machine. The Pioneer and Voyageur Probes which are the only man-made objects to visit Uranus and Neptune (albeit in a fly-by) did not have CCD cameras nor CPUs. The same is true for both Viking probes which landed on Mars in l970s as well as the Venera family of space probes that USSR successfully landed on Venus in that era. Oh.. and all those lunar probes and soviet lunar rovers too.

The vast majority of space probes launched prior to late 1990s used tube technology (or very primitive CCDs) for imaging and very basic IC circuits joined to make ersatz CPUs. And guess what.. they performed their job magnificently. But it gets even more interesting when you look at aircraft and missiles used by the military. Did you know that first ICBMs did not use solid-state electronics and it was not until the 1980s that ICBMs using Integrated Circuit Blocks for guidance became commonplace. Funny thing is that the accuracy of ICBMs has not increased by a worthwhile margin since the 1980s. Even ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) achieved almost the same accuracy and guidance capabilities as those used today with what essentially a mixture of custom ASICS along with 8- and 16- bit CPUs. The GPS system worked just fine with receivers that contained what were essentially 8- and 16- bit CPUs.

Even the state of design for nuclear weapons, which were often designed using a combination of previous experience and calculations on some of the first real “supercomputers”, has not progressed much further than it was in the mid-1980s. Remember that every single warhead in American and Russian Inventory was (at best) designed on a “super-computer” with less computational power than the original XboX game console. The same holds for design of everything from nuclear submarines, tanks, guns and missiles. To put it bluntly, even in areas where the computational “revolution” should have helped the most, things have been pretty stagnant since the 1980s- and not for the lack of money and resources thrown at the Military-Industrial complex. It is as if big and substantial technological advances haven’t occurred in these and many other fields since the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will wrap up this post. In the next ones, I will write about how the so-called computational “revolution” has not improved the quality of housing and automobiles, school and university education, transport and corporate logistics, process of drug development, everyday financial transactions and.. yes.. even popular entertainment. Even popular entertainment..

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Why are Moscow Mitches hands blue???
    October 23, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    one of my hobbies is recording music…

    software and hardware has gotten cheaper…

    however, much like websites with clunky adware there are many *problems*…

    the *dominant* company requires ilok licensing and has moved to an annoying subscription based model.

    and it often gets clunky with the newest OS updates.

    with all those problems, its easy to say set up a stable system with stuff that is 5 years behind and doesn’t need software updates. You may want to leave that computer off the net and just transfer files to another computer via a usb stick or even go old school and burn stuff onto cd’s, haha.

    and you could go even further and buy a TDM system that was maybe 15k back in the day for 2-3k and still good enough for a project studio.

    • P Ray
      October 24, 2020 at 6:39 am

      What is “ilok licensing”?

      • here ya go...
      • P Ray
        October 24, 2020 at 2:27 pm

        Oh, iLok … i thought it was ilok.

        This is where capitalisation is important.

        Just like commas, for that famous joke …

        Commas are the difference between “I helped uncle Jack off the horse” and “I helped uncle Jack, off the horse”.

      • P Ray
        October 25, 2020 at 9:37 am

        @justanobservation
        It was definitely an interesting video, I have saved it somewhere.

        I also have the manifesto, along with the Christchurch holiday video and that manifesto too.

        Sadly, I don’t have the Utoya holiday video, is that around?

      • Observing Observations want to know
        October 25, 2020 at 7:41 pm

        “@justanobservation
        It was definitely an interesting video, I have saved it somewhere.
        I also have the manifesto, along with the Christchurch holiday video and that manifesto too.
        Sadly, I don’t have the Utoya holiday video, is that around?”

        Strangely, much of the ER stuff is still around if not on youtube…

        (and wasn’t it strange how much quicker that Nasseem chick’s videos went down the memory hole even though there was little controversial about them…)

        I speculate you could find bits and pieces of ole Andy Brewick’s holiday massacre if you looked up news videos…

        If not there are gore websites that are as likely to give your computer aids as a visit to Return of Cucks (if that is still around) I’ll let you dig it up. The ole “buyers beware” adage of you will get spyware/other nasty shit on your computer goes that way.

      • doldrom
        October 26, 2020 at 9:33 pm

        What is Naseem chick story?

