The last time I was in Washington DC I walked the streets reading the inscriptions on buildings and sidewalks, and was inspired by the ideals on which America was founded.
I was also moved to tears by the desecration of those ideas by the cult of the free market.
America was founded on the basic notion that individuals have a basic right to their own life and liberty – and both of those ideas came in a context of social and environmental responsibility.
In an Orwellian twist those ideals have been warped into a cult of the free market that effectively enslaves the majority in a form of perpetual slavery to markets.
Automation and robotics now allows us to produce a universal abundance of a large and expanding set of goods and services that could deliver freedom and security to every person on the planet, yet it is resisted because such abundance would (like the air we breath) be of no market value, and would break the free market system.
Time to get back to basics.
#blockchainrevolution seems to me to hold part of an idea, and at the same time to be crippled by two attributes.
The part of the idea it has which is useful is secure distributed databases.
If you consider human development as a recursive evolutionary process, operating at multiple levels of domains, then it can be considered in a context of games theory, and exploration of nested infinities.
That might sound complex, and there is an essence of simplicity in there.
What is simple is the idea the evolution works by differential survival.
Sometimes that survival is influenced by competition, sometimes not (sometimes survival has nothing at all to do with competing with others, it is just about being able to survive in difficult contexts).
When survival is mostly about difficult contexts, cooperation can become far more important than competition.
So the classical notion of evolution being all about competition, is wrong. Seriously so.
Axelrod showed using games theory that raw cooperation is always vulnerable to cheating.
For cooperation to flourish (which benefits everyone) there must be attendant strategies to prevent cheating.
Humans are the most cooperative species on the planet.
We also show the highest levels of cheating strategies on the planet.
Every individual has many levels of cooperation within them, atomic, molecular, cellular, right on up through to many levels of emotional and social and cultural cooperation. Every level with its suite of attendant strategies.
And at the highest levels of cooperation is a number called Dunbar’s Number, which is about 150, and is the effective limit of social cooperation for most people.
This number seems to be the result of complex interactions, and seems to comes down to a limit imposed by two aspects of being human – how good our memories are, and how fast we can communicate complex information.
If we take modern technology, with its high fidelity memory, and modern distributed communication networks, and use them to create distributed networks of high fidelity information about our interactions with each other, then it makes it possible to extend Dunbar’s number well beyond the current human population, and essentially eliminate any possibility of cheating strategies being successful in the long term.
And to be effective, such technology cannot be centralised, in any aspect. Centralisation always delivers a single point of failure, a single point where cheats can focus and win.
To me, the focuses we see on cloud computing (centralisation) and blockchain (exchange values) are extensions of classical cheating strategies, in a “last ditch” struggle to maintain their dominant position.
If one is to empower freedom, then that necessitates that individuals will explore the unexplored, and will encounter novelty (even chaos), and will make mistakes.
Thus any system must be able to tolerate (even encourage) genuine mistakes.
And sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a mistake and a cheat.
And over time, such things become clear.
With high fidelity memory, over time, cheats will be caught, and any benefit of their cheating removed.
There can be no “statute of limitations” going forward.
Cheating, at any and all levels, cannot be allowed to be rewarded.
And as Ostrom clearly demonstrated, nor can cheating be punished too severely.
It must always be more beneficial to the cheat to join the cooperative, than to abandon the group altogether.
So in that sense, almost all of our current legal systems (with their upper and lower bounds on penalties) are inverted from what is required. The penalty must fit the crime, if justice is to be achieved.
So the transition, from the fundamentally corrupt legal, political and economic systems we have currently, to systems that are genuinely just and fair from a games theory perspective, will be difficult for some, and that transition is necessary if any of us are to have any sort of reasonable security in our futures.
And creating systems that allow people a reasonable probability of living a very long time has been my core focus for over 40 years.
And something that some will find difficult, is that going forward, the system has to benefit all – even those who cheated most in the past – provided that they don’t cheat again.
Finding out who is cheating isn’t easy – hence the old saying amongst the inscriptions above “The price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance”.
There is no logical out from that.
And we can certainly do a lot better than we have done recently.
And yes – Trust/cooperation is an essential part, and it cannot be naive trust – that fails.
Transparency, yes to a degree, and it is a double edged sword – and do you see that today? (I dont!)
Truth – what might that be? The whole notion seems to be illusion, foisted onto us by Plato – and to be fair, it is one of the simplest possible paradigms – just not one that seems to be applicable to our reality.
All evidence I have strongly suggests that we don’t get to play with Truth, only with probabilities.