BILL GATES AND COMPUTER SCIENCE

          The visit of the young manager of Microsoft, Bill Gates to Spain in the first days of the month of September brought to my mind many aspects and new nuances of the contributions of the great economist of the Austrian School, Von Mises. The potentiality of the Austrian suggestions in the new cultural society, of knowledge and telematics are enormous.

When Von Mises placed the human person in the centre of economic activity he did not only contribute to design the intellectual foundations to show the serious economic errors of Socialism and Malthusianism that impoverish but also, he was almost one century ahead of the explosion of that cultural society and the knowledge that we have been seeing dawn for years. In the first pages of Human Action he tells us: “Everyday experience does not only reveal that the only suitable method of studying the circumstances of our non-human surroundings is that which seeks protection in the category of causation, but also, it proves, and in a no less convincing way that our fellow men are beings that act as we ourselves do. For the understanding of the action it is only necessary to appeal to one method of interpretation and analysis: that which comes from knowledge and the examination of our own conscious behaviour.” What the Misian methodology says is that to know something about economy it is necessary to take a look inside oneself and penetrate into the practically infinite universe of the very intimacy where the always new, mysterious and surprising personal freedom reigns. The economy cannot be understood if we locate it in a purely physical and mathematical orbit where complex and tedious equations describe another static world to us, infinite and phantasmagoric where everything rotates evenly according to fixed laws and foreign to human nature.

It is precisely for all this that it is absurd to think that although it was impossible to know and control society in the past by means of multiple coercions, with the advance of computer science and communications, it would be possible to exercise that control today from some peak of human power supported by countless espionages and using those seemingly intelligent electronic devices. It has been attempted, and it is still being attempted, to make the socialist system of coercion work, seemingly well intentioned, appealing to great systems of macro-technical ultra–rapid computers directed by an army of bureaucrats to the service of an unknown cause.

The uselessness of such control attempts and omniscience is even more obvious if it can be when considering the famous principle of non-determination of Heisenberg according to which it is impossible to determine with total precision, and simultaneously, the position and moment of a particle. Even measuring instruments and observation of reality distort that reality, even physics that we claim to know and also, the time lapsed between the measuring and the knowledge of the result by the observer makes all exact adaptation impossible. To the above-mentioned we can add the ignorance that we all have of ourselves, the radical ignorance regarding others or the rest, and the difficulty of transmitting that intuition and personal concrete information to the managing organs. We can conclude that the Socialist desire, or of any other community, of knowing what happens in reality to guide society towards what they believe is the best, is an integral impossibility.

Quoting the professor Huerta de Soto, knowledgeable expert of the Austrian school, we can say that “What cannot be admitted is that the managing organ is endowed with superhuman capacities nor, in short, that it has the gift of omniscience, that is to say that it is capable of assimilating, knowing and interpreting simultaneously all the disseminated and exclusive information that is dispersed in the mind of all human beings that act in society and that is generated and created ex novo continually by these.” The reality is that the managing organ, sometimes also called the central or partial intervention and planning organ, greatly ignores, or only has a very vague idea about the knowledge that is available in dispersed form in the mind of all the actors that can end up being subject to its orders. There is, therefore, a small or null possibility that the planner can discover what or how to look for and where to find the elements of dispersed information that are generated in the social process and that he needs so much in order to control and to coordinate it.

We can add even more. The advance in computer science and communications not only impedes intervention and control, but rather it makes it much more difficult, complex and impossible. All technical instruments strengthen work or physical and intellectual action and they make it richer and more varied. They strengthen and enlarge in short the individual personality of all the users making human society much more complex. The unstoppable computer science tendency has decanted definitively towards personal computers and consumer computer science. This means that the degree of complexity of the problem for the managing organ, whatever it is, increases. Twenty years after the death of Mises his intellectual embryo acquires a masterful relevance in this society of knowledge.

                                                                                                          JJ Franch Meneu

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