Sunday, June 23, 2024

Economics for the 21st Century

by John Maryon

Socialism and Economic Cybernetics: towards a manifesto
: Dr Elena Veduta, Second Wave Publications, 2014.Pbk, 48pp, RRP £10 but £7:50 including dispatch for UK New Worker readers and €14 for readers in the European Union.

Professor Elena Veduta is a prolific author and celebrated cybernetic economist working at the Lomonosov Moscow State University as Head of the Department of Strategic Planning and Economic Policy.  The academic is also Head of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Veduta is also a true Marxist.  Her views contrast with the reactionary academics of the school of market socialism that emerged in the mid 50s as Khrushchev's revision started to undermine socialist development in the USSR.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is concerned with the development and application of computer systems to simulate human intelligence.  Cybernetics relates to the study comparison of control and communication in living and machine systems. Economic Cybernetics is defined in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia as a scientific field in which Cybernetics is used to assist economic development.  Veduta analyses the causes of the current capitalist global crisis and shows that socialist planning is necessary to overcome the failings of market driven economies. In view of the difficult and complex problems the use of AI and algorithms in the application of cybernetics is considered essential. 
The book is divided into a number of sections.  These include a full analysis of capitalist contradictions and an examination of the alternative experience in coordination of production relationships in the USSR.  An analysis for today looks at the role of Trans National Corporations and how the distribution of wealth works in their favour. The impact of protectionism as practised by the USA is also studied. 
There is no doubt that computers play an important practical role in socialist planning, particularly as economies develop and become more complex, with the need to respond quickly to vast streams of input data.  The rise of AI in which the abilities of computers may surpass human capabilities must be considered as important. Wars in the future, including economic competition, may be controlled by AI which raises important ethical questions. The author examines in detail the experiences of the USSR in the field of Economic Cybernetics in its competition with the USA.  The effects of the Belt and Road Initiative are also considered. Professor Veduta states that within the framework of chaotically organised capitalism there can be no effective management of the economy.  It is suggested that in order to preserve capitalism AI may be used as a tool, to control people, rather than it's proper use as effective management of the economy. 
This important work by Professor Voduta deals with a very complex subject in such a way that non-academics may gain an understanding of the principles involved and the importance of the subject matter.  The work also serves as an important reference for specialists in the field.  It is a necessary read for those who may wish to analyse why the Soviet Union’s awesome rise was followed by a decline and to understand the economic forces at play in the modern world.

The booklet is available at a special price of £7:50 for UK readers (£5:00 plus £2:50 postage and packing) 
and €14 including dispatch for readers in the European Union. Orders to:
NCP Lit, PO Box 73, London SW11 2PQ. 

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