Manifesto On “Technology Eats All The Jobs” Guess Who Wrote It and When

Here is a manifesto on “technology eats all the jobs” which I did not write. Guess who wrote it and when.

Computers and the Internet result in a system of almost unlimited productive capacity which requires progressively less human labor. The technology revolution invalidates the general mechanism so far employed to under gird people’s rights as consumers. Potentially unlimited output can be achieved by systems of machines which will require little cooperation from human beings.


As machines take over production from people, the men and women who are displaced become dependent on minimal government welfare. The existence of this paradox is denied or ignored by conventional economic analysis. Capitalist system designed to produce increasing quantity of goods; distribution of purchasing power would occur almost automatically.


Continuance of the income-through-jobs link now acts as the main brake on the almost unlimited capacity of a tech-based productive system. Adequate distribution of goods plus services, not how to increase production but how to distribute the abundance created by technology. Underlying cause of unemployment: the capability of machines is rising more rapidly than the capacity of many human beings to keep pace.


As a first step to a new consensus it is essential to recognize that the traditional link between jobs and incomes is being broken. We urge that the government undertake an unqualified commitment to provide every individual with a basic income as a matter of right. Distribution of abundance in technological society must have criteria strikingly different from economic system based on scarcity.

Bonus points: Identify the publication, and its ideological affiliation in which this manifesto first appeared.

Source Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

“Halt and Catch Fire” Captures the Emotional Intensity of Tech Startups

“Halt And Catch Fire” takes flak from critics for being melodramatic, yet it captures the real emotional intensity of actual tech startups well. Joe, Cameron, Gordon, and Bos are all accurate archetypes. I know dozens of each. They must come together to do great things. Can’t alone.

Tonight’s episode was the best since the pilot. Without spoiling it, the key is that both Cameron and Gordon are right- real tension at heart of many startups. Again without spoiling it, the final question asked by Cameron’s new program is still at the heart of our industry 30 years later.

The show also shows why founders often don’t start a 2nd company, or sometimes even talk to former partners after a company is over. It’s too intense. Finally, show is dead on about the overwhelming market power of IBM at that time. Seeds of collapse had already been planted but no one knew.

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6


The Reverse Rules of New Technology

Cleaned-up tweetstorm on “the reverse rules of new technology” — expressed ironically! — and labeled as such 🙂

One thing we know about new gadgets: They can be judged based on their first versions since that’s what they’ll look like forever. #irony

Each new technology arrives into the world with the perfect universal use case pre-identified. If it doesn’t, it flops and dies forever. #irony

Any new technology needs immediate widespread cultural acceptance. If it’s just used by nerds early on, it’ll never go mainstream. #irony

New technology products must be immediately cash-flow profitable; otherwise you have clear evidence the idea was stupid from the start. #irony

Any new tech product that isn’t immediately affordable for everyone will never decline in price and will just exacerbate inequality. #irony

Any new tech must immediately provide immense utility to the world or shame on you for not “solving big problems”. #irony HT @commagere

Source – Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7


Tweetstorm Addendum to Unbundling Series

Late night tweetstorm addendum to earlier series on unbundling and rebundling: Younger followers asked me to expand on DEC/Sun/Microsoft unbundling: older history, therefore useful to study as precedent for our time.

Once upon a time (1950s-1960s), businesses mostly bought computers from IBM, and IBM also bundled in all the software & services you’d need. IBM bundled offerings were extremely expensive, while demand for computers spread to departments and smaller businesses who had less money. So DEC unbundled the computer itself from the total bundle and sold it for less money to customers who could then write their own software.

But a DEC computer itself was a bundle of proprietary components: VAX hardware, VMS operating system, RDB database, etc. In the 80’s, Sun came along & sold a similar power computer to DEC’s for 1/4 the cost w/unbundled components: Unix OS + Motorola chips.

DEC responded by going upmarket and becoming more like IBM; Sun and other Unix workstation vendors chewed through their market + grew it more. Critical point: At the point when DEC started to tip over, its integrated offering was as close to perfect as our industry will ever see.

Ask people who were working then (like me) and they’ll tell you to this day that they miss VAX/VMS and how productive they could be on it. Meanwhile Microsoft and Intel came along and fully implemented the unbundled low-cost computer, first PCs and then Windows-based servers.

Sun responded to Microsoft/Intel by rebundling: Rebuilding itself in DEC’s image with Sparc chip, Solaris OS — proprietary HW+SW stack. Again, Sun got close to perfection as an integrated system when it unbundled Microsoft+Intel and Linux+Intel went broad and forced the sale of the company.

Picking up thread with Microsoft: Microsoft has spent last 15 years rebundling, rebuilding itself in DEC’s image much like Sun. Now + HW! Once again, bundled Microsoft stack very close to perfect just as it comes under attack from next unbundling wave: mobile + cloud.

Fascinating twist: Under new leadership, Microsoft 2014 now committed to unbundling — full app + cloud support for iOS, Android, Linux! Microsoft is taking new unbundling strategy offensively vs new titans who are bundling as fast as possible! Apple, Google, Amazon, Oracle.

The point? I don’t know much about what our industry will look like in 50 years, but I’m quite confident these same dynamics will apply.

