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A wealthy person who insists on making poor choices will soon be poor. As this person continues to make poor choices, good options which were formerly available will disappear. When they eventually hit rock bottom, not only have poor choices led them there, but they'll also be looking at a set of very poor options. Since they've chosen not to practice the art of discovering good options and making good choices there's little reason to believe that they'll be able to bounce back up under their own power.

The vast majority of poor people have never been wealthy. They've always been poor, or not far from it. Nonetheless they are looking at a set of poor options from which the best choice they can make is similarly poor.

When even the best option is a poor one, a person has little hope. A choice matters very little when all options are poor. It's been said that a person is poor because they've made poor choices, but like a poor set of choices is founded on inaccurate and incomplete information, the same is true of such a thought. What is missing from that thought is that those poor choices are made by a person facing a set of poor options.

Good options may be technically available but they are obscured, hidden, or carefully presented as being out of reach, whether by one's own culture or another culture. The occasional person overcomes these obstacles and gains an accurate picture of their situation, then manages to successfully leverage that information into better options, but most will not. Those who do not are not lesser people but rather the challenge is simply too great. Tasked with climbing a Himalayan mountain, the most sensible choice may be to not bother at all. Of those who attempt the climb, the vast majority will fail. This says much more about the mountain than the person.

Poor choices thrive when there is an asymmetry of information. This is always the case when there is a power disparity. You might even say that this is exactly what a power disparity is. A powerful person or group isn't going to voluntarily relinquish their position so it is prudent for them to promote and amplify a set of choices which enrich themselves but are poor to the person looking at them.

These ideas are as old as the hills. Information asymmetry is as natural as those hills and this pattern is playing out in all of the nooks and crannies of civilization, all the way to the top of it. With each person engaging in this pattern to some degree it can be very difficult to look behind the surface of one's own options and then grasp the complete effects.

When talking about an asymmetry of information, it's important to understand that hearing or seeing the words does not impart a complete understanding of the meaning of the information. You might hear a phrase like "Internet of Things", and think, well, it's a bunch of connected things, wouldn't it be fascinating if my fridge could talk to my dishwasher and send a message to my smartwatch? Or you might think it's a horrible waste of energy and money, completely gratuitious, with huge potential for invasion and information capture, and who the hell is demanding this anyway? Your viewpoint depends on the quality of your information, both superficial and developed.

Or you might hear someone say "We are changing the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things", and think that sounds pretty good. Who doesn't want to be empowered and do amazing things? But it really depends on who is saying it, what their history is, what their motivations are, and what the entirety of the context is. Nearly everything we hear is a sales pitch of one kind or another, part of a marketing effort large or small, and the full picture is never presented. Who would buy a line like that if the complete set of consequences and implications was laid out alongside the benefits? Very few, regardless of the balance.

Here's an excerpt from Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella's first memo to employees:

Why am I here? I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft — to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. I know it can sound hyperbolic — and yet it’s true. We have done it, we’re doing it today, and we are the team that will do it again.

I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning.

Ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence, new hardware form factors coevolving with software to digitize everything in our lives. Have you ever said "I need that!"? Not likely. Who is demanding it then? Why is Microsoft going in this direction - is it purely for profit? What isn't being said? Why not say it? Well, we already know why not - there wouldn't be much of a value proposition left.

Here's the thing. The real meaning of Satya Nadella's words is the inverse of their surface appearance. The inherent effect of this familiar type of technology, and the direction it is going, is to perpetuate and amplify information asymmetry.

When you digitize everything and put it in the cloud that puts even more of your information in their hands. With the Internet of Things or Personal Web, they get ever more detailed information about you, from devices surrounding you that they control. With data-mining, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning, they are extracting value from your information for their own purposes. None of these things lead to empowered people doing amazing things. They lead to an increasingly empowered Microsoft - and many other large and powerful organizations - extracting ever-greater profits and increased power at the expense of an individual's best interests.

So it matters not a whit what the suggested benefits are; there may not even be any. It's more of the same old technology, doing the same thing, for the same reasons, with the same downsides as ever. Anyone who takes another bite of this shit sandwich is going to be poorer for it, in more ways than one.