Monday, May 28, 2018

Forget college -- start learning every day!


Well, that heading is not to dismiss the college experience. College is, or at least used to be, a great way to spend one’s formative years, learning a bit about how much has been learnt by modern society over centuries, and of course, making lifelong friends.

The modern college system owes much to the German civil servant Wilhelm von Humboldt. In 1809, he brought industrial scale and efficiency to earlier systems. It served the needs of the industrial age, which needed trained managers to allow thousands and millions of workers to work in unison for an industrially efficient outcome.

This system has spread throughout the world today, and certainly has its benefits when the tedious work can be automated or outsourced to localities that still practice older, more oppressive industrial systems. But the world has changed. The outsourcing part of manual labor is slowly but surely giving way to automation. But the machines we build need constant re-programming, maintenance, and general care from expert, skilled people.

Unlike earlier manual labor work, this work requires skills that constantly change in their details. The managers and technologists are also prone to become outdated much sooner than one lifetime. This is the conclusion of Karun Philip in _Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism_ (“ZATAOFC”). The prior sections of the book are a logical and historical story of the various components of commercial society, with references provided to further exploration of how this story has unfolded since those early 1800’s.

It starts with defining Knowledge, in the sense of how a human brain attains knowledge. It moves to the modern definition of money. It may surprise many that modern money is no longer gold, or even the promise of any government that taxes, though there were periods when those definitions were accepted. The only thing we can do with money today is to lend it. When we put it in a bank, the bank does lending for us. Otherwise they couldn’t afford to give us all the services it does and pay us an interest rate as well. All money is just credit and debit. Loans given, and loans taken. That’s it!

So, what is a loan? It is a promise to create a future flow of money from a person or entity that shows how they plan to work to earn an income that can support that future flow of money to the lender. Loans are created in banks by the stroke of a pen (or rather, by the tap on the keyboard, these days). Loans are the creation of money. If the repayment continues as promised, the loans are good. In other words, the money is good quality money. Yes, we can create infinite money through infinite loans, but if we stop paying attention to the quality, the repayments will stop. The money created would be bad money. The system would collapse.

ZATAOFC puts forward its concluding proposition, that we should be creating loans for constantly training and re-training workers. By keeping track of the trainers that are effective, money can be directed to training that is useful enough to produce future income. This could be for managers, technologists, marketers, entertainers, craftspeople, artists, and who knows what else. We don’t care for what. We care only whether the training is effective. Then we can go on producing more money (loans) and everyone can make more money for themselves. But we will all have to constantly re-train ourselves as old knowledge reduces in value and new knowledge becomes more valuable.

John Maynard Keynes put forward the idea of increasing money supply (loans) to get out of a Great Depression. Milton Friedman described the possible bad effects of this, namely runaway inflation. If we increase the money supply (loans) more than it ought to be increased, Friedman showed that inflation is the likely result. Both these works focused on the quantity of money (loans). ZATAOFC accepts both but emphasizes the quality of money (loans) created.

In 2017, the author, Karun Philip, started The Knowledge Capital Project to create user-contributed database of training courses, the return each course has provided to the learners, and data that can be used for lenders to lend to the areas they feel will be worth lending to. ZATAOFC is available on Amazon, with some extracts, and the blog at has some more extracts and a forum for discussion and critique of these and other ideas.

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Review by MD Tech magazine

Interview with Dr. Karun Philip It will be great if you could give me a brief background about your company as to what you do and you know, ...