[e2e] It's all my fault

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Fri May 18 07:02:37 PDT 2007

On May 18, 2007, at 8:09 AM, Vadim Antonov wrote:

> On Fri, 18 May 2007, Tom Vest wrote:
>> Your willingness to dismiss the net effects of such considerations so
>> casually is itself a textbook example of the "What is seen and  
>> what is
>> not seen" fallacy.
> Tom - you may want to look up what this term means (hint: this is a  
> title
> of an essay by Bastiat). You certainly make no sense applying it in  
> this
> context.
> My statement was merely a very simple observation that averaging,
> comparing, or otherwise aggregating non-additive quantities (such as
> personal utilities) is mathematically invalid. Meaning that all  
> economic
> models based on this operation are pure unadulterated junk. From a  
> purely
> logical point of view, without any political bias.
> The non-additivity of utilities is easily demonstrated with a simple
> experiment: let's say I hit you on the head with a cluebat. Does our
> aggregate utility (my increasing because of moral satisfaction, yours
> decreasing because I have a heavy hand and extensive experience with
> spanking and striking implements) increase or decrease?  What is the
> measure of "social good" of this act? How does one determine it?
> --vadim

Thank you for making my previous, tongue-in-cheek hypothetical  
example so apropos.
It helps my always-vulnerable reputation for prescience immensely ;-)

I agree with you that abstract utilities are silly, and that much in  
mainstream academic economics (and many other orthodoxies) is silly.
I'm not the kind of orthodox economist (or anything else) that feels  
the need to defend the discipline, right or wrong.
I guess that's why blanket assertions from any particular ideological  
orthodoxy tend to set me off. For that I apologize.

In this particular case, however, I do have something that economists  
lack: an empirically measurable unidemensional metric of output or  
value that I can use to benchmark the aggregate results of all of the  
things we're discussing. That metric is unique public routed IP  
addresses, some of which are multiplexed at the edges with NAT, etc.  
It's a meaningful scale, I believe, because it actually follows (both  
historically and longitudinally) the distribution of "addressable  
network resources" (users, devices, etc.) that are counted  
independently by institutions like the ITU -- provided of course one  
knows how to apply the kind of (historically evolving) conversion  
rules that IP analysts in RIRs and hostmasters within commercial IP  
networks actually use to do that conversion in real-world practice.  
Granted, it's a tricky metric, and the continued use of pre-RIR  
address resources makes it tricker, but the latter represent less  
than 20% of what's in production now, and about 70 or so countries  
only came online after the establishment of the RIRs (and Route  
Views) so there are some questions that can be addressed with  
relatively high confidence -- or at least with much higher confidence  
than can be claimed in any other meta-policy-oriented Q&A context.

Being an Internet booster, I base my judgments on better vs. worse  
aggregate arrangements and outcomes on what gets more Internet "out  
there" faster, all things remaining equal. In this case, more ASes --  
which means more "independent" utilization of network facilities --  
which in the real world means greater availability/affordability of  
fractional network "infrastructure" (i.e., circuits over a fiber, or  
two fibers in a bundle, but not necessarily the whole trench,  
conduit, and everything else) -- tends to correlate with more/faster  
Internet stuff over time, all things remaining equal.

It goes without saying that "more Internet" is not a universal  
absolute good. Perhaps there are countries where more Internet has  
actually been harmful, or come at some price which is too high by  
some other metric. I concede that my approach says nothing about such  
matters. The idea that the regulations that gave rise to rapid  
Internet development did violence to some abstract ideology about  
pure markets and property rights won't find much purchase with me,  
but I'd be happy to hear about real-world cases that others think  
might exemplify the hypothetical "too much Internet" outcome...


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