Evonomics – Smith and Hayek continued
It’s kind of like Richard Dawkins described in the few pages from page 314 of “Brief Candle in the Dark”, of his debate with Steve Gould, except at the next level of abstraction.
I completely align with Richard, as far as he has gone, except I have gone to the next level of abstraction (and beyond), and that is almost impossible to communicate. Richard failed to communicate to Steve even at that level, how much more difficult my task.
And there is some truth in what you said – I see that, clearly. And what I am trying to point to is something two levels of abstraction removed. And at that level, there is a very clear distinction between cooperation and competition, as there is at all levels in a sense.
Darwinian selection is about survival.
It need not necessarily imply any sort of direct competition, and it often does.
Often survival can mean effectiveness at surviving some external factor that does not involve resource competition between individuals of a population.
And often there is direct competition between members of a population for survival.
These two different senses of the meaning of the term competition are very important, and sometimes they are not clearly distinguished.
In the realm of Games Theory, keeping the distinction is essential, because the systemic topologies that result are very different.
If survival is largely the result of overcoming outside of group threats, then there can be strong selective pressure for higher level in-group cooperation.
If survival is largely the result of overcoming in group competition for limited resources then there is strong pressure against higher level cooperation.
Being very clear about this distinction – the nature of the systemic environment and the nature of the incentives on the resulting topologies is critical.
It seems that the relatively low rate of reproduction in humans, and the relatively common occurrence (in geological/evolutionary time) of external factors that lead to very large reductions in populations, has meant that for most of human history we have lived largely in the first sort of environment, that has favoured high levels of cooperation.
When you look at the fact that our expansion of technological capabilities far exceeds our population growth rates, and then look at the systemic incentive structures imposed by the implicit assumptions of our major valuation paradigm in use (money and markets); then (at this second level of abstraction) the disjunct is clear.
Markets are now rapidly approaching (if they have not already past) the point at which they deliver greater threat to individual survival than they deliver in benefits (for all the benefits that they do most certainly deliver).
We have the technical ability to deliver a new paradigm – one with far greater security – an abundance based paradigm, of full automation of production.
And nothing is risk free.
It seems clear in logic that there will always be risk profiles associated with existence. Infinities are necessarily like that.
Absolute security is a myth – that much is clear and indisputable.
And one can push the probabilities a long way in one’s favour. And it seems clear that, provided that there are sufficient resources for all to survive and exercise reasonable freedom, that the most stable strategic set is one based in cooperation, and abundance of all the requirements of survival for all – rather than one that forces individuals to compete for survival within group.
Automation gives us the ability to deliver that strategic environment without requiring any significant ongoing labour (other than the eternal vigilance that has always, and will likely remain, the price of liberty).