Silicon Valley or Death Valley


Iran and the Middle East are not the only places people are suffering because of the outmoded ideology of leaders who cannot see the needs of the 21st Century. The plans of the leaders with outmoded ideologies hurt the very people they are supposed to help to succeed.  I have already written enough about Middle East and my full agreement with U.S. support of democracy and progress in the Middle East. 


And also let me clarify that I am not referring to Death Valley of Southern California here.  I am referring to the Silicon Valley of Northern California that used to be the envy of the world.  Silicon Valley was a jewel where the best talents of the world considered it a challenge to contribute to the success of leading-edge futurist technologies here that promised the rapid global development of post-industrial society and the Communists and Islamists called it all pipe dreams. Yes, that Silicon Valley is now a Death Valley. 


Many corporate buildings are empty and the companies not only have cut the fat, they cut the meat and they have been cutting the bones for a while and the political leaders in Washington do not know what their policies have done to this biggest asset of America, an area which has pioneered the intelligent technologies that are the building blocks of the post-industrial society and now this center has been going down for three years.


Why isn't there a voice for the Silicon Valley in Washington?  Surely, the leaders of the new technologies did not understand the importance of politics, and thought technology will work by itself, and contrary to industries like oil and auto, the Silicon Valley is hardly lobbied in Washington, even though the industries of this area impact the whole world leadership of the United States.  Hardly Washington even understands what is at stake in the Silicon Valley, when the best talents of the area are now being wasted moving out of the area, or out of the country, or moving to jobs that hardly create any leadership role for the US economy.


If Iran's backward leaders have not understood the value of Post-Industrial development and with retrogressive policies of the last 20 years have caused the retrogression of Iran into the Middle Ages, the US political leadership has done similarly on the economic issues in the last 3 years by not supporting the epoch making sector of the U.S. economy.


Just as Iran's leaders go on TV and talk about how to do Islamic prayers and wear veils, some U.S. leaders went on TV and talked about how to have school prayers rather than showing the country that all schools could have a laptop with WiFi connection to replace every student's notebook and  get the country to move forward to the 21st Century education. 


If the Iranian leaders talk about Shi'a schools of Middle Ages, their American counterparts are talking about pre-Constitution era and bringing back old religious schools to the U.S.  Not that the latter can change the U.S., but they have distracted one of the most important ground-shaking developments that had started in the U.S. with the introduction of personal computers.  Let me emphasize that  I do not want to interfere in anyone's  religious beliefs, but I say, just as we want it in Iran, to keep religion and state separate, let's do the same in the U.S., and more importantly let's focus on the epochal technological changes of our times when leading the country.


If the kind of talks these leaders make on TV was of any use, we would not even have TV's and satellites for them to use to propagate backward thinking rather than forward thinking, and the technology leaders of Silicon Valley not being political, have neglected to challenge Washington on these realities, and have been silent in the last three years, as if these are meddling in religious beliefs of Washington leaders, whereas it is not about religion, just as in Iran, and it is about going forward with a post-industrial thinking or suffering as the consequence of pre-industrial solutions to solve the problems of industrial society.


Isn't Iran a good example for the U.S. leaders to see that what U.S. has had in secular education is great and the problem of education today is to take the next step and drive for the post-industrial education rather than looking for solace in pre-industrial alternatives? Isn't it clear that Internet wiring, WiFi wireless networking and laptops on the desk of every student should replace the old books and notebooks?  And even the failures of such approach means to try to get it working and does not mean to encourage people go backward.  The first public schools of modern times had a lot of problems, but it was wrong to use the problems as a reason to go back to Medieval schools.


I do not care about Bill Clinton's personal life but him and Al Gore would go on TV and encourage Americans, young, old and middle aged, not to be afraid of computers and start using them and would show their own challenges for others to learn perseverance to gain the new computer habit.  Why after 20 years of this epochal change, still newspapers are delivered by hand with all the costs of paper and the monumental waste they create?  Why with all the development of Internet, the whole school system in the U.S. is not overhauled to replace the children's notebooks with laptop computers?  The new habits need repetition by society leaders for people to change, or else people would still not be using tooth brush.


