Evonomics – Oligarchy

Evonomics – Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse

Oligarchies win except when society enacts effective reforms

“The collapse of urban cultures is an event much more frequent than most observers realize. Often, collapse is well underway before societal elites become aware of it, leading to scenes of leaders responding retroactively and ineffectively as their society collapses around them.” – Sander Vander Leeuw, Archaeologist, 1997

The article gives some useful insights in some contexts, and it also displays some major shortcomings in the depth of the strategic complexity displayed.

The complete picture is much more complex, and certainly the picture painted is one important aspect (one amongst very many, dozens that are equally as important, and a few that are much more important).

This site is supposed to be about evolution.
Evolution is about survival of replicators in strategic contexts.
Even if one accepts a fully causal reality (as Wolfram does) Wolfram demonstrates that such a reality attains many aspects of maximal computational complexity, and becomes unpredictable (though still causal).
I strongly suspect that the fundamental levels of reality are actually stochastic, and simply deliver a close approximation to causal at the levels we are able to observe, which delivers a very different sort of reality, where the possibility of real choice, real freedom exists (rather than Dennett’s hidden lottery form).

Getting back to evolution and replicators more directly, we have two major domains of replications that most evolutionists are now aware of, genetic and mimetic. It seems that there may in fact be an infinitely recursive set of such replicator spaces available at higher levels of abstraction, that are not memes as such, but exist in a different dimensional structure, that in our reality requires genes to deliver an environment where memes can flourish, and memes to deliver an environment for the new replicator. Leaving that thought hanging for the present, lets go back to what historically drives human evolution.

In a sense, evolution is about differential survival, and about in another sense it is about efficiency of energy utilisation.

Hunter gatherers required about 1 million square meters per person of land area. The technology was rather inefficient at converting sunlight into human beings, and it did work after its fashion.
We have gone through many strategic and technological forms, with aspects of our technology on an exponential increase. Some very few people have had some awareness of this extremely complex set of environments and nested contexts of evolution.
We can currently develop systems that allow a reasonably high standard of living from under 1,000 square meters of sunlight (using efficient solar collectors and robotics).

Currently we have a technological form that is dominated by market exchange, rather than any sort of overall picture of efficient conversion of energy to human security and freedom.

Markets were an effective tool for coordination in an age of genuine scarcity of most resources (as noted by Smith and Hayek and others), but as technology has developed to the point of being able to deliver a rapidly exponentially expanding set of abundant goods and services, the scarcity based values of markets and exchange actually become the single greatest threat to the security of every one of us – even those oligarchs at the top.

Absolute security is a myth, and we can do a lot better than we are.
Absolute freedom is a myth, and again, we can delivery far greater practical sets of choices to everyone than are currently available. (One always has the freedom to end one’s existence in a sense, and that seems to be the most limited form of freedom. Freedom in any meaningful sense seems to require a reasonable probability of continued existence – and that technology now seems to be available.)

We either leave our scarcity based paradigm of money and markets behind, and adopt a paradigm that is based in universal abundance, or we have a very low probability of survival (as individuals or as a species) – that much is abundantly clear.

We have the technology to make distributed manufacturing, and distributed high fidelity trust networks a reality. These things do not require hierarchy or central control. Individuals use context sensitive heuristics to grant authority to those in their trust networks depending upon context, and these cascades of trust and information flow, can deliver very effective and efficient decision making.

Full automation of manufacturing and service delivery is the key. People can do any aspect of the process they want to, and if they don’t want to, then the automatics can take over and function at a useful level of efficiency (even if not quite so efficient as the best of humanity).
Information and technology universally available, through trust networks, in near real time (millisecond delays).

Technically, such systems are not difficult.
Socially, in a context of market based values, trying to create profit, they are impossible.

The issue of our age is not reforming markets or money.

The issue of our age is using distributed automation and communication to make markets and money a redundant paradigm, of historical interest only.

Elites tend to be conservative, in the sense that they became elite by being successful in the existing context. They tend to rely on things that have worked in the past.
As failures start to mount in complex systems it is always possible to make a reasonable case that it is some part of the complex system that is at fault, rather than the paradigmatic base of the system as a whole.

Yet the logic is clear.
The answers are the same. It works if one assumes causality (as per Aristotle, Wolfram et al) or one assumes stochasticism (as per Rumi, Heisenberg, myself et al) [Rachel Garden’s universal logic is an intermediary paradigm that also appears to deliver the same outcome].

I see no stable or safe way to continue using markets as a dominant paradigm of value, with the necessary consequence of continued poverty for the mass of humanity.
We really do seem to be approaching something of a binary – where it really is one of those very rare all or nothing situations at a major paradigm level – and not simply at a quantum or neuronal level.