      • here you go doldrom
    • P Ray
      October 24, 2020 at 6:44 am

      And for the statement “recording music, software and hardware has gotten cheaper” …

      That’s only partially true.
      It got cheaper in terms of dollars.
      BUT
      It’s no longer as compatible
      AND
      The earlier software and hardware are either not made anymore, or hard to find.

      And the top of the line processors of earlier generations, are still expensive:
      1)because they aren’t made anymore
      2)it’s the best upgrade an old system board can use.

      • it is what it isn't
        October 24, 2020 at 2:16 pm

        the struggles of an amateur audio engineer trying to get an older system to work “as it should”

        https://www.gearslutz.com/board/avid-pro-tools/1262566-what-do-pro-tools-8-hd-tdm-system-2019-a.html

        Just think, I’ve probably spent almost as much cash and far more time on my hobby of audio engineering/music production as you and AD have spent on escorts. I’m a lower status male from a lower socio-economic class…

        so I must be a chump to put that much effort into something that didn’t propel me into a higher SES tier whilst you and AD spent cash on luxury goods and whinged like Democrats who still can’t get over Hillary…

      • P Ray
        October 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm

        I’m not going to dissuade you from the mental model you have made up of me in your mind.

        But, I would say you are simply very, very wrong.

        Gearslutz should have actually told you what configurations work and don’t … so you could have saved money … if you had done a bit more searching.

      • As Above, So Below...
        October 24, 2020 at 2:37 pm

        On the first point, maybe you aren’t like AD but I suspect you are a rich kid (or spent a bunch of time in school) as you don’t seem “street” at all…

        As for the second point, this is what I am literally telling you, you are on your own patching together old shit. You are on your own (though less so) using new shit. If you can build/find a stable system, better of being “obsolete” without drama. Yeah, Gearsluts shoulda told, they shoulda…

      • P Ray
        October 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

        Well … we are alike in that we qualified in STEM fields, but he’s in Chem. Eng, I’m Comp. Sci.

        Actually almost all systems ca. 2020 are unstable – because Windows 10’s internals are periodically refreshed and you don’t know which update will give you grief.

        The only proper foolproof solution that is achievable for someone still wanting to use old software and hardware is multiple systems.

        The kludges or hunt for ideal hardware that does everything is both expensive and foolish, because you may not be able to find spares to keep for emergencies.

      • P Ray
        October 24, 2020 at 2:48 pm

        Anyhow, telling me that I’m not “street” reminds me of this:

      • It is until it isn't
        October 24, 2020 at 3:50 pm

        That video is pretty funny…

        To further expand on what I meant when I said you and AD aren’t “street” is that you seem to value “logic and reason” over gut instinct. (Nice pun, eh? Logic and Reason are music software programs…)

        “The only proper foolproof solution that is achievable for someone still wanting to use old software and hardware is multiple systems.”

        Hence my statement to use an outdated but stable system and keep it off the net. Then transfer files to anther system on the net. If your “stable” system breaks down, figure out if it is something you can fix yourself ala replacing a hard drive or if it just makes sense to buy a $500 set up on eBay and move on…

      • just an observation
        October 24, 2020 at 4:06 pm

        I think you will find this funny, P Ray…

        Goofie ole Elliot Rodger had excellent (in a low budget kinda way) production on his Youtube videos. My first impression of him was that he was a Radio, Television Film major who had PA’d on a few films. He was technically competent so to speak. In contrast cucks like that faggot Richard Spencer and that migturd scammer Barbarrossa couldn’t even get the most basic audio concepts down like getting the audio levels right (or is it reich?!?!) They couldn’t even figure out how to speak into a mic, something that self taught singers usually figure out in 3 months. And Spencer’s lisp, goddamnit and fuck, couldn’t that fruit get a vocal coach or something? Unless of course that lisp was by design and it is that dogwhistle all you liberals walkabout so much…

      • P Ray
        October 25, 2020 at 3:56 am

        Actually, I value “my own logic and reason and experiments” over “my gut instincts” or “logic and reason from other people”.

        As an example, do you ever wonder why there is one glaring exception to all computer component reviews?

        Product software and OS compatibility is the one magic thing that is missing, and has been missing … for quite some time.

        That’s how I knew Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

        And after that, with some brains, money and testing, I amassed a nice little cache of time-traveling equipment for myself.

