The Soviet Union, Von Neuman Predictions, and Computers

I have a friend, a young American physicist, who spent a year doing theoretical physics in the Soviet Union. He likes to go to the Soviet Union, not because it is a good place to do physics, but because it is a good place to observe the human comedy. When he went back to Leningrad recently for a shorter visit, he received a proposal of marriage and was called in twice for questioning by the KGB, all within the first week. He speaks fluent Russian, and the KGB people find it difficult to believe he is not a spy. He tells me that there is now a flourishing black market in software in the Soviet Union. Designer blue jeans and tape recorders are passe; the new symbols of status among the trendy youth are floppy disks. But there is a shortage of hardware to go with the software. It is not so easy to pick up an IBM PC from a smuggler hanging around a street corner on the Nevskii Prospekt. My friend considers that we in the West are missing a great opportunity {185} to disrupt the economy of the Evil Empire. He says we ought to be flooding the Soviet Union with personal computers and software. This would give a boost to all kinds of private and semi-legal enterprises with which the official state enterprises could not easily compete. The official economy is still living in the Von Neumann era, with big expensive computers under central control. My friend believes that small-computer technology would flow around the apparatus of the state-controlled economy. He finds it more plausible to dream of drowning the Soviet party apparatchiki in a flood of Macintoshes than to dream of starving them into submission with a technological blockade. Small modern computers and software are good tools for eroding the machinery of totalitarian government. That is another engineer's dream which may or may not come true.


Folksonomies: politics economics chaos theory predition

/technology and computing/software (0.529624)
/education/school/private school (0.500095)
/technology and computing (0.473977)

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Soviet Union:Organization (0.896298 (negative:-0.448967)), Soviet party:Organization (0.351330 (negative:-0.745645)), KGB:Organization (0.336459 (negative:-0.277756)), Von Neuman Predictions:PrintMedia (0.290907 (neutral:0.000000)), Leningrad:City (0.226618 (negative:-0.302022)), physicist:JobTitle (0.209538 (neutral:0.000000)), IBM PC:FieldTerminology (0.202332 (negative:-0.485337)), official:JobTitle (0.201236 (positive:0.325183)), Nevskii Prospekt:GeographicFeature (0.200950 (negative:-0.485337)), Macintoshes:City (0.196553 (negative:-0.745645)), engineer:JobTitle (0.190778 (neutral:0.000000))

Soviet Union (0.954203): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Computer (0.826666): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
KGB (0.713999): geo | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | crunchbase
Totalitarianism (0.694186): dbpedia | freebase
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (0.664285): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Richard Feynman (0.660801): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago | musicBrainz
John von Neumann (0.640344): geo | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Mikhail Gorbachev (0.612929): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 Infinite in All Directions
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dyson , Freeman J. (2004-07-22), Infinite in All Directions, Harper Perennial, Retrieved on 2012-04-25
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