comments on First Draft of Economics, Finance, Governance, and Ethics in the Anthropocene

First Draft of Economics, Finance, Governance, and Ethics in the Anthropocene Now Available for Comment

Hi Dan / Peter

I sent a first draft last night, I have reviewed it today, and found numerous typos – please read this rather than the first, if that is possible.

This work is very good – exceptional in parts – so much so that I have typed out sections rather than waiting for the ability to cut and paste.
Great as it is, there are some areas that could benefit from a little revision; and there are some logical holes in the thesis. And some of the recommended strategies require revision.

Page 6, 3rd paragraph 2nd sentence
“But during the industrial revolution, a new period in Earth history called the Anthropocene began in which human populations and the scope and scale of global economic activities increased to the point where the capacity of the biosphere to support human and many other forms of life is being undermined.”

The assumption here is that it is simply scope and scale that are causing problems, but rather it seems to be something else entirely. At the physical level it is the specific technologies we are using that are having impacts on the sustainability of the biosphere as it currently exists. At another level it is symptomatic of many different processes within humanity. Humanity is growing knowledge and technology at an exponential rate. For many technologies (like microprocessors, digital memory devices, and solar photo-voltaic devices) are doubling in capacity about every 2 years. However, our social and governance structures are moving at a much slower pace, with many of our institutions designed to protect vested interests in wealth and power, with little or no consideration for wider impacts. It is not a scope and scale issue alone. It has gone beyond scope and scale, even beyond markets and the concept of money itself.

With appropriate technologies, we could double or triple our current population with less impact on the biosphere than we make currently. We could decentralise all of our critical infrastructure, and create systems with massive redundancy, that would provide societal level security and abundance for all, yet such things are not compatible with the notion of money or profit.

We are entering an age of automation and robotics that will enable societal wide replication of almost any technology almost instantly (within hours or days – from first inception to global availability and possible adoption).

Page 11, 4th Paragraph – New Story of Science – 3rd sentence states :
“Everything on the quantum mechanical level is quite literally connected with everything else, and any sense that we may have that the collection of particles we call self is isolated and alone is an illusion fostered by a lack of understanding of the actual character of reality.”

This sentence to me seems to be only partly true, and in its current form is more likely to confuse than to elucidate.
For me, I believe that something like the following could be used to convey the essence of what was originally intended, and do so with integrity and clarity.

“Modern science tells us that all things are connected at many different levels, and that the strengths of the connections vary considerably both within and between levels, from the lowest sub atomic levels right on up through atomic, molecular, cellular, bodily systems, societal systems and a seemingly potentially infinite array of conceptual and cooperative levels of organisation. While it is true that we are each individuals, the old notion that each self is alone and isolated has now been proven false, at many separate levels, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.”

Page 12 The New story about our responsibilities.

Rather than “system of life” it would read more clearly to me as “systems of life”.
Rather than ending with “for their benefit” (which seems rather overly altruistic) it seems to me that the same effect could be had, and it could be accepted by a far wider and more influential audience if it was written “for the benefit of all (self and other, in acknowledgement of the links between).”

Pg 14 – an error of fact (24K miles is circumference not diameter). The biosphere is approximately 8,000 mile diameter sphere, (some 60 million square miles, or 40 Billion acres). If we allow that two thirds is water, and one third of the land is capable of intensive agriculture, that gives us about 4 billion acres. Under intensive cultivation, one acre can support 4 people with security (6 at a stretch). We are getting close to that limit.

Following that, everything reads quite well until the boundary conditions section starting at the bottom of page 20.
It seems to me that at the very least, this section needs to refer to an appendix, where the numbers used are explained, and references given as to why they have been set as they have.

The Global freshwater target seems entirely inadequate for what is required. The key issue in most areas is not water extraction as such, but the timing of such extraction and the modification of water courses. If water can be extracted during flood flows, and stored in out of water course storage systems (such as deep subfield water reservoirs for intensive agriculture), then the limit mentioned seems entirely too conservative. If water can be extracted during low flows, then the figure is too generous. The figure is entirely inadequate as a measure. A more reasonable measure would be (at least 60% of major river systems without any dams or low flow water extraction). The figure given amounts to 1.5 cubic meters per person per day. Surely with appropriate technology we can do much better.

In terms of land use, I have the opposite problem.
It seems to me that we need to have a higher limit, of some 30% of the ice free global surface as human modified environment. We need to integrate our structures much more effectively, so that we grow crops above the top of our roadways and dwellings.

