Meditations on Moloch and other things

Daniel S posted some thoughts with multiple links
Meditations on Moloch
Rules for Rulers
Game tehory as a dark art
Teetering Between Oppression and Chaos

[ 13/July/22 ]

Mediations on Moloch has some truth to it, but is also deeply simplistic.

Most of the scenarios within it are entirely artificial, and ignore the fact that we all live in communities, and we all need to sustain relationships over time. We have memories.

We have multiple layers of “cultural immune systems” that lead us to punish cheats, and have levels of ethics.

When you put the dimension of time into the payoffs, the long time of the sort that genetics and culture sort, then the sorts of strategic complexes that survive are deeply more complex and fundamentally cooperative than that simple beginning of a journey into games theory would seem to indicate.

The vast majority of humans are good people, most of the time. And the worst of us carry our better angels, and the best of us our demons. There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person – we are all deeply more complex than that, and we are all better in some contexts and worse in others (which is part of what makes such diversity stable).

Over simplifying the irreducibly complex is a path to destruction.

Building wealth or surviving long term, demands an ability to delay gratification – to do the hard stuff that needs to be done, to get the reward at some point in the future. That has always been the case. Most of us accept that, and get on with it.

And we all have deeply embedded in our neural networks some basic strategies to maintain cooperation – a sense of fairness, a sense of morality. These things are akin to the role of the immune system in preventing cancer and fighting invasion by viruses or bacteria or other agents. They help to maintain the cooperation that is fundamental to the long term survival of complexity. The idea that competition always wins over trust is just wrong!!!

Long term, when faced with external threat, groups that sustain cooperation always win over groups composed of short term competitors.

Maintaining the level of cooperation required for the long term survival of complexity demands evolving ecosystems of cheat detection and mitigation systems. That is what our political and legal and ethical systems are at their best – and at their worst each can be invaded by cheating strategies. At a meta level – this whole meditations on Moloch can be seen as part of a cheating strategy, in so far as it supports the idea of short term defection on cooperation over developing and maintaining long term trust.

Trust and cooperation are fundamental to liberty.

That has to be clearly visible.

Any defection on that, is actually cheating, and needs to be stigmatised as such.

Any talk of games theory, without a clear exposition of the fundamental roles of trust and cooperation in the survival of all levels of complexity, is shallow, dangerous, and ultimately self terminating.

Why are you doing it ????

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 Philosophy, understanding 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