second life is an euphemism for a busy retirement

The New Milenium Research Council released a study today:

Though it is widely understood that broadband technologies that allow rapid and ‘always on’ connections to the Internet will provide significant benefits to the U.S. economy, this report is the first to estimate the economic benefits to the nation due to cost savings and output expansion resulting from the use of broadband technologies for an important specific sub-group of the U.S. population: the roughly 70 million Americans who are over 65 or under that age but have disabilities. Three types of benefits from broadband deployment and use are addressed: lower medical costs; lower costs of institutionalized living; and additional output generated by more seniors and individuals with disabilities in the labor force. Considered together, these three benefits are estimated to accumulate to at least $927 billion in cost savings and output gains in 2005 dollars (with future benefits discounted for the ‘time value of money’) over the 25 year period, 2005 to 2030. This amount is equivalent to half of what the United States currently spends annually for medical care for all its citizens ($1.8 trillion). As large as these benefits may appear, they are line with previous estimates for the benefits of broadband for the population as a whole. Policies designed to accelerate the use of broadband for these populations, however, could significantly add to the benefits, by cumulative amounts ranging from $532 billion to $847 billion (depending on the wages earned by the additional working seniors). The policy benefits are as substantial as what the federal government is likely to spend on homeland security over the next 25 years. Total cumulative benefits, under the right set of policies, could exceed what the United States currently spends annually for health care for all its citizens. Clearly, with so much at stake, policymakers have strong reasons to consider measures to accelerate the deployment and use of broadband technologies for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

when you retire, your second life will be online. i had heard many a commenter mention their time constraints when faced with World of Warcraft or second life. is it unreasonable to expect a bimodal distribution on these platforms in the future? the young and the old certainly have the time. if these systems are able to attract older segments of the population, things will get interesting. actually, they already do.

if we leverage these enormous resources, ideally by making things like the mechanical turk or wikpedia fun for a large part of them, we’ll easily be able handle pensions and health care for a rapidly aging population, and still have funds left over for many more charity and nonprofit projects than today.

i always believed that a major reason for the bursting of the first bubble was that the internet experience of the average person is riddled with viruses, spyware and spam. it’s hard to overestimate how much this destroyed the trust and interest in all things internet. so maybe part of the appeal of these online worlds is there relative lack of annoyances (surely not for long..). what is needed, therefore, is a massive, probably grassroots, effort, to clean up the world’s computers and re-establish a safe browsing experience, and get these people back online. the rest will follow.

the price

The displacement of population is the crisis that New Orleans faces. It is also a national crisis, because the largest port in the United States cannot function without a city around it. The physical and business processes of a port cannot occur in a ghost town, and right now, that is what New Orleans is. It is not about the facilities, and it is not about the oil. It is about the loss of a city’s population and the paralysis of the largest port in the United States.

george friedman has the best analysis by far. as usual, the MSM offer no insight beyond gory pictures.
meanwhile, alan has set up a comprehensive wiki.

the profits of fear

Elected representatives on committees that established policy at the highest level were motivated by base self-interest, expediency, and petty rivalries. They were not only ignorant, but uninterested in educating themselves. Given a choice between saving public money and spending it, they preferred to spend it. Allowed the option of destroying a city or leaving it unscathed, they opted to destroy it. Forced to choose between maximizing human suffering on innocent civilians or minimizing it, they chose to maximize it.

a must-read piece on sam cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb, which he concluded, quite legitimately, was the most moral weapon ever developed. if history education were designed to prevent the eternal rehashing of mistakes, this is what would be taught. we get to obsess over times and places, instead of explaining the (lack of) thinking behind events that shaped the world. my history education was fairly short on recent developments, and i had to learn about game theory and nuclear deterrence on my own. considering how much they shaped the world we live in, i wish there was more emphasis on them. one way to do that might be to start from the present and work backwards. this would make sure you don’t run out of time just as you get to the present (happened in my high school, for sure), and would put the weight on what is probably most important today. on the other hand, one might argue that in order to understand the present, you need to be more mature, and therefore you are first presented with all these tales about ages past, until you grow up enough to hear the juicy stuff. another option might be to work with the arcs of history (page 4) that philip bobbitt had in his excellent the shield of achilles.

the eternal election

There’s no historical precedent for this, for the eternal election. If we were in a war, we could look back to past wars and know how to temper our patriotism. If this were a depression, we could rally together and work together for economic change. But instead we live in democratic gloom, eternally poised between statistical possibilities, waiting for the chance to vote. That chance never comes. The reasons we cannot vote yet have become less and less sane, I think; at first, there were terrorists, and then extreme hurricanes, and the computer glitches. Then some turtles got into the ballot boxes in Kansas. Now they don’t even bother with excuses; they just give the delay report on television, telling us their best estimates as to when we might vote again, and move onto the entertainment news.

i LOVE this brilliant piece by paul ford. it’s prophecy is scary.

others are bold

the Project for the New American Century whose goal is to promote American global leadership wrote this blueprint for american leadership in the new century.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in
the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? “[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States” global responsibilities. “Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership of the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.