Agree with the first half of the conclusion on Page 22, but not the second half.
“Creating this order will require a massive effort to eliminate the enormous inequalities that exist in the distribution of income, wealth, power, and information and the resulting consumption of energy and materials. ”
It seems to me that it is possible to create a new order relatively easily, with an expenditure of way less than 1% of GDP for 10 years.
It is possible to automate all of the essential processes required for human life: growing of fresh food and energy crops, recycling of waste, production and maintenance of all systems around water, shelter, transport, communication and education.
Sebastian Thrun and the Google team have produced a self driving car. That is a practical reality present now in today’s world. It can replan routes, adjust to traffic jams, handle accidents and unexpected occurrences, in real time, better than humans.
Taking the next step, to producing a set of machines that can maintain and produce a copy of themselves and produce and maintain all the goods and services required by humanity as outlined above, in an ecological compatible manner, is possible.
There can be no economic justification for such a thing, as the abundance produced would lower the market value to zero – and therefore, by conventional economic wisdom, there could be no value.
This is an ultimate example of the fallacy of markets as an accurate measure of human value – that markets would value abundant food for everyone at zero. Can you get in your “bones” just how absurd that is, and how counter human market domination is?

On page 23, I completely align with the Earth Charter excerpt, particularly the second sentence “Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. ”

I would note that the in the history of the evolution of life all major advances have been characterised by new levels of cooperation made stable, in a mathematical (games theory) sense, by a new collection of strategies that remove any profit from cheating. It seems to me that we are in need of such a new level of cooperation now, and with the widespread adoption of portable audio and video and other communication systems, we now have in place the tools to produce such stability.
Doing this would decouple human welfare from the financial system. The financial system could continue in its inherently unstable ways, and human welfare could become something entirely separate.

The entire chapter “Macroeconomics for the Antropocene” is, in my estimation, in need of revision.
It seems to be based in arithmetic thinking, rather than geometric thinking; linear rather than exponential trends.

Consider, that the install base of solar photo-voltaics has been doubling every two years for over 30 years. Currently it supplies slightly more than 0.1% of humanity’s energy needs. If it continues exponential growth for 2 more decades, then it will meet 100% of humanity’s energy needs 2^10 = 1024. This single development could eliminate all atmospheric carbon problems.
The biggest problem is the huge profits being made from oil, which allows for a lot of bribery and corruption in world politics. A barrel of Saudi oil costs less than 30c to produce and sells for around $100 – that is 30,000% profit, and lots of it.

The greatest limit to growth is not CO2, but energy. The waste heat from whatever energy system we use does give an upper limit. Even with efficient technologies, that does not allow for unlimited growth, though it does allow for a very high base standard of living for all.

Page 26 says “create a situation where this system could collapse” – I think this needs to be much stronger – changing “could collapse” to “has a probability of collapse that is asymptotically approaching unity.”

Page 31 “These models will provide a coherent basis for reducing employment ” – I like the idea of reducing employment, and increasing free time, while still having all the benefits of high income. I just wonder if this is what you really meant to say – or is it just someone’s Freudian slip showing under the hem.

I am not sure how one can “maintaining economic stability” when economies have never been stable. Seems something of an oxymoron to me. Most of this paper is about the impossibility of financial stability, yet the old phrase keeps getting trotted out. Seems to be more like Pink Floyd said “Share it, fair it, but don’t take a slice of my pie!”

Page 32, the low grow model obviously fails to recognise the impacts of exponential technological trends. A general failure in society, and one that needs to be addressed – doing so here would be a good start.

Page 33, typo – bottom (second sentence last para) – double “the”.

Page 38 – “Finance for the Anthropocene”

The second paragraph makes a good start at describing finance, and the third sentence captures the essence well in “value system that only values financial capital”, but leaves unsaid many of the assumptions that need to be made explicit as they are now, in the Anthropocene, changing.

Finance is built on markets.
Markets are built in response to scarcity.
For all of humans history to date, there has been asymmetric distribution of key factors that have required markets.
That is now changing.
Computers and robotics and technology in general is developing to a level that production of essential goods and services can be decentralised to the degree that they are localised to each individual.

We are entering an age of abundance where there will be no requirement for markets for most people, and all goods and services essential to human life will be freely available to all.

Finance is predicated on scarcity.
People only go to markets if they have unmet needs.

The question is really, is there a role for markets and finance in the coming age of abundance, or will the people who exert control through scarcity attempt to maintain the illusion of scarcity to create an illusion of the need for finance?