If any of us want a reasonable probability of living a very long time with reasonable levels of security and freedom, then we must be able to deliver that to everyone – no exceptions. And there is a test of reasonableness in here.

Posted in economics, Ideas, Our Future, Philosophy, Politics, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Futurists – Roadmap to immortality

London Futurists – Constructing a roadmap to immortality? With Alexey Turchin

I’ve been seriously investigating and thinking about this topic for 42 years, since the logic of indefinite life extension became clear.

Security comes from massive redundancy, and from massively parallel independent network.

We need to get robotic production off planet. We need everyone having their own independent systems of production.

Anything less is a high risk strategy.

Empower everyone.
Connect everyone.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Our Future | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Power

Solar Power World | Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts solar industry dominance in 12 years

So many half truths.

https://youtu.be/uStFvcz9Or4 offers an alternative perspective to the video above, which is much closer to reality and still not close enough.

There are so many issues being in a system that values scarcity.
When one considers that the fully capitalised FOB production costs of Saudi oil is under 40c/barrel there is a lot of profit margin there available to protect that profit margin using any and all legal, technical, economic, strategic and political means. That’s not picking on anyone in particular, just one glaring example amongst millions of others.

Ray is mostly correct, but he tends to ignore the biological use of energy that humans consume. We eat things that require sunlight to grow – the higher up the food chain those things are, the more sunlight is involved.

I’ve been vegan for 6 years. It’s tough adjusting for the first year, and then it becomes quite pleasant, and so much healthier (I was essentially a carnivore for 55 years).

If we focus engineering effort on meeting the real needs of people for secure sources of clean water, clean energy, healthy food, relevant (at the individual level) education, efficient transport, housing and healthcare – universally, then it could relatively easily be done. But there would be no money in it, because anything universally abundant has no value in a market.

This is the fundamental problem of our time.

Our system of value, complex as it is, evolved in a time of genuine scarcity for most things, and cannot adapt to genuine universal abundance. Money is a very poor measure of value when automation allows universal abundance of anything that can be automated or approximated closely enough to be utilitarian.

We are in a transition phase.

We can cobble together patches for the market system that let it limp on for a little while, and fundamentally, it has to go.

It simply doesn’t work in an age of abundance.

Technology has overwhelmed it.

To deliver security, we have to get large scale engineering in space.

Game of Thrones fans may be shocked to learn that long winters are real.
Large volcanoes can deliver multi-year winters (1816 was the last one in Europe).
With longer ones cannibalism is unavoidable unless one has large scale high tech and a lot of energy (which essentially means getting off planet where there is no interruption to the sun).
Some of the worst of those volcanoes can trigger tipping into Ice Ages, that can last for thousands of generations.

Such risks can be managed technologically, and it requires significant space based technology, which is easy enough to do if we focus on full automation of distributed production, and send one such self replicating unit to the moon, and once it has replicated for 30 or so generations start exporting significant amounts of mass from the moon’s very much smaller gravity well that doesn’t have any significant atmosphere to inhibit launching mass to orbital speed with ground based technology (linear motors or rail guns essentially).

We can easily meet the reasonable needs of most people for all essentials from under a thousand square meters land area each, if we optimise our use of space in both an engineering and an aesthetic set of senses.

Not difficult to design, or produce, just impossible to make profitable if one thinks about it in a market based sense.

We need to close nutrient loops, and market systems cannot do that. The logic of geochemistry, biochemistry and ecosystems is at variance with that of markets.

Mega-cities of the future may have lower densities, or may be powered by space based microwaves sent to a receiving area not too far away.
With very reliable high bandwidth communication networks, and remote robotics that can become the centre of awareness and action of anyone anywhere, there is not nearly as much need for people to travel places on a daily basis, or live in mega-cities. Anywhere within 1,000km (600 miles) would be close enough for network lag not to be a significant issue (no worse than moving one’s real body in real space).

We have real risks, and we have real options to mitigate those risks. And right now, our focus on money, markets and profit is the single greatest risk to implementing much needed risk mitigation measures for low probability high impact events.

I want to live a very long time. So for over 40 years I have been actively exploring risks and mitigation strategies. Indefinite life extension is on track to become a reality much faster than most people realise (even most of those who think they are in the know – I have known it was possible for 42 years, the logic is inescapable once you look closely enough at the biochemistry and the math). In a market based system, that fact (of life extension) alone becomes the single greatest source of risk to everyone.
Life extension must rapidly become universally available if it is to be stable.

Without universal availability, the risk from those who feel unjustly treated exponentially increases. And if one embarks on any variation of a pogrom of genocide to solve that issue, the risk of meeting a more advance extra terrestrial entity at some point in the future, and being exterminated as too high a risk to have around, becomes significant. So universal availability really is the only long term stable solution.

