Reading The Planning machine sets me off in a melancholic imaginary journey of what could have been. But it’s not surprising to see a vision that relies so heavily on a bottom-up approach foiled by the aspirational realities of Chilean “bosses” that want to be able to say that everything is under their thumb.
Beer’s vision is profound: deploying transdisciplinary experts to gather information from the ground, from the people actually operating the company, is a marvelous instinct to achieve true knowledge of the realities of a factory. Transferring that role to sensors and connected devices seems like a natural evolution of that process. Today, the “Internet of Things” has mostly brought us a downgraded experience for many everyday objects, but in the context of a factory, of a city, of a large organism trying to be a homeostat, those devices are natural analog to the built-in nerve sensors in a human body, and actually seem useful.
The dream of a centrally monitored and regulated economy could now be realized more than ever, but it seems like the time for that sort of socialist regimes is over. It’s disappointing that today, the centralizers and analyzers of “Big Data” are performing such tasks not for the sake of the people, but for the sake of selling advertisement spaces. As it always is with capitalist economies, everyone is in it only for themselves.