Bottom of page 38 speaks of “full employment”, which is an obvious nonsense, as no economy has full employment, and there is no systemic incentive within finance to do so, quite the contrary. In so far as finance is (as correctly noted at the start of this section) focused on money and markets, the incentive structure in finance is to optimise the flows of money, which means optimal levels of scarcity in all products, which includes labour, and hence systemic unemployment.

Page 39, the same concept of economic optimisation inherent in finance will also guarantee the use of sinks at no cost in favour of closed loop processes that have costs associated with them.

The idea of material quotas is not at all a necessary consequence of planetary boundaries [at least not in the sense that many people would experience any practical limits – billions of tons of mass per person are easily available – most people only need a few tens of tons].
The idea of planetary energy budgets certainly is.
This will incentivise the use of ever more energy efficient technologies, or the moving off planet of processes that are inherently energy intensive.
(It is quite energetically reasonable to move large amounts of mass into orbit via high g linear motors, process it in space where energy is abundant and dissipation of waste heat is not an issue, then soft land it back on earth with what are essentially large gliders.)
Long term human security requires that we have backup food production technologies in space – in case of major volcanism here on earth (events that cause the death of 90% of all large herbivores might not cause many extinctions, and they would be cause major human misery – they are relatively common in geological time).

The paragraph”
Further complicating our challenge, the financial system has become a speculative casino as a result of the “financialization of the economy” in which more and more claims on wealth are converted into financial assets and traded. Because of a myopic focus on monetary returns with indifference to qualitative consequences, we have even lost the distinction between productive investment of any quality and speculation ­which is not real investment in an economic sense.
” is spot on.
A gem!

Page 44 is great – excellent work!

Page 47 is another gem – great analysis.

Page 48 – Financial System Architecture
Here there is a parting of the ways.

The Scale paragraph is just plain false.

The idea that there is any sort of grand balance to living systems has long since been debunked.
The idea was certainly prevalent in the 60s, and has been proven false, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.
Living systems are open systems.
They are maintained in a “sort of” dynamic balance by resource constraints, and by catastrophes at various levels.
There are some key systems that have evolved homeostatic mechanisms, (like temperature and blood sugar level in mammals) and for the most part systems simply adapt as best they can to changes.
The original anaerobic life forms of this planet are now confined to very specialised habitats, as a result of the release of oxygen from water by a class of photosynthetic bacteria.
Life is like that.
Changes happen.
Some changes completely alter the established order.
Finance seems to be about to go through such a change, as it becomes essentially redundant.

Agree entirely with the resilience arguments, hence the need to personalise the means of production to deliver much needed resilience to every individual within society, and to society as a whole as a result.

Page 51, I was just struck by the two very different meanings and pronunciations of the word “wind” as in either a movement of air, or the rotation of clockwork mechanism in the term “orderly wind down” – as my mind bought up the image of the whole house of cards blowing over in a strong wind.

I suggest that finance and money have become a systemic threat to humanity, in and of themselves, in the incentivisation of scarcity that they logically imply.

I suggest that the most logical alternative is to deliver abundance to all through automation, and then see what sort of economy evolves when no-one’s lives depend upon it.
That seems to be a rather different sort of game.

The beginning of the 3rd paragraph of conclusions on page 52 is exactly on target:
“The first step is to recognize we are lost. Our economy has become a financial system disconnected from the human virtues we cherish and oblivious to our scientific understanding of the irreversible harm our economic system is doing to the living systems upon which all life depends. In a human-Earth system with feedbacks and trade-offs, unidirectional hockey stick graphs are unsustainable, as we know. ”

However, the thinking from that point is fixed in economic systems, and fails to understand the impact of exponential growth in logical and technological systems that are rapidly going to swamp all economic systems, as technologically enabled abundance makes markets, and all their derivatives, redundant.

It also fails to appreciate that the scarcity function implicit in market valuation is fundamentally contrary to the human need for an abundance of certain basic items (clean air, clean water, food, shelter, communication, education, transportation).
Abundance is the antithesis of markets.
Markets require and incentivise scarcity.

I can only agree with the first sentence on the last paragraph of 53 “The implications for finance and economics have yet to be grasped and resistance to doing so will be enormous. ” though I suspect that the context is somewhat different from the one intended.

