Evonomics Magazine

We’re glad to be a part of this revolutionary movement. Economics needs to be fixed and we’re here to clean up the mess made by traditional economic thinking!

I largely agree with Ineke and it is more complex.

Our economic system is hugely complex, and it has many instances of all types of complexity (in terms of complexity theory). And all of that can be usefully summarised down, provided one doesn’t push the simple model too hard. People and situations are really complex, far more than any model can or ever will be able to use in any sort of hard predictive sense.

The major conceptual themes:

Markets are based in scarcity, and cannot deliver positive non-zero values to universal abundance. This was fine when most things were in fact genuinely scarce.
Now we have automation and robotics and we can actually deliver universal abundance of a large and growing set of goods and services.
Under these conditions, market based values fail completely.
Any universal abundance has zero market value (if you doubt that, consider oxygen in the air, arguably the single most important thing to every human being, yet of no market value due to universal abundance).

So point one is, markets (and the concept of money) are based in scarcity and are not useful tools to value, allocate or create universal abundance.

Second point is raised in the paper, that cooperation is a natural outcome of evolution.

I go further than the paper, to make the claim that when one views the evolution of life on earth from a systems perspective, then it is clear that all major advances in the complexity of living systems are characterised by the emergence of new levels of cooperation.

Axelrod showed that raw cooperation is vulnerable to cheating and requires secondary strategies to prevent cheats overrunning the system. Many classes of such strategies have been identified and it appears that there may in fact be an infinite set of such.

Garret Hardin’s tragedy of the commons has been disproven by Lin Ostrom as a general theorem, and has been shown to be true only of a limited set of conditions.

It is possible to characterise much of the banking and finance industries and much of modern marketing as cheating strategies that have been given legal status. In most modern systems it is considered OK to make money by strategies that involve killing and cheating people.

The financial crisis of the failure of the so called “sub prime bubble” involved deliberate deception at many levels.

It started with mortgage brokers selling mortgages to people who couldn’t possibly meet the terms, but pretending that they could (outright lies),

It continued with bankers and the constructors of financial instruments continuing to disguise this lie at ever greater levels of abstraction, and then the final blow of shorting the market (betting that their own AA bonds were in fact junk, which they knew them to be), and then demanding billions of tax payer dollars to pay out the bets when they collapsed the system.

The system as it exists today is one giant casino.
It is based on lies and deception at every level of education, law, finance and politics.

It is unstable.
It is immoral.
It is dangerous – but the danger has been mostly to those at the bottom, when those at the top get it wrong. That is now changing, which is our only real hope of substantive reform.

I’m happy to let people gamble with their own lives.

I’m not at all happy when they try and gamble with mine.

Universal abundance of anything has zero market value, and therefore, viewed in the systemic economic landscape of attractors and modulators, is a very tall hill – asymptotically approaching infinity.

So I am very clear that I live in the current reality of markets and capitalism.
I am also very clear that we need to develop key societal values that are beyond the values of the market.

It seems clear to me that the values of life and liberty of sapient individuals must be placed above profit at every level of the decisions structures of our society (which includes every corporate boardroom). And all individuals need to be held accountable for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of actions.

It seems clear to me, that the most powerful way to progress such a systemic change is to create a set of automated technologies that are able to use sunlight as a power source and local rock as raw material and produce a set of goods and services (including the production and maintenance of themselves, clean water, fresh food {largely organic fruits and vegetable}, secure shelter, communication and transport networks, and healthcare). If it takes a month for such a system to duplicate itself, then within 4 years we can deliver one to every person on the planet, and we have a post capitalist infrastructure in place. If it takes 8 years to build the first one, we can deliver a post capitalist society in 12 years.

In terms of greatest influence on the possibilities delivered to the greatest number of people over time, I have no shadow of reasonable doubt that delivering on the production and distribution of such a set of technologies is the most effective form of action possible.

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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9 Responses to Evonomics

  1. Doug says:

    Theories on the roots of Altruism would have to be perfected first I think. An infiltration of the power structure to change or weed-out the immoral denizens would be needed to prevent them from sabotaging “the automated technologies” that would provide for the basic needs of everyone. In the abstract, the markets would not allow such technologies (and the unthinking humans who are the slaves of abstractions and desensitization would enforce new rules of manipulation and destruction).


    • Hi Doug

      Theories about the roots of altruism were perfected in the 70s, it is just that few people have the conceptual background to understand them.

