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Essay/Chapter 5. Telematics
Chapter 5. TELEMATICS
- 1. Definitions
- 2. Which information?
- 3. Applications
- 4. The telematic market
- 5. Monetary dematerialization
- 6. The present alternative
The word telematics is starting to be used currently in all the mass media in our country.
It has been formed by merging two ideas, more familiar, of telecommunication and data processing. We can then define telematics as the «distance communication (= telecommunication) of codified information processed according to logic (=data processing)».
Data processing is a very sophisticated system of handling inforamtion which brings into play, fundamentally, three elements:
- the material one (hardware) is the tool, the working equipment; it is the computer, the hardware making it up, material and tangible. This hardware is the physical support of information.
- the logicial one (software) is the direction, the working method; it is the programme,intangible, abstract-logic, made up by a number of elementary instructions which, when they have been introduced in the computer central memory, ensure its performance.
- the language: all information is expressed through a language; the programme too must express itself in a language, which the computer must understand in order to be able to carry out the instructions which are given to it. This language is called machine-language, and acts as a bridge between the machine (material) and the programme (logic-abstract); it consists of a codification which matches the logic concepts of the programme with specific physical phenomena: the transmission of electric signals. Electric signals, then, materialize information.
Through the combination of data processing with telecommunications —that is, the technologies of distance communications, circulation and distribution of information: telegraph, telephone, radio, television, video,...— telematics is born, which is the possibility of connecting among them several data processing centres, scattered in space, so that they may transmit among themselves the information stored or worked out by each one of them.
Through the combination of data processing with the technologies of retroactive control, cybernetics is born, which is just the possibility for the computer to continuously modify its own performance, by comparison between the programme and the results which are being obtained.
2. Which information?
Data processing is the processing of information. But, which information are we talking about? can any information be submitted to data processing? No. It can only be the information which refers to «scientifically» analyzable phenomena. Only the information which can be systematized, formalized, which can be expressed according to conventional rules or to «scientific» laws, can be the object of data processing.
Because the data processing programmes are logical, they are a number of formal operations to be carried out on informative units. And it makes no sense to submit to logical operations all that depends from human free imagination, creativity, intuition, and which, therefore, is not submitted to any system nor any law, and even less to any logic —which is the strictest of the concentration camps—.
In a word: all that is not the object of «science», is not the object of data processing either. A computer cannot give results nor answers concerning ethical, moral, political, esthetic... problems. It can only help man to solve the problems having their source in the field of phenomena which are the object of «science», because in this field it only repeats and imitates the outlines of the logic thought in man, and to carry them out. And when it carries them out it does so with great speed and precision, thereby sparing man from having to carry out very long and troublesome calculations and mental operations.
This speed and precision are the great advantage and usefulness of data processing; and even if its field of application is rigidly outlined, the final result is that man has a highly perfected instrument of analysis of the phenomenal reality which allows him, later, to take his free ethical, political, esthetic options and decisions of great responsibility, on the basis of a knowledge of phenomena much more complete and improved.
Not because it is narrowly defined is the application field of the data processing technology more reduced. On the contrary, its use gets on more and more through a great number of domains and tasks, to the extent that it becomes a real social revolution.
From the programmes for teaching and research and up to robotics (or robotization of production, that is industrial production carried out by robots, machines with an electronic brain) and to bureautics (automation of office tasks and cores), going through video, video-text, electronic games or the personal minicomputers, which lure the great public, there exist many and many practical applications of data processing and of telematics, and many more are still to be invented.
On the other hand, the quick technologic progress causes a progressive miniaturization of appliances, their constant reduction in price, and the working out of new man-machine languages (which must not be confused with the machine-language previously mentioned) which become closer to the human language —all these things to a great extent make the use of this technology easier—.
4. The telematic market
But what we are interested in especially now is the possibility of applying telematics to the shaping of a new monetary system.
This is no piece of news, since everybody has heard about electronic money or electronic payments. The comprehensive name of monetics is also being used.
Now, the different initiatives which are already on the move in this respect in different countries, also in ours, do not fall within the context of a theoretical reflection on the monetary system and its social function. We want to put right this fundamental deficiency, which is also very dangerous.
In the previous chapter we have described the cheque-invoice, the monetary instrument we suggest as an alternative to the irrational monetary instruments in force. We shall now see how to put in practice this cheque-invoice with the help of telematics, that is, of the pro-telematic cheque-invoice. The great possibilities of telematics cause this technology to be perfectly suited to the needs and features of the cheque-invoice.