Page 54 second paragraph 5th line – “in the of 25% ” I suspect a typo – perhaps meant to be “in the order of 25% ”

The conclusions on the page I entirely agree with, in so far as they recognise the problem, but not in so far as the solutions proposed are either agreeable or ethical or desirable.
You do realise what you are recommending if you actually promote those solutions?
You do realise the human misery necessitated by such a set of strategies?

I will not, in any way, countenance support of the necessary consequences of such a set of policy options, when alternatives are clearly available.

Page 55, the billions of people could be given access to water, food, and all the necessities of life, and only at the cost of the economic system itself.

No economic system will ever deliver such a set of outcomes, it is not incentivised to do so. Economic systems are incentivised to produce flows of money, not to meet the needs of people.

There is no basis in dealing with the current crisis by authoritarian means.
There is ample basis for dealing with it by decentralising power and devolving it back to individuals.
And that is certain to meet resistance from a variety of sectoral interests and power brokers.

The “Rule of ecological Law” as quoted is obviously flawed.
There is no possibility of sharing in proportion to need if growth is continued.
You have addressed the issue of financial growth, but not the issue of population growth.
This is the single biggest issue facing humanity.
I have had 2 kids, and had “the chop” – so no more kids for me.
But even this does not address the issue looming.

It now seems probable that we will be able to extend human lifespans indefinitely, and that childbirth will have to be limited to the rate of replacement, which could be as low as one child every 5,000 years per couple.
That is some serious social adjustment.

There is a lot of BS talked about humans needing animal protein.
After 55 years of being a carnivore, I turned vegan a little over two years ago. My health has improved in every respect as a result. My impact on the planetary ecosystem is substantially reduced.

Page 57, and “Governance Structures for the Rule of Ecological Law” – second paragraph talks about “sustain and protect the local traditions and natural wonders that give life meaning in particular cultural contexts and that contribute to a sense of human individuality and personal identity “. This is a very dangerous notion.

The only way to protect any culture is to enforce ignorance.

If one is to promote education, and the scientific method of questioning everything, then one must be prepared for the necessary outcome which is that people will move beyond the cultures of their birth into an essentially “post cultural” space of creating their own contexts for being, their own meaning, and their own purpose.

I completely align with the statement on page 58

“A discussion of governance without taking into account the governed is incomplete. A key challenge in developing a global governance system built on the rule of ecological law is to invigorate a transformed sense of democracy, in which individuals and communities reimagine their stakes in the world from a notion of ecological citizenship that emphasizes their role in the complex workings of the Earth’s life systems.”

Page 59 “Our Universal Responsibility” is great – except it holds none of the detail – where the devil always resides.

The start of the second para page 60 is a great start at identifying the real issue facing us, yet it stops one step short:
“This situation is further complicated by the fact that the language of the market has become the lingua franca of our time, and we have lost sight of the plain fact that there are many essential human goals and common goods that have ultimate value even if they have no market value. ”

The issue is that people and systems equate human value with market value, when clearly there is a huge difference. Market value is human value multiplied by scarcity. Van Gogh paintings are great, and there are very few of them, so they command huge price. Oxygen is critical to the survival of us all, deprive us of it for even a few minutes and our systems are damaged beyond repair, and we are dead. Yet it is so abundant that the market value is zero.
Markets do not measure human values – never have, never will. They measure exchange values, which include a scarcity multiplier.

Substituting market value for human value will always lead to human misery – cannot be avoided.
This is simple logical reality.

No system of market value can deliver stability – it is logically impossible, the incentive structure is inverted, and must always be.
The only possible way to achieve stability is to remove consideration of market values from the considerations in the mix in the minds of decision makers.
Sorry guys, as you are economists, and I know that may come as a shock, and it is the undeniable logical reality.

Page 62, cannot understand why you mention Schrödinger without first mentioning Charles Darwin.

Page 66 – the word “right” I find problematic, as it tends to exist in binary opposition to the word “wrong” and as such simplifies too much the infinite dance of possibility and consequence that each of us must dance with our choices in life.

No rule based system can ever provide that for us – Kurt Godel and his incompleteness theorem has proven that in logic.

Rather than attempting to provide a solution in rules, what is more appropriate is a solution based in a raising of awareness, of consciousness, and a supporting of individuals in being prepared to take risks, make mistakes, recognise those as mistakes, and move on. Ghandi was correct when he said that “freedom is nothing if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes”.

In Membership, it is not either or, we are both masters and members, and each is limited – few absolutes exist in reality. Most things have some influence on most other things – it is all about degrees of influence – dancing the dance – when to lead, when to follow.