Who is going to take the leadership to speak about these and lead the social habits to the ones needed by the new society?  I am glad that President Bush took the leadership to lay bare the despotic regime of Saddam and I would be happy to see him to show the crimes of Islamic Republic of Iran and its leaders on TV, and I would be the first to say that what Iraqi people suffered in the last war was nothing in comparison to what Iraqi and Iranian people have suffered under these Baathi and Islamist regimes in the last 24 years and I would hope for democracy in the whole Middle East, but the more important thing to show is the alternative to these backward regimes of pre-industrial mentality.


The alternative is showing how Computers, Internet, and new technologies have ushered in the development of post-industrial society in the U.S. and in the rest of the world, and all of that development has been suffering in the last three years in the cradle of this achievement, the Silicon Valley and similar centers of high technology, when Washington is not helping to get people to change habits to become real computer users, rather than just complaining of the time spent on computers.  Even in the area of energy the answer is in making solar energy a real economical alternative through nanotechnology and not keep fixing the political and technical issues of oil which is an obsolete approach.


We all know that it is a common belief that eCommerce is not liked by consumers and justifying dotcom failures on that premises.  It is like in a backward country where the leaders do not get the people to learn to acquire a new habit to use toothbrush and then come back and say consumers do not like toothbrush.  The topic of changing *habits* and the role of political leaders is crucial.


I have already written about the state of world economy in 2001 and what I predicted unfortunately has happened because the U.S. leadership, both Bush Administration and Congress did not change course.  The democrats have not come up with strong alternative plans either.  


On this 21st Century the whole United States copper wiring should be replaced with fiber to *every home* for the U.S. to create a whole new infrastructure that can allow a new way of doing things from delivering videos to realtime interactions, and from education to delivering newspapers, etc. 


I am not just proposing Broadband and patchworks like DSL or Cable modem using the current copper and coax cabling.  To get copper or coax do a bit more is *not* creating what has already been postponed long enough to lay the *real fiber to every home* to qualitatively change communications and its possibilities


It is *not* enough just to have a fiber backbone which is already pretty much in place in all parts of the world and even under the oceans.  Complete fiber wiring to replace the whole copper wiring to every home is what is needed to create a critical mass of a new advancement of post-industrial technologies. If one still keeps the scope of everything to what it was 50 years ago, even the current telecom capacity seems "over-capacity" and the current number of PCs or intelligent devices seems to be "too" many.  


Only the overhaul of the whole copper infrastructure and replacing it with fiber to every home can usher in a glacial change in the world but who will be the political leader getting this achieved with no compromises.  Although removing Saddam was a great achievement but the epochal achievement to change the world is this infrastructure change which may seem very technical but if one thinks it through, it is the key.


If the political leaders of the country do not go on TV and show using computers to read news, exchange email, for education, shopping and eCommerce and other possibilities, who can do it?  It is like the days when cars came out and if the leaders would emphasize riding their horse carriages, the cars would take forever to catch on.  A new product like cell phone is not replacing an old product and thus does not face the issue of replacing a new habit for the old habit. 


But when a new way of doing things is replacing an old one, cars replacing horse carriages, electric shavers replacing razors, electronic news replacing newspapers, eCommerce replacing old fashioned retail and wholesale, or laptops replacing students' books and notebooks, the advanced form of doing things needs changing habits to achieve the same result in a new way, and habit is the biggest enemy which can linger on forever like old-fashioned razors and this is why political leaders and media play a critical role.


Surely there are problems with spam and viruses and many other pains associated with the new technologies, just like cars still need repairs.  But should we use these problems to discourage the computer users, or should we work to solve the problems while showing people that this is the way of the future and encourage them to get on board?


It is so unfortunate that the major Futurist organization in the U.S., that is the World Future Society (WFS) , is silent about all these issues and does not discuss politics at all, neglecting these critical obstacles to the development of post-Industrial society in the U.S. and the world.  I can understand when WFS does not believe in creating a whole new Futurist Party in the U.S. but why not the futurists in both the Democratic and Republican parties get active *politically*, and get their voice heard in Washington?  Are we waiting for Silicon Valley to become the next Pyramids for tourists to visit and say hey once upon a time this was the center of a new civilization that was being born but it was not nurtured by the nation's leaders and died and became a Death Valley?



Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi
August 23, 2003