D.C. NOTES

You know, the one thing I always liked about the men and women who pioneered the wireless industry is they were plain, ordinary folk, a mostly straight-talking, blue-collar-leaning breed that rolled up their sleeves and built paging, dispatch and public-safety radio systems.

The kind of people you could have a beer with at a trade show.

Not so long ago, they were called RCCs (radio common carriers) and SMRs (specialized mobile radio operators). All told, it was known as the land mobile communications industry.

Times have changed. RCCs and paging companies are now known as messaging firms. SMRs went chic, became ESMRs, and turned their attention to “the mobile work force.” RCCs and ESMRs became CMRS, and private land mobile was transformed into private wireless. Today, it’s the wireless telecom industry.

The early, polyester pioneers of yesterday have since cashed out, and the Brooks Brothers crowd has taken over. They’re a mostly savvy bunch, who are doing some neat stuff.

Let’s hope they don’t go the way of the cybergeeks, the self-anointed Orwellian social scientists of our time. The Bill Gates and Steve Cases of the world.

It was Gates who recently hosted 100 VIPs from around the world at the Microsoft “C.E.O. Summit,” where the nerdy one shared his future vision for a new social and business order in the digital age, which Microsoft Corp. would have dominion over.

This Wednesday, America Online President Steve Case will enlighten us at the National Press Club with a talk entitled, “The New Mass Medium: The Steps Necessary for Social Integration.”

Do these guys really believe they are the gods of some social transformation?

Obviously, they surrendered to Dolly and Deep Blue.

Leon Kass, writing in opposition to human cloning and on broader implications of technology in The New Republic, observed, “Enchanted and enslaved by the glamour of technology, we have lost our awe and wonder before the deep mysteries of nature and of life. We cheerfully take our own beginnings in our hands and, like the last man, we blink.”

Charles Krauthammer, in The Weekly Standard, quoted creators of Deep Blue as saying, “You can look at various lines and get some ideas, but you can never know for sure why it did what it did.” Is he suggesting Deep Blue is more than a muscle-bound calculator that played like a human in beating Gary Kasparov?

Is that so? Well just try balancing my checkbook, big guy.

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