Entropic Thrift is OK in moderation, as a simple budgeting tool, and it needs to be kept in perspective.
We are not short of energy.

The sun converts some 600 Million tons of hydrogen to helium every second, with consequent release of energy. The photons created in that fusion hell take about a thousand years to bounce around in the huge ball of stuff that is our sun before reaching the outer edge and making the uninterrupted 7 minute journey from there to earth.
The fraction of that energy currently used by life is so tiny that on most measuring scales it would not be detectable.
We are not short of energy.
We can get as much as we want by going off planet, and doing what we need to do with it there, and sending the resulting products back here to earth.

So yes, we need to be aware of energy budgets, and no – don’t get too hung up on energy “morality”, it is not appropriate.

Keep morality for where it is needed, interactions with other life forms, particularly sentient ones.

My dad had a saying that I loved, and thought was his creation, and only recently did I find that it is of ancient Chinese origin “All things in moderation, particularly moderation”.

3. Principles:

As to things fiduciary, and the notion of trust; I find that it needs to be balanced with an active questioning and testing of all assumptions.
In terms of the global commons, it seems that the only way to secure it long term is to create incentives for people to take individual responsibility for it.
Thus while I support the idea of a trust in a sort of watchdog role, I would not at all support it in terms of a strict command or control role.

4 Virtues

In terms of virtues, it seems to me that it comes down to personal choices and personal responsibilities, and that requires freedom, and the room to make mistakes.
Speaking personally, my wife and I have bought 35 acres, and planted 16,000 trees as carbon sinks, as a temporary measure (next 20 years) until solar power deals with the carbon problem.
I have adopted a vegan diet.
I do not use any soaps or hair products, just shower with vigorous scrubbing. I smell less and feel better.
We heat our home by burning wood we grow on our half acre section.
We are working on systems to grow our own food.
Simple, practical things, that make a difference in reality.

I agree that we need to rethink our vocabulary, and the concept sets implicit within it, and I go much further, that we must go beyond markets and money, if we are to achieve human happiness and ecological sustainability.

Agree completely with “B. Uncertainty”.

Agree with much of “C.” and I am not too worried about alteration of aspects of the earth’s systems. The idea that the earth’s systems are stable is a myth. The history of the earth is replete with major instabilities, comets, meteors, volcanism, ice ages, sea level change, etc. The relative stability of the last 10,000 years is the exception rather than the rule.
So while we need to reverse many of the things we have done to the earth’s ecosystems (in terms of pollution, and disruption of biographic boundaries), we need not be overly attached to the particular set of conditions that have prevailed for the last 10,000 years. We can be flexible.

I dislike the notion of atonement, as it is too deeply attached to the notion of a simple binary of right/wrong.
Certainly, there are things that we must do, to change our behaviours and technologies in ways that make them compatible with our own long term survival, and that of the non-human ecosystems on the planet. And it is a matter of balance. We need to always be looking forward and outward, to the infinite class of the possible, and into that which we do not know, and do not know that we do not know. It would be hubris and stupidity in the extreme to limit our possibilities to the limited knowledge base we have now.

So yes, certainly, much more respect for an integrated role in reality, much more respect for other forms of life, and also respect for what we are as human beings, potentially infinitely creative individuals. Human beings need freedom to explore, to innovate, to create. It is what we are, it is what we do.

So do not attempt to limit human behaviour with rules.
Rather attempt to raise awareness of the very many levels of connectedness and responsibility that exist, and encourage innovative and creative exploration of what is possible.
In the Maori language of New Zealand there is a term, kaitiakitanga. A rough translation is stewardship, and it encompasses a much deeper understanding of the evolving nature of our understanding of our relationship to all life, and our need for awareness, and responsibility in all choices we make.

Can only agree with “E. “.

“F” and respect need to go much further than modest family sizes. Respect will always require an awareness that all technologies are density dependent. There is no such thing as an “is poison”, only poisonous concentrations of stuff. Too much water and we drown, too little and we die of dehydration.
All forms of life have adapted to particular sets of concentrations of stuff.
What is toxic for one organism is food and shelter for another.
That is the way life works.
All life forms favour particular distributions of concentrations of particular substances.
Changing concentrations changes the organisms that are favoured.

There is no ideal for life, simply the life there is in the environments that are.

I agree entirely with “5. Ethos”

Page 69 “Summary and conclusion”

The term “economic justice” in the preamble to the earth charter is an oxymoron. It is a logical impossibility. Markets are inherently unjust. That is simply a fact, in the logic of the incentive structure within the operating principles of markets. Once recognised, it can be dealt with.

