Friday, July 24, 2009

On use of technology and unfairness

This is somewhat related to event processing, but the issue is more general. It relates to an article published today in the NYTimes, claiming that high speed traders gain unfair benefit over regular traders. The relationship to event processing is obvious, since typically event processing system run under the cover of the "high speed trading"; however, the point is whether technology progress should be stalled due to fairness consideration. I live in a country which has a socialist root; When I took the matriculation exams in high school, we were forbidden from using calculators, since at that time it was relatively expensive, and not every high school student could purchase it, I actually learned how to use slide rule, which I think can be found only in museums today, which is somewhat equivalent to calculator; it did not take long until calculators were allowed. Another example from the Israeli history, when the TV started in Israel, it was black and white, but programs that were purchased from other countries were in color, so people have started to purchase more expansive TV sets that supported color; the government thought it is not fair that the "rich" people can see movies in color, and the "poor" people can see movies only in black-and-white, and ordered the TV station (at these days it was only one, owned by the government) to erase the colors so nobody will be able to see anything in colors, even if they have color TV. However, Israel is also a high-tech country, and an engineer called Mooly Eden (who is now a senior executive in Intel) developed a device called "anti eraser" that restored the color, by reversing the erase function. At the end, the government gave in, and the "anti eraser" became obsolete. These are two examples where fairness considerations tried to bit technology progress, but not for long.

Technology is not the only issue of fairness, we send our children to private school, since we see that the public schools here are inferior; not really fair towards those who cannot afford it. the same goes for health. This actually goes to every facet of life, citing the immortal phrase from "start trek: the next generation" -- resistance is futile.


woolfel said...

The core issue here isn't whether a piece of technology is used. This type of trading borders on illegal, since it's a hidden market that is unregulated. The US government currently is behind the times and is unable to regulate it. Just because a person can do it, it doesn't mean they should. Being morally bankrupted doesn't make using new technology right. It doesn't prove the value of the technology. Only thing it proves is the people running these large firms are bankrupted.

Opher Etzion said...

Hi Peter. One can certainly abuse any technology, and abusing technology is another interesting issue to discuss. may The point of this posting has been to discuss the issue of fairness towards those who don't use advanced technologies.



Anonymous said...

Well, maybe the poor just need to wait until the systems become affordable.
But at that time, there'll be something different ;-)