Sunday, 12 July 2009

Economic Revision

I recently posted a response to a discussion on the need for Computer Science Education in the ACM SIGCSE member forum. The issue that I raised is that anyone that is looking at education in a specific context has to be able to talk to both the education community and the community in the discipline in which they are attempting to apply education thinking. I can't claim exclusive rights to this idea. Fincher and Petre (2004) also make this claim.

A response that I received also acknowledged this difficulty but the author went on to talk how innovation often requires cross discipline application of knowledge. Altshuller (1997) suggests that to come up with innovative solutions requires looking at a problem in a different way.

Having just visited Paris and seen those hawking souvenirs or tricking visitors out of their money, or those living on the streets or begging on the pavement, I was challenged again to think about our economic system and how the current recession is hurting people. Add to this the G8 discussions on combating the green house effect and the concerns about the need for aid dollars and you realise that our economic system is a failure.

Money alone can't solve the problem but when there are solutions available and they aren't used because the money isn't available then we need to rethink economic systems. At the ITiCSE conference, one of the working groups was investigating issues of sustainability and one of the considerations was also economic revision.

The economic system is man created and it is failing to deliver on crucial issues. It is time for a rethink that comes from outside the realms of current economic thinking. The distribution of purchasing power can not solely rely on employment. Issues of social justice, sustainability, and environmental balance also need to be taken into consideration. Debit financing or borrowing against future productivity has to be replaced by a credit system that encourages useful production rather than production for redundancy and waste.

Yes, a revised economic system may cause major redistribution of wealth and eliminate some industries that are little more than parasites but changes are necessary if we are to really address the current economic and environmental issues.

I challenge all economists to think outside their current economic parameters and look to the real purpose of an economic system and what economic justice really means. Forget self interest and preservation of your own economic and cultural status and look at promoting a system that encourages cooperative rather than competitive development. Wealth distribution can't be based on having or not having. Exploitation of people or resources for the benefit of the wealthy has to stop.

Above all step outside your comfort zone and learn something of the pain that the systems that you foster and have helped put in place are causing pain and suffering to others and the planet.


Altshuller, G. (1997), 40 principles: TRIZ keys to technical innovation. Technical Information Center.

Fincher, S. A., & Petre, M. (Eds.). (2004). Computer science education research. London and New York: Routledge Falmer, Taylor & Francis.

1 comment:

pliu said...

I enjoy reading your blog postings. Thank you for writing about "computer science education" as an inter-disciplinary field of study. I'm a member of ACM and SIGCSE who lives and works in Canada.