  2. Plaque Doctor is a gay timelord
    October 23, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    and another thing…

    those goddamned smart phones are more like trackers for prisoners than things that make your life better.

    Just think, even in 2008 or so, you could leave your workplace and maybe check email that evening but forget about it on your day off. Now you get texts from your employer on fucking sunday or whatever to come in on your fucking day off and don’t pretend like you didn’t get that fucking message because everyone knows you have your cellphone 8 inches away from your penis at all times except when you are texting or looking up prog ala AD…

    yeah, cellphones suck a bunch of dick…

  3. Jack Russell
    October 24, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Most electronics are not necessary. Look at Mercedes since the mid 90s, when they started putting multiple computers in their cars. Expensive and complex to repair and mostly unnecessary. Resale value points this out. VW, Audi, and BMW, and many other manufacturers are guilty of this.

    That is what Scotty Kilmer and many other mechanics say on YouTube. Funny thing is that an even steeper decline in resale value and serviceability (long with less longevity) of European luxury cars hurts their sales in North America. There is a reason why Lexus is now the biggest luxury brand and based on how neoliberalism is now starting to destroy upper-middle class, most customers for European car brands are increasingly going to buy reliable Lexuses.

    • P Ray
      October 24, 2020 at 6:46 am

      Actually those electronics are necessary so that for any repairs that need to be done, you can only go back to Mercedes.

      So the reality is, you pay more for a Mercedes … to ensure you are stuck in their ecosystem, just like Apple.

  4. The Yekke
    October 24, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    I wouldn’t care about missile tech and terminal guidance systems for ICBMs – the math and physics were tested experimentally decades ago

  5. The Yekke
    October 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    What has become measurably cheaper is access to massive amounts of automatically configurable compute space. I have built out with my own hands multiple data centers spending millions of dollars and opening (and crushing)thousands of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. I can with the flick of my wrist do the same, and tear it all down with another flick.

    What is turning into a contest are the handling of massive datasets on everything from weather data collection to our porn habits. Just as we cannot drink a gallon of whiskey in one gulp, we have only limited capacity to understand multi- dimensional data.

  6. Tootin' Toobin
    October 25, 2020 at 10:58 am

  7. AD's spam filter is as loose as richard spencer's rectum
    October 25, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    AD, you filthy cuck, I am now writing insightful comments with links to interesting youtube videos *as requested* and still going down the memory hole…

    most regrettable is the loss in response to P Rays cogent commentary….

  8. decay
    October 26, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    The majority of my non-PC and non-smartphone appliances and tools were available when I was growing up in the 80s, and have not improved significantly, namely because most of them have reached a point of maturity and optimal design. Adding additional complexity would just make them easier to break and harder to repair. (Consider a broom, a millennia old technology, vs the modern vacuum cleaner. The former is inexpensive and sturdy, whereas the latter is expensive, fragile, wasteful and a pain in the ass to use.)

    Exceptions:

    LEDs. I never have to swap them out.

    Mountain bike. Mountain bike design has improved dramatically in the past decade, imitating motocross bikes in many ways, but the tech is still mechanical and hydraulic. I’m sure CAD design applications were used to design these bikes, but probably weren’t necessary. These bikes aren’t more complex than motorized vehicles built in the 60s.

    Snowboard. Snowboards weren’t popularized until the 90s, but the concept isn’t any more complex than skis. Snowboard design and materials tech have been improved in the past few decades, but it remains a far simpler technology than motor vehicles produced in the 60s.

    Bidet attachment. Not new tech – just not widespread in the U.S. until recently, when a number of Americans finally decided that having a clean butthole is important. Mine contains electronic components that control for various various settings, but these are unnecessary bells and whistles that I could do without. The foundation of the technology is hydraulic, no more complex than a shower, and in hindsight, I’d prefer one with a mechanical lever and no electronics. It would last far longer than my electronic model likely will.

    Many people who work in IT, myself included, are far less enthusiastic about computers than you might think, and have become much more “analog” with respect to our off-work and hobby interests. We’ve seen how software applications – upon reaching the point of maturity – have only become bloated, buggy, unintuitive, and unusable, unlike almost every non-computer technology in existence, and furthermore, we realize that the scope and complexity of computer tech is beyond the comprehension of even those who work on it for a living. I’ve seen IT guys develop hobby interests in everything from guns to mushroom cultivation to kayaking to goat herding to bikes to woodworking, as these processes are comprehensible by a single person and are far easier to tinker with.

