Metaverse or real life?

Comment on Metaverse comment

[ 21/March/22 ]

Let’s make sure everyone is fed and housed first!

[followed by Walter Lynsdale – …isn’t that orthogonal? …]

I get that.

And if 50% of the effort that has gone into game development had gone into developing systems that ensure everyone on the planet had access to the basics (water, food, housing, education), then those problems would be solved.

My issue is not with gaming as such, it is with the internal incentive structures of market measures of value, and the secondary and tertiary systems present that are not not actually structured in a way that allows the reasonable needs of people to be met.

Freedom has to come with responsibility if it is to survive long term (even Adam Smith clearly recognised that fact).

We are not doing a great job.

So yeah – it is somewhat orthogonal, in a sense, and it is also (in a different sense) directly on target.

And believe me, I get that our existing systems are strategically complex, and that any attempt to over simplify them will fail.

And those that have designed the existing strategic contexts need to understand the evolutionary reality that complexity is based in cooperation, and any strategic system that fails to respect that will cause systemic failure. It is not a matter of “if”, simply a matter of “when”?

[followed by Ken Otwell – … “A centralized, planned economy has never out-competed “the invisible hand””…]

Hi Ken,

I am not suggesting central planning.

It has to be distributed.

It has to have individual responsibility.

It has to have public methods of reaching consensus where-ever possible.

It has to have sufficient coordination to be able to deal with bad faith agents effectively.

It is not simple.

That is why it requires a lot of work.

There are far too many levels of agents gaming the existing system.

When you have access to fully automated production, the entire notion of basing planning around what is scarce fails (and market measures of value have an inherent scarcity component, that drives anything abundant to zero, thus there can be zero market incentive to drive scarcity to zero – ie meet the reasonable needs of everyone).

Markets arguably worked reasonably well as a value measure mechanism when most things were in fact genuinely scarce. Now the only reason for scarcity in the realm of information is to maintain market value. Other domains of goods and services are headed in that direction.


Hi Walter,

I view all problems as exploration of systemic spaces. There are many different classes of ways to explore spaces. And the theory of search is interesting, in that it has been proven that for a fully loaded processor, the most efficient search possible is random search (translate to humans, the fastest way to develop something is to simply fund people interested to do whatever they responsibly want to try). Dave Snowden has some really interesting examples in this domain.

We have a really good fusion reactor, a nice safe 93 million miles away. The problem from a capitalist perspective is, that it is distributed, cannot easily be monopolised, and therefore is not a good investment (in fact, from the perspective of those in the existing energy sectors, needs to be actively sabotaged in order to protect the income streams from other investments).

Keyboard warriors can develop fully automated systems. Apply those to real world problems, then we can feed everyone. Right now, we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, it is mainly a coordination issue (and of course it is many levels more complex than that – but you get the general idea).


Hi Walter,

I am clear, that of the systems commonly tried, a well regulated capitalism is the best to date. For most of history it has been close enough to optimum that the difference isn’t worth worrying about.

BUT – that is changing.

Automation fundamentally changes everything.

Yes – we have become addicted to the high energy density fossilised sunlight from stored hydrocarbons. As far as chemical energy sources go it is about as close to optimum as it gets, and it has allowed us to do some amazing things.

We need energy – quite a bit of it.

The current energy we get from fossil fuels is equivalent to about 200 slaves per person (looking at it from the perspective of the energy sources available in antiquity).

Yes – those fossil fuels have allowed us to do a lot of things – some of them not particularly wise things. The availability of cheap nitrogenous fertilizers as one example, has allowed us to nitrogen force pasture production, which has led to nitrate contamination of groundwater, which is now a major issue.

What markets tend to do is to incentivize agents to externalize as many costs as possible. Agents can do so by shifting those costs in space or time (or some combination of both).

It is entirely possible to have high production without polluting groundwater, but it requires many more levels of systems in order to do so (and the incentive of markets is to do everything with the least investment possible, thus maximizing profit in the short term).

It is actually a deeply complex suite of issues.

I trained as a biochemist initially, and got interested in computers in that process. Then I started a fishing business, then did some further training in marine ecology and electronics, then went back to fishing for a bit, then started a software business that I have operated for 36 years. I structured that business to give me the maximum amount of free time so that I could explore other interests as widely as possible (and there are always multiple levels of tradeoffs in any such sets of choices).

I have been interested in existential risk, and in every level of systems and strategies of risk mitigation, since realising in 1974 that indefinite life extension was actually a real possibility – and is in fact the default mode for cellular life. And that is a deeply complex subject.

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) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Our Future and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s