Pro-telematic cheque-invoice means simply that every cheque-invoice issued will be so through a centralized telematic system. To develop this system is, from a technological point of view, the easiest thing.
This telematic system should cover the following elements:
- Telematic-monetary centres:
- private invoicing centres: each and all the sales establishments (companies; wholesale shops; detail shops and industries), however small, make up an invoicing centre. They will have to be supplied with invoicing minicomputers which, besides, will dispose of a printer which at every sales-purchase operation shall print the relevant cheque-invoice. The supplier will only have to type the suitable instructions so that all the features of the operation will be recorded —as it was said in the previous chapter—; before making the cheque-invoice he will have checked the identity of his customer (there are several identification means to choose from). Finally, the customer will only have to sign the cheque-invoice.
- private accounting centres: they are accounting companies (let us remember: Business Banks and Savings Banks). In one of these centres each one will have his personal current account. Every cheque-invoice, after being signed by the customer, will be sent by the supplier to his accounting company, which will record the relevant amount in his current account. The supplier's current account will send the cheque-invoice to the customer's bank, where the corresponding debit will be made in his current account, and where later the cheque-invoice will be microfilmed and filed away. Every bank will be in charge of carrying out studies of analysis and statistics concerning the whole of the cheque-invoices signed by their customers in each given year. (These analytic-statitic studies will have to be made completely omitting personal references to the agents of every monetary operation; in this respect, please se chapter 6).
- imperial centre, depending on the monetary authorities of the geopolitical community: to this centre will arrive the analytic-statistic data worked out by every bank, and the global analytic-statistic studies of the whole empire will be worked out.
- Telematic-monetary connections: these connections are not absolutely necessary to start the suggested monetary system, but as they will be set up, they will simplify the processes described before to be carried out by each telematic centre:
- connections between each invoicing centre and its corresponding bank: this will make the automatic recording in a current account easier, without waiting for the cheque-invoice to be sent.
- connections between accounting centres (banks): this will make the automatic debiting in the customer's current account easier.
- connections between the accounting centres and the imperial centre, to allow an easier automatic transmission of the analytic-statistic data prepared by each accounting centre (bank).
The market reality which will derive from the radical suppression of the present monetary instruments, and their substitution by the telematic monetary network we have just described, is called telematic market. In the telematic market, each elementary operation is fully documented: there is therefore a total transparency of the market, a thorough information on it, which, if made available to all the population —and not only to a privileged sector of it— is an inexhaustible source of greater wealth, freedom and ability to act with intelligence and effectiveness.
The same could be said of the telematic society, or number of social-monetary acts inside the telematic network of cheque-invoices.
5. Monetary dematerialization
With the telematic monetary network and the pro-telematic cheque-invoice a great dematerialization of the monetary system is attained, which shows very clearly its lack of any intrinsic value, and its purely instrumental-abstract nature.
The purchasing power of each person will be made up simply by a figure in his current account.
This purchasing power will be started only by the issuing of a pro-telematic cheque-invoice: the ensuing recording of data is automatic through the computer.
The cheque-invoice, being a piece of paper, is the most material part of the suggested monetary system, and it might even be suppressed and substituted by a magnetic memory which would be printed directly in the customer's card and in the telematic network of the accounting centres (banks).
6. The present alternative
Whether we like it or not, the fact is that the telematic market will be a reality in a very few years.
In some parts of our country there are already electronic payment cards. In other countries, especially in Japan, this system is already widespread.
However, if we consider how this is being done at present, the conversion of the monetary system to telematics will not be total, but will be done parallel to the present system. The anonymous monetary instruments in force will not be suppressed radically as we have suggested, but they will be held side by side with the personalized telematic monetary instruments: in this way it will always be possible to go from one sort of monetary circulation to the other. And so it will be impossible to obtain a total imperial accounting, and it will be impossible to attain an effective personalization and responsibilization of the monetary acts, in anticipation of the disappearance of corruption for money. All the goals we have assigned to the pro-telematic cheque-invoice will be in principle unattainable; there will have been technical progress, but social progress will be naught.
We therefore suggest the complete telematization of the monetary system. That this need not imply the absolute control of the State over citizens we shall try to demonstrate in the following chapters.