Re: (OPE-L) Re: Labour aristocracy

From: Ian Wright (ian_paul_wright@HOTMAIL.COM)
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 16:52:56 EST

Hello Rakesh

I didn't get the overall direction of your questions, but I was reeled in to
try to answer:

>Doesn't the movement of mental laboring
>activities, e.g. writing code,  assume the application of the Babbage
>principle to mental operations ... ?

Programming labour can be divided into specialities just like any other
labour. So there's no difference in kind in this respect. Additionally, the
cost of computers and the requisite software to build new software is very
low. It's easy to move software development to other low-wage geographical
areas, on condition that the local workers are well trained. Plus, any
software capital, such as a large and complex software infrastructure, can
be compressed and transmitted to the new location at almost no cost. A more
philosophical point is that, according to the Church-Turing thesis, the
reduction of human mental activity to the simplest operations has been
achieved, which completes Babbage's program. The Church-Turing thesis is
informally the hypothesis that all human mental activity is replicable by a
particular class of machines, of which an ordinary personal computer is a
finite example. This means that all mental labour can in principle be
automated. As you know in practice lots of virtual machines have already
automated many simple mental tasks (e.g., calculators), and some more
sophisicated ones (e.g., machine translation of languages). Turing's concept
of the Universal Turing Machine (that is a machine able to simulate the
operation of all others) bears an uncanny resemblance to a Henry Ford
production line: there is a tape containing bits of information (the
production line) and a head that moves along the tape altering the
arrangement of information (a worker transforming the raw materials into an
end product). I don't think this is a concidence, although apparently Turing
was inspired by the typewriter. Turing's reduction of mental tasks to the
simplest possible operations is not only amazingly abstract it is also
amazingly powerful, a truly revolutionary advance in science.

This probably doesn't address your question, but talk of Babbage, Turing
etc. presses my buttons!
(As an aside, I seem to recall that Babbage wrote a book on the division of
labour in factories).



The new MSN 8: smart spam protection and 2 months FREE*

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Jan 17 2004 - 00:00:00 EST