Network Society: the coming socio-economic phase transformation

Network Society: the coming socio-economic phase transformation

David Orban

I agree that distributed networks are the key to abundance and prosperity and freedom.

The key question I pose is how exactly do we transition from market based values founded in scarcity, to abundance based values.

All human beings require an abundance of basic needs – reasonably well defined by Maslow

The first two levels of those needs requires physical abundance of limited sets of goods and services.

Markets require scarcity to function. Absent scarcity, zero market value – example air.
Therefore, market based systems cannot, of their own internal incentive structures, deliver the universal abundance of basic needs that human beings require.

We have the technical capacity to deliver such needs.

The question is:
How do we transition to a system that does in fact deliver universal abundance of all level 1 and 2 Maslow needs (no exceptions)?

Distributed networks seem to be an essential part of the puzzle.

[followed by]

I don’t see Max-Neef’s model as destroying Maslow’s at all. I see both as very simplistic models that are useful approximations at certain scales and for certain purposes of the amazing complexity that is a human being.

We each have some 300 million pattern recognition systems that are stimulated about 100 times per second. That is a lot of complexity, and that is only one of many levels of complexity that make us what we are.

I dislike Max-neef’s inclusion of the term work in his matrix.
For me, the term work is more akin to the term slavery than anything else.
I prefer the term freedom of action – where all of our physical needs are taken care of by automated systems, and we have complete freedom of choice (within the bounds of reasonableness and responsibility) as to what we do with our creative potential.
The idea of “work”, for me, invokes a continuance of the current condition of mass economic domination, and I am not even a little bit in favour of it.

[followed by]

Hi Robert,

When I first encountered Maslow’s writings some 40 years ago, I was already a student of evolution, familiar with the way evolution simultaneously integrates a nett function of all influences over time. So I saw Maslow’s work as a necessary simplification, and containing several errors of assumption sets, but still basically pointing at something real.

Certainly everything effects everything else, to varying degrees depending on context – that is a given.

I strongly suspect that much of what Neef has written is culturally determined, rather than any actual culturally independent need.

And in his 9 x 4 matrix, 5 of the 9 “Having” contain “work” and 2 of the 9 “Doing”. I count that as a rather strong unwarranted cultural bias. (And we all have our biases.)

Take a look at for a completely different conceptual context.

[followed by]

It seems clear from current trends that universal automation is going to happen.

Do we follow market models of value which lead to mass poverty in the midst of abundance, or do we change to something else?

For me, the clear answer is, change.

The not so clear answers are, to what, when and how.

I suspect the best approach to how will be – get the tech enabling stuff done as quickly as possible, then let individual communities evolve as they will, within a context of universal respect for life and liberty.

[followed by]

Hi Fernando,
What you say is true, if, and only if, one agrees to adopt and use market values.

If one chooses a different set of values, then entirely different sets of outcomes become both possible and probable.

I assert, that if one holds the values of individual life, and individual liberty, as one’s highest values; then that demands of one a rejection of the values of the market place, and the conscious choice to use the power of automation we now possess to make all the essentials of life and liberty universally available.

The view of evolution you espouse is a very limited one.
One can also view the emergence of new and stable levels of complexity as the emergence of new levels of cooperative behaviour (with requisite sets of attendant stabilising strategies). The competitive mode you describe belongs to a prior level of cooperation and complexity.

Unfortunately, few are currently aware of the choice they have in the matter.

[followed by]

How do you define surplus value George.

I have physically caught enough fish, and delivered them to market, to feed 10 people for 1,000 years.
I have also developed computer systems that have saved firms about $20M.

I’m also engaged in many voluntary groups.

What exactly is “surplus value” in that?

I know it is easily possible to feed everyone.
I also know that most people follow desires, rather than any sort of rational analysis of what is actually in their best long term interests, and desires seem to be evolutionary heuristics for values that worked in the deep time of our evolutionary past.

Where in this exponential expansion of productive capacity does one draw a line and call it “surplus”?
What are the impacts of desires vs long term outcomes of survival probabilities on such a determination?

[followed by]

I have very rarely worked for a wage.

I have started and run several business, the one I am in now I started 30 years ago. If there is money left at the end of the month, it goes into my account, if not, then no money for me. I have lived that way since I was 18.

