Deep Thoughts from years spent on a Trident submarine.  
When technology is king, the stupid will suffer.

Sure we had our command structure on the sub. We had people who were natural leaders and followers. But in a world where life depends on keeping a nuclear reactor running, the one's who know how to do it are king.

If you made a technical mistake on the sub, generally you were punished with some form of extra instruction or work. This generally made you more tired for the next watch and you were more likely to make a mistake. Then more extra work. People could dig themselves into a hole they would never get out of. You lived by your technical knowledge and wits.

Often the command military structure was not the same as the real leaders - the technicians. This created all sorts of distortions and problems. One of the worst things a technician could do to a military superior but technical inferior was to blindly follow his orders. This would inevitably result in some catastrophe that would result in the military superior being punished. Amazingly, some officers never caught on to this and ended up insane - and I mean this literally - as in raging lunatics.

I once took an economics class where the teacher asked what it really is that that grows the economy. I answered "higher employment" - nope. Other people said "more saving" and "more efficient use of capital" - not the answer he was looking for. What it really comes down to is technology.

And we see this coming about slowly in our society. Computer programmers are making lots of money while people without these skills are working crummy service jobs.

Yet this is not the whole picture by a long shot. In the real world, as opposed to the sub, there is a lot more politics. I've developed several computer systems that were later scrapped for political reasons. Many of the web problems I currently face on my job are business issues and not technical problems. So there is room for hugh efficiency gains, and economic growth with existing technology. But I think there is always going to be a lot of waste regardless so maybe technology is the best way to grow the wealth.

Then there is the issue I 've been thinking of lately of why grow the economy at all. I currently have all the material things I want and then some. What I don't have is free time. As we move from the industrial age into the information age, the rules will change again. Who will be king then? Those that can entertain, teach, communicate?

Reader Comment
July 26, 99
There once was a man who said the following; "We trained hard, but each time we formed a working team I found that we would be reorganized. I was to learn late in life that we meet most new challenges by reorganizing, and a marvelous tool it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while actually causing confusion and low morale." The man was a Roman general named Petronius who lived around 300B.C. The point here is not that we have all experienced this, albeit in a submarine wardroom or a corporate boardroom, the point is that human beings are still making the same mistakes they made thousands of years ago. Guess what? They will be making them when you and I are old and gray. Technologies may come and go but to really understand life you must understand human nature. It's life's one true constant....

Michael L. Solosky

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