Is a perfect society possible or even desirable?

Is a perfect society possible or even desirable?

[ 25/7/20 ]

If you mean something static – then no.

If you mean something that respects individual sapient life, and the liberty of all such sapient entities, and provides a cooperative basis where all individuals have the tools and resources they need to responsibly exercise their individuality and creativity, then yes – that is both achievable and desirable.

How do we get there?

We must start by removing some of the false myths that currently masquerade as truth:

The idea that market value is a reasonable proxy for value more generally.

The idea that evolution is all about competition.

The idea that competitive markets are a friend to liberty.

The idea that rules are always appropriate.

We must replace them with more accurate approximations to reality.

We must realize that in the presence of fully automated systems, markets concentrate wealth and remove options from most at an ever increasing rate. Markets cannot give a positive value to any universally abundant entity. Human beings require an abundance of all essentials. Markets cannot deliver abundance to all – not in and of their own internal incentive structures.

Once one delves deeply into the emergence of new levels of complexity in an evolutionary context, then it becomes clear that all new levels of complexity require new levels of cooperation to emerge. And Axelrod demonstrated in the 60s that every level of complexity demands effective cheat detection and removal strategies if it is to survive. These rapidly evolve into ecosystems at every level. So it is much more accurate to say that every new level of complexity is built on a new level of cooperation. Thus we, as the most complex entities yet in existence, are also by definition the most cooperative entities yet in existence. And it is a reality that our survival is dependent upon our ability to cooperate. And all systems demand a minimum set of boundaries to maintain form. Thus liberty must respect the necessary boundaries for survival at each level. There is no reasonable doubt remaining that in the presence of open systems and unknown unknowns that the greatest security for all is delivered by cooperation. We are in such a system – contrary to popular dogma.

The idea that markets promoted liberty was a reasonable approximation when most things were genuinely scarce, and when most people could support their existence and find reasonable degrees of security and freedom with some reasonable fraction of their time and energy. Automation has changed that. Automation allows exponential differentials of power and performance. That cannot end well in a competitive context – it is only a matter of time until competition destroys the conditions necessary for its own survival.

While boundaries are necessary for survival at every level, the idea that those boundaries can be encapsulated in any set of rules is an over simplification of complexity. At higher levels of complexity, the necessary boundaries are something like morality, and that demands of each of us an eternal exploration of the borders of the known and unknown spaces the must eternally remain. There can be no rule set that is always appropriate to all contexts. We must each be responsible to our highest values if we are to survive.

This to me, seems to be a reasonable approximation to the closest that we are allowed to perfection.

There must eternally be uncertainty and risk, and through cooperation we can reduce them to the minimum possible.

And everyone needs to understand something of just how complex and amazing this reality we find ourselves in seems to be. Enough to keep us all interested for the balance of eternity.

And we all need to accept that real freedom always results in diversity, all levels, eternally. If we fail to accept and embrace that, we fail to honour liberty.

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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