I have rarely had to acknowledged “bosses”. I have usually worked in relationship to other participants. I have been privileged to work with some of the most intellectually competent individuals around. I’ve also had enough experience of neurophysiology, psychology and systems theory to recognise that we all have about the same abilities, we just get habituated by culture and experience to directing it into particular domains. My particular culture got me into the habit of pushing boundaries and ignoring social conventions from about age 3. So I’ve been doing it for about 60 years.

[followed by]

Block chains are an insane way of creating security. They are about the most computationally inefficient way of doing it that has ever been invented. Current blockchain technology can only cope with a thousand or so transactions per second.

Why go to such insane lengths to pursue a myth of security?

What is wrong with simple trust, with effective attendant strategies to identify cheats. High capacity local storage, combined with high bandwidth communication between independent trust networks combined with Bayesian inference across such networks, allows for very high probability of rapid identification of cheats. And computationally it is billions of times more efficient than blockchain.

And long term, the rate limiting step is going to be energy, and computation requires energy. Might as well start out being as energy efficient as possible (all other things in the matrix being considered).

[followed by]

[from Fernando]
Disappointed to be blocked from conversation due to ‘spam’ activity. So I am forced to reply here rather than publicly. What you say is true, if, and only if, you can convince every single human being on Earth that the benefits of what you propose outweight the risks for every single one of them. Otherwise some will have to be overpowed/ outsmarted against their will, which is a circular argument, since those at the top are there for the very reason that they are either smarter or more powerful than the rest, or both. The likehood is that those at the top will eventually be superseded by some in the own group becoming even more powerful. i.e. vertically, rather than horizontally. Its a worderful idea a future of plenty for all enabled by technology, I used to believe it myself when I was a teenager. But the cold truth is, people have different and conflicting agendas, you cannot even get siblings to agree on something! Today I view technology rather a tool that people use against each other in order to gain power and control. Even if you eliminate the market and replace with the nation state, you still get the same dynamics, as you get in pre-historic societies, as you get in the natural world. I suspect that this might have something to do with how how the world and life itself evolves from a state of dynamic disequilibrium. Yes, we have ‘values’ and ‘choice’, but these are overrated, and ultimately just mimic the underlying material world like a shadow, following the same underlying principles. You utopia, just like any other, is at bottom just an attempt to achieve a state of equilibrium, which can and will came on the day all the energy in our universe dies out.

[to which I replied]

What you claim is not true.

All I am saying is that what we do is most strongly influenced by the context within which we categorize or distinguish it. The way in which we condition our neural networks to recognise new categories is partly a function of culture and partly a function of will and partly a function of experience or exposure to domains available to others.

The more people you have using any particular context or domain of distinctions, the more the dynamics of the system as a whole changes. And in complex systems there are often many “watersheds” (tipping points) that once crossed, tend to direct outcomes in particular ways. And it is a very complex and highly dimensional system.

The nation state has no significant role in the future I envisage, it will probably be significant only in the context of levels of sporting contests (ritualised combat in various domains).

I don’t see any evidence for equilibrium models in evolution, except with respect to very constrained subsystems (like temperature and humidity for particular types of cells etc).

Evolution appears to be an open system, at all levels, and for the most part attempts to describe it in terms of equilibria are illusory. It seems far more accurate to describe it as essentially a random walk through strategy and probability spaces. Each new level of strategic space explored seems to have its own degrees of randomness, and reduces the randomness involved in the lower levels (recursion to infinity).

Thermodynamic equilibria is a different topic, and we seem to have sufficient time available that I am reasonably confident that it will not prove to be a limiting factor (and I may be wrong in that – and even if wrong it still offers a few hundred billion years of potential for an interesting life). That seems sufficient for now, given the very short time (in comparison) that I have existed, and the huge changes in levels of awareness I have observed over that short time.

[followed by]

Agree Calum, that once exponentially expanding computational ability is coupled to effective tools for manipulating matter, then full automation of the production and distribution of all essential goods and services must logically follow very quickly.

If we try to marry a conceptual system based upon scarcity and exchange (money and markets) to a system that delivers universal abundance, there will be system failure. The systems are fundamentally and logically incompatible.

We can design effective transition strategies, but markets have to become a bit player in the new world of abundance (just as anaerobic bacteria are now in our world of abundant oxygen).

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
This entry was posted in Nature, Our Future, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s