Project Cybersyn

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 16 Dec 2022 12:22
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    • Project Cybersyn was an ambitious effort to leverage the computer technology of the early 1970s to build management tools for the national economy of Chile. Designed and built by the Socialist government led by Salvador Allende, it was ultimately brought down not by any technical or conceptual failings but by the military coup of 1973.
    • I've known about Cybersyn for years, but I think I got stuck on the unforgettably silly-looking control room. It makes it too easy to sneer and dismiss the whole idea as an artifact of an age of many embarassing stylistic choices. But for whatever reason, I'm ready to take a closer look. Project Cybersyn - Wikipedia gives a good architectural overview:
      • a network of telex machines (Cybernet) in state-run enterprises that would transmit and receive information with the government in Santiago.
      • Information from the field would be fed into statistical modeling software (Cyberstride) that would monitor production indicators, such as raw material supplies or high rates of worker absenteeism,
      • in "almost" real time, alerting the workers in the first case and, in abnormal situations, if those parameters fell outside acceptable ranges by a very large degree, also the central government.
      • The information would also be input into economic simulation software (CHECO, for CHilean ECOnomic simulator) that the government could use to forecast the possible outcome of economic decisions.
      • Finally, a sophisticated operations room (Opsroom) would provide a space where managers could see relevant economic data, formulate feasible responses to emergencies, and transmit advice and directives to enterprises and factories in alarm situations by using the telex network.
    • Politics
      • Not necessarily sectarian, but with a definite viewpoint (technocratic, globalist, liberal)
      • Compare to (eg) Walmart's or Amazon's supply chain management. Same thing without the democracy or social values or accountability. Or Big Ag.