The always wonderful and thought-provoking Venkatesh Rao has a typically spot-on analysis of the ideology underlying the idea that we are heading for a world of either collapse or abundance. Along the way, he drops all kinds of great thoughts, like the Generalized Godwin’s Law: "Every discussion within an online community converges to a zero-information signal characterized by empty assertions concerning the foundational dichotomy of that community."
A resource gets cheap enough to waste when it is cheap enough that you can leave it out of the strategic cost calculations for most products and services that it is a part of.
This is a relative definition of cheap. Global shipping is an example of a wasteable resource today, for value-added manufactured goods. Relative to manufacturing and other costs, the costs of shipping something from China to the US (say) are so trivial that as a first approximation, you can ignore them. You can think about business models and strategic positioning issues without thinking about transport (your accountants still have to include it in their book-keeping of course). The design space for your business model shrinks in useful ways.
Not all resources are wasteable in all industries. Electricity is something you can waste in many contexts in the developed world, but not in the data center business, where it is a big enough cost component that it pays to locate data centers near cheap power.
This suggests a good measure for development actually. A nation or region is as developed as the resources its economy views as wasteable (in the good+strategic sense).
Waste, Creativity and Godwin’s Corollary for Technology
(Image: E-waste collection, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mosmancouncil's photostream)
Update: According to The Verge, Facebook has verified the authenticity of the screenshot below. In what appears to be an internal Facebook post, Zuckerberg defends his company’s ongoing association with Peter Thiel — Facebook investor/board member and major donor to white-supremacist/pro-rape presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The UK government says it wants to stop people under 18 from looking at pornography, and so it’s going to make all the porn sites operating in Britain collect some kind of age-verification in order to make this happen, on pain of being blocked by the UK’s Great Firewall.
Despite the denials of its new CEO, Wells Fargo had a serious, widespread cultural problem that led it to commit at least 2,000,000 financial crimes. But the crimes and the culture are widespread across America’s banks, and they spread further than that, because the system is rigged to reward financial crime.
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