Sail on Sailor

Sail On, Sail On, Sailor

Hi John,

Enjoyed your writing as always, and largely agree.

In an hour or so I will be attending a meeting of scientists involved in rock lobster management. I will be using the internet, rather than driving and flying. Most meetings more than 10 minutes drive away I now attend by remote – I get to see and hear them, they get to see and hear me, saves both travel time and carbon footprint.

I too have had my share of powerboats (and sailboats), and was a keen pilot. I have about 500 hours of pilot time as well as several thousand hours of passenger time in aircraft.

And we can develop technologies that can make us carbon neutral – but the profit available from oil is just too much for many to give up (particularly with Saudi oil costing under 50c per barrel FOB).

When we get serious about getting people into space, we will build long linear motors, solar powered, that start deep in the earth and emerge at mountain tops with enough velocity to reach orbit. Chemical rockets are just too wasteful of energy, most of the energy goes into accelerating fuel, rather than actual payload.

If our goal is to prolong life then we have to acknowledge that using the scarcity based value measure of markets in a context of the abundance available from fully automated systems is not appropriate.

Human nature contains both cooperative and competitive strategic sets, and which gets expressed depends on the context.

In contexts where there is enough for all, cooperative behaviours always give greater benefits to all than competitive behaviours. (Provided there are adequate sets of attendant strategies to prevent invasion of the cooperative by cheating strategies.)

Markets (and their derivative measure money, and their derivative system of thought economics) are scarcity based, and as such impose a context that incentivises competitive behaviour from individuals. In contexts of actual abundance competitive behaviours always deliver sub optimal outcomes (and in a context which includes the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, such behavioural modalities actually imposed significant existential risk upon everyone).

In the context of full automation, markets are an existential threat – when viewed from a strategic perspective. For me, that is clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

So from the strategic perspective of longevity, it is markets and economics that is the threat.

We don’t have a resource problem, our exponential expansion of knowledge means we can do more with less far faster than our population is expanding. We are not short of either energy or mass. The sun puts out enough energy that every person currently alive could have more than humanity as a whole currently uses. Energy isn’t a problem.
Nor is mass – we live on a huge ball of it with another huge ball of it in nearby space, and most people only need a few tens of tons to meet their reasonable needs.

The real issue for those of us committed to longevity is the modes of thought, beliefs, truths – call them what you will, that exist in the population. My experience of being diagnosed terminal cancer 6 years ago, curing myself, then having others come to me to see how I did it, has proven to me very clearly that most people would rather die than do whatever it takes to change their habits and beliefs.

Economics as a system imposes so many drags on creativity, so many incentives to continue using technologies that are proven to be dangerous, but involve sunk capital – that the dimensions of risk are terrifying when you actually start to clearly see them.
But most people seem to be far too invested in money as a concept to even be able to look.

[followed by]

Hi John,

If what you said were true, then I could agree with you, but is it?

When we have laws in existence that require directors to optimise the value of investor funds, while we have no similar laws requiring directors to be reasonably cognisant of the long term impacts of their decisions on everyone who is affected – are they really just tools? Or have they stepped over a boundary into something else?

Isn’t it really true to say that in our present systems, the short term needs of profit dominate over the long term needs of people?

Can that ever be ethical?
In any dimension?

I argue that not only can it never be ethical, it can never actually be safe either (if one is willing to explore long term trends and outcome probabilities across strategic domains). To me it is, clearly, always the high risk low reward (in the long term) option – however profitable it may seem in the short term (and therein lies the great failure of our current systems, we do not hold people accountable for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of actions in the longer term – criminality at a higher order than our legal systems acknowledge). And I admit that is a largely intuitive evaluation across domains that I cannot easily communicate to anyone.

For me, having been in this enquiry for over 40 years, I have no shadow of reasonable doubt remaining that our current systems are heavily weighted to deliver profit over valuing human life (each and every human life).

Yes I am poking.
Actually pushing quite firmly.
And, as is your freedom, you choose your own path.
I fully accept that.

We are on very different paths (in all dimensions), and we can communicate, at least to the degree that we do.

I respect you.
I respect the journey you are on, the paths you have chosen. They are not my paths, and they are possible paths with high ethical standards I can respect.

And I am actually nudging you quite firmly towards a path you seem resistant to explore. And in a very real sense, I can understand that resistance, it isn’t a comfortable path, and if I didn’t think you capable of walking it, and if I didn’t see value for you in it, I wouldn’t be doing this.

And it is your choice, just as my path is my choice.

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
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