When high reliability is not a trade-off

Yes, of course, the reliability of financial services (or such) has been treated as if it can be traded off against some service attribute like the cost or frequency of transactions. In sharp contrast, the high reliability of critical infrastructures (for energy and water, by way of example) is a state condition without which there would be no markets in real time. Economics assumes a theory of substitutability, where goods and services have alternatives in the marketplace; infrastructure reliability assumes a theory of nonfungibility, where nothing can substitute for the high reliability without which there would be no markets for goods and services, at least for right now when selecting among those alternative goods and services. There is a point at which high reliability and trade-offs are immiscible, like trying to mix oil and water.

One way of thinking about reliability’s nonfungibility is that it’s irrecuperable economically in real time; it cannot be cashed out in dollars and cents in the here-and-now without it becoming different from high reliability. Real time, from this perspective, is an impassable, obdurate obstacle to monetizing tasks then and there by the control operators undertaking the managing. Which is to say, if you were to enter the market and arbitrage a price for high reliability of critical infrastructures, the markets transactions would be such you’d never be sure you’re getting what you thought you were buying. Not only is nonfungibility of high reliability anterior to and foundational for market competition; its real time is unstoppable and insurmountable presentism—and not constructed so as to be reflected upon for compensation’s sake at a distance and later on.

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