    I do find smartphones useful, but have found it necessary to limit their functions, namely by eliminating social media. I use them for messaging people I know, navigation and looking up information in a pinch, but I’ve done my best to stop using it as an entertainment device.

    • P Ray
      October 26, 2020 at 10:40 pm

      Maybe one of the reasons many IT guys develop interests in hunting and planting is because it gives them a chance to “directly show how manly they are” because there is the constant nagging feeling that “the boss can replace them easily when they no longer respect the IT guy”.

      Also, it’s funny how these IT guys don’t attempt to fight against the estrogen brigade by becoming volunteer teachers, take up first aid or show off essential homemaker skills like cooking or sewing.

      Maybe they are aware that any guy becoming competent in those things, is showing a red flag by not yielding to women … thus, marking them out as equal … and thus, as enemies.

      I get the feeling the only men that women want to be seen as equal, is the alpha male … every other guy is a potential terrorist or abuser …

    • P Ray
      October 27, 2020 at 7:30 am

      Also, the funny part about saying “We’ve seen how software applications – upon reaching the point of maturity – have only become bloated, buggy, unintuitive, and unusable, unlike almost every non-computer technology in existence, and furthermore, we realize that the scope and complexity of computer tech is beyond the comprehension of even those who work on it for a living.”

      … is that after some testing, I have discovered a lot of previously inaccessible websites that I have bookmarked, with testing of special versions of Windows, suddenly become accessible.

      As I said, the wonderful thing about time machines is that they open up vistas to explore … that very few others will ever experience.

      Smugly sitting high up and thinking there are no exceptions, means you miss out on many chances to save money or enjoy a lot of older software.

    • Just A Programmer
      October 28, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      > broom

      The flat broom we are accustomed to was devised by the Shakers in the 19th Century, with the creation of the broom vise, which made that design feasible to manufacture.

  9. Pooping on the street and then watching people slip and slide in it is fun!
    October 26, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Surprised Ad has not brought this up yet as he is a Herstory buff…

    Many aircraft from the Vietnam era lasted in military service far longer than you would expect. For example, an F4 Phantom isn’t that far behind an F-16 or F-18 performance wise. And things like avionics/engines can be fairly easily replaced to give a slight performance edge.

    Now the part where that Mig-15 Mike CA accuses us of being Putin Puppets…

    (and if AD really know her history, she will tell us what insult I just called Mike CaCa…)

    Soviet aircraft had similar performance specs (ala Mach 2.) They had much simpler avionics as the Soviets had a different philosophy. Most of the heavy lifting would be done by ground radar. Migs were easier to work on and less likely to break down in terrible conditions.

    We know see hyper expensive fighter planes that have had technical problems delaying their release date for years. One wonders if air forces would be better served with simpler aircraft that could be purchased in bulk with well trained aircrews.

    To rephrase the old joke, would you rather fight one large mouse or 30 tiny elephants…

    Would you rather fight one F-22 Raptor or one dozen F-15’s?

    • P Ray
      October 26, 2020 at 10:44 pm

      Aircraft lasting very long have their own problems: a lack of spare parts.

      And also when replaced: the aircrews have had less time to get familiar with the new aircraft versus the one that was always around previously.

      And thirdly, the parts are made by company-owned factories, not the government – there is very little incentive to keep making them when the profits are low, or when shareholders demand innovation and change.

      Plus fourthly, governments are pushed to move to newer technology by voters, who have never flown a fighter jet before.

      And fifthly, politicians get a payoff for arms deals, the newer and more costly the deal, the bigger the payoff.

      Obsoletism is a cultural feature of people who think they know everything who also believe that “the future will always be better”.

      • when up is down
        October 26, 2020 at 11:31 pm

        “Aircraft lasting very long have their own problems: a lack of spare parts.”

        Perhaps so, yet the F4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat were in service 30+ years. Maybe not a “specific” fighter plane but from when the first were produced until when they were retired from service…

      • P Ray
        October 27, 2020 at 12:50 am

        Personally, I feel the real breakthrough will come with nuclear-powered flight.

        The cost per hour of a B52, for example, is around USD70,000 … B2 bombers, twice that.

