Eric’s Facebook – Most profound

To Eric’s facebook post

What is the most profound thing that you can think of and say in your own words with 50 words or less?

Evolution selects that which survives.
Complexity results from new levels of cooperation.
Attendant strategies to detect and remove cheats tend to be embodied long before they are understood.
At higher levels morality is an essential boundary for survival.
Markets become threats as technology enables fully automated production.
Cooperation trumps competition.

[followed by]

No 50 word limit – yipee!!! šŸ˜‰
It comes down to that it seems very probable that we are evolved entities, complex social apes.
As such, from a games theory perspective, one would expect us to embody many levels of response to all of the contexts that our ancestors have survived through.
It seems that for most of that evolutionary history we lived in contexts where most of the threat to survival came from agents that were not part of our social group – so that we have become the most cooperative species on the planet.
Games theory tells us that raw cooperation is vulnerable to invasion by cheating strategies, so requires attendant strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies to deliver long term stability.
We embody many levels of such anti cheating strategies, some of them built into the biochemistry of our brains, some built deeply into cultural constructs.
We do not need to understand them for them to work, we only need to act them out.
This is the fundamental reason for the existence of morality.
It is an essential boundary condition for the existence of intelligence, without it competitive intelligence drives a spiral of cheating strategies to destruction. That is arguably what we see in most of modern finance, advertising, politics and many of our institutional structures (particularly our educational institutions, but none are immune).

The key concept here, is that rationality is like the icing on the cake of our vast subconscious system of embodied strategies.
By default we don’t understand why we act, we act, then we try and rationalise why we acted. That fact has eluded or confounded philosophers throughout history.

All of that cheating was vaguely kept in check when most things were in fact genuinely scarce, and genuine cooperation at some level was required for the manufacture and delivery of most goods and services.

Fully automated systems are changing everything.
Now it is possible to fully automate any process, so our market based systems are now exponentially concentrating wealth – as anyone who has ever played a monopoly game knows must happen.

Now we have the ability to deliver abundance and freedom to all, but our market based systems actively work against it due to the fact that they value any universal abundance at zero.

So now the injustice of the system is becoming intuitively obvious to everyone, and lots of people are using all sorts of tools to redirect that sense of injustice to targets other than the system itself.

We now have the ability to use modern tools of production and communication to establish a world wide cooperative, with massively distributed systems (distributed at the level of the individual).

We can build a cooperative system that works because the probability of being caught if one attempts any sort of cheating strategy is asymptotically approaching unity, because of the fact of high fidelity digital memory and distributed communication and trust networks.

Any sort of centralised system is vulnerable to failure on at least two levels.
One level is an actual systems failure, an error or an unforeseen condition disrupting the system.
The other level is malevolent attack – where the system is taken over by a cheating strategy in a way that is not easy to recover from.

By personalising and distributing the system, making it open source, and allowing personalising at all levels, then there will be massive variation in the populations of systems leading to resilience and stability.

The trick is getting to there from here.

It seems that the most stable path available involves instantiating Universal Basic Income, at the same time as we place the values of individual life and individual liberty at the top of our value hierarchy internationally.
And one will still be able to get to zero and be out of the game if the ability to charge rents is not kept under check (as per monopoly). Just giving people $200 as they pass Go isn’t enough, once the rents get high enough they are out of the game. Most people now have to pay rents on everything, food, water, heat, transport. All those need limits if the game is going to work for everyone.

And there will be no shortage of issues requiring attention.
Our existing systems of education and employment are in many instances so corrupt and dehumanising that many people have very self destructive habits.
It takes a lot of time and effort to change habits. One either needs a lot of will power (which is often missing by definition) or a lot of support.

So whatever way one cares to look at it, we have some interesting times ahead.
The next 30 years need to either be the most transformative years in history, or they seem likely to be the last years of our history.

And I am cautiously optimistic.
Both the technology and the understanding seem to be coming together, and it is by no means a done deal.

Each and every one of us carries both our angels and our demons deep within us.
Some individuals may have been so damaged by willfulness and injustice that recovery will be a very long process indeed.

So yeah – cautious optimism, and a lot that needs doing.
And such a game does in fact seem to be one that could hold one’s interest for a very long time.

[followed by vocab vs concepts]

While at University many years ago I met a straight As student who had a huge vocab, and had learned all the appropriate responses to questions, but I discovered via in depth discussion that there were no abstract concepts behind that huge vocabulary – just context sensitive vocab sets.

At the other end of that spectrum, I have met kids that have essentially been rejected by the educational system who had very complex conceptual understandings of the strategy sets within their environment, but very little vocabulary with which to express those concepts.

Hadn’t met Covfefe until today – don’t follow either mainstream news or Trump – “coverage” with late night stumble fingers seems most likely.

[followed by Eric’s post – “We are broken portals …. Propping the portal open to understand the big picture is the point of humankind.”]

That seems to have it backward Eric.
It seems far more probable from an evolutionary perspective that we are a mix of strategies both cooperative and competitive, that have thus far managed to survive.
We seem to have multiple levels of existence, simultaneously.
Having a “point” to it all seems to be something of a relatively recent and personal/cultural invention. Mostly those levels just seems to be as the result of the differential survival of various levels of variants on strategic systems over various domains of time and existence (emergence).

Seems like, if we want it to continue to be, we need to learn some very deep lessons from games theory.
Competitive modalities cannot be both dominant and stable in our complex cooperative context.
To sustain the levels of complexity present, we have no logical option other than to acknowledge the levels of cooperation required, and to acknowledge the limits on action required to maintain such a cooperative (the boundary conditions, aka morality). There is still infinite freedom of action, and it is an infinity bounded by the constraints necessary for social and ecological survival – and those are non-trivial constraints (in terms of their Kolmogorov complexity). So our knowledge that the boundaries exist is definite, but the exact nature of what and where those boundaries are is far more probabilistic and evolving.

It seems that we do actually live in very complex systems, and we over-simplify them at our peril.

It seems that our bodies and our cultures embody such complexity, even if very few people are consciously aware of it at any sort of detailed level as yet.
Dawkins and others gave us memes as a concept, and Jordan Peterson seems to have done more with the concept at the level of social evolution than anyone else (and I am definitely not recommending that anyone else go down George Price’s path, or anything vaguely resembling it).

So it is a very complex situation we find ourselves in.

We need to acknowledge the existence of necessary limits, even if the best information we have about the nature of such limits contains many levels of uncertainty. We do not want to be trapped by unnecessary constraints, and at the same time we want to avoid destruction from crossing boundaries with fatal consequences. No simple solutions to that set of problems, other than developing redundancy. At the larger scales, a level of conservatism is indicated, while at smaller scales greater levels of freedom seem to be required.

In some domains, having orbiting habitats where trials can be biologically isolated seems a very good idea.

I see no implicit purpose to life.
I see infinite possibility in survival, and none in death.
Survival seems to be a logical choice.
Applied universally seems to deliver the greatest probability personally (if one uses a sufficiently long time horizon – into the thousands of years).
So doing that which seems likely to deliver the greatest probability of the survival of self, others, and ecosystems of life more generally, and within that delivers the greatest range of freedoms that are not life threatening, seems to be the most logical choice of purpose.

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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