Global Citizen

Why did you become a global citizen?

There are lots of reasons to become a global citizen. What’s yours?

Back in 1974, as I completed my undergraduate biochemistry studies, it became obvious that indefinite life extension was possible. It seems clear that all cellular life alive today is part of an unbroken chain of living cells some 4 billion years old. The default mode for cells is indefinite life. IT is only some of the multicellular organisms that have learned the trick of somatic cell aging, leading to rapid evolution.

That seeming to very likely be the case, the next question became, once aging is removed as a threat to life, what sorts of social, political and technical institutions are required to allow potentially very long lived individuals to live a very long time, with as much security and freedom as possible?

For 42 years I have been exploring that question.

I am now clear that our existing economic structure is not part of any optimal solution.

The exchange values of markets are a scarcity based measure of value. The more scarce something is, the more it is worth (all other things being equal), and conversely the more abundant something is, the less it is worth. Oxygen in the air is good example of a limiting case of this trend, arguably the single most important thing to any human being, yet of no market value due to universal abundance. The converse of this trend, is that markets, in and of their own internal incentive structure, will never deliver universal abundance of anything (in fact the incentive exists to remove any universal abundance and turn it into a marketable scarcity). Poverty for some (arguably the vast majority) is inherent in market based values (poverty is an essential structural part of the system).

The next major factor is, that since the late 1800s there has been a clear exponential increase in the price performance of information systems. We are now seeing a doubling every 10 months. This has seen a massive expansion in the amount of information and what we can do with it, and is starting to make serious inroads into what we can do with materials.

Automation and robotics is starting to make an impact.

To counter the exponential increase in information and now in products and services, we have seen the introduction of artificial measure to create scarcity. Ideas like patent, intellectual property, copyright etc are now being used in the interests of those with money, to create situations where those without experience scarcity instead of abundance.

We now have the tools to create universal abundance of a large and exponentially expanding set of goods and services, but the very concept of money is now the greatest threat to such universal prosperity.

It is now clear to me, that the only way to create an environment where all individuals have a reasonable chance of living a very long time, is to have as our highest value the life of all sapient individuals (human and non-human, biological and non-biological).

Thus we need to enact laws that make life our highest value. Anything done that significant increase the risk of death to anyone else needs to be discouraged, and anything that significantly decreases risk encouraged. This law needs to supersede all others in all cases.

The next most important value is liberty. The freedom to do as one reasonably chooses (given the social context of being human, and the fact that our actions impact others, there is a test of reasonableness) is vital. We need to be able to make mistakes, to take such risks as we individually deem appropriate (within the context of ensuring the life and liberty of others).

This will necessarily result in an exponential expansion of diversity.

Such diversity demands active tolerance.

No one has the right to restrict the freedom of others, other than in the case of unreasonable risk to the life or liberty of others, and each such case needs to be examined on the merits of the specific arguments relating to it.

There are so many lies and half truths, smoke and mirrors, in our current systems.

We are not short of energy, the sun produces enough energy for every individual now alive to have access to as much energy as humanity as a whole uses (not on the surface of this planet, certainly), and if we restrict just to the surface of the earth, it is easy to leave half of the land for non-human ecosystems, and still have enough energy for everyone alive to enjoy the sorts of material and intellectual freedom enjoyed by the top 1% of the western world.

When most things were genuinely scarce, then markets were a reasonable way of both distributing resources and generating information flows that mostly worked towards cooperative outcomes. Now that we have access to complex automation, and distributed real time information networks, neither of those historical reasons remain for markets and money.

We can now use automation, and real time networks, and distributed trust networks, to provide levels of security not possible in any market based system.

This is a real possibility, and it needs to be universal. Thus we need to become an effective global cooperative, and Axelrod clearly demonstrated that raw cooperation is vulnerable to exploitation and destruction by cheating strategies, so we need attendant strategy sets to ensure that all levels of cheating are detected and dealt with appropriately (as Ostrom showed, neither too harshly nor too leniently, and there is a very narrow range, appropriate to the specifics of each case, that is able to effectively maintain universal cooperation).

So hence, I am a global citizen, and have been for over 40 years.

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) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Ideas, Philosophy, Politics 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 )

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