        The fun part about nuclear-powered aircraft though, is probably how the engagements will happen.

        Long-range and high-altitude brings the problem, you need to get the enemy aircraft before they get into your airspace and EMP if they explode up there …

        Short-range and low-altitude brings the problem, even if shot down they can bring the black rain …

        That will be the real stalemate to any conflict involving nuclear warplanes.

  10. NickSwift
    October 27, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Does anyone remember which post on this site discussed the issue of innovation and technological progress stagnating for the past twenty years?

    Specifically, it was either in the post or in the comments that AD or someone said something like “Coders/programmers are glorified monkeys and do no really complex work”.

    This is a fascinating issue, though. Somebody tell these idiots reading Wired and watching TED talks that driverless cars aren’t going to replace millions of jobs; the conservative judiciary however will allow truckers’ wages and protections to be totally trashed. That goon Gorsuch infamously ruled on just such a case, a few years back.

    This whole techno-optimist sensationalism really is just a bullshit, neoliberal smokescreen to undermine meaningful resistance.

    “Pay no attention to the man from accounting, behind the curtain; Elon Musk is taking us to Mars!”

    • P Ray
      October 27, 2020 at 11:48 am

      You can actually blame the marketers, driven by the need to keep their jobs due to shareholder expectations of something new and bosses desire to keep their jobs too.

      The engineers know a plateau is being reached … but nobody wants to listen to have a sobering dialogue.

      This is another reason why you need an absurd amount of cooling for the Intel i9-9900KS (with a base frequency of 4GHz, turbo 5GHz), and the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (base frequency 3.5GHz, turbo 4.7GHz).

      CPU manufacturers didn’t reach those speeds free of charge, they got there by removing compatibility and going to the edge of thermal stability.

      As you said idiots reading Wired and watching TED talks … who happen to be managers and shareholders.

      • Just A Programmer
        October 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm

        There are these things called atoms. They have a certain size and spacing between them. Can’t improve on that. So circuit density has limits.

        Electrons move at a certain speed through circuits. Can’t improve that either. So speed has limits that way.

        Faster clock speeds mean more heat. Can’t make that fact go away either.

      • P Ray
        October 28, 2020 at 6:24 pm

        I was going for physical properties of the transistors we have now, and the constraints of economy (volume), thermals and size …

        Also even the faster speeds can be improved by adding more cache (Belady’s anomaly doesn’t seem to hold up since the 3950X has 72MB cache?) … a larger data bus and more instructions per cycle … and none of those relate to physical properties of materials.

        But beyond that is also the reality that all modern processors are going to be Windows 10-only …

      • P Ray
        October 28, 2020 at 6:28 pm

        However Belady’s anomaly only holds true for the FIFO algorithm, so the electronics on the 3950X are obviously not so simple, but even with 72MB of cache, AMD are making a decent profit on that.

        You can say that after a point the improvements on pure specification alone will reduce if not reverse.

  11. P Ray
    November 30, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Thinking about this for awhile, it can really be summed up in terms of differences in brain structure due to understanding the constraints you work in:
    1)Some of the reasons why people who understand computers see the world so differently, is because they understand the manufacturing and product life-cycle process as it applies to computer architecture.

    2)People in many other fields of study e.g. biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and sociology don’t work with such a timetable or scarcity of production platforms / raw materials.

    3)So those people of (2) don’t understand the perspective of people of (1).

    4)That’s why you have arguments and disagreements – people of (2), their brains are completely different to people of (1).

    5)People of (2) think you can always buy what you need when you feel like it – when the reality is, those old parts (a)are not being made anymore, (b)the plans aren’t available for you to build or contract manufacture your own, (c)the production platforms may not be available, (d)the minimum order quantity may be very high or costly in terms of $ (so not economically advantageous, (e)you still have to write the software for such circuits unless it’s a copy of 100% fidelity.

    • P Ray
      November 30, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      The upshot of this, is a growing awareness and understanding of how little power one person has to really live alone and only by their wits
      but it is also very likely the people with such awareness are NOT the same people who think like CONservatives (work hard and you will succeed)
      or LIEberals (you can be whatever you want to be) …
      because rationality and cost-benefit thinking doesn’t figure in the worldview of such deceivers and demagogues.

  1. October 30, 2020 at 9:24 pm

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