Ideapod- Decency 2.0

Ideapod – Decency 2.0

may require letting go of corrupt morals

This is a really complex issue.

There are so many nuances of meaning to both selfishness and decency that make it a far from simple set of issues.

It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with self interest, if it is taken on the longest possible time-scale with the lowest possible discount rate for future benefits. In this case, if one has a reasonable expectation of being around in a few thousand years to live in the consequences of one’s choices now, then it becomes clearly in one’s self interest to cooperate with all others in creating systems that deliver outcomes that support the greatest possible diversity of options for all.

That sort of outcome is not supported by market based values which are fundamentally based in scarcity, and cannot give any value other than zero to universal abundance of anything.

We have now got a fundamental conflict between our technical capacity to automate any production process to the point of universal abundance, and money.

So in this sense, money as a measure of value has become a corrupt moral.

When most things were genuinely scarce, then money and markets were really useful tools to allocate those scarce resources.

Now that we can automate any process to the point of universal abundance, then money provides a direct incentive to prevent such abundance, to erect artificial barriers (like intellectual property) simply to try and maintain a system that is no longer appropriate to the circumstances, but is so familiar that conservatism is loath to give it up for anything else.

For me, there is nothing wrong with self interest, provided it is long term.

The mathematics of games theory is clear, that provided the discount rate on future returns is low, and there are adequate strategies in place to prevent cheating at any level, then universal cooperation out competes any other strategy.

The long term return from cooperation vastly exceeds any short term gain from short term selfishness, provided that technology can actually deliver sufficient abundance (which it seems it can).

It seems clear to me that the whole concept or morality, of good and bad, right and wrong, are simply evolved shortcuts for long term self interest of cooperating individuals within cooperative groups.

Sure human beings have a competitive side.
It seems beyond any doubt that there have been many times in history where various things have led to extreme famines, and only a luck few competitors survived. We are all descended from those few survivors of those events.

It seems very likely that the last Toba super-volcano eruption bought the human population so low that every person alive today is descended from one female survivor of that event.
Events like that can have a big impact on evolution.

Human beings are highly evolved for cooperation, and we can compete if necessary.

So it seems that
the best future possible for humanity is to shift to the next level of cooperation.

At this level, we use our abilities to create advanced automation to deliver all the essentials of survival to every person on the planet (free).

We design our technologies to be as thermodynamically efficient and ecologically friendly as possible.
We design the rules of our social systems to be strong enough to remove all incentive to cheating at all levels, fair enough that all punishments are considered by all involved to be appropriate to the circumstance, and the systems as a whole deliver the greatest degree of individual freedom and empowerment possible.

The really odd thing is, that the more we cooperate, the more individual freedom we attain.

Morality to me seems to be a sort of shorthand for this sort of long term enlightened self interest.

And to make it work, we do need a reasonable expectation of living a very long time.

I have had an expectation of living for thousands of years since 1974. As I completed my undergrad biochemistry studies it was clear to me that everything alive today is part of a unbroken chain of life that is close to 4 billion years old. Indefinite life is the default mode for cellular life. It is only complex multicellular organisms like ourselves that developed the trick of programmed cell death in their somatic line cells that show what we call “aging”. Our germ line, and every other sort of cell, just keeps on living until it is actually killed by some agency.

With companies like Calico now on the job, it seems we might be able to extend human lives indefinitely very soon.
It is clear to me that such a deliverable can only be stable if supplied universally.
It is also clear to me that it is not possible to create a low risk environment that actually allows individuals a reasonable chance at long life if we live in a society which is run on market values.

So yes.

Cooperation.

Universal care for life and liberty (which requires looking after the ecosystems that support us all).

Universal respect.

Universal acceptance of diversity (provided such diversity is not a direct threat to the life or liberty of others).

Such a world is possible.

Such a world will require active choice and conscious change.

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
This entry was posted in economics, Ideas, Our Future, Politics, Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s