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18


The Flip Side of Unbundling

The flip side of unbundling: Later on, the unbundlers tend to try to rebundle in the image of whatever they unbundled. So Yahoo adds an ISP, and Google adds email/IM/sports-scores/stock-quotes. Twitter changes its user profile page to look more like Facebook 🙂

Sun unbundled DEC with commodity components, then re-bundled into a proprietary computing stack just like DEC w/Solaris, Sparc, etc. Microsoft likewise unbundled DEC minicomputers w/PC OS + tools, then rebundled into DEC-like integrated stack now including hardware (!).

Paraphrasing Harvey Dent: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the company you first competed with.” And then sometimes the rebundlers realize what they’re doing and try to reverse course. E.g. Microsoft building apps for iOS & Android. And thus the cycle of life repeats with yet more unbundling :-).

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8


Unbundling Tech

A story of unbundling in the tech industry: 20 years of consumer Internet evolution.

Once upon a time there was AOL, which was a completely integrated Internet access/information/communication service. Then Yahoo came along and unbundled the information/communication parts like email/IM/sports-scores/stock-quotes from the access service. One of the things you could do on Yahoo was search, then Google came along and unbundled that.

You can search for anything on Google, including people; Facebook came along with a much better way to just search for people. Three things you can do on Facebook are messaging, photo sharing, and status updates; therefore Whatsapp, Instagram, and Twitter. And yes, Yo unbundles the creation & existence of a message from the contents of a message, unbundling Whatsapp and Twitter :-).

Ev Williams (@ev) is the modern genius of this concept–playing out in our industry continuously since the 1950’s. The part people often miss is that you can get extremely powerful second/third order effects at each step with his pattern. The entrepreneurs generally have a pretty good sense of this when they’re doing it, but it doesn’t become clear to others until later. This is a pattern what we love to fund: unbundle X from Y, but then use the liberation of X as leverage to do amazing new things with X. And the howls of press and analyst outrage at the apparent stupidity of each unbundling are very helpful for keeping valuations down :-).

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this

1950’s + 1960’s + 1970’s + 1980’s + early 1990’s view of computer technology = “Nerds!”

Late 1990’s view of computer technology = “Everyone will get rich!”

2001’s view of computer technology = “The nerds screwed us!”

2003’s view of computer technology = “We knew those nerds were wrong all along!”

2009’s view of computer technology = “Those nerds are completely out of ideas!”

2013’s view of computer technology = “Those nerds and all their crazy ideas are going to destroy all the jobs!”

And now = “Those nerds are completely out of ideas again, and now they’re having sex too!”

Stay tuned for more updates from our favorite show, “As The Nerds Turn” :-).

Source – tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8


Quirky to Reinvent American Manufacturing and Consumer Products

Equally big news of the day: our company Quirky is spinning out the “Internet of things” platform Wink as standalone company!

Quirky, with its partners including GE and Home Depot, is reinventing American manufacturing of consumer products. Now Wink will provide a standard software layer across all of Quirky’s products plus many others including GE, Honeywell, and Philips.

Quirky partner Home Depot “now sells 600 smart-home products, six times as many as it did two years ago.” The revolution is happening now. Important to note this isn’t just about toys for rich people; it’s about energy conservation, water conservation, security, and safety.

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5


How We Learn Is Changing Rapidly

A personal meditation on how we learn, and how we learn is changing radically for the better due to new technology.

1989: I go to college and want to learn about how “real” computers work–VMS and Unix–the foundation of all of today’s phones/tablets/PCs/servers.

Only way: Get a job at a computer lab that owned such a computer; get access to the literal wall of paper manuals. Read those cover to cover; then what? Scientific/technical journals. Only with access to the research university library.

1990: Co-op job at IBM where I discovered a mainframe (!) search engine of science/tech journals; in 3 days, I had printed copies via office mail!

This posed a major dilemma: How many papers could the intern request before Big Blue would fire his ***? Tested it into the hundreds. All other relevant info was on the Internet–IETF RFC’s, free software code–but who had access to the Internet in 1990? Not many.

25 years later: Every smartphone is the equivalent of a million-$ Unix supercomputer from that time, plus *all* that info is freely available online. Science/tech journals are still not completely free, but even those walls are falling fast now due to Google Scholar/PDF searches/policy reform.

Regarding journals: The Aaron Swartz documentary is out. It’s a powerful memory of freedom of an information hero and warrior for progress.

The Internet’s Own Boy – Trailer from FilmBuff on Vimeo.

Why does this matter? Information is the foundation of progress; info about computers is the basis of key tools for progress as software eats the world. Means of production being put in hands of the masses for the first time in human history. I’m a broken record on this, but: profound change.

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Source Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

Google Launches Made With Code Initiative

I am super-proud of my friends at Google and their new push to help get more girls into coding: “The things you love are #MadewithCode“! From : “Fewer than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science….hits home for me.” Along with several partners, Google is launching Made with Code, an initiative to inspire girls to code.” Including a “commitment of $50 million to support programs that can help get more females into computer science.”

“Nowadays, coding isn’t just a skill useful for working at a tech company; engineering isn’t just for engineers.” “No matter what a girl dreams of doing, learning how to code will help her get there. Their future — our future — is made with code.”

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Source Tweets: 1,2,3,4,5,6