So we really do live in “interesting times” (to borrow from a Daoist curse), and they are also exciting times, full of potential, and also full of danger.

I am clear we can exponentially increase the potential, even as we exponentially decrease the risks – infinity has that rather unique set of attributes.

Posted in Technology, economics, Our Future | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s in my sidecar

Sidekicks and Sidecars

Who frequents your sidecar?

Hi Laurie

Ailsa is my sidekick for long distance travel, though she has been doing more by herself than in my company recently, with 7 hours each way to visit her mum. I’ve been too committed here to go with her often – though I am planning doing the next trip with her.

We tend to cover a few miles. Have probably done close to 200,000 miles together, on various trips. New Zealand is an Island nation, but it is a thousand miles from one end to the other, and try and get around both Islands once a year (visiting all our clients), and sometimes we miss a year. Then it is a 9 hour drive to our little farm, and 2.3 hours to the nearest city, which we can sometimes do several times a week. So it adds up over time.

Ailsa just called me from the top of a mountain that is a 3 hour drive then a 4 hour hike to get to the top of – she went with our neighbour Bev, and will be back tomorrow night.

If Ailsa isn’t with me, I often pick up hitch-hikers.

Posted in Laurie's blog | Tagged | Leave a comment

Evonomics – The corrupted Invisible Hand

The corrrupted Invisible Hand

I align with most of what is written, and a lot of “almost got it”s in this article.

There are three major aspects to the growth of productivity:

Energy available;

Materials available; and

Technology available (knowledge/information).

Energy

Initially, the energy was only that of human labour, but that was then added to by domesticated animals, buffalo and horses in particular, and by fire, then by water and steam, then coal, and more recently oil powered combustion engines.

Lots of other sources.

Almost all our energy is some form of solar energy, either direct or indirect. Fossil fuels (oil and coal) are in all cases (as is wind or hydro), by some series of indirect steps and stages, in largest measure some form of stored solar energy (even the limestone involved in deep synthesis is biological in origin).

Solar energy hitting the planet directly is equivalent to a layer of oil over the entire planet some 6 inches (15cm) deep every year. Solar dwarfs all other energy sources by a significant margin. When one considers the energy available in orbit, it is easy to conceive of every person having access to as much energy as humanity as a whole currently uses.

We are not really short of energy, just appropriate technologies to harness it.

Materials

In the past, we relied mainly on biological or geological process to produce what we needed.

Thus we would grow things, catch things or mine things.

We are now starting to understand chemistry and manufacturing technologies to the point that we can work with elements in almost any concentration.

Within a few years we will have the technology to mine and manufacture at the atomic level.

At that point, there will be no scarcity of any material.

We live on a vast ball of matter.

Matter is not a problem.

Technology

Technology is about information. What we know how to do.

Initially we had to each learn things by trial and error, or be shown how to do something by someone who knew how.

Once we developed writing, we could store and retrieve that sort of information.

Now we have automation, and our ability to process information is doubling in under a year.

So we are seeing ever more efficient ways to harness energy, to process materials, to automate processes so that people do not need to be involved much if at all.

So we are not now constrained by our ability to produce stuff, either goods or services.

The major constraint we now have is our ways of thinking about things, and the goals and values we have.

So that brings us to a theory of value.

What is value?

I am now clear, beyond any shadow of doubt, that just as most of our energy is ultimately solar, so most of our values are ultimately about survival.

Why do we have the likes and dislikes we have?

Ultimately because either at the genetic, or at the cultural, level, those values survived better than all the other variants, and ended up in us.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Many variations on themes in there.

Liking sex is pretty obvious, if our ancestors didn’t then there isn’t much chance of us being here.

Liking sweet foods is similar, plants that developed the trick of putting high energy sugars near their seeds managed to get their seeds dispersed more effectively by animals than those that didn’t. We need the high energy content. Our big brains in particular use a lot of energy.

Bad smells are associated with things that were dangerous to our ancestors.

Good smells things that were advantageous to our ancestors. On average, over time, in both cases.

When it comes to culture, the same general theme applies. We get to hear the stories that other people tell us. Lots of factors involved in what gets told in what contexts and what doesn’t – really complex, and ultimately all about the stories that survive by being told.

So those philosophers that claim that one “cannot derive an ought from an is” simply have not considered the “is”s of the many levels and contexts of games theory and evolution more generally.

Each of us as humans has to find some way to survive.

We put in effort doing things we may not enjoy much at all, if we can see a survival benefit in doing so (at some level).