Otherwise completely align with the preamble.

Agree completely with your “grounds for optimism”.

However, from the bottom of page 69 onwards, we part ways.
The only grounds for optimism that I see is moving beyond economics, beyond markets.
If we stay with the concept of markets then we are doomed by the logic of the market to instability and revolution.

Page 70

Align with the “compassionate retreat” idea – my own life could be said to be a living example of that.

There is a fundamental problem with governance – particularly in the US.
Less than 5% of the scientific elite profess any sort of belief in any sort of god.
Most of the electorate profess a belief in god.
Thus the only scientifically literate individuals likely to get elected to office are those willing to lie, who are the very ones we do not want.
That is a fundamental dilemma for the USA.
Personally, I find the notion of god highly improbable on many fronts, sufficiently so that I am prepared to call myself a practicing atheist.
Until recently I described myself as an eclectic humananist – and that is still a valid classification.

Page 71 – there is a claim “And last but certainly not least, it has also resulted in the greatest mass extinction of life on Earth since a six-mile wide asteroid brought an end to the age of the dinosaurs sixty five million years ago.”
There is some truth in that, and the whole truth is much deeper and more interesting and informative.
As modern human beings spread around the world starting about 60,000 years ago, we initiated a wave of extinctions of megafauna wherever we went. We were non-specific predators, something not seen in the history of the earth previously. We could hunt one species to extinction, then move on to the next, which we did. Most of the large animals of the earth (from mammoths to giant ground sloths) were exterminated in this fashion.

Humanity was/is an expression of a new level of freedom of behaviour.

As we have evolved systems in that freedom, in terms of language and ethics and laws and technologies etc, we have run into new boundaries, requiring new levels of awareness, creativity and cooperation.

So yes, we have exterminated some life forms, and that has always happened in the evolution of life.

I agree it is time we significantly reduced the rate of extinctions, and in many areas we are doing that – here in NZ the extinctions that are happening are as an indirect result of human activity – for the most part it is the invasive species that are displacing local species and causing extinctions.
And if we have the tools, if we have sufficient abundance, we are capable of reversing that.
That is a target worth achieving in my understanding.
And such a target is not achievable in a world governed on the basis of money and profit.

By now, my objection to macro-economic models should be clear.

It seems to me that it is the very concept of money and markets that is the greatest systemic threat to us all.

Markets are OK as a tool to achieve societal ends.
Markets are very poor indicators of the sorts of societal ends that will most benefit all in society.
Markets are great at optimising the allocation of scarce resources.
Markets do not support the creation of abundance for all (abundance for the privileged few certainly, but not for all).
Market value (money) is not a measure of human value, but an aggregate of human value multiplied by scarcity.

Making long term decisions based upon money, or any of its derivatives, cannot, logically, provide abundance to all.

I wholeheartedly agree with your statement on the bottom of Page 73 “On the other hand, there is no basis in the current system for preventing an ecological catastrophe and it legitimates unconscionable inequality and deprivation.”

My thesis is, that by allowing the idea of money (market valuation) to enter into our deliberations about what we are going to do, we have in fact set in place incentive structures that guarantee “unconscionable inequality and deprivation”.
It is the very nature of markets that is the greatest danger.

Page 74 states in part “conduct independent judicial oversight to ensure compliance with these laws” – which is not actually a solution.

Human awareness is not bounded.

Human awareness is an open system.

Individuals need freedom, they must be able to make choices, and make mistakes.

Setting laws is not a real solution to the problem.

Laws are only ever a guide, and cannot lead to optimal outcomes. I like Douglas Bader’s statement “Laws were made for the guidance of wise men and the obeyance by fools”. Judges don’t seem to like that so much.

The really bad thing about laws, is if there are too many of them, people stop thinking for themselves and simply obey the rules assuming that the law makers had thought through all the possible consequences. Anyone who has ever been involved in the law making process will know how false such a supposition is. Winston Churchill once said that there are two things one should never watch being made – laws and sausages.

In conclusion – we align on many of the major themes and moral sentiments, yet there still remains some major logical rifts.

I quite like the concluding remarks on page 76, and they do not indicate the only possible strategy.
I believe it is possible to produce a technological solution that does not take anything from those at the top of the current pyramid, but rather raises all those lower down.
Certainly there will be technological change for all.

Cheers

Ted

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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