The neoclassical economic doctrine Is over. Evolution and complexity Is the future
Great article Robert, as far as it goes.
It just doesn’t go anywhere near deep enough.
When dealing with complex dispositional systems, one cannot predict what they will do. Action in such an environment requires constant monitoring at many levels to assess developing trends. It requires active interventions to dampen down trends for which there exists good evidence or argument that they are dangerous, and active support to amplify trends that have good evidence that they are beneficial. That has to be a continuous iterative process.
Complex systems are by definition, not predictable.
One has no option but to join the dance, making instantaneous decisions of when to lead and when to follow, moment by moment.
Welcome to life!
And there is another view of the evolution of life that is worth thinking about.
If you take a deep systems view of the evolution of life on this planet, it is possible to characterise all major increases in the complexity of biological systems (from the atomic up through many levels) as the emergence of new levels of cooperation (about 20 levels in us as highly cooperative human beings). And cooperation requires attendant strategies to prevent being overwhelmed by cheating strategies.
If you look at the human body as an example of a complex highly evolved cooperative system, every cell in the body has all the essentials it needs to function. Cells do not compete for water, oxygen, or nutrients – every cell gets what it needs. Many different levels of systems are in place to ensure that happens.
An economic system that delivers to every individual what they need would be a system capable of sustaining cooperation at the highest levels. We do not currently have that – our systems have institutionalised poverty and insecurity that work against cooperation.
We have the technology to deliver such a system.
We also have many barriers, in terms of beliefs, dogma, habits of thought, laws and institutions etc to the emergence of such a system.
Delivering such a system, is the only real option to ensure the long term security of any.
Automation, with the ability of fully automated systems to deliver universal abundance, really does change everything.
And it can be very difficult to even conceive of such a possibility if one is fully invested in the scarcity based paradigm of money and markets.
I can accept that.
We all have our unique ways of constructing meaning from the words of others.
I sometimes wonder if we ever actually get what the other intends.
For me, I can see in this article pointers to the sorts of complexity that I see in reality, something far beyond classical or neoclassical economics.
For me, the entire paradigm of exchange, of using exchange in markets to set values, has passed its use by date.
It is kind of like the 9 dots problem. One cannot solve it from within the implicit box framed by the nine dots, one must go outside of that frame to find a solution.
Similarly, I see in Atkinson an attempt to go beyond the implicit box of market thinking, and such attempts are worthy of praise.
I gave Steve some stick for the lack of respect he demonstrated for those using different paradigms from his own.
My paradigms are often much closer to his than those he called unkind names, and I can understand why many people have the heuristics that they do. I can simultaneous see them as having less utility for me than the paradigms I am using, and acknowledge the utility those paradigms have for the people using them, and work to find common ground we can agree on.
For me, having more powerful tools brings with them a responsibility to use them in the interests of everyone – which is nothing at all like self sacrifice, and it is social responsibility that is in one’s own long term self interest.
So yes – I readily admit I am well outside the normal distribution in many metrics – which is a reasonable working definition of “strange”.
And I am clear that if we are to have any sort of real freedom and security in our future (and I have had an expectation of living a very long time for over 40 years), then we will all need to work on radical tolerance of diversity. That means accepting that others have different views and are still human beings worthy of respect (however archaic some aspects of the paradigm sets they use may seem to us).
I had no shortage of school yard bullies calling me names (and much worse) as a kid. I never liked it.