So for each of us, value comes down to a variety of measures:

how much time (a temporal measure of survival) does it take to get something one way verses another way?

what are the likely risks associated with this and known alternative strategies?

what contexts are we likely to encounter in the future?

what sort of discount rates seem appropriate on future over current benefits?

what are the likely survival values of past strategies (genetic or cultural) in our current exponentially changing world?

how likely is it that technology will achieve full automation sometime soon?

how likely is it that indefinite life extension will become a reality?

Different people address the assumptions and heuristics implicit in these (and other) sets of questions at different levels.

We are very complex entities.

We have very complex sets of values that are highly context sensitive – each and every one of us.

Fraudulent behaviour is not only possible, it seems to be the norm at higher levels.

In a very real sense, the whole of economics is fraudulent, in as much as it claims to be of general benefit to the majority of humanity. That cannot be so.

Market based systems require scarcity to deliver value.

No market system, in and of its own internal incentive structures, will ever deliver universal abundance of anything.

Universal abundance always has zero or less market value!

Much as I respected and admired Milton Friedman, he was wrong to assert that competition will right most wrongs, and he admitted as much to me on 15th March 2003, once he understood the power of technology to deliver universal abundance.

Compared to automating and decentralising production to the point that we all have our own fully automated nano-tech factories (not yet technical reality and not that far away) any form of market exchange is inefficient.

The age of markets is drawing to an end.

The age of abundance if dawning, if, and only if, we can get over the scarcity imposed by market thinking, and liberate both our creativity and technology from artificially imposed scarcity.

We have some real issues.

There are some individuals for whom hate and destruction is more abundant that love and creativity.
And they can be relatively easily identified, and constrained sufficiently that they do not pose a significant risk to anyone else.

And some issues really are complex, extremely complex.

Freedom must logically result in diversity.

Things can only get even more strange, even more complex, even with the best will in the world.

We need to get over markets, and start delivering technologies that support life and liberty universally.

And liberty is not licence, it contains responsibilities to show reasonable care and attention to the reasonable needs of others (no hard boundaries there, all flexible in many dimensions and highly context sensitive).
Reality is very complex, with a great deal of uncertainty – we need to accept that, and learn to dance with it in a sense. And there is no need for anyone to have to be in need of the basic necessities of life, and there is a need to constrain human reproduction.

Posted in economics, Our Future, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Favourite pen

Le Plume

Do you have a favorite pen?

Hi Laurie

I rarely use a pen these days – marking a golf score card is usually about it, signing the occasional cheque – about twice a month.

Almost everything I write is done by keyboard, or by voice translation software.
I am watching the advancement of thought to text software with great interest, will likely be one of the early adopters when it does mature sufficiently to be useful – probably two to three years away.
They’re making good progress with the body movement side:
http://www.kurzweilai.net/quadriplegic-man-is-first-to-regain-use-of-hand-and-fingers

And I find it interesting that we still use terms like plume (meaning feather) from where most early writing implements were formed (or Stylus – from the even earlier V shaped tools for leaving impressions in clay).

The degree of information transfer available today is exponentially increasing.
Now the limit is the contextual searches.
Search engines help, and they are not yet sufficiently sophisticated to work with multi-level abstractions, and there are certainly plenty of people working on that problem (Wolfram and his team have cracked it for the tightly defined world of mathematical and logical abstraction, but not for the more general classes of abstraction).

I am still more interested in exploring the deeply nested sets of unexamined assumptions that lie below all knowledge and abstraction. At times I feel I am getting close to the base of the issues, and Wolfram does seem to be onto something real with his notion of inherent computational complexity present in some classes of reality, even if some of his bounding assumptions are not as general as he thinks.

So whether its stylus or feather or ballpoint or keyboard or neural interface, I am all for effective use of tools of communication. And it seems that all communication is limited at either end by the depth to which underlying assumptions and heuristics have been explored, and the extent to which higher level abstractions of general principles have been attained. And each level of abstraction seems to be infinite, and all levels seem to have some contexts in which they are capable of dominating all other levels. So irrespective of depth or height of exploration, we are all a close approximation to ignorance, and all sufficiently creative and destructive to be worthy of deep respect.

My Toshiba laptops are my current tools of choice – the Portege series has served me well over the last couple of decades.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do with my life

April 16 to 18, ’16 ~QofDay~ Life

What would you like to do with your life?

Keep it going.

Explore as much of infinity as I can (which must, logically, be a close approximation to none of it, even should I manage to live for the remainder of eternity – infinity is like that – just big beyond any ability to comprehend).

Enjoy the journey and the entities I meet along the way.

Be as honest and as helpful as I can, given that I am human, subject to many classes of probabilities of error in all understandings that I have, and all actions that I take (as is everyone else).

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged | Leave a comment