Moore's Law vs. Moral Hazard

"...the health care system has long had trouble keeping up with Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power rapidly increases even as costs fall sharply."

That's from today's NYT: Insurers Fight Speech-Impairment Remedy And here's the nub: Given recent advances in speech-synthesis technology,

"...people with speech disabilities have a choice: pay for a cheaper product from their own pockets, try to borrow one from a private assistance group or spend their insurer’s money on a specialty device from a company like DynaVox Mayer-Johnson or Prentke Romich."

Expect more and more stories following pretty this same pattern, I'd say, since it's not only computing technology that seems to follow Moore-like patterns of development. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if someone were to offer a glucometer add-on for the iPhone any day now.

Though, by the same token, Moore's law-type effects start out in a race against diseconomies of scale and the story of Dean Kamen's iBot shows that what happens when, alas, the diseconomies win.

Norman Borlaug Dies at 95

A way back when, I used to use a quotation from Gulliver's Travels in my .sig:

And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.

Surely if ever there was person who deserved Swift's compliment, it is Norman Borlaug.

While I'm quite sensitive to the claims offered by some critics of 'green revolution' technologies--that they create dependency on the use of chemicals in agriculture, that they deliberately violate natural constraints and are ultimately unsustainable--I note that Borlaug himself was not sanguine in the face of these criticisms. Instead, he faced them with a rare and remarkable intellectual honesty.

And who could want a greater tribute to their life's work than this?:
By Mr. Toenniessen’s calculation, about half the world’s population goes to bed every night after consuming grain descended from one of the high-yield varieties developed by Dr. Borlaug and his colleagues of the Green Revolution.