      The trick with the denizens is getting them to see that the automated technologies are actually in their best interests also, and don’t actually take anything material from them, and do actually deliver a great deal of security that is unavailable from any other approach.

      Agree that such a thing is contrary to market forces at all levels (which is one of the things I have been saying for many years, and is one of the fundamental drivers of the need for humanity generally to go to a level of thinking beyond markets values – which actually isn’t all that difficult, it just seems impossible from within the market context).

      I have a tool to use to free the slaves of abstractions – its called a circle. If you can’t tell me how it works (now that I’ve told you what it is), I will be explicit – and I am really keen to see if someone else will get it without me explaining it. Are you up for a challenge ? 😉


      • Doug says:

        A thought experiment(that is, perfection can be imagined): Given a line that in the abstract is a rational unit long with specific end points, it can be made to be the diameter of a circle. The length of the circle is the transcendental number Pi which can only be given as the limit of an infinite series which doesn’t have see-able end points. Cut open the circle and lay it flat, and it does have see-able end points and should be therefore a rational number but it isn’t.
            Also, a person who wants to be creative, but does not produce anything tangible will not be able to convince someone to give them goods and services unless unless they have money (or equivalent). They must monetize their creative nature. An artist can monetize their creative nature by producing a painting that can be sold, or a painting that can be used or looked at for a fee. A person wanting power and control of persons and things around them can monetize evil. But a medium of exchange is needed. The dollar or piece of gold that I bring to the grocery store is an indication that in the past I had a monetized item of some kind and the dollar is a certificate of ‘merit’ so indicating such. And when the grocery store gives me food, I give it my certificate of merit. If I do altruistic deeds, I need a certificate to certify what I have done — that certificate is also a form of money. The places I go with my various certificates are markets. I don’t see how markets can be eliminated because I can’t always go around explaining myself in order to survive. Even an automated system would have to know who I am and maybe I don’t want to say. I’d rather just use a dollar bill and not have to explain myself.


      • Doug says:

        After basic needs are met some people want control of their environment. They want the environment to be an extension of their egos just as a car becomes an extension of someone’s ability to move around. Some people feel that to be in control of what’s going on in the environment they must control other people — other people and things become extensions of themselves and so they become the world totally within themselves. They want power and control of everything and to them food,water, shelter are not enough. And they want admiration too, acceptance, superficial love — they want an infinite number of things: they want to draw in the world into themselves. That kind of appetite can’t ever be satisfied. Some people go to war and some people simulate war symbolically with sports; some people issue stocks in real corporations and some people issue derivatives.


      • Hi Doug

        Saying perfection can be imagined doesn’t actually fit that dataset.

        What the dataset seems to contain is the notion that perfection is imaginary.
        In the sense that we can imagine mathematics, and circles being perfectly described, but we cannot find any examples of such things in reality – zero – none.

        Wolfram has shown us many classes of mathematics and logic exist, some of which are deterministic, some of which are not, some of which are computable some of which are not.

        Some classes of quite simple equations which are in theory computable, in practice scale in terms of the complexity of the numbers involved at such a rate as to be not computable by any real computing machine in any real time.

        Rachel Garden with her insights into Global Logic has provided a logical context that allows resolution between the logics of QM and classical physics that does away with observer collapse, and as beautiful as that is, and as much as I respect and admire what Rachel has done (and as much as I love and respect Rachel as an individual), it doesn’t alter the fact that mathematics and logic are modelling tools in the realm of our model of the world, and do not necessarily have strong correlates in reality – as consideration of the simple notion of a circle demonstrates.

        And I do get that seeing our experiential reality as a model is an abstraction of an abstraction (as all elements in the model are necessarily abstractions, even if they model something concrete (whatever concrete might be)).

        In respect of monetising, that is a relatively new idea in human societies.
        I had no expectation of monetising the outcomes of my children.
        I supported them in the ways I have (and in one case continue to do) not for any monetary outcome – and simply for the possibilities that they are.

        Very little of what I do in life is done for money.

        Most of what I do I give freely.
        Much of what I earn I give away, without exchange.

        The whole notion of exchange is born of scarcity.
        If there is no scarcity, there is no need of exchange.

        Just think of the air you are breathing. You are not paying for it. It is arguably the most important thing to your continued existence. And it is abundant. Has no market value.

        Consider that we have the technology, existing today, to deliver all of the essentials of life to every individual, in very similar fashion to how air is delivered now – total abundance.

        Why don’t we do it?
        Because most people have not experienced air for what it is.
        Because most people still accept the myth of money as a real measure of value.
        Because markets and money are such a fundamental part of our existence today that most people have never seriously questioned them.

        You were taught that exchange is required.
        I make the categorical assertion that it is not true, and I can back that up with mountains of evidence.

        And it is much more than that, much deeper than that.

        We think we are experiencing reality.
        We are not!

        The evidence from neurophysiology and psychology is now overwhelming, and beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that we do not experience reality.

        It seems beyond reasonable doubt that what we get to experience is a model of reality, created by the hardware and software of our brains (and the distinction isn’t as clear in brains as it is in computers – the boundaries are much more fuzzy, as many software functions are done in hardware, and all software physically modifies hardware).

        Agreed that in the past the game rules have allowed players to control other players.

        I am quite explicitly saying that we are changing the rules of the game.
        Control is no longer allowed.
        Any attempt will be met with the full power of social structures dedicated to the preservation of the life and liberty of all, which necessitates demonstrating a reasonable respect for the life and liberty of others, which eliminates the possibility of imposed control.

        Entrainment and agreement are allowed.
        Control no.
        The distinction is important.

        I am not proposing to satisfy all appetites.
        I agree that is neither desirable or possible.

        It is much more subtle and complex than that.


      • Doug says:

            Yes, I can see that: The brain has no senses of its own and relies on the signals it gets from what it thinks is the body and the body’s senses which themselves are unreliable transducers of reality and using a limited spectrum of data.
            So does not that require that reality be a non-physical thing. And perhaps the brain or something associated with it can perceive directly. But |to be| is to have boundaries — the drop of water once in the ocean has a problem of identity.


      • Doug says:

        Re: “Control is no longer allowed.
        Any attempt will be met with the full power of social structures dedicated to the preservation of the life and liberty of all, which necessitates demonstrating a reasonable respect for the life and liberty of others, which eliminates the possibility of imposed control.”

            “The full power of social structures” sounds like a coercive force which could be abused even if it had good intentions. Enforcement of an rule often goes awry without checks and balances…
            “Preservation of life” cannot be maintained in the situation of attack and self-defense.
            Liberty is often not allowed for the person breaking a rule. And there is no one trustworthy enough to make all the rules.
            There are often unintended consequences to noble sounding rules. No more oil now leads to economic collapse and chaos. The devil is in the details. The transition from one system to another before they are ready is very dangerous. We wouldn’t want a child to transition from a Teddy Bear to a real bear — that would not be cute.


      • Doug says:

        If the ingredients for soup are computable but the soup is not, I’d rather have chicken.


      • Hi Doug

        Having our experience being only of the model of reality our brain assembles says nothing about the reality beyond, in and of itself.

        All I am saying is, what we normally think of as reality, that isn’t it – that is a model of reality our brains make for us. Whatever reality is, it is something like our model, in many useful aspects, and probably very different in other aspects.

        Agreed that boundaries are crucial, and their characteristics, their permeability to various classes of things, their robustness, their flexibility – all vital aspects of the many levels of boundaries we require. A fascinating topic at many levels, particularly so in respect of information flow in networks.

        Totally agree there need to be checks and balances, and the mere existence of the high probability of detecting something is often an effective deterrent. Effectiveness drops as the probability of detection drops.

        Agree that all power structures come with dangers, and we have too many at present, and some of them will morph.

        Agree that transition strategies are crucial.

        There are ultimately two rules that all must obey – respect for life, respect for liberty, and they are more accurately characterised as values rather than rules.

        Exactly how communities form agreements about what sorts of degrees of risk are acceptable, and the sorts of risk mitigation strategies that need to be employed for activities that are potentially dangerous, will be an evolving thing. I don’t expect any sort of “one size fits all”. This is not a rule based system – it is a values based system.

        Agree we need to manage the transition away from oil, and that is a relatively simple task technically, if not so simple within existing economic incentives. So long as the vast profits are available from oil, there is little incentive to create alternatives that are less profitable (whatever the long term consequences may be). It really is mostly about profits.

        There is no profit in creating abundant energy from solar power.
        That is one of the perverse things about markets, they cannot put a non-zero value on universal abundance, and thus universal abundance has no economic value and can never be a natural outcome of a market based system (the meta incentives are always present to create marketable scarcities by putting in place artificial barriers to abundance – like laws – like IP laws, laws about systems that require a certain scale of operation, and therefore create effective monopolies for incumbents – arguably most laws in most jurisdictions).

        If we create technologies that allow everyone to harvest their own solar power, there is no more profit for energy companies.


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